cover photo by Ignaz Wiradi
Hear about travel to Salzburg, Austria as the Amateur Traveler talks to Gina Czupka about her time living in Salzburg.
Salzburg is a “compact walkable city. Everywhere you go there is incredible architecture. It’s got a beautiful mountain setting. It’s just a picturesque easy place to experience the old-world feel of Europe.”
“People might have heard of a little film called Sound of Music” which was set in Salzburg. “Sound of Music tours are very popular and you start seeing the buses coming in as the tourism season unfolds, and there are a lot of people walking around following a flag. But, a lot of people do also just tour the old town and go up to the Festung, the fortress above the city.
“In the Altstadt [old town] there is a street called Getreidegasse. It’s lined with shops and Mozart’s birthplace is also on Getreidegasse. It’s a very popular thoroughfare, narrow, very atmospheric. It’s basically a must if you are going to Salzburg. You need to walk down that street, but if you cross over the river there is another street called Linzergasse and there are some great cafes along there and more shopping and just beautiful old buildings.”
“Salt was the source of Salzburg’s wealth. It looks the way it does because there were some people making some very good money on salt. There are some salt mines also in the area that you can go and visit and you can slide down the old mine shafts.”
Gina recommends a side trip to the Salzkammergut which is a chain of lake villages in the lakes district in Austria or crossing over the German border to visit Berchtesgaden or the lake Königssee.
This Time Tomorrow
Salzburg Travel Guide
Salzburg Old Town
Sound of Music Tour
Haus Der Natur
Modern Art Museum
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
St Peter Stiftskeller
Baerenwirt (site is not in English)
The Eagle’s Nest
wrong fort mentioned in Travel to Charleston, South Carolina – Episode 430
Jessica Briseno writes:
Hello! My name is Jessica Briseño and I really enjoy listening to your podcast. I am from San Antonio and I would love to update you listeners on our wonderful city. A lot has changed since your last episode since 2012.
I thought the recent program you did on Mobile, Alabama was a pleasant surprise. Not sure why, but I wouldn’t have guessed Mobile would have that much to offer. I guess you just don’t hear about it very often. I wanted to ask if you plan on doing future programs for the U.S. locations of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, or Austin? These don’t appear to have been covered yet and, at least to me, seem like interesting destinations.
Chris: Amateur Traveler Episode 432. Today the Amateur Traveler talks about palaces and salt mines, and the sound of music as we go to Salzburg, Austria.
Chris: Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host Chris Christensen. This episode of the Amateur Traveler is again sponsored by Blogger Bridge. Check out Blog.BloggerBridge.com for videos on how to work with bloggers and other content creators.
And if you’re looking for how to connect with content creators to promote your business or destination, check out BloggerBridge.com.
Chris: I’d like to welcome to the show, Gina Czupka who has come to talk to us about Salzburg. Gina, welcome to the show.
Gina: Really happy to be here, Chris.
Chris: You want to put Salzburg on a map for us, where it is in Austria?
Gina: Salzburg is kind of where Austria dips down. It’s kind of a fat half of Austria and a skinny half, and it’s kind of on the northern side where the fat half meets the skinny half.
Chris: Okay. And why should someone go to Salzburg?
Gina: I would suggest that they go there because it’s a compact, walkable city and everywhere you go there is incredible architecture. It’s got a beautiful mountain setting and it’s just a really picturesque, easy place to experience the old world feel of Europe.
Chris: And it feels like it should almost be in a movie.
Gina: It does. I think maybe people might have heard of a little film called “The Sound of Music”.
Chris: Which I’m guessing might come up once or twice when you’re in Salzburg.
Gina: On occasion, it does.
Chris: So what kind of itinerary would you recommend for someone who is traveling to Salzburg?
Gina: I would recommend a few days in the city just to wander around. That’s really the best thing to do in Salzburg. There are some sites like museums and the Festung on top of the mountain that overlooks the city, but just give yourself some time to wander, sit in cafes, and just take the whole scene in.
Chris: Okay. And after that?
Gina: After that, you could take a side trip down to the Salzkammergut which is kind of a chain of villages in the lake’s district, also in Austria or you could actually head over the border into Germany and visit a place called Berchtesgaden which is a pretty little Bavarian town, or you could also go to a really gorgeous lake called Konigssee which is also in Germany.
