A single flake of snow lands on your nose above your heavy-knit scarf. And from under your woolly hat, pulled low, you peek out. Bundled against the cold, you watch as winter crinkles open around you. You’re part of it, living it.
From the starry sky, snow falls silently, hissing as it hits the fire pit, covering the city in a blanket of beautiful. The statue to your right dons a hat and coat of snow, protecting against the cold night air. The cup of gluhwein in your hand warms your palms and reaches out to each finger, tingling them with its heat.
Above the quiet hubbub of chatter, a single trumpet pushes into the night, playing the first few notes of Silent Night … a second trumpet joins it. And the bells of the churches join in, ringing out, loud and clear.You breathe in the calm.
The ice is alive with laughter – families and friends wobble, grasp and scratch around the rink lit with fairy lights. Behind you, sleighbells jingle on the horse-drawn carriage bumping over the cobbles … you follow it into the Domplatz, passing snow-covered chalets heaving under gingerbread houses, snow globes and nutcracker soldiers, wafts of incense ballooning around you.
Hot roasted chestnuts pop and crackle next to the towering Christmas tree, each branch weighed down in snow and baubles. You stop and breathe in the scents, the joy that oozes into every part of your soul.
And you walk on. Through narrow streets, cobbled underfoot, you walk on. The warmth of family glows out of windows decorated with pine, berries, candles, and the path steepens. Your heart pounds, your cheeks flush. You climb.
The city opens out beneath you, the snow muting every step you take to silence. Just the crunch of your feet keeps you company as you go up, up, up to the fortress. The houses get older, the path gets steeper. Single lampposts light the way. The snow keeps coming.
And you reach the top. The world expands, you breathe a shot of cold, a thrill to your lungs. The valley twinkles with lights in palaces, homes, along pretty streets and out to the mountains, sprawling in the distance. You lean against the ancient wall, and you become part of its stories of a thousand years.
Grain Lane bustles. It bustles from day to night, from one end to the other. And you join it, the narrow lane, umbrellaed with wrought-iron guild signs hanging above independent boutiques and international brands. You mooch, you stroll, you wander, weaving from one side to the other, peering into shops.
An arch lures you left; the low ceiling closes in and gentle music wills you deeper into the tunnel. Your footsteps echo on the cobbles, then out, out into the quaintest courtyard, festooned with decorations. Gluhwein steams from mugs and laughter tinkles above the delicate strains of the harp.
Maria had confidence singing along an empty Hellbrunnallee in Sound of Music.
And now it’s your turn. The winter branches have no leaves but drip in freshly fallen snow. The sun fills the blue sky and silence embraces you. It’s just you and your breathing.
The powder-light snow flutters from your boots at every crunching step. To your right, the Untersberg rises from the valley, a mountain of magic and legend, your company for five kilometres. Every step is a moment of mindfulness.
At the end of your winter wonderland wanderings, curl up in front of a fire. Fire place
Feel the tingles of warmth radiate through your body and nurture your soul. Close your eyes and breathe, release your tension, drop your shoulders and free that wave of relaxation to wash over you. When you open your eyes, relive your adventures, and fly through your memories of Salzburg.