If you ask students who have just returned from their Erasmus year abroad what they have gained from the experience, most will say they have acquired a better understanding of a foreign language, learnt about new cultures and made friends from across the globe. However, the gain that I know was unwanted, but inevitable, by most of us is that of the so-called ‘Erasmus Food Baby’.
From personal experience and discussions, weight gain throughout years abroad is very common, so I thought I’d put the source of those extra pounds to good use and compile a Top 5 Best Places to Eat in Salzburg for those of you who decide to study in the breathtaking, historical, Alpine city and want help spending that lovely Erasmus grant, or are simply planning to visit (and I highly recommend you do).
So here they are... (and they're not just schnitzel with noodles!)
1. Afro Cafe
Read any quality Salzburg guidebook and Afro Cafe
will always be high on the list of restaurants to visit. One of the several places in the city monopolised by the owner of Red Bull, the cafe-restaurant set at the foot of Mönchsberg is instantly inviting, with its outside area of sofas to sink into and enjoy one of Afro’s famous African teas, complete with cast iron tea pot, diffuser and egg timer to make sure your Rooibos is perfectly brewed. The food on offer is incredible, exotic and generous, ranging from springbok to ostrich burgers, almond soup to spicy peanut spare ribs, and my favourite, the Afro Salad, consisting of chicken, bacon, cashews, sundried tomatoes... (sorry, I have to pause. My mouth is watering). However, what really makes this place special is its decor. With its sizzling pink walls and hazy orange lighting, the entire cafe is decorated with colourful junk found washed up on a beach, from the chandeliers to the green bin bag palm trees! Don’t leave without a visit.
2. Christmas Markets (Run from third week of November until 26th December)
There are two sections of the year in which Salzburg is at its best; high summer and the period just before Christmas. Follow Getreidegasse into Residenzplatz and you are greeted with the most wonderful sights and smells of the Salzburg Weihnachtsmarkt. After sampling most of what the various stalls have to offer, I have composed a Christmas Market three course meal! To begin, a Bosna is a must; a bratwurst hot dog with onions, a good strong German mustard, sprinkled with curry powder (don’t knock it!). This should be followed by a trip to the jacket potato stall where toppings such as bacon and good dollop of garlic sauce will knock your socks off. Finally, pudding is in the form of Kaiserschmarrn. Translated as ‘the emperor’s mishmash’, it consists of thick strips of pancake combined with nuts, raisins and an incredible hot chocolate sauce. All washed down with a steaming mug of Glühwein, Christmas, in my eyes, can’t get better than that.
3. Cafe Fürst
My favourite ‘midweek treat’ haunt, Cafe Fürst
oozes the Austrian coffee culture that cements Salzburg social life. Established in 1884, boasting four separate cafes throughout the city (my favourite in Altermarkt), you are greeted as you enter by a long glass serving cabinet full of little handmade treasure-like chocolate truffles, the most famous of which is the Salzburger Mozartkugels, or the Mozart Balls (no jokes please). With a praline and marzipan centre surrounded by dark chocolate and wrapped in silver foil boasting the portrait of the city’s favourite son, these are the real deal and no other shop makes them as delicious as Fürst. As well as the confectionary, sit down inside the cafe and enjoy Salzburg’s best apple strudel and hot chocolate, both served with lashings of whipped cream. Now you’re starting to understand where the Erasmus food baby came from...
4. Stern Bräu
For a true hearty Austrian meal, a trip to one of the city’s breweries, where you can enjoy tasty traditional food and a beer stein, is essential. My favourite of bunch is Stern Bräu
, situated close to the river and backing onto the main shopping street of Getreidegasse. Here you can enjoy national dishes such as goulash, roast pork with dumplings, and schnitzel with sauerkraut, followed by delicious desserts like curd dumpling with apricots, and the Salzburger Nockerl, an unusual monster of a pudding with a dumping base and three soufflé peaks of meringue to represent the three hills of the city. The beer is excellent and extensive and staff are clad in traditional Austrian dress, perfect if you are after an authentic dining experience. You can also head to the Abendstern after dinner for a cocktail or two; the Pina Colada will be the best Pina Colada you will ever, ever taste.
5. Hotel Sacher
There are two Sacher Hotels
in Austria: one in the capital, Vienna, the other perched on the edge of the Salzach river in Salzburg. Known for its rather lavish interior and daily room rates of up to €2,500 per night, it is the hotel of choice for many royals, aristocracy and celebrities. My friend and I pledged to save up in order to enjoy a hot chocolate and a slice of the famous Sacher Torte in the hotel’s café at the end of our year abroad and it was worth the wait. The torte is a rich, moist chocolate sponge with apricot jam and smooth chocolate ganache and is devoured by many pilgrimaging hungry tourists. The Sacher is the Austrian version of the Ritz so save up, dress up and enjoy a bit of Salzburg luxury.