In December 2015, more specifically on 24th and 25th of December we decided to go on a trip to Salzburg with my brother and sister in law. We promised to ourselves that when we go to Slovenia for a longer period of time, we will also try to travel around as it is such a convenient starting point with so many options (Vienna, Budapest, Venice, Zagreb, Tuscany…). 🙂
We usually wouldn’t travel on Christmas and spend it with family, but unfortunately that was the only way all four of us could go on a trip together, seeing we all had to adjust our time off. One thing we were not aware of – Austrians take their National Holidays seriously. And when I say seriously, I mean everything is closed.
Austrians take their National Holidays seriously. And when I say seriously, I mean everything is closed.
We decided to drive there by car as it is only a 4 hour drive. On the way we stopped at a Salt mine – more specifically Salt Mines Salzburg, Bad Dürrnberg. If any of you are wondering – we are not big fans of salt…. or rocks. Sure enough, we do enjoy it with food (the salt, not so much rocks), but that’s pretty much it. The reason we wandered there was because my brother took a bit of a stroll down memory lane. He remembered the good old days being in high school visiting the mines on a school trip.
If I am even more honest – we did it for the wooden slides that my brother oversold. And because we are adults failing at adulting on that specific day. The ticket for an adult will cost you 21€, but remember – you are in Austria, so that is not too bad. First, they dress you up in mining clothes so you don’t damage your own – that was too much fun for us. Later on you take a small little train deep into the mountain – it’s not the fastest, but it’s not the slowest either. Make sure you don’t wave your hands around.. *khm* Dave *khm*. The tour takes us through the mines as we discover the history behind the “white gold” also known as salt. The tour is between 1 – 1,5 hour long and it includes sliding down 2 massive wooden slides (the second one you can slide down more than once.. I hear.. I wouldn’t know)… They are extremely fun and fast and the tour also includes a very romantic boat ride across a lake inside the mountain. We went during Christmas time, so there was also a small performance there for us – 2 girls dressed as angels singing and a Christmas story. The kids were also given a salt stone… and most of the adults as well. You will also receive a small little package of salt in the end. Or you can just lick a rock. Like Dave. 🙂
Overall, it was an interesting experience, definitely something new to see and very educational. Maybe a bit pricey, especially if you come from a country that is not used to Austrian prices. 🙂
We also went for a quick stroll through the Celtic Village afterwards, which I found very interesting, others not so much so we decided to get on our way to Salzburg.
Upon arriving to Salzburg, we checked in Jufa Salzburg City hotel (rated 3.5/5 on Tripadvisor). I get a lot of questions asking me how we can travel so much – we are not complicated and we travel on a budget. We see no point in staying at 5* hotels, because that for us is just a bed we crash in at the end of the night. Don’t get me wrong – we still wouldn’t stay just anywhere. We make sure the price is reasonable, what it includes and as a couple, we usually prefer a bit of privacy. 😉
I personally expected this to be a student home turned into a hotel during the holidays, but I was wrong – it was actually quite lovely. The city centre was a 5 minute walk away, the rooms and the bathroom were clean and nice. The price was very cheap ( I think I paid 80€ for 2 double bedrooms on Christmas Eve) and it also included a self service breakfast with lots of choices and a lovely view of the castle (in some rooms as well). Overall very good value for money. 🙂
Two things I didn’t like were bad wi-fi and staff not really being of much help on that specific day. Because it was Christmas Eve, we were told the Christmas market was closed, and then it was opened, and then it was closed again. We were also recommended a nice traditional Austrian restaurant that was closed and was supposed to be open.
To go back to what I have mentioned at the beginning – Austrians take their holidays very seriously. Everything was closed on Christmas Eve. We arrived quite late seeing we stopped at the Salt Mines so we headed straight out for dinner. There was 1 Italian restaurant opened just a few minutes away from our hotel. Hoping to eat some traditional Austrian food and craving a garlic soup we have decided to keep going and find another restaurant. An hour later and a restaurant that we thought was opened until someone yelled after me in German we have found another, you guessed it, Italian restaurant. We decided to stop fighting a losing battle of hunger and went in – and what a good choice it was. The restaurant was absolutely packed and by the time we were leaving the line for a table was through the door.
One impression I did get though – the people to this point were not very nice to us, which was a very big shock to me, because I have Austrian friends here in UK. I don’t know if it’s because of German language sounding a bit harsh to us or maybe just because we are used to living in UK where everyone is so fake-polite. 😀
So day one, we had a stroll through Salzburg and a barely opened Christmas market, had dinner, crossed the bridge with locks on it, pretended a D+N lock was ours for Instagram, went for a stroll through Mirabell gardens, played on a massive slide next to Mirabell gardens, went back to the hotel, grabbed a beer and went to sleep.
The second day we did more touristy stuff. First of all, we visited the Christmas market – I have never seen a single Christmas decoration that would be selling for 25€ each.And that was the cheapest one. The market was cute, but overpriced. We all had a go at “lucky dip” – you had to put your hand in a machine and catch a flying paper with a number on it. I received a very weird Austrian CD with 3 versions of the same song talking about a mouse (?) and we also had a full trunk of apples on the way back. Dave had an Austrian sausage, I had a pretzel and my brother and sister in law kept craving the garlic soup.
We then decided to visit the Hohensalzburg castle. We were all super excited about this one – it takes you back to being a kid and pretending to be a knight (I guess I am still very young and can pull this kind of stuff off). I love, love, love castles. I love castles in Slovenia, I love castles in Austria, I love castles in UK… I LOVE CASTLES. 🙂
The castle is a MUST SEE – you can get there either taking a gondola (and pay for it) or you can walk. We didn’t budget there, we were very lazy and on holidays, so we took the gondola. It also included a tour – go on the tour, it’s worth it. I am not one to go on tours as I am a Tour Guide and usually prefer walking around the city with a travel guide in my hands, embracing the energy the city gives me. This audio tour however, was short, on point and very educational. I thought the tour had ended far too quickly.
We later went to see Mozart’s house, bought some Mozart Kugeln chocolates for us and the family and went to the oldest cemetery in Salzburg (not my choice). I, personally, would skip the Petersfriedhof cemetery, because the sight of forgotten graves (people) makes me sad. I wish for every person to be remembered and to keep on living in their family’s hearts even after they are gone, but the cemetery is so old those people are gone as well. I also am not a big fan of making a cemetery a tourist spot. But anyway, to get back on point – we also visited St. Peter’s Abbey and have later driven to the St. Augustine’s brewery, but like many other things, it was closed.
We left Salzburg quite early to visit family on the way back and to spend Christmas together. 🙂
Salzburg to us was a perfect little weekend trip and we would love to go back – it is absolutely beautiful and gives you some sort of unexplainable inner peace (it might’ve been the quiet Christmas time). Unfortunately for us we didn’t quite get to discover everything we wanted to due to most of the things being closed, but that gives us the perfect reason to visit again.
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