Salzburg is an affair of the heart. Romance with music, with the Salzach, with the baroque architecture, with the Apfel Strüdel and how I was to have an affair with the city over my time there! I arrived late evening in Salzburg three hours after having taken the train from Innsbruck. The wide green pastures and towering Alps had given away to crowded landscapes and hillocks. I took the opportunity to first witness the city by night. The change in the scene was immediate.
Salzburg is a small city and from what I gathered, it is essentially forked into two, separated by the Salzach river that flows through the heart of the city. As I headed towards the first bridge across the Salzach, the skies opened up to a cool drizzle. The sweet sound of accordions carried through the air as the street musicians tried to enchant the passers by. Against the silhouette of the city in the cool moonlight, I saw the famous Hohensalzburg fortress. I spent close to an hour at the banks of the river having fallen into the spell of the charm of this city. Is it not a false surmise then, that Mozart had a resplendent inspiration for his creations here? With an eager sense of what was to be witnessed by day, I headed back to my hostel to rest for the night.
We’ve all been enchanted by the Von Trapp family. The name Salzburg immediately conjures up images of arguably the most famous family in the world immortalized by Julie Andrews frolicking about the meadows in the famous “Sound of Music”. It was of course obvious that I would look for their house in Salzburg, right? Wrong. When I asked this question to the receptionist at my hostel, he gave me very vague directions to the supposed location of the house. I was to learn later that not many in Salzburg know about the existence of this movie.
After wandering around for almost an hour, good sense prevailed over me when I decided to seek help besides my map. Apart from grazing cows and a couple of horses in the distance, I saw only one elderly man whom I approached with some skepticism. In half broken german and english I tried explaining to him that I was looking for the Von Trapp house. ‘But, why?’ he replied and before I could explain thinking that my words were lost in translation he said, ‘Why don’t I tell you a secret? Go along the mountains and you will discover the oldest nunnery in these parts. That’s something most tourists don’t know’. That was all the impetus I needed. Thanking him, I made my way to the nunnery. Reaching the nunnery required a bit of a climb, but when I did make it there after an hour, boy, was it stunningly beautiful! The whole city of Salzburg from the elevation is a sight to behold. The large ringing bells of the nunnery, the Salzach with its serpentine flow at the bottom, the fortress of Hohensalzburg perched amongst the clouds and the Alps in the distance – the vista is a feast for the eyes.
In Salzburg, even if one tries hard, Mozart cannot be ignored. He is easily the visiting card of the country. However, it was only in his birth-house in Salzburg that I realized that his sister Anna Maria, was just as talented and indeed as were the times then, she never reached the fame that her illustrious brother had. Pondering on what she might have gone on to achieve, I walked along the meandering Salzach river, forgetting myself as I immersed myself in street music and whiled away my time in the Mirabel gardens. All in all, Salzburg had had an enchanting effect on me. As a fitting finale to my time in the delightful city, I gifted myself a quartet performance in the cool summer evening of the Hohensalzburg Fortress followed by a fine desert of Apfel Strüdel.
Did I catch anything of the Von Trapp family at the end of it all?