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Posts from the ‘Side Trips from Vienna’ Category

Escaping the Heat by Indulging in some “Summer Freshness”

“I am longing to get out, like never before.”
(Ich sehne mich hinaus wie noch nie.)
– Austrian Painted Gustav Klimt, August 1, 1901 in a postcard from Vienna sent to his lady, Emilie Floge at Attersee (the lake in the countryside)

Austrian writers and artists have a long tradition of escaping the oppressive summer heat of Vienna (or maybe they are slipping away from the tourists?)  to spend some cool and artistically productive weeks in the Austrian countryside and the Alps.  They even had a special word for this – not vacation, not holidays, but rather “Sommerfrische” – Summer Freshness.

Sommerfrische referred not only to annual retreat time but also to the destination. When noticing the absence of their beloved coffeehouse poet, patrons of Cafe Central may have asked, “Where praytell is Peter Altenberg these days?” Whereupon the Oberkellner Franz would have no doubt responded, “My madam, Herr Altenberg is currently on Sommerfrische until the end of August.”

The idea of retreating to the countryside during the summer probably dates back to the time of the aristocrats (evidenced in the stories of Jane Austen or Dostoyevsky) in which the landowners had to tend to their fields in summer and returned to the cities for their dose of society and culture in the winter months (where also, no doubt, heating a city flat was much more manageable than maintaining a whole countryside villa or palace throughout the winter). This is why you will still find summer palaces (Schönbrunn which was at one time quite a bit of travel per horse and carriage from the city) as counterparts to the winter palaces (Hofburg).

Countryside around Weyer, Upper Austria

Countryside around Weyer, Upper Austria

As transportation improved, and with the advent of train travel, a greater part of society began taking off for Sommerfrische revitalization. Evidence of some of the most popular destinations remains today in the form of opulent Jugendstil train stations more befitting royalty than the local countryside folk. Those who could not afford a countryside home stayed in Pensionen and hotels. In some of these popular villages you can still find “Kursalons” where turn of the century Viennese would gather to waltz their summer nights away (because a Viennese cannot not waltz, even on vacation).

In addition to dancing, the Sommerfrischler liked to hike, swim, boat, sing, play music, take walks, play chess and one can only imagine stir up trouble for the locals.

Another beloved past time of the Sommerfrische, was the so-called Liebeleien or Gespüssis. Fresh air? Fresh faces? Or the distance that often separated a husband and wife for several weeks at a time (with wife and children tucked away in the countryside while the man often had “important business matters” to attend to in the city)? The fragrant wild lilac bushes, the potent self-brewed Schnaps and thousand-star night skies? These were a particularly “hot” (no pun intended) topic for the writers and many works written during the turn of the century expound on some of these passionately tragic liaisons.

Of course, some say that perhaps so many went on Sommerfrische, not for salacious entertainment, but rather as an act of succumbing to social pressure — who wants to be accused of being too cheap or poor to send the family away for some Alpine recuperation? Favored Austrian Sommerfrische destinations that are still wonderfully suitable today for a cool summer visit with some beautiful traditional Austrian guesthouses:



Salzkammergut: Wolfgangsee, Mondsee,
Weyer: Austrian poet, Peter Altenberg
And the favored swim destinations — Bad is a false cognate meaning “Bath”, NOT bad as in the opposite of good.
Bad Gastein
Bad Fusch
Bad Aussee
Bad Vöslau: Austrian writer, Arthur Schnitzler
Bad Ischl: the Emperor Franz Josef, Johann von Nestroy, Karl Kraus, who noted how many villas were being built for Viennese summer enjoyment, and commented that the mountains started to look more like decorations that had been put up around the Viennese Ringstrasse. Print This Post

More interesting reading on Sommerfrische:
Presse Article on Sommerfrische


Vienna Side Trips – Wachau: Boat, Bike, Wine

Print This Post One of the most beloved and beautiful outings:  A boat trip along the Danube combined with a bike trip through the Wachau vineyards in Grüner Vetliner country –  Krems / Stein / Dürnstein

A place that has inspired Viennese artists, satisfied wine connoisseurs (Grüner Veltliner land) and a legend of royal loyalty.

