Ringing in the New Year in Salzburg, Austria

Over the next few weeks my travel tales may be slightly out-of-order. Kai and I just had the most dreamy holiday to Israel, and I really want to get back in the habit of sharing my adventures you while they’re still fresh in my memory! So today, Austria, tomorrow, the Dominican Republic, and then before I get into Vietnam (a trip we took back in March) I am going to go slightly out-of-order and share the photos from our most recent trip to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Truth be told, it’s hard not to start gushing now about how incredible our trip was to the Middle East – the people, the food, the weather, and the sights were some of the most spectacular I’ve experienced yet. But alas, I’ll keep this one focused on our time in Salzburg, a little European jaunt Kai and I took to ring in 2018.Honestly, this trip could have been planned a little better. Kai and I decided to spend Christmas with our respective families, so end of December he went off to Munich and I flew to Maine. But we also wanted to enjoy some of the winter holiday together, so we planned on spending New Year’s together :) I haven’t been in much of a party mood this past year, so instead of going out in Amsterdam or celebrating the new year with friends, we decided to book a cozy winter escape. This all sounds great and lovely, until I get to the part where a work trip crept up the following week back in North America. So I was in the US for 10 days, Europe for 3 days over New Year’s, and then back again in Eastern Time the following week for work. The jet lag was brutal and if Kai and I had planned better, we might have spent Christmas together and then gone our separate ways over New Year’s so I didn’t have to travel back and forth to North America like a mad woman. But say la vie, sometimes work trips don’t always fall at the most convenient time or on the most convenient continent. And when you see my Dominican Republic photos in the next post, you’ll feel me when I say, it was totally worth it!!

But on to Austria! I’ve been wanting to go to Salzburg for ages. All trips are born out of a different inspiration, and to be honest, mine are driven mainly by destinations that pop up on Pinterest or word of mouth. I love bookmarking beautiful, undiscovered places I find on around the web – spots my friends or travel guides have never mentioned before, but look like they could offer an amazing, unique experiences. On the flip side, I also love checking out a country or city that’s been recommended time and time again – for example, Iceland – that numerous friends have raved about (we shall meet someday soon, Iceland!) Salzburg popped onto my radar somewhat unconventionally while I was perusing Google Flights a few years back. I was toggling date and price, and the Google Flight page was suggesting various destinations around Europe. A photo of Salzburg popped up on the screen, and I immediately thought, I’d love to walk around that city in the winter with my camera. Fast forward a few years and here we are – Kai and I are wandering through the streets of this cozy Austrian city over some of the shortest days of the year. We expected the weather to be cold, so our priority was staying central. No long walks outside for us! And as we would be there for a few nights, we wanted a slightly bigger space, including a kitchen, so we booked the cutest studio on Airbnb, right smack in the historic city center. We loved how cozy this apartment felt, and as it was right at the base of the fortress, we knew we were in for some phenomenal firework views on New Year’s Eve. It had everything we needed for two nights – an ultra comfortable bed, a beautiful dining area, and a speaker (very important) so we could crank up the celebration tunes. There was also an adorable kitchen and lux bathroom, so we had all the amenities we needed, and were right in the center of Salzburg! There was a little balcony to boot, which I think would have been more appreciated in the summer months, but kudos for greenery outside in the dead of winter!Once we dropped our bags, food was the first order of business. We’d arrived just before noon and had both had a light breakfast so we could enjoy a hearty Austrian lunch for our first meal of the day!There are glorious food photo sporadically throughout this post, but I’ll mention all of the highlights here!

