On Monday, we headed by rail from Vienna to Salzburg, a little over two hours. A perfect blue sky provided a nice background for the manicured countryside of rural Austria.
Salzburg is much smaller than Vienna, but when we arrived at the rail station, we saw perhaps 100 police officers, operating in large groups, more in total than we have seen in all the other European cities we have visited combined. We were told that this was because small Salzburg has been inundated with Syrian migrants.
A few weeks ago, the Salzburg station, which has a small shopping mall, was full of migrants using it as a homeless shelter. At that time, Salzburg almost closed the station, which became a point where migrants, destined for Germany, were being brought by bus, cars and taxis from other parts of Austria.
In addition to the huge police presence, there was a large temporary Red Cross shelter, manned by military troops, outside of the station. And, there were large banners from the city welcoming migrants.
Salzburg itself was busy with tourists with nice fall weather. We put in 14 miles of walking in the afternoon and evening, some of it along the Salzburg River that divides the city. On the one side, the Mirabell Gardens, made famous in the film Sound of Music, is the main attraction. On the other side, the focal point is the many shops with Austrian specialties and traditional and expensive Austrian clothing. We saw the Mozart birthplace, a bright yellow building in the city center. The St. Peter’s cemetery is unlike any you have ever seen with tombstones dating back to 1288. The cemetery provided inspiration for a similar one in the Sound of Music.
The most visible architectural symbol in the city is the white Hohensalzburg Castle that stands watch over all the city. Although there is a funicular (cable railway), we climbed the path to the castle. The castle built in 1077 is the largest preserved castle in central Europe.
From the castle, we walked the magnificent Monchsberg, one of Salzburg’s mountains, that is largely a park with trails, and is a quiet recreation area generally known only to locals. One vista provided great views of snow-capped mountains.