The region here along the Danube in Lower Austria is known as the Wachau (if you are hail from NC, you’ll be familiar with Wachovia, settled by Wachau immigrants). What Naples is to California, so is Wachau to Austria — for lovers of romance, white wine and quaint villages.  The mild climate and Danube valley location combine to make the Wachau the perfect place to cultivate white wine and that’s exactly what people have been doing here since the time of the Celtics (over 2000 years ago). Due to the hills, vineyards were planted in the form of terraces which you can see particularly well from the boat tour. The walls of these terraces were built without mortar, simply stone-on-stone.

Total time of outing: a day (no overnight) from Vienna

The direct train from Vienna to Krems takes an hour. Then you hop on a boat heading down the Danube to the town of Dürnstein, walk a half hour to the castle ruins (read castle tale below), bike through vineyards and along the banks of the Danube back to Krems. Along the way, have a meal (and some Grüner Veltliner) somewhere in the vineyards between Dürnstein and Krems. After arriving back in Krems, take a leisurely stroll through the old town, perhaps enjoy a mega decadent ice cream and then catch the train back to Vienna.

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Before you go you should:
A) decide how you will get your bike. You can either rent bikes in Krems and take them on the boat with you (not a problem but you a pay a little fee for this. The advantage is that you are good to go as soon as you are off the boat and return is simple) or you sign up for next bike (also good for Neusiedler outing) to reserve bikes from a bike rake at the port in Dürnstein and return the bike to the bike rake at the port in Krems (there is no one present to help you get the bikes and return them and you reserve them online). Read further for more info on both options.
B) Decide if you will take a taxi or walk 30 minutes from the train station in Krems to the boat dock. If you take the taxi, then have your hotel perhaps call a taxi company in Krems (numbers below) and have a taxi waiting for your train.

Map from Friedensbrücke Subway Station to Franz Josefs Train Station

Map from Friedensbrücke Subway Station to Franz Josefs Train Station

Getting there: Direct train from Vienna to Krems/Donau (!). There is a Krems, Steiermark and you DO NOT want to go there for this trip. So be sure to specify Krems/Donau. The best (most direct) is the regional express train (REX) from Vienna’s Franz Josef Bahnhof.

Map from Krems Train Station to Dock where boats leave to Dürnstein

Map from Krems Train Station to Dock where boats leave to Dürnstein

Franz-Josef Bahnhof is easily accessible with the subway (U-4, Station is Friedensbrücke) – it’s about a 5 minute walk from the subway to the train station. There is at least one train every hour (more often on weekdays). The train that leaves 51 minutes after the hour, is direct and arrives about 5 minutes before the next full hour (approx. 1:03 hrs later) in Krems. So if you are spending the day, catch either the 7:51 or the 8:51 am train. At the moment (April 2014), this train leaves from platform 4 and goes directly to Krems (arrival at 8:55 am or 9:54 am). Austrians would take the later train but since you aren’t sure where you are going and still might need to pick up your bike rental and buy boat tickets, maybe opt for the earlier option. The Krems Boat Dock has a lovely little gift shop and a café where you can have a cappuccino along the Danube while waiting to board your boat.

Bike Rental Options:

Map of Bike Rentals in Krems and Stein

Map of Bike Rentals in Krems and Stein

If you choose to rent your bike and take it with you on the boat, you might want to consider this bike rental place located near the dock. Have your hotel call ahead and reserve your bikes for the day you need them (or you call or send an email).

