Commentary

Salzburg

Updated: May 15, 2008, 7:10 PM ET
By Nick Bidwell | Special to ESPN SportsTravel


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While Salzburg may be famous as the setting for the epic movie "The Sound of Music" and birthplace of composing giant Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Euro 2008 is set to leave its own indelible mark on the city.

This summer, the streets of Salzburg will reverberate to the rhythms of partying Greek, Swedes, Russians, Spaniards and, of course, Austria's own fanatical supporters.

Apart from the city's stadium – which will stage three first-round fixtures – party central will be the visually appealing Old Town on the left bank of the river Salzach. Big screens are to be set up in three of the main squares – Mozartplatz, Kapitelplatz and Residenzplatz. And here there also will be a food and refreshment stands, musical events, competitions and sponsor spinoffs. The fun and games will take place from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily, with room for 25,000 visitors.

Another favorite extra-curricular pursuit for football fans should be the city's numerous beer gardens. Munich may be the beer capital of the world, but much of the nectar flows south to Salzburg, with many of the gardens serving moderately priced meals. Stiegkeller (Festungsgasse 10, off Kapitelplatz) serves great ale and boasts incredible views over the city.

Yet the daddy of the biergharten has to be the Augustinerbrau, located in an old abbey to the west of town. Nothing beats nursing a "Mas," a liter of beer, while sitting under a chestnut tree. To reach this nirvana, take bus 7, 8, 20, 21, 24, 27 or 28 from the city center, alighting at the Landeskrankenhaus stop. More centrally located watering holes are to be found in the Rudolfskai street, which runs parallel to the river in the Old Town.

Salzburg cooking is typically Germanic – meaty, hearty and distinctly no frills. Pork in all its forms – beef, chicken and game – abound, while broths and soups do a roaring trade, too. Also popular are locally caught fish, such as pike (Zander) and trout (Forelle). A local dessert speciality is the Salzburger Nockerl, a large souffle of eggs, sugar and raspberry baked into three mounds to represent the city's three hills – the Monchberg, Festungsberg and Kapuzinerberg. However, be warned that one hefty serving is more than enough for four.

For excellent regional food in the Old Town, head for the Goldene Ente on Goldgasse or Alt Salzburg on Burgerspittalgasse, while variety is provided by the numerous Italian, Chinese and Mexican joints.

Salzburg also offers countless Konditoreien (pastry shops) and cafes. One of the most famous is Cafe Furst on Brodgasse, a venue that owes its preeminence to its world-famous Mozart chocolate balls. These can be bought throughout Salzburg, but the Furst's efforts are the original and the best. Another good example of the genre is the classy Cafe Tomaselli (Alter Markt).

Inevitably shopping in the Old Town is all about souvenirs and old-style speciality stores. The central produce markets are found on Universitatsplatz and Mirabellplatz. For malls and supermarkets, you will have to make for the suburbs, such as the Europapark in Klessheim (take bus No. 1 from the central terminus).

Things you have to do here include visiting Mozart's birthplace (Mozarts Geburtshaus) on Getriedegasse, the Schloss Mirabell Palace and Gardens on the right bank and the imposing Hohensalzburg fortress that towers over the city.

Salzburg has a fine public-transport network of trolleys and buses. Tickets can be purchased from the driver or at the ticket office in the bus terminal that sits alongside the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) on Sudtirolerplatz.

The best bet for Euro 2008 visitors will be to get their hands on a Salzburg Fan Card, which covers six days of public transport in the city and the Salzburger region, plus admission to no fewer than 190 sights and attractions. It's worth noting that the majority of buses leave from Mirabellplatz and the railway station on the right bank, and from Hanuschplatz and Mozartsteg bridge on the left.

Situated on the western outskirts, the Stadium Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim can be reached by trolley buses 1, 20 and 28 from the city center or bus line 1 from the Hauptbahnhof.

Home to reigning Austrian champions FC Red Bull Salzburg, the rectangular 2003-built arena holds 32,800 and its modernity makes for a refreshing change in a place where church spires and medieval turrets reign supreme.

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