02.08.2010 - 04.08.2010
Salzburg is a gorgeous little town that was lucky enough to have the family of Mozart take up residence within its city walls. An entire industry has developed around Wolfgang and it is impossible to pass a store without seeing some reference to the famous composer. We try his chocolate, spray on his perfume, visit his birthplace, admire his violin, wrap our necks in scarves with his image, and eventually cover our head with an umbrella imprinted with his music.
It’s initally sunny in Salzburg but begins pouring by midafternoon and Analiese and I decide to hide out in a pink and white coffee shoppe serving saccretorte and merengue while Lang and Scott make their way to yet another castle. We have grown weary of castle hopping and are delighted to spend the afternoon people watching and drinking coffee. Around us, we see people scurrying to concerts, cellos slung across their backs and violins poking out of their satchels. The Salzburg Music Festival is in full swing and musicians and patrons from around the world are in town to participate. Through the open windows of buildings, we hear the strains of Mozart in the air.
One curious thing that both Scott and I keep encountering is standoffish-ness bordering on rude in the people who provide services. It is our first experience on this trip with feeling unwelcome and eventually I ask a friendly bookstore owner if she can help me understand. She explains that the patrons of the Salzburg Music Festival descend on the city each summer with lots of money to spend and a high degree of expectation for service. In no time, the shop owners and waiters and hotel clerks are feeling like servants. As well, the tickets for the Festival are very expensive and few in the city can afford to attend, so there is a resentment that grows during the summer as the city is overtaken with thousands of tourists enjoying a Festival that your average Salzburgian will never hear. She explains that we are seen as part of this crowd and are getting the treatment. But she assures me that the Austrians are actually a very warm hearted bunch who might be initially a bit guarded but will quickly open their hearts when they sense your appreciation. We thank her for the insight and we double our efforts to be gracious and appreciative.
The last time I was in Salzburg, I was with my sister-in-law, and I find myself thinking about her all day. Since entering this part of the world I’ve seen reminders of her everywhere – JOOP perfume, orange picnics tables with folding green legs, beer coasters, and wool clothing. Linda had a remarkable eye for spotting and collecting those things that gave pleasure to everyday life and I am struck by how much I miss her. I have wished all day that she could be with us and I feel her presence so strongly, that I wonder if she is.
As evening closes in, we spend the night in a restaurant just outside the main shopping district of Salzburg. Since we enter Italy tomorrow and will no longer have easy access to Bavarian beers on tap, Scott reluctantly agrees to order two or three more steins. We’re the only ones in the back part of this restaurant and our host is genial, so we take out a deck of cards and play until our food arrives. One of my tacit goals on this trip has been to impart the fine art of card playing to my children and I’m delighted to find that they both have a talent for calculating strategies and counting cards. Sadly, the beer has done nothing for Scott’s ability to track what’s been played and he loses badly (but cheerfully.)
Dinner over, we open our Mozart umbrellas and make our way back to the hotel in the rain. The concierge snarls at us as we enter the hotel but we smile kindly, hum a little Mozart, and head to our room.