Sandy turned 30 this weekend (30?!) and to celebrate, we went to a city that does old stuff better than pretty much anyone: Salzburg, Austria.
The main event was to eat in the oldest restaurant in Europe (and possibly the world). St. Peter’s Stiftskeller dates back to at least 803 AD, when travelers were served food at the hotel on this site. Some upstart in Spain holds the claim to “longest continuously operating restaurant” because St. Peter’s has occasionally closed over the years thanks to Napoleon’s invasion and other such trifles. But no other restaurant that we know of comes close to St. Peter’s original founding date.
So what’s it like? Surreal. It was more emotional than visiting a museum or walking around a ruin, because there’s a real sense of living history that you don’t normally get at a historical site. And the experience was definitely enhanced by the fact that 70 musicians from a Mozart concert were there when we arrived, all wearing lederhosen or dirdls.
St. Peter’s has eleven distinct dining rooms. Our was one of the most recent, from the late 1600s, but we had a cute little window that overlooked the oldest part of the structure.
The Stiftskeller was definitely the best moment of the trip, but it was far from the only “old stuff” highlight.
Hohensalzburg Fortress: Established 1077
The funicular shoots you up to the castle in 45 seconds. Most of the interior has been converted into an Austrian military and torture museum, but the views can’t be beat.
Augustiner Brau Kloster Mülln: Established 1621
The outdoor biergarten is massive, with at least 300 tables. We were lucky to get one, though we did eventually had to share with a friendly local couple.
Hellbrunn Palace and the Trick Fountains: Established 1613ish
Austria’s version of the House on the Rock. The palace itself isn’t very big, but even just a quick tour inside makes it clear that Prince Archbishop Mark Sittich von Hohenems was … a quirky guy.
Unicorns have nothing on the trick fountains, though. A tour guide lead us through the palace garden, and we had to watch out. At various points along the way, water came shooting out from the ground or from one of the many weird statues. (Animal antlers were a common theme.) Matt was pretty good at hiding from the spouts, but Sandy got soaked. It was too treacherous to take many photos, but here are few:
We know there’s at least one heart that will break about this, but our focus on “old stuff” in Salzburg meant we didn’t have time for the Sound of Music tour. But! Hellbrunn offered one highlight: the 16-going-on-17 gazebo.
All in all, not a bad way to celebrate Sandy being 30-going-on-elderly.