Thoughts on Salzburg

I have two more evenings left in beautiful Salzburg. I’ve been at the conference most of my time here and haven’t really had an opportunity to engage in any tourist-oriented activities. No castles. No salt mines. No Mozart (other than Mozartkugel). No Sound of Music.

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You might think I would want to stay an extra day to do these things, but I don’t. As much as I enjoy checking the tourist traps off of my list when I travel, every evening such spectacles close down and I am left losing myself in a city in the quieting time as the sun sets and the shopkeepers shut down for the day. I don’t have to do this any more in Salzburg. I have already wandered her streets and sensed her shadows, and I have searched without luck for a gelateria or pasticceria at 8:30 in the evening (ouch).

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There are two basic types of cities. First are those few grand cities that you cannot hope to grasp in their entirety even with a lifetime spent living there. These cities exist on multiple levels, and you can probe deeper and deeper yet still feel you have barely scratched the surface. Ask people who have lived in places like San Francisco, New York, London, or Rome and they will tell you that they still do not know all the nuances of their homes, that there are still things they haven’t done and discoveries to be made. As a tourist you can visit such places any number of times for any amount of time and remain satisfied.

And then there are smaller cities. In a sense, these are almost large towns or villages. In a day or two you can cross all of their streets and experience all of their notable sights. There is nothing superficial to be gained by spending more time, and depth of knowledge takes much much longer than an average tourist will spend. Such cities offer few interim steps between superficiality and a more profound understanding.

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Salzburg strikes me as ultimately being a small city thrust to prominence by Mozart and Emperors. It is a city one can visit in a day or two. More than that is not needed, unless you want to really know her in depth. But for that type of intimacy, you must take up smoking and move here, settling down for years. I don’t want this type of relationship with Salzburg, although I don’t doubt I would develop a great affection for her. For now, I will be ready to move on when my time here is complete. Perhaps another time I will return and take the Sound of Music tour, but Bolzano beckons already and my heart is disposed to listen.

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