The food in Salzburg was very similar to what one might find on the menu in Munich – an impressive selection of wine and beer, hearty warm soups and stews, huge cuts of meat, lots of crusty bread, and creamy dumplings! Goulash, schnitzel, venison, wild boar, and strudel were abundant, and we were happily impressed with the number of hearty, warming dishes available in the cold weather. This is definitely a winter-time city, and most menus reflect that.The first spot we checked out was Gasthaus Zwettlers. I came across this spot on Trip Advisor, and took note as they were located conveniently close to our apartment and the photos looked very cozy (the theme of our trip!) When we first got into town, we noticed there was a line out the door, but when we doubled back a bit later we were pleased to discover the wait had diminished, so we wandered in and we were lucky enough to snag a table right away. Others who came in after us were turned away, so if you put this spot on your list, make a reservation or be prepared to wait.We kicked off our meal with red wine and a delicious roasted potato, cheese, and bacon soup.
Still hungry, we then moved on to mains. Kai had the schnitzel and I went for the beef goulash with dumplings. I’d never had goulash before and expected it to be served in a big bowl, and was surprised to find that a) it came on a plate and that b) Austrian beef goulash very closely resembles American beef stew! It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was delicious, and the more gravy for my bread dumpling, the better :) Also, pickles?? Random but welcome – I’m a pickle kinda gal ;)We found a few more great restaurants during our trip, but the vast majority of what we ate came from the food stalls around town. My German boyfriend loves pretzels, and so we shared a few a day, along with spiced nuts, hot chocolate, dried fruit, clementines, and basically any other winter bounty we could get our hands on! On day two we shared a big breakfast feast at The Heart of Joy (photos later in post!) which was fantastic, and on day three we had a high tea at the funky Afro Cafe which I’d highly recommend (keep reading for photos!) We were stoked to find these two great breakfast spots in a country where the first meal of the day is typical composed of meats, bread, cheeses, coffee, and jam. We had another fantastic meal out on NYE at Zipfer Bierhaus, which served classic Austrian food (hello more bread dumplings!) and a great selection of beer (keep reading for some shots of this one as well :D)The joy of vacationing in a winter-wonderland is that you can experience the magic of the city by just strolling around. Although I mentioned the cold weather, it was actually in the high 40’s to low 50’s the entire time we were in town. I expected it to be much colder and perhaps even snowy, but no such luck (did I just lament having good weather?!) On some winter trips you have to duck inside every fifteen minutes to thaw out your toes, however on this trip the weather was quite mild, and other than some rain on our first night, we were comfortable spending a lot of time outside! Our list of to-do’s was pretty short. We knew we wanted to walk up to Fortress Hohensalzburg to take in the view, and we also wanted to go on a long stroll along the river. Other than that we were pretty low-key, ducking into shops here and there or grabbing a bite or a drink when we were in the mood.Above is a photo of the adorable square by our apartment. On our first night we stayed local. After a late lunch at  Gasthaus Zwettlers we strolled around, popped into a pub a bit later for a drink and a snack, but otherwise got to bed fairly early (thanks jet lag!)

