A river winding lovingly around Baroque buildings. Classical music filling the air. A fortress overlooking the small cobblestone streets. A vibrant art scene. A backdrop of breathtaking mountains.

Ugh. Gross.

Salzburg Austria

Or at least, that’s what I suppose my teenage self must have been thinking: growing up in and around Salzburg, I spent most of my teens trying to get away from there as fast as possible. I wanted to see the world, I wanted to travel, I wanted to get out and live life to the fullest, and I ended up almost missing what was right under my nose.

Salzburg for me used to be stuffed with rich people, walking up and down the gold-paved streets (not kidding! That was the idea for one of the streets, but the color ended up looking more like dirt) in their heels and traditional dresses, sipping champagne as they exit the building that hosts the annual festival of classical music. The city felt small to me, limiting, too kitschy and pink for my taste. The only way for my 18-year-old self was out.

Salzburg Austria

And out I did go, which is when the unthinkable happened: I fell in love. With exactly the one place I spent my whole life trying to get away from. It took a while, but slowly, coming back home turned from the family obligation that is Christmas to visiting one of my favourite places on Earth.

Salzburg, I fell in love with you.

Salzburg Austria

You just know how to make a girl swoon over you: with good coffee in the morning. And maybe a little breakfast, preferably one that could make the table break in two. Salzburg, with you, I’ve had breakfast extravaganzas that make my favourite meal of the day look boring anywhere else: fancy mornings at Café Fingerlos (Franz-Josef-Straße 9), vegan pleasures at GustaV (Wolf-Dietrich-Straße 33), creative experiments at Glüxfall (Franz-Josef-Kai 11), and exotic tastes at Afro Café (Bürgerspitalplatz 5) are right there at the top of my list.

I’ve had the most romantic walks through your tiny streets, under ancient shop signs (and those which are made to look like they are), to the sweet sounds of soon-to-be classical virtuosos. Salzburg, I lost my heart to you on the riverbanks, marveling at the perfect view of the town fortress, I felt it beating for you when walking on the Mönchsberg mountain from the fort all the way to the Museum of Modern Art, I felt it flutter when taking a break at the Richterhöhe – the highest point of the small mountain, offering generous views over the higher peaks in the distance.

Salzburg Austria

Each Thursday, you surprise me with the freshest flowers and the most delicious fruits and vegetables at Schranne market, you shower me with the cutest handmade gifts from local, up-and-coming labels (backpacks from igou, jewelry from Schwarzwaldgold, art from Julia Aichinger, or stationary and more from Goods and Better), and you treat me to the real Mozartkugel candy – you know, the blue one from Fürst confectionary, the one that most tourists miss out on.

Salzburg and Salt River

Salzburg, Salzburg, you’ve taken me on date nights that I will never forget. Having dinner at the vegetarian and vegan Green Garden or just quickly grabbing a snack at BioBurgerMeister or Indigo and then heading out to ARGE Kultur, republic or Rockhouse for an evening filled with literature, music, or theatre has got to be a perfect combination.

I’ve got to hand it to you, though – Salzburg, you also know how to chill and take your girl to a laid-back evening: enjoying the breeze in the beer garden of Augustiner Bräu or taking a very Austrian meal at Die Weisse, Austria’s oldest wheat beer brewery, is right up your alley. And when the night takes its course and it ends up getting a little bit too late at the many bars lining  the streets Rudolfskai and Gstättengasse, Salzburg, you are there for all those late-night snackers. The magic window at Il Sole sells pizza slices all throughout the night, Troja Kebab has party-lovers lining up to get a taste of what many people consider the best Kebab in town, and Würstelkönigin (the queen of sausage would be the literal translation) has you covered on the meat-front.

Salzburg Fort

But Salzburg, all food delicacies aside, do you know what I love most about you? That you are humble. You know that you are sometimes not the easiest city to tackle, with all your fancy visitors and the Baroque-overload. But underneath the polished exterior, you are home to not only the best breakfast cafés, but also a young and exciting music and art scene. You embrace the champagne-sipping jet setters just as much as you do the independent travellers, the adventure-seekers and the ones that like to steer away from the mainstream.

And if it all ends up getting too much? You have perfect transportation connections to the nearby Salzkammergut, full of mountains and lakes to make you forget the city life.

Salzburg Hillside

Five years after making it out of the city, out of the country, I am glad to be coming back home. And who knows, if you visit Salzburg – maybe you’ll fall in love just as hard as I did….