Saturday, 14 July 2012

More Salzburg

My plan was to have breakfast at Sternbräu. But it's not open yet. I make do with a nearby bakery, where I get a sandwich and a coffee. Not a bad sandwich. But I'd rather accompany it with a beer.

Being Saturday morning Salzburg is buzzing. There's an impressive food market going on. I'd buy some of the delicious-looking meat and bread, except it would be rotten before I got it home. When I get too frustrated by vain drooling to continue, I drop in the handily-placed Zipfer Bierhaus. A stop I planned making. Let me explain why.

There aren't that many proper pubs in the old centre of Salzburg. Zipfer Bierhaus is most definitely a proper pub. When I wander through the door at 10:30, there are already quite a few customers. All sensibly drinking beer. Mostly blokes around my age. I open my paper and wait for the waiter. I'm fitting right in.

The beer selection has expanded since my last visit. Amongst the newcomers is Gösser Dunkles Zwicklbier. How can I resist something both dark and unfiltered? When it arrives, it doesn't look that dark. Amber more than brown. Butter, caramel, sherbert and yeast, I can detect. Not necessarily in that order. Bit bland, but a nice undemanding companion to my paper. I read about serious flooding overnight. I'm not surprised, the way it was chucking it down.

I'm forgetting to give you my reasons for liking Zipfer, other than it being a proper pub. The main one is that, with it's vaulted ceiling and chunky wooden furniture, it reminds me of a Czech pub. The food reinforces that impression. On top of that, despite being plum in tourist central, the customers all look like locals. They're all speaking Austriany German. And I'm the only one wearing shorts.

I'm thinking about what to get for my second beer, when a woman around 60 comes in and sits in the corner. She gets herself a half litre of something very pale. Then does something that truly shocks me. Something that looks so, so wrong. She lights a fag. Fuck me, there's no smoking ban in Austria. I'm so used to smoke-free pubs I'm shocked, appalled and oddly fascinated by the woman and her fag. Funny how quickly you get used to smoking being banished outside. I've forgotten there are still places where it's allowed.

Even odder is that I've been in the pub for more than half an hour and no-one else has lit up. Despite the customers being the older, working-class sort of chavs you'd expect to smoke.

I've made my decision. About that second beer. Think I'll have a Bernstein. I'm not surpised when the beer is golden, just a touch darker than Pils colour. I've sussed their distorted colour-sense. Even blander than the last beer. Not really much in the way of flavour at all.

To make up for missing breakfast here, I'm having lunch at Sternbräu. Because of the weather, not a soul is inside. All the action is in the garden. I take a seat in the cloister that surrounds it. No chance of the sun reaching me here.

Despite being barely noon, it's filling up quickly. Thankfully plenty of dirndled waitresses are scurrying around and soon I'm staring at a glass of Stern Bier. Lovely logo. The beer itself is on the fizzy side. And nowt special, to be honest.

An Asian family sit at the next table. Parents and twenty-something daughter. They seem to be struggling with the menu. The English-language version. When their food arrives, I suspect they might not have completely undersood it. Two bowls of soup, one sausage, a salad and a giant merangue-like desert are placed in front of them. Not a combination I've seen before. The father is so impressed with the desert, he starts to sketch it with a pen. The daughter is so impressed by her father's sketching, she starts videoing. To complete the circle, the mother then photographs the daughter filming the father.

Susprisingly, I am still awake. I thought it was in one of my weird dreams for a minute. The ones where my house mystically acquires extra staircases and acres of extra rooms. I can't help wondering how the Salzburg experience is for the Asian family. Is it as surreal as it looks?

Sternbräu being at the Mülln side of town, it seems crazy not to drop by Augustiner again. This time I use the back entrance, which avoids a good deal of climbing. Though my body feels in much less danger of a thrombie today. Despite the continuing heat.

The garden is even fuller today. With the same eclectic mix of nationalities and ages. I'm soon back in the groove with cooling Märzen and meaty snacks. While picking up some of the latter, I spot something that slipped my attention yesterday: little bottles of Obstler. Now, I don't want you to get the idea that I'm a total pisshead. But I immediately grab a couple of the little bastards. They're only 5 cl. Waste of time just getting the one.

Something else I missed yesterday. The signs saying: no making music or being noisy. While there's no music going on, there is plenty of noise. Not loud noise, just the background buzz of a large number of people in a relatively small space. A gentle grumple, with the odd cling or clang.

Picking up a beer at the counter, I notice the gazebo-like structure next to it seems to house a private party. The jammy bastards have their own wooden barrel, from which they serve themselves. How cool is that? I'm dead jealous.

Though I'd like to stay in Augustiner for, well, the rest of my life, I don't. There's one more thing I need to do while in town. Drink some Stiegl. Not had any yet. Hotel Stieglbräu is vaguely on the way back to my hotel. That's where I'll do my Stiegl drinking.

Stieglbräu is a hotel/beerhall/beer garden out towards the station. It's pleasant enough inside, if a bit too new to be really cosy. The garden is nice. For weirdoes like me. Not the quietest, but it has a great view of a railway viaduct. You can watch the trains thunder by as you sip. Dead handy for the frustrated trainspotter turned beer ticker.

I see that Stiegl have changed the name of their unfiltered beer. It used to be called Paracelsus. Now it's just Zwickl. It's inoffensive enough, in a yeasty sort of way. I order a second when the first has disappeared. It's a real mystery how these beers keep disappearing in my presence. I must bring beer bad luck.

There's a giant flowerpot with a tree in it close to my table. It reminds of the Flowerpot Men. One of the greatest influences on my writing style. Flobbelob. I wonder what happened to Bill and Ben? Are they happily retired in Bognor or slaving in sleazy clubs, eking out a living exploiting past glories? I heard about Little Weed's seedy "glamour" photo shoots and drug problems. No wonder she was so thin.

Tonight there's no rain. Märzen and obstler rock me to sleep.

Zipfer Bierhaus
Sigmund Haffnergasse 12,
5020 Salzburg.
Tel. 0662-843101

Griesgasse 23,
5020 Salzburg.
Tel. 0662-4477261

Hotel Stieglbräu
Rainerstraße 14,
5020 Salzburg.
Tel. 0662-77692


Arctic Alchemy said...

The father is so impressed with the desert, he starts to sketch it with a pen. The daughter is so impressed by her father's sketching, she starts videoing. To complete the circle, the mother then photographs the daughter filming the father.

Hilarious !

Lars Marius Garshol said...

Great post, as always!

I'm guessing the Asian family was still in the process of learning the difference between European- and Asian-format meals. In Europe, one person one dish. In Asia, one person several dishes. Also, in Asia no starter/dessert/main course distinction. Their order would have made sense in an Asian restaurant.

This may sound weird, but I've gone through the opposite process. No doubt there's a Chinese beer blogger somewhere who's blogged about this Western couple that ordered one dish each, then sat there staring at it in disbelief.