Firma Walter Völkl, Räder-Roller-Zubehör, Steiner Landstraße 103 (Eingang Donaulände),

Tel. +43(0)2732/710 71

Or go the do-it-yourself option:

 Next Bike: First register yourself as a user by calling. Then once you reach a bike stand, you call number again, give them the bike number you want and you’ll get a code. You can even reserve bikes if you want to be sure there are ones available when you arrive. Just make sure when you return the bikes to the bike stands at the end of your ride that the bikes lock into place or the clock will keep ticking and you will be charged more. (I admit, I did this once!).

Getting from train station to dock: Once you arrive in Krems: You can either walk from Krems train station to the Krems Dock or take a taxi. The distance is about 3-4 km. The walk will be about 20 – 30 minutes but you have no luggage and are fit, so consider this option. I’ve done it. So can you. But it is not a scenic walk since it follows a sidewalk alongside the road. Alternatively, you can have your hotel call Krems and arrange for a taxi to meet your train. Some Krems taxi numbers: 02723/72121; 02732/1718; 02732/85883. I have never done this but it should work.

Map of Dürnstein to Krems

Map of Dürnstein to Krems

Boat Tickets: At the dock, buy your ticket to Dürnstein. One way is about 16 € a person. If you have students in your group, ask about discounts. Boats leave daily at 10:15 am, 1:15 pm and 3:45 pm from Pier No 25 (the port is so small, they will direct you when you buy your tickets where to go). The boat cruise to Dürnstein takes exactly 35 minutes. Get a seat on the upper deck and buy yourself a cool drink – a beer or perhaps the Austrian version of 7-Up/Mountain Dew — Almdudler – a drink so irresistible with the dirndlerd lady and lederhosened guy on the bottle.

Danube Cruise in the Wachau

Video of boat and Dürnstein (it’s the blue church on Video):


Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Danube Boat Tour from Krems to Dürnstein

Quaintness all bundled up in one little village — at the foot of the Dürnstein castle. If the town of Dürnstein wasn’t situated here in the Danube river valley, it’d be under someone’s Christmas tree. The main road through town is a cobble-stoned pedestrian zone which will require you to walk your bikes. If you are looking for some souvenirs, here’s a great place. The region is known for its apricots and you can get some high quality apricot Schnaps here that will warm you from the inside out. Visit the “Stiftskirche Maria Himmelfahrt” / Church of Marie Accession (the church with the blue towers) built from 1721 – 1724. The blue color of the towers was rediscovered during restoration work in the 1980s and then adopted once again. Read more about Maria Ascension Church in German. Don’t know German? Admire the pretty pictures.

Dürnstein Castle Ruins: Yes. You gotta do this. Walk your bike through the town of Dürnstein and park it somewhere safe (past the cemetery a bit up the trail leading to the castle) so you can walk up to the castle. This isn’t the Bronx, the lock on the bike should suffice. Just don’t block the path; there are bound to be more hikers. Then embark on a short but steep walk. Trust me. It looks far more intimidating than it actually is and is definitely worth the sweat and strain. I’ve schlepped many a visitor up here, and every single one freaks out after about 5 minutes because it’s “so freakin’ steep.”  But think of your tightening derriere muscles and once we’re sitting on top of the castle ruins, you’ll thank me. You will exhale, and exclaim, “Wunderschön!” (Austrians at this point will usually pack out a bar of Milka, an Extrawurstsemmel and a can of Gösser or bottle of Römerquelle as a reward for a walk well done — so you might want to do as the natives too). And once you catch your breath, you’ll be taking the photos because it really does look oh so high and adventurous (who needs to know it only took a half hour?). You’ll get a great view of the Danube from up here and realize why the castle is so well-positioned (exactly at the curve of the river) and you also might spot some climbers on the rocks across the way — a favored climbing spot.

