One of the reasons I chose to visit Germany at this time is that Jenny’s 31st birthday is this week. In fact, it was a couple of days ago on Saturday. She wasn’t thrilled about the start of her prime and odd year, and the sky cried for her all day long. Still, I think we made the most of it and it was a good birthday in the end. As always, forgive spelling errors and weird words that seem random – I’m battling autocorrect and biergartens.
Jenny’s German roommate suggested Cafe Tomaselli in Salzburg for breakfast, a well know spot to see and be seen. We snagged a spot on the covered patio and ordered coffee to go with our people watching. A tour guide later told us this was one of the oldest restaurants in the world, which I don’t buy because half the restaurants in Europe say this.
You know what we haven’t discussed yet? People in Germany and Austria love their dogs and take them every where. It is completely normal to see dogs politely joining their masters on the train or in a department store. It’s like everyone here fancies themselves a young American heiress. This little guy joined us for breakfast.
During our first day in Salzburg, we continually noticed the great fortress on the hill. It showed up in many of our tourist photos like a photo bombing drunk girl.
That day, despite the drizzly weather and sharp cold breezes, we would tour the fortress.
When I was about 13, my parents took me to Paris while my dad was on business there. My dad, champion traveler, insisted we beat our jet lag by visiting the Arch de Trriomphe on the day of our arrival. When we got there. he decided we would climb to the top. Flights and flights of smelly tourist filled stairs, we emerged in the open air with sore legs, sweaty skin, jet lag hangovers, and a favorite “My Dad Is Soooo Annoying” story. I mention this now because the steep and slippery climb to the top of this fortress put me back in my 13 year old mindset. Only this time my shoes were filled with wet sludge as well.
This is only one of the hills we climbed.
But it was fine because we got to tour the fortress. There’s no tour guide, though, so you just amble around and read occasional signs indicating a cannon or portal or something. Salzburg likes to brag about this place because it managed to hold off takeovers for 1000 years without actually doing any battle. Outsides just really feared the imposing structure.
Fear my stone walls! Grrrrr.
For some reason, the fortress is home to a marionette exhibit. If you thought puppets were creepy already, this is not the place for you. Lots of wide staring eyes and fixed smiles.
Also, this display did not help the “Puppets Are Our Friends” movement.
We rewarded ourselves with apfelstreudel in the fortress cafe. This is where I found out the German word for whipped cream is “schlag.” And I laughed like a 12 year old boy for 5 minutes.
In the aftermath of our fortress trip, we carefully picked our way down the steep passage back to the city and tried to find a beirgarten suggested by my friend Rick Steves. After sloshing around for nearly an hour, we found the bar… locked up for the day.
The new philosophy became, “Screw Rick. We are going in the first place that doesn’t reek of smoke.”
And that’s how we found a great hidden gem: a quiet wine bar committed to serving local and sustainable food with special emphasis on the curly coated hog. It ended up being a very happy accident.
Fortified by wine, we braved the rain again in search of souvenirs and our dinner reservation.
This is the restaurant. Yes, it is adorable.
And then we went in Jenny’s birthday pub crawl in which we found out that Austrians make a good approximation of a margarita (but sadly no queso on the menu).
Prost to Jenny on her 31st! Glad to be here with her.