Since last weekend, I’ve been joking that I have no more regrets in my life. After we made the decision to move to Essen, I told my husband that we will have to go to Salzburg one last time so that I could make good on my promise to my daughters to take them on the Sound of Music Tour. In 1995, I had gone backpacking through parts of Europe by myself during the Easter holidays of my semester abroad in London. I fell in love with Salzburg, not realising until I got there that this was the home of the movie of my childhood, The Sound of Music. It was tempting, but I had decided not to spring for the $20 official bus tour. $20 was a lot of money for my student budget. I regretted that decision though always mentioning it any time Salzburg came up in conversation.
Since living in southwest Germany, I’ve had the opportunity to go back to Salzburg twice as it’s only a three hour drive from Aalen. My girls were babies those first two times though, so a four-hour bus tour wasn’t very appealing, and they had never seen the movie. When they were a bit older, my mother bought them the DVD, and once they started watching it, they were hooked. They still have a hard time watching the final scenes with the bad guys (it’s a tough life lesson when I have to explain that the Nazis were Germans), but they love reenacting most of the songs with the whole family. They know the van Trapp family existed and the movie is loosely based on their story, but they have to work their brains really hard to understand all of this.
Because they could only partially grasp that the movie was fabricated by actors and movie sets even though the Baron and Fräulein Maria actually existed, they were mildly excited when I explained that I would be taking them on a tour to see all the sights in Salzburg where the film had been made. I could tell that they were still trying to process what this all means- they kept on asking if the real Captain was alive and if the actor who played him was alive – but once they were on the bus, they were intrigued and entranced. They even helped me remember details of scenes. Later, when we were walking around the city of Salzburg, Vera recognised the fountain and archway that Fräulein Maria splashed and walked through on her way to the Baron’s house for the first time.
Even though the experience wasn’t as straightforward as going to an amusement park, I felt pretty great that my daughters and I had shared a special and enjoyable experience. I asked at the end of our weekend in Salzburg what they liked the most about our trip. The tour was on the top of the list. But guess what else was? Going to the Korean restaurant for lunch was the other highlight. What Expatkimchi family excursion would be complete without a visit to a Korean restaurant. This time, I swear, we weren’t looking for one. In fact, I had come armed with a nice list of restaurant recommendations from friends and the manager of our holiday flat in the pedestrianised Linzergasse which you can find below. But, while walking from the flat to Mirabel Gardens, look what we saw.
My husband spotted Hibiskus or Mu-gung-hwa when we passed it on our way to buy our Sound of Music Tour tickets at the Mirabell Gardens and said that it was definitely new since our last visit in 2009. We decided to meet there for lunch after the Sound of Music Tour. (I allowed my German husband to opt out of certain torture, I mean the tour and look after our restless toddler.)
This is what we ordered:
- a mild Sun-dubu-jjigae (soft tofu soup) for Vera (age 7 who has actually has a high spice tolerance, but we didn’t want to take any risks),
- jabchae (vermicelli noodles) with beef for Stella (age 5),
- a small portion of mandu-guk (dumpling soup) for Lenny (age 2),
- and two portions of bulgogi (marinated barbecue beef) which we shared with all of the kids and kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew) for the parents.
We liked the restaurant. It was a bright, open space with lots of tables and a quasi sushi bar in the back where the kitchen was. They also had comfortable chairs with arms at the tables which was reminiscent of the cafe culture so prevalent in Korea, especially in the university quarters. In fact, the restaurant is a throughway to the music university, the Mozarteum.
The food was good – we basically destroyed the meal, wordlessly in 15 minutes. The seasoning was on the sweet side, a little too sweet for our southeastern provincial (Kyeong-sang-do) backgrounds, but still balanced. They made a stab at presenting everything in a fine dining vs. traditional Korean kind of way. A brown sauce pattern, which was there more for deco vs. seasoning, had been scrawled like a chocolate sauce on our bulgogi plates with a single raspberry and blueberry in its center (see my picture along with their website). There wasn’t much banchan either. The kimchi was fresh enough and not sour though and the other two side dishes were pickled onions and pickled eggplant. The concept is not so bad because they obviously don’t have to worry about these things being fresh and daily made like normal banchan, but again, while tasty, I found the eggplant too sweet along with the bulgogi and the jabchae.
Everything was clean. Clean favors and clean environments. The kimchi jjigae was OK, and I dared to declare that I liked mine better. Some bacon or pork would have added some depth needed in the stew, but I deliberately ordered it to reset my system since I’ve been suffering from a very bad cold going around. I noticed that they also sold kimchi to go — a great idea and probably an option that the Korean music students especially appreciate.
There were four Korean women on the tour with us. We didn’t speak with them but I overheard them at the end of the tour talking about where the Korean restaurant was which didn’t surprise me. I was expecting to see them there but didn’t. Maybe they just decided to get their Korean food in Salzburg later.
We rented a holiday flat that I found through fewo direkt. It was two rooms with a separate kitchen, bathroom and toilet. The location couldn’t be beat as we were in the Linzergasse within easy walking distance to most of the major sites. There’s even a DM and Spar next door. The flat will probably need to be modernised in five years, but it is still in excellent condition and clean. The best part is that it is not overpriced considering the great location. All five of us slept there comfortably. The manager, Vivienne, was extremely helpful and you also get benefits of the nearby hotel such as discounted parking and an information desk.
Hibiskus, Korean restaurant by Mirabell Gardens
Zum fidelen Affen, recommended by Vivienne this is where we went on the first night. The food is typical Austrian food of an excellent quality. Nice rustic atmosphere and decently priced.
L’Osteria, also recommended by Vivienne. This seemed to be the it place of the neighbourhood. Expect to wait if you do not book a table. It has a fun, lively atmosphere and serves really delicious pizzas. We were able to get a table since we are a young family that eats early and quickly.
Gabler Bräu, recommended by Vivienne. We didn’t go here but looks like another place to get Austrian food of a good quality.
Der Stadtwirtshaus Alter Fuchs was highly recommended to me by a friend. We didn’t have a chance to go but it looks like a reliable for Austrian food in a traditional atmosphere.
Sound of Music Tour
You can find all info on both of the Mozart houses here. If you go to both, be sure to get a combined ticket. There are also family tickets.