View of Dürnstein and Danube River Valley from Dürnstein Castle Ruins

View of Dürnstein and Danube River Valley from Dürnstein Castle Ruins

The Dürnstein Legend of the Kidnapped King, his Loyal Subject and the Power of Music (or be nice to people or they’ll get you)

No one will tell me the cause of my sorrow
Why they have made me a prisoner here.
Wherefore with dolour I now make my moan;
Friends had I many but help have I none.
Shameful it is that they leave me to ransom,
To languish here two winters long.
(Composed by Richard the Lionheart during his capitvity)

In 1192 (yes, 822 years ago(!)), Richard the Lionheart (Richard Coeur de Lion) was making his way back to England from his failed Crusades. Now you know how it goes, sneaking on your way home from a long journey to fight evil and ungodliness and the only route is through a neighbor’s yard who hates you. You could go the long way around and avoid said neighbor or take a short cut.

You see, Richard knew he had made a lot of enemies over the years. The French King Philippe Auguste was out to get him. And there was always the pirates to consider. So this nixed the idea of returning to the motherland by sea. But on land were the pesky robbers either out to mug or kidnap him. So he disguised himself as a lowly beggar to avoid capture (or maybe the paparazzi).

But life obviously isn’t always greener on the royal side of the fence.

Dumb, that the land route lead him through Austria – home of Duke Leopold – the guy Richard had insulted during the siege of Acre by tearing down his flag and telling him to scram. Leopold had a hissy fit and left but lived by the rule that revenge is best served cold.  So when Leopold’s troops in Austria discovered and captured Richard, Leopold surely did his happy dance.

But what to do? What to do?

There was always the Holy Roman Emperor to consider. The big guy always wanted to have his say in international spats on his territory. But the Emperor was no Richard facebook fan either because Richard once refused to recognize the Emperor’s authority by declaring, “I am born of a rank which recognizes no superior but God.”

Richard sure knew how to rub folks the wrong way.

But even if Henry IV despised Richard, there was of course all of England to consider, which kinda liked their guy. So Henry IV wasn’t sure what to do with their prisoner either. Do we ransom him to the French? To the British? Just kill the pest and be done with it? I know! Let’s pull a Scarlett O’Hara, and think about that tomorrow. Meanwhile we’ll lock him up in that castle in Dürnstein.

The English knew Richard had been captured but who knew where? Spies were sent but 007 didn’t exist yet so they failed, of course.

In walks Blondel de Nesle.

Blondel knew Richard from their escapades together in the Holy Land. Maybe he was a loyal follower of Richard I. Perhaps a faithful believer. The man could have also been simply crazy, stubborn, lost, bored or longing to have his musical talents discovered by royalty. In any case, Blondel trudged around to all the great castles in Europe playing his flute (“Will you tell that flute guy out there to stuff his pipe! We’re trying to eat our drum sticks and count our gold in peace in here!”).

Until finally…

He reached Dürnstein, played his flute and lo and behold, Richard popped his head out the window and started singing along! (OK, maybe not exactly like that). Well, according to legend, Blondel wasted no time getting his king out that very night. According to historical records, a lot of talking heads got together, had coffee and donuts, wine and drum sticks, and when topics for small talk dwindled, the English were able to secure Lionheart’s release.

Leaving Dürnstein, Biking through vineyards up Danube to Krems

Leaving Dürnstein, Biking through vineyards up Danube to Krems

Biking from Dürnstein to Krems: distance: 8 km (if you start in Spitz it is 19 km from Spitz to Krems (about a leisurely 2 hours bike tour))

Exit Dürnstein town and bike through the vineyards of the Danube valley. Be sure to stop at one of the restaurants in the vineyards for some wine and lunch or lunch and wine, whichever you prefer and your biking skills can handle.  If you see a vine hanging over a door, it means they are serving this year’s wine and probably food as well. A menu placed outside is another good indicator. Be adventurous and definitely aim for a place in the middle of the vineyards.

Once you have sufficiently eaten and quenched your thirst, continue your tour.