Chris: Okay. So getting back to the city of Salzburg and then we’ll get back to some of your side trips there in a minute. You mentioned wandering around. So Salzburg has a medieval old time as I recall.
Gina: It does, yes.
Chris: Is there a particular area that you’re recommending we wander around or a particular cafe that you found is a great place to sit and watch the world go by?
Gina: In the Altstadt there is a street called Getreidegasse and it’s lined with shops and actually Mozart’s birthplace is also on Getreidegasse. It’s a really popular thoroughfare, narrow, very atmospheric.
It’s basically a must if you’re going to Salzburg. You need to walk down that street. But if you cross over the river there is another pedestrian street called Linzer Gasse and there are some great cafes along there as well and more shopping, and just beautiful old buildings.
Chris: And what brought you to Salzburg?
Gina: I actually studied there in college for a semester and I accidentally ended up back there when I had a trip fall apart last year. We were stuck in Germany and decided, well, we’ve got this opportunity why not go back to Salzburg and pay a visit.
Chris: Excellent. What university were you at there?
Gina: I was actually studying at Salzburg College.
Chris: Okay. When you were studying in Salzburg are there favorite hangouts for students in Salzburg?
Gina: There is an Irish bar, popular with students the world over. I’m forgetting the name because it was a while ago and I didn’t really go that often, but it’s along the banks of the river in the old town. Otherwise, it’s popular just to hangout in cafes no matter whether you’re a student or an Austrian grandpa.
Chris: And you mentioned the river, so Salzburg is built along a river.
Gina: It is. It’s built on either side of the Salzach River.
Chris: And we keep mentioning the world salz or salt in your conversations. So many things named with salt. Where does the salt come from in Salzburg?
Gina: The salt was actually the source of Salzburg’s wealth. It looks the way it does because there were some people making some very good money on salt.
Chris: And you say making good money on salt, they were worth their salt, they were mining salt.
Gina: They were, yes. There are some salt mines also in the area that you can go and visit, and you can slide down the old mine shafts.
Chris: So Salzburg gets a lot of tourism, so I’d like to talk about sort of Salzburg in a touristy fashion and then you lived there for a while. So I’d also like to talk about the Salzburg behind the glitz or whatever.
Chris: What kind of things do most tourists do in Salzburg?
Gina: I have to say Sound of Music tours are very popular and you start seeing the buses coming in as the tourism season unfolds, and there are a lot of people walking around following a flag, but a lot of people do also just tour through the old town and go up to the Festung, the fortress that overlooks the city.
Chris: Okay. And you were recommending the Festung.
Gina: The Festung is honestly, great. It’s really fascinating. It’s a medieval fortress and you can kind of get a picture of life inside those walls from way back when. It’s definitely worth the experience.
Chris: Okay. Then you mentioned there are also a few museums in Salzburg.
Gina: There are. There is a natural history museum called the Haus der Natur which is very quirky. You could see some bottled medical specimens along with your standard natural history fare.
And there is a really nice modern art museum up on the Monchsberg which is newer, definitely worth going up there for both the view and looking at the art that’s in the museum.
Chris: And I’m going to guess that the Monchsberg is an old monastery.
Gina: It is actually a mountain named after monks.
Chris: Okay. I’m taking a shot here.
Gina: Yeah, it’s a good shot.
Chris: And it’s yet another one of the mountains that’s overlooking the town.
Gina: The old town is kind of hemmed in by the Monchsberg and on the opposite side of the river, there is the Kapuzinerberg or the Capuchin Mountain.
Chris: Which is named after monks.
Gina: Named after monks.
Chris: Strangely enough.
Gina: When I was living there I kept count of nuns and monks that I would see, and it would occasionally get up to like ten a day, so they’re around.
Chris: What else would you recommend we do, see, or eat when we’re in Salzburg?
Gina: I would definitely recommend that you check out the Mirabell Gardens which will,
again be noteworthy for Sound of Music fans, but it’s also a lovely formal garden that spreads out kind of beneath the Mirabell Palace.
Definitely worth it to go over there, sit in the sun, and just look at the beautiful surroundings.
Another place that I would definitely recommend is the Augustiner Braustubl which is a monastery slash brewery.
Chris: Okay. I can hear some of the listeners ears perking up as you say that.
Gina: It’s a great beer hall. You just go in, you get your mug, walk over, pay, and they’ll fill it up. And you just go through that cycle as long as you choose. In the summer there are tables outside and it’s very atmospheric and pretty.
