Joyful Exuberance in Salzburg


I’m in Salzburg, lying in bed about 100 meters from Mozart’s dad. He’s just outside my window in the graveyard of St. Sebastian church. When in town, I generally sleep within easy earshot of its bells. The bells of Salzburg ring with a joyful exuberance. They wouldn’t if its citizens didn’t like it that way.

Yesterday, in a tiny village church, I lingered, but it felt lifeless. Suddenly the dozen or so tourists loitering around me burst into a rich, Slavic hymn-—invigorating the church. They were a folk group from Slovakia who explained, “We can’t be in a church without singing.”

This morning here in Salzburg, I went to the 10 o’clock mass at the cathedral. As hoped, a choir and small orchestra filling the loft turned the back wall into a wall of sound. I was with my camera crew, in a dizzying perch, high on the side, enjoying a privileged birds-eye view of the musical action. Far below me a thousand people faced the altar. I faced the loft, where for 2 years of Sundays, Mozart served as organist: baroque scrolls, dancing cupids, conductors’ batons, swirling the icing on a musical cake.


Enlarge photo

On the 250th year of his birth, the musical genius of Mozart is still powering worship. Walking home, a woman on a bike artfully towed a tiny wagon under the spires. On it was a tall, triangular, black leather case. I said “Wow, only in Salzburg…a bike, towing a harp.” She looked at me and added, “A Celtic harp.” At the ATM a few minutes later I met a woman from a Sweet Adelines choir. She said “We traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to sing here in Salzburg…the people love us here.”

Music seems to weather the storms of modernity very well. It wouldn’t, if the citizens didn’t like it that way.


21 Replies to “Joyful Exuberance in Salzburg”

  1. Great to follow along with you Rick.
    My wife and I were in Austria (with your book in hand of course) last summer and fell in love with both Salzburg and Vienna. The beauty of Salzburg and the livability and class of Vienna were the highlights of our 16 day trek around Central Europe. We are lucky enough here in Chicago to have the only Julius Meinl coffee shop outside of Vienna in the entire world. If you are ever in town coffee and dessert is our treat.
    Enjoy the music and a coffee and torte for us.
    Matt and Katie

  2. Our memory of Innsbrook Austria was a pink church, we sat in the last row in respect for the local people. The music, the paintings, the stained glass windows and the sunshine pouring through aluminated the real artistry kept alive for all of us to enjoy.
    “A thousand people”…must have been a very large church indeed. When we travel, we make it a point to visit all the churches, read the plaques, and I can’t understand how they allow tourists to walk all over the artistic grave stones in the floors of the church ?
    Our next trip will definately include Vienna ans Salzburg while indulging on the wonderful food and sweets…
    Thanks Rick, you are really appreciated, how lucky to be able love your work !
    Lin + Mark

  3. Rick, we just got back from Germany and Austria and it was a pleasure to chat with you for a few moments at the Kaisergruft (imperial crypt) in Vienna last week (and share in your filming). Thanks for your hospitality. We have used your books for many years while traveling in Europe. We look forward to your new shows and wish you well. We enjoyed the self-guided Walk you wrote for Salzburg, as well as other places on our trip.

  4. Thank you so much for having the blog. I won’t be making it to Europe for a few years yet, but I know I’ll be one the most informed tourists after those years of reading your shared stories here. Thanks again! Ginny

  5. I fell in love with Salzburg on one of your tours three summers ago. It is my favorite European city. Prague comes in a pretty close second (which I visited in May this year). On a second trip to Salzburg last year, I was able to spend about 15 very quiet and reflective minutes in the Nonnberg Abbey before the first tourists showed up. On the tour trip, I also ate dinner with two new tour friends in front of the big city hall screen in Vienna. I love traveling in Europe (with your guidebooks).

  6. Rick- Glad to see that you are re-visiting some places that are among the favorites of my husband and myself- due to your TV show. We have been traveling “Rick’s style” for 20+ years and love it. Salzburg and Vienna will always have part of my heart! We too will be in Scandanavia (Oslo) (and London) soon- we fly out Thursday night. Maybe we’ll finally get to see you in action! Keep up the wonderful work- the web site is marvelous and this blog is a great addition.

  7. Ha! When my wife and I stay in Salzburg we stay at what must be the same hotel, even maybe the same room. I too like to be close to papa Mozart. And Constanze.

    Keep up the blog, Rick. I’m relieving my last trip through you!!

