Hello. My name is Isaac, 35 years old from Vancouver, Canada. I have set this blog up to document my journey following Mark Knopfler’s 2013 “Privateering” tour, from April 25 (Bucharest, Romania) to July 31 (Calella de Palafrugell, Spain).

Due to Despite the tour’s obnoxious schedule (thanks, Mark), I cannot be entirely sure that I will attend all concerts. That being said, I will try. You are more than welcome to sit back, relax, read, and comment. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed (see the “Subscribe for Updates” box at the right hand side of the page. For standard RSS readers, select the “Atom” option).

Have fun,

Note: The contents of this blog are also available in hardcover and paperback formats. For more information, click here:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Salzburg, Austria to Stuttgart, Germany (June 25, 2013)

Tuesday, June 25, was a day off. The original plan was to check out of the hotel in the morning, hold the luggage there, spend the entire day in Salzburg and take the night train to Paris, arriving Paris Wednesday morning. However, after that terrible night sleep in Copenhagen and my decision to avoid night trains altogether, plans were changed. Instead of taking the night train, it was decided to take the 3:51pm train to Stuttgart, spend the night there and proceed to Paris the next morning.

The good news is that, in retrospect, that was a wise decision.

Woke up easily Tuesday morning, looked through the window and noticed that it was raining. It’s likely that it never really stopped raining since the night before. Didn’t rain hard, though; something between a drizzle and a light rain. Not something that will make you lock yourself up in a hotel.

Other than offering Wi‐Fi service that hardly worked, that Ramada hotel showed interesting ambition asking €19 per person for breakfast. Yeah, right. I’m definitely going to buy a few slices of cheese, bread and yogurt for the price of one month rent in Bulgaria. Shove it, folks. Checked out, kept luggage there, put on rain jackets and went out to explore the city.

Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria. It is located on the banks of the Salzach River, at the northern boundary of the Alps. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and raised here before moving to Vienna when he was 25 years old. Salzburg’s Old Town area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its baroque architecture. For tourists, Salzburg is a preferred destination for its scenery… as shall be demonstrated soon.

From the hotel, headed towards the old city, with the intention of grabbing some good breakfast along the way. Just before the bridge, there was a Cafe Sacher—the same cafe that sells the famous Sachertarte.

There are three Cafe Sacher shops in all of Austria: one in Vienna, one in Salzburg and one in Innsbruck. Funny that within a few days I came across two of them already. We were standing in the rain speculating whether we want to have breakfast there, when I noticed another cafe located right next to it—Cafe Bazar. Jeroen then remembered that he read about Cafe Bazar online and it’s supposed to be good. Not surprisingly, then, we went in.

Right upon entering this establishment, you know that you’re in for a treat. It is surprisingly spacious: I am not a big fan of crowdedness, let alone before breakfast, so this place bode very well with me right from the get go.

The menu offered a few breakfast combinations as well as a few “a la carte” options. Took a while to ponder upon it all.

Waiter came by, asks what we’d like to drink. Cappuccino for me, thank you very much—so far I’m a big fan of what Austria has to offer when it comes to coffee.

Jeroen: “I’ll have a tea.”

Waiter: “English breakfast?”

Jeroen: “No, just the tea, I want to pick individual items for breakfast.”

Now, you might think that Jeroen was sarcastic. He wasn’t. He was completely serious, which explains why he initially failed to understand why both the waiter and myself were looking at him as if we were witnessing the discovery of a new planet populated exclusively by idiots.

Me: “I think he meant to the type of tea you’d like to have.”

It was evident that the waiter was quite amused by it all. I know I was.

Beautiful breakfast. Never thought that even scrambled eggs on toast can be so delicious. Exceptionally creamy yogurt with fruit—savoured to the last bit. Brilliant cappuccino to finish it all up and I was a tremendously happy camper.

Go there. Don’t miss it. It’s a bit pricy but definitely worth it.

Breakfast was done and over with, the rain wasn’t. We were considering just going back to the hotel, grabbing our luggage and take an earlier train to Stuttgart, until sense finally won. Heck, I’m in Salzburg already. I’m here. Rain isn’t going to stop me from at least seeing a city that some people claim is the most beautiful one in Austria.

From the cafe, headed to the water and turned towards the bridge.


Crossing the bridge, you can already see that this city has at least some beauty to it. It’s gorgeous even when the weather is lousy—I can only speculate what it looks like when it’s sunny. Actually, no need to speculate: a decision has already been registered with me to visit this place again as part of a proper (non‐tour) vacation.


Once the bridge is crossed, the old city is right in front of you. Tourists flock this area like termites. Mozart’s portrait is all over the place, in every way shape or form that is sellable to passer byers who are looking to spend their money on souvenirs.


See that fortress up above? that’s the Hohensalzburg Castle, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Decided to just go ahead and climb there. There’s a funicular that takes you all the way up to the mountain, but we decided to walk instead.

How was that walk? one of the most beautiful walks I ever took in my entire life—despite the rain. The path leading to the top is steep (though well paved) and shorter than it looks like. If you’re there and are capable of walking instead of taking the funicular—WALK. It’ll take more time but you’ll be greatly rewarded.