Chris: Okay. And then I gathered from the fact that there is a garden at the palace that there is also a palace.
Gina: There is a palace. It’s not quite as exciting in experience. I maybe a little biased. I’m not a huge palace person, but to me sitting in the gardens is the key experience if you aren’t really into Baroque decoration, give Mirabell Palace a shot too.
Chris: Well, and we usually ask what do the guidebooks recommend that you think are a waste of time.
Gina: This maybe really kind of off color, but I would say skip the Mozart house. If you’re not into classical music and a lot of people aren’t these days, it’s probably not really worth your time. It’s worth it if you’re really into Mozart. Otherwise, spend time doing something that really interests you.
Chris: In the sense that it’s not well presented you have to just be a fan of being in a place that Mozart once stood rather than anything else.
Gina: You have to kind of be a fan of lines.
Gina: It’s really crowded. It’s not that it’s not well presented, it is. But I think if someone isn’t interested history or classical music, it’s just not terribly exciting.
Gina: And then the other thing that I would say isn’t probably worth it is the Stiftskeller St.
Peter Restaurant. It’s been there since, I think 800 A.D. or something like that.
Chris: All right, okay.
Gina: And it’s obviously got quite a reputation based on that, but the food really isn’t that great. You could go elsewhere and get a better meal at a lower cost.
Chris: Traditional food, I assume.
Gina: Yeah, it’s kind of a gussied up traditional food.
Chris: Okay. So if you wanted to skip there and go to someplace else lesser known, where would you send people?
Gina: I would send people to a restaurant called the Barenwirt and it is just south of the old town. It dates from the 1600s and it’s a very . . .
Chris: So this one’s new.
Gina: It’s the new kid on the block.
Chris: Yeah, up and coming.
Chris: We’ll have to see if it sticks around for a long time.
Gina: Yeah, it’s a great, cozy, very Austrian feeling dining room and they do the classic dishes of the area supremely well.
Chris: And what are the classic dishes?
Gina: You’ve got your Wienerschnitzel, which admittedly is from Vienna.
Chris: Which is a sausage.
Gina: Yes, and one of my favorites is the Knodel em Baron Grasse [SP] which means a bear –
sized dumpling and it’s about the size of half of my head.
Chris: Oh, my gosh, okay.
Gina: And it’s served with very paprika-rich, goulash meat sauce. It’s delicious.
Chris: Oh, interesting. So sort of harkening back to the Austria-Hungarian connection.
Gina: Yes, definitely.
Chris: And you mentioned a very Austrian dining room.
Chris: I can’t picture what that would be.
Gina: Lots of woods and it’s a humble dining room. It’s very cozy. There is a word called Gemutlichkeit which just implies a sense of coziness and warmth, and belonging, and just feeling very good about the whole experience, and that dining room embodies Gemutlichkeit.
Chris: Okay. Excellent. Any recommendations on where to stay when you’re in Salzburg?
Gina: I would recommend staying along Linzer Gasse which is that pedestrian street that’s on the opposite side of the river from old town. There are some great little hotels along there and you’re a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of the old town, but still you get the beautiful old architecture.
Chris: Okay. I’ve been briefly to Austria. I have not been to any of the major cities, just been briefly through the tour. What’s going to surprise me about Salzburg?
Gina: It really does deliver on what it promises. It’s a small town and it’s absolutely filled to the brim with beautiful baroque architecture. You may feel surprised by how easy it is to get around and how accessible everything is.
You don’t need a car. You don’t need a bike. You don’t need public transportation. Everything is just walkable, within, between 5 to 20 minutes basically, and you can enjoy it all.
Chris: Now, is there anything that you would recommend going to that’s sort of beyond the altstadt, beyond the old town?
Gina: My personal favorite cafe is beyond the altstadt. It’s called Cafe Fingerlos and it’s on Franz-Josef-Strasse, again across the river from the altstadt, but not too far from Mirabell Gardens.
Gina: And then also on that side of time near the St. Andrakirche Church. There is a Thursday Farmer’s Market. That’s a lot of fun. That’s a lot of fun and you really don’t see any tourists over there.
Chris: Okay. Excellent. You mentioned the, and I wrote the Salzkammergut.
Chris: Tell us more.
Gina: The Salzkammergut is a region that’s famed for its mountain lakes and the little villages dotted in between, and it is absolutely breath taking. It would be an area where I would recommend driving.