Grüner Veltlener Grapes in Vineyards in Danube River Valley, Dürnstein

Grüner Veltlener Grapes in Vineyards in Danube River Valley, Dürnstein

Bike onward to Unterloiben and get a great view of the Göttweig Monastery across the water up on the hill. Then you reach the town of Stein which inspired some of Egon Schiele’s most beautiful paintings. Here you can go through the Linzer Gate to the cobblestone lane of Steiner Landstrasse, straight ahead. Onward to Schillerstrasse, then veer left to the Wichner Strasse to Südtiroler Platz (square) and the Steiner Gate. On the other side of the Steiner gate, the pedestrian zone for the Old Town of Krems begins. You might want to return your bikes to the dock, though, before doing a walk through town.

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Ice Cream Reward in Krems

Ice Cream Reward in Krems

City walking tours in English of Stein and Krems:

Back to Vienna:

Direct trains from Krems back to Vienna are usually hourly and generally leave about 2 minutes after the hour and take 1:02 hours.

Back in Vienna, sit back, prop your feet up, admire your cell phone photos, pour yourself a glass of Veltliner and drop me a line about your adventure.

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Vienna Side Trips – Salzburg

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Print This Post As gorgeous as Vienna is, you might just want to “get out of the barn” for a few days and take advantage of Vienna’s perfect location in Central Europe as a jumping off point for some amazing side trips.

Zapitillo 2, Panama

Zapitillo 2, Panama

Because let’s face it – we all need a break once in a while – even if you’re in the world’s most livable city. And that’s the reason why I’ve been neglecting you the past two weeks. It’s true. I left my beloved Vienna and had an absolutely wonderful time in Palm-treed, Pina-Colada Panama. And the highlight? A spontaneous outing to the Zapatillas Keys – white sands, turquoise waters and a long walk around the entire uninhabited island of Zapatilla 2 with a cool smooth Balboa Cerveza to compliment the ocean breeze and the Caribbean sun.

Some locals recommended the day trip to Zapatillas and even though the snorkeling left me with a sunburned lip that could rival the best of the botoxed country club moms, I loved it. Which is why, dear readers, I am going to dedicate a few weeks to Vienna side trips. Just for you. The places I would take you. Because I don’t want you to miss these. Book yourself a long vacation – two or three weeks. You deserve it. See Vienna and hopefully a bit more.

This week’s recommendation?

A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (I will refrain from using the quote about his hometown of Salzburg and its archbishop in a letter to his father  on 12 July 1783 but it is oh so tempting because the man had such spunk)

Tricky couple in Salzburg

This tricky woman in Salzburg is keeping her man up in the air

Because the hills are alive and it just wouldn’t be right to come to Mozart country without seeing Mozart’s birthplace (Getreidegasse 9).

Hop on the train (Westbahn (run privately) or ÖBB (run by the Austrian gov) and in just under 3 hours, you are in Austria’s second most beautiful city (sorry Salzburg, but I love my Vienna).

Salzburg Card

Save yourself some money and get yourself the Salzburg card. You can buy the card with or without hotel. It’s a very good deal no matter what you decide. I would definitely recommend getting at least the 48 hour card if not 72 hour card.
Link for card with hotels:
Link for card without hotels:
Which sites are included:

I’m not getting any kickback on this card. I had to buy my own while there and did. The Salzburg Card will give you entrance to a lot of the tourist attractions AND serve as your public transportation ticket throughout the city and out to Hellbrunn (read more below) AND give you a boat tour of the Salzach complete with your boat doing a little waltz number in the water to the tune of Strauss (I am serious — cheesy – but you’re a tourist – drop the cool and embrace the cheesy).


The bridge linking Franz Josefs Kai and Ferdinand Hanusch Platz is solely for pedestrians and the one you will probably traverse to go to and from Mirabell Gardens. The first bridge was erected in 1905 and the latest version opened to much fanfare in 2001. More than 20,000 people cross this bridge each day. Don’t miss the romantic locks (and handcuffs) left by lovers on the bridge.

