When I was living in Helsinki, the joke was that the best tourist attraction of Finland is Stockholm. In the same way, Salzburg is the best kept secret of Bavaria, the southern German land. Carefully tucked in the Austrian Alps, just some 150 km away from Munich, Salzburg is a true fairy-tale city. Due to its supreme location, the city has never been conquered and, serving a central point of many trade routes, became fabulously rich. Carefully kept by its 150,000 inhabitants in its original state, Salzburg is not a subject to time: it looks today exactly as it did five centuries ago, with all the window shops of its most famous street Getreidegasse (and even McDonalds’) made in the same, adorable Medieval style.
Mozart’s motherland, Salzburg is a fantastic idea any time of the year. Which makes its magic double as Christmas approaches. Christmas markets are a tradition of German-speaking countries, with the first ones sprawling in Vienna in as early as 13th century. The idea of the market was then close to what we experience today: open-air strolls with seasonal crafts, foods and other delights, flavored by hot mulled wine. While every country today rushes to adopt this tradition, Germans (or German-speakers) still do it better. When I was living in Munich, Salzburg was my heritage, I would drive there when I wanted to be somewhere peaceful, gorgeous and pristine. It was there that I first celebrated the beginning on winter season, – for me, the most magical time of the world.
Without much further talking, I invite you to plunge into this winter fairytale with me.