Exploring Salzburg: Getriedgasse, Easter Eggs, and Dirndls
By Teresa Kao
I spent the day walking around altstadt (“old town” in German) and I am exhausted! I got a good night sleep in my very comfortable and quiet hotel, Villa Carlton. They use a hotel card to govern electricity in the guests rooms, something I have encountered only once before at the Royal Palm in Gabarone, Botswana. I have no idea if this has become common in Salzburg. Upon entering you room, you slip a card into a slot in a little box and then all the lights work. No card in box, no lights. Naturally you take the card with you when you go out, so nothing is left on.
A word about toilet paper. When we were in Salzburg in 1968-69, the toilet paper in our house was kind of a rose color with the texture of dense crepe paper. It took some getting used to, though it was preferable to some we encountered that were like lightly waxed paper. Most unhelpful. The toilet paper at my hotel is white, dense and deeply textured. Progress has been made!
It was a beautiful, sunny day as I walked along the Salzach River.There are many churches in Salzburg
and periodically bells would ring, real bells, not recordings of bells. Very Beautiful. The Salzach is a nice sized river. Big enough to be an actual river but not so big that it dominates everything. People are constantly crossing this river.
Mayor Sam Adams would approve of Salzburg’s traffic arrangements.There are streets and bridges entirely devoted to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. A small number of streets are thoroughfares and very busy. Side streets have cars only when they have business to be there. I’m sure this approach was adopted because so many of the old streets are quite narrow and cars on them, as they were back in my day, were a nightmare. Bikes can go most
anywhere so they are very popular.
I crossed the river on one of the pedestrian bridges and noticed a great number of padlocks fastened onto the cyclone fencing. They appeared to have things writing on them. Finally I stopped a young woman and asked her. Her English wasn’t much better than my German but between the two of us, I learned that couples put their nameson the lock, then lock it to the bridge to convey their love and commitment. If they break up, they remove the lock. A lovely and tangible custom!
I walked up and down Getriedegasse, the main shopping street. Unfortunately it wasn’t yet 10 am so many shops weren’t open. So I eventually found a sidewalk cafe that was situated in bright sunshine with many happy looking people. I ordered some fresh squeezed orange juice, and it really was fresh squeezed. I sat and sipped and read, and watched the most amazing thing unfold. When I arrived, a group of children with accompanying adults had taken places around the sidewalk surrounding the cafe. Maybe kindergarten age. Their adults had espressos while the children ate snacks. Gradually more groups arrived. At the time I thought they were all preschoolers but probably a little older. I don’t know, only that group after group after group filed in in a line, then seemed to mill around in an ever growing throng. Clearly the restaurant staff was not surprised by it so it must have been planned. Children are not quiet, and the noise swelled. It seemed like every child in Salzburg must be there. Then finally one group left. Then another. Oddly, every group went into and through the restaurant before coming out and filing off after their adults. Nobody got lost or messed up so they must do this all the time. They headed down
streets with buses and trucks whizzing by. I don’t know what it was about, but I can’t imagine it happening in Portland.
I’ve been trying to think what it is about Salzburg that calls to me so deeply, and maybe this is one of those things. Salzburg is a world of its own. It hasn’t succumbed so much to customs of other places. For example, some things that I really haven’t seen elsewhere. A store full of easter eggs. These looked like the sugar kind you make in a mold then decorate. This picture shows only the front of the shop. Other rooms were equally full of easter eggs.
Dirndls (a traditional German dress, based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants) continue to be offered in the shops, only now they are
more stylish, better looking in better colors, and sometimes really, really expensive. Who wears dirndls but Salzburgers, yet they continue to be styled and made. Never mind that everybody else has moved on to a small set of styles decided elsewhere. It’s a world unto itself. Salzburg women are wearing great looking dirndls.
I did see a few shops with familiar fashion names, but not many. There is now a McDonalds on Getriedegasse but no (as far as I could see) Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I found the Dom (Cathedral) and the square next to and behind it where I used to buy books. They always had a nice shelf of English books. It is no longer in that original location but one similar isn’t too far away. This is the only bookstore I have seen so far.
On my way back to the hotel, I stopped at Mirabel Garten. This was used in Sound of Music when Maria fled back to the Abby. It seems to me that it is not as well kept up as it was in my day, but it might be simply that it is too early in the season.
For dinner I went to Sternbrau, a huge restaurant with many rooms and a garden. I remembered eating there years ago. I had celery soup and beef goulash, and did a lot of staring at the beautiful paintings that are painted on the walls. As I was leaving, I walked by another large room and recognized it was where we generally ate back in the day. It is now a dinner theater that plays a Sound of Music Review year round. The show wasn’t yet on but it sounded everyone was already having a great time!
Follow Teresa’s Salzburg Journey!