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Salzburg looks exactly like what you envision storybook Austria to be: A charming city of Medieval and Baroque buildings nestled at the base of spectacular mountains. There are perfectly manicured gardens, classical music pouring out the windows, and welcoming cafés on every corner. You half expect Julie Andrews to come tearing around a corner.
Sadly, like most smaller cities with world fame, it’s hard to ignore the tourism — especially in the Old Town. The tiny bridges are packed with camera-wielding tourists, Mozart has become a mascot for chocolate, and you can buy a Bavarian maiden wig on the street. Thankfully, the city has enough character and natural beauty to blind you from its more commercialized aspects.
Views towards Hohensalzburg Castle from the Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (that’s a real name) had the palace built in 1606. The adjacent gardens have intricately designed flower beds, statues, and mazes of tall hedges. It feels like it belongs in Alice in Wonderland. I’ll try to limit my Sound of Music references, but a section of the "Do-Rei-Mi" performance was filmed around this unicorn statue in the gardens.
Details from Mirabell Gardens.
Café Tomaselli has been in operation in the Old Marketplace in Salzburg’s historic center for over 300 years. They say it’s one of the finest coffee houses in Austria, complete with a pastry bar, waiters in dinner jackets, and wooden holders for newspapers — a real classy affair. We wanted to stop in for a coffee and cake, but it was packed to the brim. We found a spot in the additional outdoor patio they have set up next door...just as it started to rain. We popped open our umbrella and happily ate our treats undercover. Nothing keeps my husband from chocolate cake.
Along with the drinks and cakes we sampled from Tomaselli, I had to try Mozartkugeln (Mozart balls), since they were being advertised and sold on every street corner and in every grocery store and souvenir shop. I picked up one from the famous Café Konditorei Fürst, just across the street, where they were invented by Paul Fürst. They’re made of pistachio, marzipan, and nougat, dipped in chocolate. I wonder if Mozart’s intention when he was composing The Marriage of Figaro was to one day become the face of balls of chocolates sold to tourists...