  8. Rick-

    Saw you on the footike path along the river the other day 18.07.06 in Salzburg, Österreich. I wasnt sure if it was you, so I turned around to see if it was you. [I was running on the path] I got excited, have used your info. for traveling before. Haben Sie eine gute Seit in Salzburg!- Fred

  9. Finally! I am thrilled to see that you have a blog. It is a delight to read. A few years ago, I discovered the lovely wine gardens outside Vienna, with your helpful guidebook. A big thanks. I am looking forward to more of your excellent entries. Will you be traveling outside of Austria as well?

  10. Hello Rick,

    As others have mentioned, it is a great idea to get a travel blog. I am planning a trip to Germany (and especially the Black Forest) and would love to do the same.

    Have fun!

    Barry Southers

  11. Rick

    Salzburg is amazing. My family and I spent 4 days there this Easter Week of 2006. I fell in love with Salzburg. The church bells ringing on Easter morning for mass was such an emotional feeling for all of us. It would be so amazing if we had this in the United States. There is no place on earth with the exception of the vatican that has such an amazing celebration of this very Holy Week. Thanks for your blog.

    Auf Weidershen
    have a wonderful time in Austria

  12. Rick, love reading your blogs about Austria…one of my favorite countries to visit. Your comments remind me of my visits there. Speaking of places not visited so much by North America tourists, have you ever checked out Graz and the surrounding towns and places there…absolutely incredible! Have fun in Austria!

  13. Rick- I would have to say that you (and your shows and especially your books) were what inspired me to make my first trip to Europe on my own. Thanks for the insights that led me through the ‘back door’ rather than through the well-traveled paths. THIS is what I have found most rewarding.

    For some time I have been trying to figure out what is the big deal with blogs? With yours, I can see the point — great idea!

  14. Thanks for taking the time to create and post to this blog. You’re a hero to me and a good traveller buddy of mine – traveling for a living… you made the right choice!

    Thanks for letting us all be a part of it!

  15. Hi Rick,

    Love your books, videos, travel goodies, and store. My husband and I are both teachers and hitting Italy for three solid weeks for the first time this August. Thanks for all you guidance.

    What is your opinion of Roma Pass? It looks like it came out April 2006.

    Also, I have a suggestion for you that might be a not-so-new one. I would love to be able to have an annual subscription to your web site (like a magazine). With this subscription I could have access to printing information normally available through your books. However, I would only have to print the exact pages and know the info is the latest most updated stuff. I have spoken with many people about this and they love the idea too (quite sophisticated market analysis!). Who wouldn’t want the most up to date Rick Steves library at their fingertips?

    Lisa M (Redmond, WA)

  16. I so much enjoyed reading your blog, partly because it was from you and partly because I love Austria. I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed five trips to Europe, and your books and TV programs have been invaluable. Alas, unless I find another 60-year-old widow who is as slow as I now am from arthritis, I may have to just live vicariously through your travels. BTW, I was fascinated to read Andy’s blogs last year–and this is not something I normally take the time to do.

  17. I went to Europe for the first time last July (2005). I am a grandmother-to-be, back in college(now that the kids have grown up). The much younger students, another non-traditional student and I stayed at the Kolping House in Salzburg. It is the most beautiful city!

    Your books helped make that trip most versatile. We used the Eurail for our weekend travel. Your books, detailing each destination, provided so much time saving information that we were able to enjoy much more than we ever thought possible.

    My friend, Karen, constantly (102 times at the last count!)would look at me and say,”I could live here!” She always had the biggest smile. I know how she felt. We are both hooked and already planning for the next vacation in Europe. We’ll be taking notes! Thanks again for the wonderful, timely information.

  18. Carla,
    I think it is a common affliction for many of us.
    As my wife and I travel we often say the same thing, “I could live here!” As a matter of fact in a couple of years when I retire we are planning to do just that. But, where?
    Happy travels.

  19. Rick,
    The family really appreciated the time you spent with all 8 us, in Hallstatt. The grandchildren may have started journaling again, because of your comments. We hope we can ‘run’ into you again and share dessert and coffee.

    Keep on travelin’

  20. Salzburg…gorgeous. I travelled solo through Salzburg so avoided the planned tour thing and got to meet with and converse with the people. They were warm and characters I found..more so than in Germany. I also went in off season so perhaps had a different take. This city captures the hearts and minds of so many..always has and always will.

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