A rainy day in Mozart’s birthplace can still be a fine day.
This ornate weather station on the streets of Salzburg wasn’t required to know that our day to tour was one of 165 days of rain they average per year. We let our smiles be our umbrellas and carried on nonetheless.
A poster in the cinema window shows “The Sound of Music” on the current playlist of movies. It is listed and playing in English. Our guide explains that the film was not well received here when translated to their native German (there is no language known as “Austrian”) but more and more people are fluent in English and the lyrics make a far better sound and rhythm in the tongue for which they were written.
Our first pass by the Salzburg cathedral helps teach the history of this place. Golden dates over three doorways indicate (1) construction in year 774; (2) first major renovation in 1628, and (3) most recent renovation in 1959. Many buildings in the center area of the city have two or more dates, which designate the origination and most recent update. Otherwise, these entrances do not enchant the eye, but we will later find the views that delight as we have now seen the view that explains.
We visit Mirabell Gardens, on the grounds of a relatively simple palace by the same name. While others see charm in recalling the scenes of movie children dancing through this area, some of us focus on the eye-popping beauty of a flower we have never seen, which is imported from Japan, grows on this fertile ground, and carries the title “Crown of the Emperor.” These dangling yellow blooms (appearing in a bright orange as well) form a bell shape consistent with the Mirabell moniker of this space. The topping tufts of greenery bring to mind the hair of some Dr. Seuss characters. Many other colorful blossoms enliven a rainy day, but there is no question that the Emperor rules this place at this time.
We peer through raindrops along Salzburg’s featured shopping street and a familiar name appears in gold on blue, alongside flags that provide contrasting hues to the gray skies. What we expected might be a grand boulevard of shops is hardly wider than an alley, but home to a wide range of merchandise from jewels, to clothes, body sprays, food, and more. Equal in range is the source of goods, from Austria’s traditional clothing to the iconic American import, McDonalds. The same avenue is also the location of the home where one fellow named Mozart was born in 1756. History and culture are here on Getreidegasse street.
As our group approaches a bridge across the Salzach River through town, buildings in plentiful limestone white stand out through the drops. Fading into the mist is the literal “house on the hill” that is the dominant Hellbrunn Castle over the town. There will be no visit to the castle, as there would be no vista from the castle on this day of dampness.
We found in Salzburg a “panorama” painting on permanent display in a cylindrical room of the local museum. The room was “in the round,” because this painting, for which the room was constructed, is a full 360-degree scene of the countryside of 19th-century Salzburg, before there was actually a city. The room is at least 30 feet across to embrace the massive work of art that is also 15 to 20 feet high. Our photos could not truly capture the view of the painter, which is that of standing atop the hill that is home to the castle and looking in every direction at the land below, seeing in telescopic fullness the scenes of life on the land below, including active farms, leisurely strolls, conveyance on the river by many means, laundry hanging to dry, etc. There was an incredible amount of detail in the massive painting, and our photo shares just one beautiful portion but does not encompass more than one percent of the vast canvas.
The glow of Salzburg cathedral seems to emanate from the walls themselves, with a view that dramatically reaches toward the heavens.
A Madonna statue dominates the courtyard of the cathedral of Salzburg. She is not alone when viewed from just this angle to examine the area just above her head. Perhaps this is a coincidence, but perhaps not, since rulers in times gone by felt there was a special relationship between themselves and the heavens. See our detailed zoom toward the golden crown of the cathedral that seems to hover above Mary.
Not only does the crown on the walls of the cathedral seem to be ready to alight on the top of the head, but it is being placed there in the careful care of the delicate hands of angels.
Salzburg and other locations, most often away from the big cities, find occasion to don traditional dress, which for the ladies is the outfit known by the word dirndl. Here a shop stands ready to attire those of Austrian heritage or passers-by that desire to set a new American trend for fashion. In our group there were no purchasers on this day.
Men’s fashion in the shop windows of Salzburg suddenly caught my eye. But where women’s quaint traditions of dress grabbed attention, it was the return of the 1960s Nehru collar that stunned me now. Could it be that such a style will again grace the world stage outside the Indian peninsula?
Sharp dressing is not only the prerogative of the people in Salzburg. On this day we return to the ship for the introduction of the staff, and here the dining room group greets us with smiles of welcome. They will quickly learn our names, preferences of drink, and even allergies that need to be coddled; it is a fine bunch and we will enjoy being in their care for eight days on the Danube River, cruising our way to Budapest.
The scene that awaits us every morning, noon, and night is that of linen table cloths, buffet breakfast and lunch with omelet and pasta stations, respectively, concluded by four-course dinners. We will meet new traveling partners at most meals, adding to the sense of learning and shared experience.