Salzburg is a beautiful city in Austria. It is the birthplace of Mozart, with all the historical places carefully preserved and proudly shown off to visitors. The house where Mozart was born looks spic-and-span new. His statue dominates Mozart Square. His image can be found on everything, beginning with the famous Mozart Kugeln, milk chocolate balls produced since the 19th century. And of course, one can hear music everywhere, in churches and concert halls, in cafes and restaurants. Our guide Michaela Muhr started the tour by brightly asking, “Who has heard of The Sound of Music”, the famous movie made in the 1960s?” Amazingly, I was the only one to raise my hand. From my own experience as a translator and guide, I know how disconcerting such a moment may be. Imagine, you are used to conducting a tour based on a certain well-known story, expecting your group of tourists to ooh and aah, as well as stop and take lots of pictures. And then you get a group of people who do not even recognize the Von Trapp name! I admired Michaela’s professionalism: after the briefest pause, she quickly changed her whole speech and gave us a lovely walking tour of Salzburg. Heaven knows, a place that old has enough to boast, besides a great old movie. First of all, the name itself means The Castle of Salt. Salt was and is what brought prosperity and prominence to this town. In a monument, even an archbishop has a jar of salt by his feet, to show his status and wealth. Salt was equal to money; salt was something to barter with. We took the funicular to the old castle, which sits on top of a mountain overlooking the city. It’s huge, one can wander around, take pictures, relax in a café over a glass of wine and some traditional dish. The convent has the date 803 on one of its walls. There are many churches and functioning convents in town, including the one where Maria lived as a young girl, before she met and married Captain Von Trapp, a widower with seven children. One needs to be rather fit, to be able to walk up and down the streets, along the old cobbled pathways. In spring, there are lots of flowers, all the parks are green; the Salzach River provides a welcome cool atmosphere. The university carefully preserves the old part, with many quaint buildings and statues, and the new ones, where one can see some modern sculptures and ornaments. A bit surprisingly, all the shops closed down at 7PM, even on a weekday. But the cafes are open, people walk around, or attend a concert in one of the numerous theatres and concert halls. It is a place worth seeing.
© gretag2013

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