Sarah Loughlin takes part in some of the local culture in the home town of the famous composer.
Hammering the spike further into the barrel, he starts to decant the beer into large heavy stone mugs. The froth gushes over the rim as he slides it across the counter. Local Austrians bustle through collecting their steins and washing them under the golden taps of the huge fountain in the middle of the room, before getting them filled to the brim with the cold, golden liquid. This is the Augustiner Bräu Kloster Mülln, a brewery started by monks in 1621.
Collecting our beers we make our way into one of the halls and take a seat at a large wooden table. There are a real mix of people here: groups of locals in lederhausen, couples, tourists, old men with their own beer mugs and only their dog for company. People appear quite happy to come here alone; so there is plenty of opportunity to chat to people. On our table we meet an Italian who used to live in Salzburg and now works in Shanghai, here visiting old friends. Later we talk to a local engineer called Marcus who tells us about spending his spare time at the mountains and lakes nearby.
Seeing people wander in with plates of food we decide to look around. There is a long corridor with stalls selling traditional Austrian cuisine, bratwurst, pretzels, all the meat and all the cheese you could ever want; as well as one stall that appears to sell boiled eggs and prawn crackers. ‘No, no’, corrected Marcus, ‘that is horseradish. We eat it with the meat’.
Re-filling our mugs we sit down to soak up the atmosphere, people laughing and joking over huge plates of food and drinks. Marcus explains about the plaques that we have noticed, fixed all over the walls, covered with different scripts and styles. Any group that meets here regularly can assign themselves a table, and receives a plaque with their club name nailed next to their allotted meeting space. He continues to tell us about the history and traditions the of the city, the culture of music and the famous composer that once called Salzburg home. Mozart. ‘If you are interested in music there is somewhere you have to visit’, says Marcus excitedly, ‘give me your map I will show you where to go, it is about 30 minutes walk away, if you leave now you could make tonight’s showing!’.
Quickly finishing up the last of our beer and pretzels we were sad to be leaving as it seemed the atmosphere would only improve throughout the evening, but we had a concert to get to!
St. Peter Stiftskeller, the oldest restaurant in Europe, offers candle lit, three course dinners accompanied by a concert of Mozart’s work. This beautiful building in the Old Town can be found tucked away in a courtyard just off the DomPlatz.
As we take a seat in the grand, vaulted room decorated with chandeliers and gilt candle sticks, we order drinks and wait for the other tourists to fill our table. Joined by an Irish family and a couple from Lithuania we chat excitedly about our day in the city, swapping hints and tips of where to go next.
The lights drop down and the musicians in period dress take to the stage. As the violins strike up everyone falls silent. The five-piece orchestra are joined by two opera singers and soon the whole room is mesmerised by their beautiful classical songs.
Between each of the three courses they take to the stage again playing highlights from Mozart’s classic operas. The atmosphere is truly magical, with food to match; desert is served with a chocolate silhouette of the man himself to accompany the grand finale. When I look at the drinks bill I almost spit my Gin and tonic all over the finely laid table, but I have to say, even at over €10 a drink, it was worth it. We finish the evening with a walk through the old town, taking in the evening air along the Salzach river.
Where to stay:
- Close to the old town – this means you won’t have far to walk in the evenings.
When planning your trip:
- Be careful – most things are closed on a Sunday so check opening times.
- Be sure to include a walk around the Mirabell Palace Gardens and a visit to the Salzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)
- Tired of walking? Take a horse and carriage trip through town from one of the locals.
St. Peter Stiftskeller – Dinner concert €54
Augustiner Bräu Kloster Mülln – See website for opening times and directions
Fortress Hohensalzburg – €11.30 Adult ticket including the train ride up
Mirabell Palace Gardens – Entrance to the Gardens is free