Day two was beautiful and greeted us with a big, blue sky.
As we started to get hungry, we strolled past The Heart of Joy and decided to stop in for some food. We were delighted to find a big menu with soups, salad, sandwiches, and egg dishes.
We went for a big spread of cheese, eggs, yogurt, bread, and humus.And found some dried fruit outside for dessert :)
For some reason I thought this photo of Kai tying his shoe was really cute ;)We then walked along the river, which was peaceful and situated just right to soak up the afternoon sun. We crossed through the square in front of our apartment, and then started the trek up to the fortress.
Ugh, I have to tell you how much I hate the jacket I am wearing in all of these photos. I got it four years ago and initially LOVED wearing it. It has amazingly deep pockets, a hood that makes me feel cute versus silly, and it’s just the right length to keep my butt dry when I cycle in Amsterdam in the freezing rain or snow (very important!) And as if this coat needed another selling point, lining of the coat is an owl pattern which basically means it was made for me, the owl lady (it’s from Elvine, a Scandinavian company that GET the cold). Anyways, it’s amazing but getting ratty, and I really need a new one. The hem is frayed and there are some leather pieces that fell off along the way, and it looks old, which it is. I’d buy the same one again in a new color, but it’s no longer sold, and this year’s jacket from the maker DIDN’T HAVE POCKETS. Alas, I still haven’t found a new jacket I love more, so I had to suffer through another winter in old faithful. The result is me feeling ‘meh’ in all of these photos. You may not be able to tell, but I definitely feel that way! So skim through the ones of me a bit faster ;) and keep an eye out for my new jacket next winter!The far shot:The middle shot:The close up ;)We also spent some time in the fortress’ gift shop, looking at puppets and other creepy toys.
After spending the entire day roaming the city, it was time to go home, warm up, and get ready for our NYE dinner. We really wanted to go to Zipfer Bierhaus, but when we stopped by earlier in the day, they said they were fully booked, and that we were welcome to wait for a table, but that they expected it to be slammed. So we devised a plan: happy hour at the apartment, get tipsy and semi-full, and then head on over to Zipfer Bierhaus around 9pm for a later dinner (when it was hopefully a bit slower) and just commit to spending some standing around waiting for a table. The plan started out swimmingly:
Our ‘snacks’ would have sufficed for dinner – cheese and sausages from the stalls, big cheesy pretzels cut up, yogurt dip, chips, and some veggies – but we wanted to eat as much Austrian food as possible while we were in Salzburg, so we activated our second stomachs and hit the streets for our last proper meal of 2017.The city was looking mighty festive, gearing up for the crowds and firework display at midnight :)And to be honest, the wait at Zipfer Bierhaus wasn’t too, too bad. There was a bar in the back where we got a glass of wine, and then we stood in line for about 30 minutes while waiting for a table. By the time we finished our wine, we were up, seated in a warm corner booth.More drinks were promptly ordered (celebration!) Along with schnitzel (breaded pork) and spaetzle (cheesy egg noodles), both for sharing :) I have to tell you – on the first warm spring day that Kai and I were dating (a few years back) we went to get ice cream cones. We walked into the shop, and Kai looked and me and said ‘what two flavors should we get?’ and it was at that moment I knew he was a keeper. We share almost all of our food (my dream lover) he usually let’s me pick not only one but both entrees (omg) and he eats more than me so I can taste everything but not feel guilty about wasting food (match made in heaven?!) Yes, I would happily keep this man as my forever-date ;) We ended 2017 with a final glass of red wine and a big slice of chocolate cake. When we returned to the main square around 11.30pm, things were hopping! We quickly grabbed a bottle of bubbles from our apartment, and settled in for the light show :)Also, how amazing is this full moon on the last day of the year?! A lot of the fireworks said things (below), but I am pretty sure it was in Austrian (LOL) otherwise this one is a left-over from 2006.Also, ohh man, did I mention that moon?!We ended NYC cuddling back in the apartment, reminiscing on an amazing 2017 together :) On our first day of 2018, breakfast was the big priority. It was a holiday, and we were nervous we might not be able to find a good spot early on in the day. But to our delight, we came across Afro Cafe, who serve a darling high tea and some fantastic caffeinated bevvies :) So we drank coffee, fresh juice, and carefully seeped tea . . .  . . and ate a VERY high pile of sweet and savory breakfast goodies!
We finished the day with a long walk through the charming city. Our flight back to Amsterdam was at 6pm and our Airbnb host graciously let us stay in the apartment until 4pm, so we strolled, watched Netflix, and finished up our snacks before heading to the airport.
I didn’t take many photos on our last day, because sometimes it’s nice to keep the tech away and just enjoy the moment, especially on the first day of the year :DAnd that is Austria kids! It’s funny, because when I first went through these photos, I was SO excited and eager to share. But now I am like, I have to hurry up and just POST these so I can get on to the good stuff, which is of course whatever just so happens to be the most recent. So I am going to try to hustle, and get caught up over this month. I have a week and a half in Maine at the end of June, and I definitely plan on bringing my laptop and enjoying blogging while taking a little break from work (which has been mental lately). So keep an eye out, because more goodies are coming soon ;)

xo Ali

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