1. Favorite hotels.
For some reason, Hotel Bergland haunted me. It's not even that weird a place. It must have been the striking décor, including the clock hanging in the middle of an empty picture frame.
I liked Christkönig Pension a lot. What a time warp. It's in the Altstadt but still manages to feel sort of private. There is a cobbled alley winding around the back and a charming hand-painted welcome sign leaning against the front.
2. Favorite thing about working in Salzburg.
Salzburg is tourist heaven, and it knows it. And though visitors can outnumber residents in the high season, people do live there. So what do they do? Surely they don't ride around in Sound of Music buses all day long. How do they form an identity separate from the Salzburg that's marketed to the world? Tracking down the answer was my objective: A. Locate some sign of contemporary culture. B. Give self pat on the back.
My conclusion: Salzburg's no Berlin, but there's something there.
3. What surprised you about Salzburg?
Salzburg wasn't as jam-packed with buskers and tourists and nonsense as I thought it would be. Blame it on the low season, I guess. There was also a lot more to the city than the beautiful stuff—I spent some time wandering through melancholic residential parts and found it very peaceful. One day I took the bus out to a flea market in the southeastern suburbs. They were playing old German records and serving homemade cake bursting with cream and apricots! Amazing.
4. Funny story.
I had a hankering for spätzle, those piping-hot cheesy dumpling noodles that usually come smothered in savory sauce. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a cheese stand selling it fresh and hot by the kilo! I ordered enough for two people. But rather than selecting the sizzling ones in the pan, the woman staffing the stand scooped a heap of clammy, room temperature spätzle out of a display case and dumped it into a plastic bag, which she knotted. It was like I'd won a really gross goldfish at the fair. I tried very hard to make it work, but after a few bites I gave up.
5. Favorite local food.
Anything but the döner. Berlin this is not. Stay away! I'd have to say the Knödel—bread dumplings with eggs, soaked in oil and sometimes sprinkled with fried bacon. I ate them every chance I could get. I visited a few cafés where I was very fond of the cakes, especially the ones that were heavy on the fruit and cream. I still maintain that Austria can't do a decent chocolate dessert, but if you stick with the spongy cream cakes, you're golden.
6. Highlight of visit.
Visiting ARGEBeisl and hanging out with younger Salzburgers, who seemed oblivious to the fact that they were living in, um, Salzburg. I got to escape all the tourism and it felt like I was in any old small city. The food was awesome (best Knödel and Schnitzel ever!) and they had some grunge bands playing, straight out of 1994.
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