I just got back from three days in this consummately Gemütlichkeit
city, my mission from The Star to check out how Opera Atelier's Marshall
Pynkoski and Jeanette Zingg did with their production of Lucio Sella at
the 2013 Salzburg Festival.
That left me free to enjoy the rest of Salzburg, although if you've never
been here during Festival season, it's worth the trip for that alone, not just
for the quality of the presentations, but for the sight of a whole city dressing
up despite the heat (which reached as high as 38C!) in traditional Austrian
costumes which make everyone look like Captain and Maria Von Trapp. (See photo above of the actual Von Trapp family in a trip to Salzburg a few years ago.)
Ah yes, the Von Trapps. I think most of us know Salzburg from the fact that
it lovingly served as the setting for The Sound of Music, one of the most
popular films ever.
In fact, I'd been here before for The Star, in 2008, with the 10 final
candidates for the role of Maria in the Mirvish production of The Sound of
Music, which provided fodder for the CBC series How Do You Solve a
Problem Like Maria?
But I'd made the serious strategic mistake of not bringing my wife, Pamela,
on that trip, a woman of Teutonic heritage and a fierce devotion to raindrops on
roses, schnitzel with noodles and all those Von Trapp-ish favourite
So this time, I promised to show her around in high style and, for advice,
I turned to Bert Fink, the Senior Vice-President/Europe for Rodgers and
Hammerstein. He had squired me around during my earlier stay and I counted on
him to provide welcome advice.
He cut through the dozens of Sound of Music tours available and
urged us to take the one offered by Panorama Tours (www.panoramatours.com).
We're glad he did. It's a full four-hour outing, where you get to visit most
of the sites found in the film, as well as a glorious drive through the
"mountains and lakes" scenery that Robert Wise used in his montage
Best of all was the visit to Mondsee, a simply beautiful lakeside town 30km
from Salzburg where the actual wedding of the Captain and Maria was filmed in a
magnificent Gothic cathedral. It's also the home of the Cafe-Konditorei Braun,
which has won numerous awards for its apple strudel and it's easy to see why.
Flaky crust, perfectly seasoned apples and a choice of vanilla sauce, vanilla
ice cream or both. Guess which I picked?
Back in Salzburg, with pastry still on our mind, Pam and I discovered a
true gem on a tiny side street in that incredible maze called "The Old Town."
It's the Schatz Konditorei at Getreidegasse 3. It's tiny and charming and
could have come right of an Ernst Lubitsch film.
The staff are delightful, the coffee perfect and the sachertorte is worth a
trip to Austria all on its own. Am I talking a lot about food? Sorry, but that's how you roll in Salzburg.
Even a classy evening of Mozart opera selection, perfectly performed by five
musicians and two singers, was made even better by being accompanied by a
three-course dinner served in St. Paul's, an 8th century restaurant that can
probably lay claim to being the oldest in the world.It's definitely worth checking out!
There's tons to see in this historic town and you'd be well advised to
purchase a Salzburg Card, which offers you free access to all major sites and
most public transportation. It's a real bargain. And when it's time to leave, treat yourself to one last dinner at the
K&K Restaurants Am Waagplatz.
Downstairs is a casual bistro with a pleasant assortment of sausages and
schnitzels (which, by the way, NOBODY in Salzburg would ever serve with noodles!
Sorry, Oscar Hammerstein), but upstairs, on the top two floors, there's an assortment of intimate
dining rooms and a very ambitious menu that included rabbit, venison and other
delights. Their woodland mushrooms in a cream sauce served over dumplings is
with me still....in every sense of the word!