Locks of love on Salzburg's Makartsteg Pedestrian Bridges

Locks of love on Salzburg’s Makartsteg Pedestrian Bridges

Mirabell Gardens

Mirabell Gardens

Mirabell Gardens

What’s that hanging from the trees – Sloths? Monkeys? No! The von Trapp family singers! “Do-Re-Mi.” Remember? I walked through this garden once while a British children’s choir sang Elvis’ In the Ghetto. They sang behind some trees hidden in the park and their sweet little voices made the park all the more beautiful.

Mönchsberg Lift

(for your best Salzburg photo)
(included in Salzburg Card) Take incline up and take a leisurely walk to the castle through the woods – great panorama shots of the city and castle – leaves from Anton-Neumayr-Platz

Hohensalzburg Castle / High Salzburg Fortress

View of Salzburg Castle from square beside Salzburg Dom

View of Salzburg Castle from square beside Salzburg Dom

Practically a must-see – the breathtaking white castle on top of the hill in Salzburg is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Construction began in 1077 (!) and Hohensalzburg Castle remains one of the best preserved castles in Europe.

St. Peter’s Cemetery / Petersfriedhof

Church in St. Peter's Cemetery, Salzburg

Church in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Salzburg

(Go see this when going to Stieglkeller or when taking the Festungsbahn cable car up the mountain). You know this place already. Besides being Salzburg’s oldest cemetery, it’s the cemetery where “the dramatic flight scene of Sound of Music took place.” You remember the heart-stopping scene when Julie and the kids hid behind the tombstones and we weren’t sure whether or not sweet-kid-turned-Nazi Rolf would blow his whistle. The Cemetery is located at the foot of the Festungsberg and Hohensalzburg Castle.

Salzburg Dom - View from the Stieglkeller Terrace

Salzburg Dom – View from the Stieglkeller Terrace

Salzburg Cathedral / Salzburg Dom

Salzburg’s beloved Baroque cathedral founded in 774 (!) on the remnants of a Roman town and rebuilt after a fire in 1181. In WWII a bomb crashed through the central dome. The US bombed Salzburg 15 times and though our target should have been the train station, we very unfortunately missed our mark. If you’re interested, this website provides an overview of the US bombing of Salzburg complete with stats.

Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Table before the fun begins

Hellbrunn Table before the fun begins

Be sure to do the Hellbrunn Palace tour. The palace is a bit outside the main city but bus #25 (#25 – click here for PDF of schedule ) will take you there rather painlessly. And just for you, loyal reader, I have included the bus schedule here b/c I love when websites make my life easier too.)

Hellbrunn Tour - the Water Table

Hellbrunn Tour – the Water Table

The bus is free if you have the Salzburg ticket (see above) and easy to catch in the city. The palace is worth the effort – especially on a hot day. Just don’t be water shy (no matter how sweet you might be, you won’t melt) and maybe have some kind of plastic bag to cover your camera. That’s all I’m sayin. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Oh and one last thing – fight to sit at the head of the table when you tour the gardens. You’ll love me for it. And don’t forget to look for the Sound of Music Pavillon (“I am 16 going on 17”). If you are so inspired – do a selfie video of your rendition of Rolf or Liesl singing and hanging from the sides gazebo and I will post it here – no matter how off key you are. Bound to get me a few clicks.

(cause you gotta eat and the beer is really really good)


Entrance to Stiegl Keller Restaurant

Entrance to Stiegl Keller Restaurant

Austrian cuisine, great beer and dinner with the best view in town (see Salzburg Dom photo above for exact view from terrace)
(contact them ahead of time and reserve a table on the terrace for a time around sunset – have your hotel call for you) for a stunning view of Salzburger Dom. Last time we went, the weather didn’t cooperate and we ended up inside – also nice but not nearly as beautiful. So if you have to choose – do Müllner Bräu if the weather is lousy.
Reserve your table here:
Familie Gassner, Festungsgasse 10, 5020 Salzburg
Tel.: +43 662 / 84 26 81

Müllner Bräustübl

Dinner with the best monk-brewed beer (+ garden) and coolest Harry Potter style dining rooms
The monks do know how to drink – a bit of a walk and a bit hidden but super worth the effort, I promise.

