Days 24-26: Salzburger Knockouts

I’ve been trying to get my dose of Salzburger Nockerl, a famous local dish made from pure egg white meringue. Unfortunately, it has eluded me so far. I either wasn’t in the right cafe that serves it, or didn’t have the 20 minutes it takes to prepare it.

Despite this oversight, I finally struck gold in many other ways on my last couple of days here. I got it all and what I love about traveling: quality architecture, quality museums, quality music, quality food, and of course, quality people! The tag posts seem to tell it all.

I’m trying to reduce and concentrate the number of posts to only a few a week (Wednesdays and weekends) so I don’t flood your email boxes. Unfortunately, it makes the posts longer.

Here’s a spread of what this richly, well-endowed, and now much appreciated little city of Salzburg has to offer. To make it a little easier, I’m including a summary so you can skip to the parts that interest you:

1. Salzburg Fortress (Festung)
2. Mozart Houses (Birthplace and Living Quarters)
3. Performances (my raison d’etre for being here, but not necessarily the most exciting)
4. Food and People

1. The Salzburg Festung, or fortress, was very informative and an excellent excursion today. Gee Kin would be proud of me-I trooped up the hill and partook of the view from the top. Because Salzburg is so overrun with tourists, the city has managed to take tourists’ needs to heart. They provide excellent displays and explanations in English (for those of us brain-dead in German). They even had a electronic kiosk soliciting feedback at the end of the tour.

There were many architectural or design features I had not seen before. Those listed are not in any particular fashion. Follow the captions for specific items. You can hover over the photos now to see the captions.

1. Stone columns honed in a fashion the way wood is turned on a stile;
2. Matching metalwork
3. Torture elements–aha! can anyone venture a guess what this contraption is?? (see below)
4. A wooden threshold that was so old and worn that it exposed the “knuckles” of the knots from the tree, like aged knuckles on a centogenarian
5. A section of real arches that shows how they were constructed.
6. A display of how they created cranes to haul stonework up the mountain.
7. A latrine that was one of the first of its kind
8. Romanesque arch construction displayed

And a few morbid items from the torture storeroom to remind us of our mortality.

Since the fortress was built in the 11th century and over a period of hundreds of years, the museum was able to trace its construction history. It was an exciting architectural exhibition of walls, innovations and construction methodology. While most of the fortress was reinforced and expanded in the 15th century, it captures the various early periods from Romanesque beginnings to High Renaissance.
2. Mozart’s Birthplace and House:

3. Performances:

The star quality of these performances have been a bit mind-boggling. The interesting point is that my favorite opera star, Jonas Kaufmann, was not at the top of his game in Fidelio. The music was deep and entrancing, but his performance was weak. The opera performances shown here were much better. These performers can really deliver full-bodied voices and their skill and dedication really shows. Audiences were very responsive and clapped heartily.

4. Food and People: On my last day here, I decided to go for the two-hour lunch instead of the evening dinner option. My lunch was celebrated at the Heimer Specery. I took my time, had a small antipasti plate of eggplant, sun dried tomato and roasted red pepper with Prosecco, followed by the house specialty, a succulent full bodied pork chop that comes from the establishment’s own piggery. Along with a glass of rose, this was the chef’s recommendation so it had better be good. And it schmecked, or tasted delicious! I had just told Gee Kin that I thought pork was often disappointing as a dinner entree. I often found it dry and uninspiring. After your third bite you wish you had ordered the branzino. Well, I wasn’t disappointed this time. This little restaurant around the corner from the Festival Hall delivered to demanding regulars and I was a beneficiary.

The night before, I took my place at another restaurant (the one I went to for lunch today was fully booked 2 nights in a row, thus the lunch decision). As I was about to hog a table for four all by my lonesome, another gentleman was looking for a single at the same time. He asked if he could join me, the very exact same time another woman came along and did the same! I was very flattered, and didn’t mind the company at all. I was even more delighted when I learned that neither of them spoke English!

The three of us ended up with a very friendly conversation, and I had a chance to practice my elementary German. It was frustrating as I could ask basic questions but never “got” the answers. They drifted to fairly complex conversations about what the two dinner partners thought of the Greek Crisis, Angela Merkel, and the operas they were seeing. The gentleman’s nephew was performing in the opera we were about to see (Angela Georghiou in Werther). He was a baritone and did very well.

What I like about traveling is connecting the dots. I was flashing on how non-English speakers must feel when they are asked questions. After a few pleasantries, a zero-tolerance policy toward any non-English speakers seems to drift into the picture. Native English speakers tend to expect everyone to speak English, even in non-English speaking countries!

Well, the tables were definitely turned here. I felt stupid, unable to respond to simple political and economic questions. While it made me more determined to learn German, it made me reflect on how hard it is for many people in many countries to master English. I certainly came to that conclusion as I realized I could only sit and muse as the two native German speakers became very engaged and animated in their conversation. Sadly, I could only plaster a smile on my face and pretend that I understood everything.

German women seem to like short spiky hair, blow-dried behind the ears. Subtle platinum highlights, or jet red. Less Gothic these days. The woman who joined me was of the subtler version, and very svelt. She worked for a pharma company in Regensburg, and drove two hours each way to come to the performances this week. The gentleman from Innsbruck was a retired German teacher. It was, despite my misgivings, really fun trying out my German with no English back-talk.

Here are a few random street shots. The urban planning and insight for local Salzburgers and tourists alike are appreciated and well used in high density pedestrianized areas borne out of necessity. Delivery trucks and taxis drive right over the fountains and gutters, and everyone shares the paths in a symbiotic way.

2 thoughts on “Days 24-26: Salzburger Knockouts”

  1. VF,
    Loved your comments on your dining partners. I was fortunate to always work with English speaking colleagues through out Europe. But in Asia most would chatter along and forget that though I looked like them I did not speak the local language.


    1. Wow, you read fast! You should tell us more about traveling in Germany and other parts of the world on business. It would be an interesting contrast to my wanderings. Not sure there is an answer to the problem, but certainly being aware helps to minimize everyone’s feelings. My two dinner mates were very courteous and in no way offended me. I was just wandering off in my own little thoughts as they conversed. Maybe I was rude to do that!


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