It’s really amazing to find out that people actually live here, high up on the mountain, overlooking the city. The residential (fully detached, of course) houses here aren’t extravagant by any means—for the most part, they appear simple and moderate in size. I can only speculate, though, regarding the land’s worth in this place. Such a gorgeous environment.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.


The path leads to a few viewpoints, as well as a cafe. Didn’t go all the way up due to lack of time (as we decided to take the 3:31pm train after all), but the first viewpoint was fantastic nonetheless.


I would have stayed up there for hours if I could. I liked being up there so much that I no longer minded the rain anymore. To get back down to the old city area, a few different routes are available, which means more scenery going down…


… before touching ground level again.


Having a couple of hours before the train’s departure, we knew we need to grab some lunch before taking the 4 hours ride. So, that Cafe Sacher from earlier?… well, yes. That would be it. Decided to have a light meal, and have the day’s primary meal later on in Stuttgart. The reason for this decision was driven mostly by the knowledge that Cafe Sacher specializes in desserts of all sorts, and partly by realizing that Salzburg’s Cafe Sacher ranks #6 in all of Salzburg according to TripAdvisor, with raving reviews.

Indeed, it was brilliant. Soup to start, followed by a superb slice of cake and (of course) another cappuccino. The place’s atmosphere is just so warm, cozy and inviting that, once in, you really don’t want to leave. Same recommendation here: go there, it’s pricy but completely worth it.

A quick walk back to the hotel…


… grabbed the luggage, and off to the train station.


Spent some time in the ÖBB Lounge. Train arrived a few minutes past schedule. Goodbye Salzburg—it’s been fun and I will certainly visit again.

Off to Stuttgart on board the EuroCity train—this one’s 1st class cabin having seats that can roll out into beds. Didn’t use this feature, but it’s nice to know that it exists.


Spend the time on the train revising the hotel plans for the night. Found a better hotel than the one originally booked—more expensive, but closer to the railway station and including Wi‐Fi.

I have been to Stuttgart once before in my life, during the 2010 Get Lucky tour. I remember it being a pretty, cool city. Later on in the tour, I’ll be spending two nights here which should be enough to cover some of what it has to offer—which is good, because weather sort of sucked as we arrived at Stuttgart’s central railway station shortly after 6:00pm.

Stuttgart’s central railway station—which is currently under construction for expansion—is located right at the city’s center. From there, it’s about five minutes walk to our hotel for the night—Hotel Pflieger, a small yet functional and proper hotel. Checked in and off to see some of the city center, with the intention to eat.

Just before leaving the premises, I decided it might be a good idea to ask the receptionist what would constitute a “local dish” in Stuttgart, and where would be a proper location to acquire such dish. The receptionist’s eyes appeared to be lit with the bright light of a thousand suns as she uttered a word in German that I couldn’t make any sense of and later figured it was Maultasche. Another dish mentioned was Zwiebelrostbraten (good luck pronouncing either of these), as well as a very solid recommendation about where to get access to such alleged delicacies.

Two kilometers walk (in the rain) later, we arrived at the location: Weinstube Zur Kiste. According to the hotel’s receptionist, the cooks who were cooking the food in this place have been there for the last 43 years, and all food was fresh, home made… well, you get my point. That’s the sort of place you’d like to go to.

Opened the door. So, this place was as “pure” German dining experience as it could possibly get. Essentially, this is a residential house that, at some point, was converted to be a combination of a restaurant and a bar. Very crowded: unless you reserve in advance, you are very likely to share a table with complete strangers. But you know what? for whatever reason—perhaps I was in a good mood after the fantastic Salzburg experience—I didn’t care at all. I wanted that German dining experience.

For once, I was willing to let go of my deep desire to personal space. If this place offers proper, true German dining experience, then bring it on—I’ll give it my best shot. Waited about 10 minutes or so for two spots to be vacated, and sat down next to complete strangers, in the upper floor right next to the kitchen. The room we were all in was definitely a bedroom in the house’s previous life: it was small and and could contain up to about 14–15 people sitting one next to each other. Very friendly atmosphere, not at all intimidating despite the crowdedness.

One Maultasche and one Zwiebelrostbraten ordered, with the intention to share those. And, for the first time in a while, I asked for beer. A small, 0.3L glass. Praise the Lord, for the stuck‐up snob decided to join the common people.


Big plates, delicious food. Couldn’t ask for more. What’s puzzling is, that if it wasn’t for the receptionist at the hotel, I’d probably never find out about this place. Note to self: ask the locals.

Arrived back to the hotel at around 9:00pm. Early, but really, with this rain, there isn’t much to do. Better end this day on a high note, I thought. Shoes off, laptop plugged in and stayed awake very late to catch up with things, chat for a bit and write this pathetic blog entry—not necessarily in that order.

Signing off this post from my hotel room in Paris. Arrived here at around 1:30pm. Will upload this and immediately head out—weather is perfect for a stroll outside this beautiful, fantastic city.


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