If you can rent a car, it makes for a wonderful outing for either a day or a couple days. Just kind of choose a village that strikes your fancy and spend the night or just spend a few hours.
Chris: And do you have a village that strikes your fancy in the Salzkammergut?
Gina: Hallstatt is probably the most famous and I would say that it’s justifiably famous. It’s absolutely stunning because it’s a church that sits kind of out on a little peninsula and the town kind of runs up the side of a hill, and it’s just breath taking. There are a couple other ones that I really like. There is one called [inaudible 00:14:47] which has a church.
Chris: Named after a church.
Gina: Yeah, again. Yeah, there is a rocky promontory and this gray church sits out on that and the backdrop is this huge hulking mountain and it’s quite a picture. And there is another one called Monsee or Moon Lake. It has a beautiful mountain setting too. It’s a much bigger lake, but it’s another wonderful little town to spend some time.
Chris: Okay. Excellent. And then you had also mentioned Berchtesgaden which I think I just butchered which is probably best known for one of its more infamous Austrian residence.
Gina: It is, yes. Yes, you can visit Hitler’s Adlerhost in the region should you so choose.
Chris: The Eagle’s Nest.
Gina: Or if you’re a World War Two buff, yes, that is there. Berchtesgaden is notorious for that, but it’s actually a pretty cute little Bavarian town as well. So follow your gut whether you want to visit or not, but it’s a cute little town.
Chris: Okay. And we’re just over the border into Austria there.
Gina: Into Germany, yeah.
Chris: Into Germany, right, exactly.
Gina: And close to there is Konigsee, which is a gorgeous lake kind of surrounded on all sides by mountains and it’s been depicted in artwork through the centuries and it’s definitely worth going out and hiking or going on a little boat ride as well.
Chris: Excellent. With Salzburg, who is the most memorable local you met?
Gina: I met a man named Claus Mesaclina [SP] and he actually knew my cousin in a really random circumstance, but he’s this very larger than life convivial man who would just make you feel welcome in an instant and kind of seem like someone that you’d known your whole life. And I think Salzburg is very much that way. It’s very welcoming and happy.
Chris: Gemutlichkeit you mentioned.
Gina: Yeah, exactly, very Gemutlich.
Chris: You’re standing in the pretties spot in all of Salzburg. Where are you standing, and what are you looking at?
Gina: I’m standing on the Kaputinaberg [SP]. I’ve hiked up there from Linzer Gasse.
Chris: Were you singing as you hiked?
Gina: Singing “Edelweiss” all the way, which by the way Austrians don’t know that song. That’s an American song.
Chris: Well, that’s terribly disappointing.
Gina: It is a little bit, but that was literally my first day at school. That was one of the things they told us. But in any case, I’m standing on the Kaputinaberg and I’m looking out across the river toward this perfect panorama of the old town with the Festung on top of it all.
And then behind that is the Untersberg, the giant mountain that kind of looms over everything. But I have to be there on a perfect day because otherwise the Untersberg is hiding in a shroud of clouds.
Chris: Okay. And you mention a perfect day, best time of the year to come?
Gina: I would say spring is the best time to come.
Gina: A little bit lighter on the tourist clouds and the gardens will be in bloom, and the weather is starting to get nicer.
Chris: Before I get to my last three questions, anything else we should know before we go to Salzberg?
Gina: It’s a very easy place to get around as I mentioned. You don’t need a whole lot of German. Pretty much everyone speaks English and will probably answer back in English if you speak German to them.
Chris: You’re thinking they can tell from my German that I may not be a native speaker.
Gina: Potentially. I was mistaken for German when I was speaking German to the Austrians.
Chris: Oh, okay.
Gina: If you’re not speaking Salzburg, Austrian-German, which is on sort of rhythm and feel,
they’ll pick you out.
Chris: Okay. One thing that makes you laugh and say only in Salzburg.
Gina: I think it has to be all of the senior citizens of Salzburg because they are absolutely turned out in perfect Austrian gear on almost a daily basis. We’re talking the little felt hats with feathers in them or a little tuft of horse hair and they’re just dressed immaculately in these traditional clothes. Not usually like dirndls or lederhosen, but the kind of clothing of the region.
Chris: Interesting. And I’m going to throw in a bonus question. You were there as a student, so one money saving tip we should know about Salzburg.
