As catastrophic as Hallstatt was, our side trip to Salzburg for dinner, Christmas Day dinner incidentally, was the absolute opposite.
Our spontaneous decision to stop for a meal on the way back to Tegernsee – there was no decent choice at all for a sit-down meal in Hallstatt – started out as a joke that took a life of its own. Since it was along the way, Salzburg looked like an easy choice and consequently the thought of stopping by the cafe at The Sacher Hotel for some world-class dessert came to mind – or maybe a very late 4pm lunch/early dinner. After calling to make sure they were open, it was a painless enough drive to get there, and the parking gods smiled at us from afar with rock star parking right front and center of the hotel. However when we walked in the line to get served at the cafe was practically out the door. We sought out the Sacher Grill next door which was incredibly quiet but thwarted again when they said they were closing shortly to get ready for dinner service at 6. Without missing a beat, Teko asked to book a table and off we went to waste away a couple of hours in town.
It’s been 7 years I think since we were both last in Salzburg so there was a bit of excitement in rediscovering the city. The challenge was that most places would already be closed or closing as well but after peeking into the beautiful Sacher Hotel and its unusually large lobby Christmas tree, and walking through Mirabel Gardens to attempt to recreate a scene from The Sound of Music, we decided to cross the river onto Rathausplatz where lo and behold the Christmas market was still in full swing and buzzing. It was foggy all over and cold enough to see my breath, which gave the mystic atmosphere even a bit more magic, with both of us agreeing that Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt was far better than the one in much-vaunted Nuremberg or the one in Munich. Walking around the busy market gave us more than enough time – as well as 4 pairs of winter socks and two giant pretzels to go – till we needed to go back to the Sacher Grill for our impromptu celebration. It wasn’t a few minutes’ walk later that we were in front of the restaurant and quickly seated by a nice banquette table in the sedate and quiet dining room.
While the decor was spartan, the service and the food were very much Sacher-style top class. The main course of Christmas goose was substantial it filled half my plate and was delicious and gamely wolfed down, and even if it wasn’t on the Christmas menu, we certainly couldn’t leave without trying the famed original Sacher torte – because why not! Salzburg was our last stop on this surprising Christmas road trip and we’re really fortunate it turned out amazingly well. A great end to yet another European life adventure.