Ever since I started coming to Munich in early 2017, I always wanted to visit Salzburg. On my very first trip to here, I had rather opted for Innsbruck, mainly because I wanted to ski the Alps.
Earlier this year, during my European tour in February, under the influence of Condé Nast’s Best Cities in Europe, I had also selected a different Austrian city and visited Vienna, even though Salzburg was also on the list. My reasoning: Salzburg’s proximity to Munich (less than 2 hours by train). It was as if I knew I would have the opportunity to visit another time.
I’ve been in Munich for 4 weeks. Mostly attending networking events, meeting new people, reconnecting with friends I have made here along the way, and job hunting. With my laptop incident, my hustle has been less productive than I anticipated and I found myself with a couple of free days.
While there are plenty of activities, sights and tourist spots for me to still discover in Munich, the city is now starting to feel familiar: I find myself recognizing places I’ve already been as I approach from different directions, I can get to the popular spots and landmarks without Google Maps, someone has even recognized me at a U-Bahn stop… Neither local nor tourist. Yet, I recognize it’s time for me to reconnect with the tourist in me. And let’s be real, I want to see the Alps again. I decide: it’s time for me to finally visit Salzburg.
The only planning I have done for this overnight get-away is a budget hotel reservation. I’ve learned I don’t need to stress out too much about making train reservations in Europe, especially on “local” routes like Munich to Salzburg. In fact, there are 24 trains a day available to chose from between the 2 cities. Prices are reasonable around 30€.
At München Hauptbahnhof (with, this is the first time I type this word without having to look it its spelling up!), I head for a ticket machine and learn that most trains to Salzburg are delayed due to some vandalism. I later find out protesters disrupted the train route somewhere around Düsseldorf to express their feelings about Germany’s refugees integration situation. I opt for a Flexpries ticket which allows me to get on any train.
Thirty minutes later, I board a second-class car and navigate to a pair of seats that looks open. “Excuse me, is this train really going to Salzburg?”, I ask a nice-looking lady in the seat ahead. “Eventually, it will get there yes!”. Lilian then teaches me how to tell if a seat is reserved or not and we chat about life the whole way to Rosenheim, her home city. She invites me to a coffee and I rejoice in this random act of human connection.
Arriving in Salzburg, I realize the place isn’t very big. I can walk from the train station to my hotel in 20 minutes. My overnight bag is light, the weather is sunny yet cool and I don’t have an agenda, so I go for it. I almost immediately stumble upon Mirabell Gardens: romantic & practically perfectly manicured.
At first, the labyrinth-like streets seem complex to navigate. Later, I discover it is impossible to get lost in this compact city. I recall Prague as I see the Hohensalzburg Fortress on the hill and the Baroque-style architecture. I think of Old Montréal as I observe Salzburg’s narrow adorned streets.
Thank you Condé Nast: I am 10 out of 20, and counting…