As I didn’t have class until mid-afternoon most days, my mom, aunt, and I took the mornings to tour the city together. One of the local sights we explored was the Mirabell Gardens located at Mirabell Palace, which was built in 1606 by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his mistress Salome Alt. The gardens were redesigned in the geometric style of the Baroque period in 1690 by archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun. Included in the gardens are two fountains, one of the oldest hedge theaters north of the Alps, a rose garden, an orangery, and a Dwarf Garden. The last of these originated during the rule of archbishop Franz Anton Fürst Harrach. The oldest of its kind in Europe, it originally consisted of 28 dwarves made from white Untersberger marble. Supposedly all of the sculptures were based on real people from that time. Below are four statues from the Dwarf Garden:
Another site we explored was the Salzburg Museum, located in the Neue Residenz, or new residential palace, on Mozartplatz (Mozart Square). The museum goes through the history of Salzburg from the Roman period up to today, with a focus on important events such as World War II. There are also special exhibits focusing on, for example, fairy tales or photography. The museum takes advantage of its location; one exhibit included a window looking out onto Residenzplatz where Austria’s only book-burning organized by the Nazis took place in 1938.
For lunch, we decided on Hotel Sacher, wanting to try their famous dessert: the Sachertorte. It is an Austrian tradition for the Grand Hotels to have specialty cakes, often created for royalty; this one was created by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich and is arguably Austria’s most famous culinary specialty. The cake itself consists of two layers of chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and a coating of dark chocolate icing on the top and sides. While classically it is served as a slice from a larger cake, I prefer the small, cubed version as it has a higher chocolate to cake ratio.
After my afternoon-to-evening class, I met up with my mom and aunt and we took a train to Rupertus Therme, a spa located in Germany. We had a great evening swimming around the whirlpool, floating in the salt pool, and relaxing in the hot tub. All of that relaxation came to naught, however, when we tried to get back to Salzburg. Unfortunately, none of us had thought to look at train schedules beforehand and while we had been reassured by the spa receptionist before we bought our wristbands, she had in fact given us the schedule from last season. We ended up waiting in the cold for over 45 minutes before a train in the right direction came. By the time we made the switch in Freilassing and arrived back in Salzburg it was midnight. Did I mention none of us had eaten any dinner? Luckily, my mom had her Rick Steves book and managed to find a wine bar open until 1am that also served tapas.
Fridrich is a small wine bar built into the side of Kapuzinerberg, named for the Capuchin monks who live there. We ordered two platters, the first a cheese plate featuring four types of Austrian cheeses. Our other platter consisted of a little of everything, including salami with capers, a Parmesan-style cheese with saffron, and prosciutto with olive oil. Both of the dishes came with warm, toasted bread and olives. My aunt, wanting more of a meal, tried the Krautfleckerl, an Austrian pasta dish with cabbage. As we were in a wine bar, we ordered a few glasses, my favorite being the Schilcher “Langegg” rosé from West Styria in Austria. A different-tasting wine, they have everyone taste a sip before letting you order a full glass. Overall, the discovery of this place and the fun we had at the spa made for a good evening, just with a little stress in between.