Winter break: Salzburg

Truth be told, I’ve never seen The Sound of Music. Somehow I ended up in Salzburg anyway, The Sound of Music Tour-less. But I prefer it that way. I don’t think any film could capture the city’s quiet intimacy, which I fell in love with instantly.

After meeting my fabulously fun hosts — a crew of German and Australian students and creative-types — I retreated to my resting place for three nights: a shoe closet. But this wasn’t any ordinary shoe closet. This closet could fit a mattress on its floor, and what’s more, it had a window. So when I awoke the following morning….

Magic.

With the exception of a ski trip years and years back, this was my first “proper” snow. And what a snow it was.

One could argue that any city looks beautiful covered in a white blanket. But would any city look this beautiful?

In any case, the snow melted a day later, and the city was still as charming as ever. Its Christmas market, smaller and less commercial than the famous lots in Vienna and Munich, was probably my favorite yet, with cheer and tradition behind every hand-painted ornament.

The absolute best advice I can give you about Salzburg, besides the obvious walks and sights and general enjoyment, is to consume the best cup of coffee in Salzburg.

220 Grad. It may not seem that groundbreaking for a San Franciscan, accustomed to the third generation coffee wave including the likes of Blue Bottle and Four Barrel. But 220 Grad is groundbreaking in Salzburg, where traditional coffee houses — more of the Viennese style — generally prevail. 220 Grad is modern and exciting, and its brew is rich and intoxicating.

There is not much, admittedly, to do in Salzburg. It’s a tiny city, and Mozart himself couldn’t wait to leave. And three nights is a long time in a city that can be traversed in 15 minutes. However, I never grew tired of those views from higher ground or across the water — absolutely enchanting every time.

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