Food, Coffee, and People

Gruss Gott literally means "God's Blessings," but it's also used as a greeting in everything from casual encounters to business meetings. You'll hear it most often walking into a shop or restaurant. For more engaging (and useful) terms, a German phrase book will come in handy, though you'll find that English is widely spoken. If you're trying German, pay attention to pronunciation differences between the language of western Austria and Bavaria and that of the northern parts of Germany and even Vienna.

Your stay in Salzburg will be a study of life's pleasures. Nestled in the majestic Alps, the city is comfortable with surrounding superlatives: some of the world's deepest lakes and most inspiring peaks. The pace of things is slower than in cosmopolitan Vienna or Munich—you'll want to make time to enjoy the riches of this magnificent city. Like most fairy tales, the city of Salzburg is home to fantasy; but the twist is that it's all real.

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European Salzburg0Austria0Travel0Guide

· First Things First
· Where to Stay
· Getting To Your Hotel
· At Your Hotel
· Around Salzburg
· Food, Coffee, and People
· Top Ten
· If You Have Time

First Things First

The center of the last great Empire of Europe, Austria is a veritable jewel box of some of Europe's most beautiful treasures. Salzburg, it has been said, is a fairy tale, and the Salzach River the city's lullaby.

Austria is a member of the Eurozone, the group of countries that uses the Euro currency (€). Prices below are expressed in U.S. dollars for convenience; check the rate of exchange prior to arrival in Europe. German is the native tongue of most Austrians, though English is widely spoken, especially in Salzburg, Vienna, Innsbruck, and Graz.

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Where to Stay

Salzburg is easy to tackle on foot, and public transportation is reliable and inexpensive. If you are traveling by rail to more cities than Salzburg, you'll find it very convenient to stay near the main rail station, with access to local public transportation, a tourist office, ATMs, and other services.

You may wish to stay at the Hotel StieglBrau, a comfortable, 4-star property near the bahnhof (train station). While you're there, enjoy a Stiegl, the excellent local beer from which the hotel gets its name.

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Getting to Your Hotel

...From Salzburg Maxglan Airport
If you arrive at Salzburg's small airport, you will find buses and taxis available to transport you downtown. Taxis cost about $12-$20 a ride; buses run every 15-30 minutes and cost between $3 and $4 each way. Sharing taxis with other travelers is common.

...From Salzburg Hauptbahnhof
There are several hotels right by the train station. This makes life very easy. Otherwise, there are many buses that depart for various parts of the city. Check with the information desk or tourist office in the station.

Taxis are available in a long line outside of the train station. A ride for one or two persons and baggage will cost about $12. Some drivers charge more for additional riders. Don't worry, they're not scamming you. They are supposed to charge you more.

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At Your Hotel

Pick up a free city map and other helpful information. City information can usually be obtained in hotel lobbies or from the front desk.

Check in, freshen up, and, with your bags unpacked, your room key in your pocket, and some euros to spare, you're ready to take on Salzburg!

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The two parts of the city, Altstadt and Neustadt, lie on opposite sides of the Salzach River. We have compiled a list of the ten things you just can't miss, a few more you should do if you have time, and finally a warning again one tourist attraction that more of an urban legend -it doesn't really exist.

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Top Ten:

Sound of Music Tour: A guide who sings along to "My Favorite Things" is just one part of this admittedly hokey tour. The 4-hour escapade includes a brief city tour, a ride into the Salzkammergut (the mountains around the city), and stops not only at some on-location spots from the movie but also at a few really cute villages. They'll come and pick you up at most hotels, and the tour costs about $24.

Mirabel Gardens: There's a small Sound of Music connection (the end of the Do-Re-Mi song on the steps to the south), but more importantly, the gardens and palace are two of the most romantic spots in this idyllic city. Admission is free most of the time, but you'll have to buy a ticket to get in if there's a concert taking place.

Festung Hohensalzburg: That giant, imposing fortress on top of the hill is the former headquarters of the city's defense. Today, it offers fantastic views of the city, as well as tours. There are a few places to eat, and a nifty funicular as well. If you choose to skip the funicular ride, then you're in for an invigorating hike to reach the top of the hill. Admission is about $4.

Mozart Geburtshaus (birthplace): Even if it's a little pricey, the tour is enjoyable. The collection includes many original instruments, as well as Lange's (unfinished) painting, Mozart and the Piano. Admission is about $7. (You may combine tickets to this home and the Mozart Wohnhaus (residence) and save a few euros.)

Residenz and Residenzplatz: The state palace is just north of the Domplatz and was once the home of the prince-archbishops of Salzburg. The collection is phenomenal and includes many European masterpieces dating from the 16th to 19th centuries. Admission to the staterooms is about $6 and another $6 for the gallery. Leave yourself half an afternoon for this tour.

Music: Somewhere in Salzburg, there is a concert or other musical performance almost every evening. Check with your hotel concierge or the tourist office to find the venue. If you're hoping for a concert at the fortress or one of the larger churches, or even (gasp!) tickets to an event during the summer music festival, inquire and reserve well in advance. At the end of the year, don't miss one of the churches holiday concerts.

Glockenspiel: This means two things: 1. The Glockenspiel restaurant on the Residenzplatz is a little expensive, but is perfect for an afternoon break. 2. listen carefully several times during the day and you'll hear the ringing of the 35-bell, 18th-century glockenspiel all around Residenzplatz.

Gulaschsuppe: Hot, spicy, palatably exotic, and served with a little bun, it's the perfect snack for cold nights. If you're enjoying it during the summer, wash it down with a Stiegl, Salzburg's excellent local beer. (Really, this brew is one of Europe's best.) You can find it in most cafés and restaurants.

Streetside Snacks: Hundreds of kiosks are set up all over Salzburg, especially around Mirabelplatz and along the Salzach. Sausages come with or without cheese, some wrapped in a bun, and all spicy and filling. Most kiosks also offer sundry (fattening, yes, but vegetarian) potato goodies, along with hot and cold drinks and some sweets.

Shops: Take a morning or an afternoon to head to a shopping area just beyond the well-visited city center. On the streets between the rail station and the Neustadt, for instance are fantastic, if not charming shops with great selections and prices.

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If You Have Time:

Churches: There are several cathedrals and churches all around Salzburg. Try dropping by at randrom and you might catch a lovely little concert.

Kapuzinerberg: Off the quaint Linzergasse is a passageway to the Kapuzinerberg trail, which leads up to the monastery and beyond. Take this on if you have the energy (it's a bit of a challenge) and time to stop and stare at the panoramic view of Salzburg.

Spring, Summer, and Fall Boat Trips: Board the infamous Amadeus ship for a cruise along the magical emerald waters of one of the most romantic rivers in Europe for about $11, or add a Hellbrunn Palace tour for only a little more.

Youth Hostel, Paracellsusstrasse: Come and watch the classic Sound of Music film. You can have a beer and a gulaschsuppe while you watch, gathered in a small dining room/theatre with Mariaholics from the world over. Also, head downstairs to a veritable graffiti museum "collected" by countless travelers over the decades.

You obviously can't do it all, so save yourself some time by forgetting about the convent cemetery from the Sound of Music where the pistol-shy Rolf blew the whistle on the Von Trapps. The cemetery shown in the film was constructed in a soundstage in Hollywood for the movie. The cemetery it's based on is not as thrilling and is very small.

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