Gina: To save some money you can definitely forego eating in restaurants at lunch and go to the Universitat’s platz markets. There are lots of sausage vendors and pretzel vendors, and you can get a really delicious cheap snack to get you through the day.
Chris: And the best sausage down there are we talking like Weisswurst or what is the . . .
Gina: You can get your Weisswurst down there, but my favorite is the Kasekina [SP] which is . . .
Chris: Oh, with cheese, okay.
Gina: Yeah, a cheese dog basically, not terribly nutritious but terribly delicious.
Chris: Excellent. Last two questions, finish this and to really know you’re in Salzburg when what?
Gina: I’d say you’re really there when you feel like you’ve gotten lost in the streets of old town and you’re completely happy about it.
Chris: Excellent. And if you had to summarize Salzburg in just three words, which three words would you use?
Gina: Beautiful because it’s just unabashedly beautiful. It’s kind of a cliche word, but it’s so hard to see Salzburg and think of anything else. Genteel, it’s a very civilized, elegant sort of place. And Gemutlichkeit . . .
Gina: That coziness and feeling of welcome.
Chris: I think German words may have to count as a word and a half, but our guest again has been Gina Czupka, danke schoen [SP] for coming to Amateur Traveler and telling us about Salzburg. Where can people read more about your travels?
Gina: They can read some more at ThisTimeTomorrow.net.
Chris: Excellent. Gina, thanks so much for coming on the show.
Gina: Thank you.
Chris: I have one new story for you this week and that is that the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York has a new policy for any couples that are having their wedding there.
That is that if any member of your wedding party posts a negative online review, they will charge you an additional $500.
I believe that some people don’t like that policy since the hotel has now received hundreds of new reviews, mostly one star. Check out a link to that story at AmateurTraveler.com.
Chris: As I mentioned last week, you can also find the link to that story in the show notes of this episode in the lyrics section. And as I mentioned a transcript of this episode will go up in a couple weeks.
And those transcripts are, again, being sponsored as I mentioned last week by Jayway Travel, who are specialists in Central and Eastern European custom tours. I’ll put a link to them also in the show notes of this episode.
In news of the community I heard from both William Shackelford as well as Jim McDonough [SP] who both wanted to point out that when I said during the Charleston episode that while you’re there you should visit Ft. McHenry, that that might be a bit of a drive.
Ft. McHenry as you probably already know is in Baltimore Harbor and the fort that I was trying to name where the civil war started, was Ft. Sumner. I don’t know if I got it wrong every time I said it. I haven’t seen the transcript yet, but at least two people say that I did say that wrong.
So I will have to take their word for it. The funny thing about that is both Jen and John were very nervous that they were going to get facts wrong during the show and it was me who blew it. Thanks to both William and Jim for keeping me honest.
I also heard from Jessica who wrote and said, “I really enjoy listening to your podcast. I am from San Antonio and I would love to update your listeners on our wonderful city. A lot has changed since your last episode in 2012.” I wrote back to Jessica, “We don’t generally update episodes that quickly because there are so many places we have not yet covered, although we have recently been doing more updates.”
For instance, the Paris episode was an update of one we did eight years and we’ve done updates on Las Vegas which changes so dramatically in a short period of time. So someday I hope to get back again to San Antonio, but that maybe when I’m personally in San Antonio which is what I’m doing with some of those episodes.
Speaking of episodes on American cities, I heard from David who said, “I thought the recent program you did on Mobile, Alabama was a pleasant surprise. Not sure why, but I wouldn’t have guessed Mobile would have had that much to offer.
I guess you just don’t hear about it very often. I wanted to ask if you plan on doing future programs on U.S. locations of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, or Austin. These don’t appear to have been covered yet and at least to me seem like interesting destinations.”
And I agree. I believe, David that all four of those are on my list, but mostly what I need are guests who can talk about them intelligently.
If you happen to be one such person or know someone, let me know, host at amateurtraveler.com.
With that we’re going to end this episode of the Amateur Traveler.
Again, we still have spots for the Amateur Traveler trip to Morocco. The ten-day trip starts at only $1,000, not counting airfare, but check out the links to both 10 and the 15-day trip at the “Book Travel” tab at AmateurTraveler.com.
If you have any questions, send an email to Host@amataeurtraveler.com or leave a comment on this episode at AmateurTraveler.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @Chris2x and as always, thanks so much for listening.
Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.