Fuzzy photo of monk brew at Müllner Bräu - 1/2 L and 1 L Krugs

Fuzzy photo of monk brew at Müllner Bräu – 1/2 L and 1 L Krugs

Beer garden it for the evening and plan to walk or taxi it back to the hotel (this should be your last stop because you will need to enjoy a pleasant sleep after these brews). When you enter the building, you will probably think I led you astray because you might feel like you’re in the wrong place. But would I ever lead you astray? Go through doors, down steps and through the hall, pass a bunch of food vendors in the marble corridor (get your chicken later) and then go around the corner until you reach the doors to go outside. (Let’s just hope you really are in the right place at this point).

Just follow the others once you are inside or ask: “May I trouble you to ask where the lovely beer garden may be?” Always smile and rely on Austrians’ boundless patience with clueless tourists.

Now comes the point where you have to act strategically. One person in your party needs to queue for the beers (one person can generally manage two 1-liter beers in the big mugs (see fuzzy photo taken after beer) while the more nibble and intimidating person (martial arts experience perhaps?) in the party needs to see about engaging in the beloved Austrian contact sport of “Grab-the-free-table-at-the-beer-garden.” This requires quick reflexes and the ability to act blind and deaf if someone else claims they had it first. You see one free, grab it and secure the chairs with your life. Don’t let the Dirndls and Lederhosen fool you. Austrians are ruthless when it comes to snatching up a free table – no civilized waiter-shows-you-your-place here. Get to know the locals and other tourists a bit better and wrestle if you have to. It will be worth it. I promise. (and send pics!).

  And if nothing is free and someone dares to hog up a table much too big for their group –kindly ask if you can join them by saying “Ist das noch frei?” (Is that still free/available? Pronounce “frei” as if you are saying “fry” or “cry” – as in ‘I will cry if I can’t get a seat in this beautiful awesome beer garden’ And if you do join another party, at the end of the evening, you’ll all be fluent in the same language and the best of friends. And if you have extra seats, be gracious and let the desperate join your party). Be sure to use the same phrase (“Ist das noch frei?”) when trying to swipe an empty unused chair from another table.

If the weather is cold or rainy don’t fret — the dining room inside will make you feel like you are Harry Potter at Hogwarts – As an American, I have to say, this is how we picture the charms of the Old World and it’s even better. Epcot Center got nothin’ on this place! It alone makes a trip to Salzburg worth it.

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Last but not least, a somber but lovely poem from Austrian poet, Nikolaus Lenau, about that beautiful cemetery with my attempt at a halfway decent translation:

– Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau 

O schöner Ort, den Toten auserkoren,
zur Ruhestätte für die müden Glieder!
Hier singt der Frühling Auferstehungslieder,
vom treuen Sonnenblick zurückbeschworen.
Oh beautiful place, the chosen of the dead
 to rest their tired limbs
Spring sings here a resurrection song
summoned back by the view of the faithful sun
Wenn alle Schmerzen auch ein Herz durchbohren,
dem sein Liebstes senkt zur Erde nieder,
doch glaubt es leichter hier: wir sehn uns wieder:
es sind die Toten uns nicht ganz verloren.
When all pain pierces the heart as well
whose loved one sinks down to the earth
yet the belief „‘we’ll meet again‘ is easier here
the dead are not completely lost to us
Der fremde Wanderer, kommend aus der Ferne,
dem hier kein Glück vermodert, weilt doch gerne hier,
wo die Schönheit Hüterin der Toten.
The foreign wanderer, coming from afar 
who here no luck decays, yet likes to linger here,
where beauty keeps the dead
Sie schlafen tief und sanft in ihren Armen,
worin zu neuem Leben sie erwarmen,
die Blumen winkens, ihre stillen Boten
They sleep deep and gently in her arms
where she warms them to new life
The flowers wave, her silent heralds
(Translation KC Blau)