Kittie Howard

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Christmas Shop in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria's Old Town slept peacefully as we wandered its cobblestone streets. Colorful displays filled windows in meticulously maintained, centuries-old wooden buildings. Summer flowers spilled over flower boxes, as if to tickle our heads when we stopped to admire a window display. We were two of the expected one million tourists who would visit Salzburg this past summer.

Because of the sheer volume we'd thought to by-pass Salzburg, as we'd done on previous trips to Austria. After all, we'd reasoned, we'd explored Salzburg Back in the Day, before "The Sound of Music" had become a serious draw, when Mozart's birthplace was little more than a visit to the composer's house, then snapping Kodak pictures of the sleepy town's castle on the hill.

But we didn't. Months earlier we'd made reservations at a B&B tucked away at the end of a village lane with a convenient bus stop for the 45-minute ride into Salzburg. After a full breakfast, we boarded the bus and, as the miles slipped away, Austria's quiet countryside morphed into an international city with a traffic ring around it to ease the congestion. Fortunately, our bus stop was near the heart of the Old Town and an easy walk to the main square, where we got a cup of coffee and watched the city awaken, probably much as it has for centuries.

Merchants opened shops. Delivery vans appeared with perishable items for thirsty and hungry tourists. Not to be out done, bakeries filled ovens with delights that tempted my full tummy. The sound of horse-drawn carriages, the clippty-clop on cobblestone streets, was music to the ears.

Coffee finished, we decided to browse the shops, including stopping here at The Christmas Store, where I took the photo in the header. It's such a special stop while in Salzburg, Rick Steves highlights it in his travel program on Salzburg.

It was a magical stop. The Little Girl inside me sparkled, eyes aglow at the glittering displays of Christmas decorations, with one room leading to another as the shop deepened.

One of the clerks said they sell 100,000 egg ornaments a month, all from regulated, European Union sanctioned hatcheries and hand-painted in Austria. (The more exquisite the painting, the higher the cost.)

Upon our return to the B&B, the proprietor told us that, yes, the decorations had a "touristy" appeal, but the custom of decorated egg shells was real. Like her friends in the village, her family had its collection of eggshells with yolks elders had removed (there's a process) and kids had decorated for the Christmas tree. When one of her daughters entered the room, she sparkled as she described the first egg the daughter had painted.

From our house to yours, we hope the joy and hope of the holidays make you sparkle . . . and may all of life's blessings be yours in the New Year!

Happy New Year! May 2016 be the best ever!


William Kendall said...

I would love to see Austria for myself someday. Merry Christmas!

Denise Covey said...

Firstly, Kittie, haven't you come a long way since you struggled with headers! This one is magnificent! And so is Saltzburg. I'm sure you're so pleased you visited again. I can remember doing that 'suck egg' thing with my children long ago. Can't remember how many we shattered, lol!

Your post was lovely, inspiring. It's so wonderful to see how cultures differ from our own. I love it when we decide to do a White Christmas and visit Europe!

Thanks for visiting my blog, Mate! Was lovely to see you there! Did you catch David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef special doco? Thought of you when I saw it!

Merry Christmas and Happy, Magical New Year to you and yours!

Love from Down Under where we're sweltering as usual!

Denise :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kittie - I've only been to Austria as a kid for skiing ... but really must do a tour around sometime ... it does look stunning and they have wonderful traditions.

As Denise says your header is quite extraordinary - lovely photo. I remember doing eggs - probably at Easter ... we had our own chickens for a while, so losing a few eggs probably didn't matter. But I'm not a craftsperson and suspect we weren't very good at them!

Being in a big city at Christmas time is special - the windows are amazing, the lights in the streets quite extraordinary ... and then the facilities that are put on for us to enjoy - ice skating rinks ..... this year they're melting furiously I guess: it's so 'warm'.

Have a lovely Christmas with family and friends ... cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a magical place to visit, touristy or not. Aren't you glad you went back?
Have a Blessed Christmas, Kittie!

Norma said...

Beautiful, Kittie--and I love your Christmas header!

Sandra Cox said...

It sounds absolutely delightful.
Wishing you happy holidays.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a magical, sparkly trip, no matter what time of year you made it. Sometimes, I think the older I get, the more my inner little girl with sparkly wonder-filled eyes takes, and I'm kinda glad. Beats acting my age!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, and all the best in the new year.

A Cuban In London said...

Das ist aber sehr schön! :-)

Greetings from London.

Mark Koopmans said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing.. I've never been to Austria, but would love to go now, especially around Christmas :)

Merry Christmas, Kittie, to you and yours :)

Inger said...

I'm glad you changed your minds and stopped in Salzburg and had such lovely experiences. I'm doing OK, up and down, but basically OK. It's good to be back in the blogging world again.

Jen said...

THANK YOU for stopping by my blog the other day. It was so good to "see" you there. I've missed reading your words and your stories. What a beautiful header! I've seen that Rick Steve's episode. The idea of spending Christmas in Austria, Germany or Sweden seems absolutely magical! The snow, the ornaments, the sheer enormity of it all! I don't like crowds, but there is a draw to this part of the world for me, especially at the holidays. I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a blessed, healthy, and wonderful New Year! I'll be off blogger until the New Year. See you then!

Erin Kane Spock said...

Thank you for sharing this experience. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Stephanie Faris said...

That's why I love bed and breakfasts and inns. You get an experience you wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Murees Dupè said...

Beautiful pictures. Your adventure sounds amazing. What an experience. Have a wonderful Christmas! May 2016 only bring good fortune your way.

Nicki Elson said...

That's a lot of egg ornaments! Thank you for this virtual trip to Salzburg. It's on my of these days I'll get there.

Hope your new year is off to a wonderful starts! Thank you for the very nice note at my blog. It warmed my holidays. :)

Vagabonde said...

Austria at Christmas time must be quite something. I love your photos. Selling 100,000 ornaments a month? Goodness, that is a huge amount. I hope you had a merry Christmas and that 2016 will find you happy and having fun.