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Art & Culture

Tips against the salzburg cold

Salzburg in wintertime can become so beautiful, it verges on kitschy – though it can also turn quite cold. And who better to tell you the best way to protect yourself against the frost and snow than those Salzburgers who spend practically all day outdoors? Local coachmen and some of the merchants at the Christmas market share a few “tricks of the trade”: never again cold feet!

In winter, Salzburg is transformed into a magical landscape the likes of which you only find in a snow globe: big fat flakes hovering in the air, idyllic streets dusted in snow, glistening whiteness as far as the eye can see. But how to enjoy this winter magic without freezing? Well, we went ahead and “grilled” a few of the heroes that contribute to making winter days such as these so breathtakingly memorable.

The Winter Family: carriage drivers for generations

How apt that we begin with a man whose family, or so it would seem, was actually named after the chilliest season of the year. Definitely a good choice on our part, not least because this Salzburg carriage driver also knows every trick in the book when it comes to keeping the cold at bay. That has a lot to do with his family. “We have been in business since 1924, which is when my grandfather got things started. I have been running things since 1996.” Needless to say, a considerable treasure trove of wisdom has accumulated throughout the decades. "Your clothing is important”, points out our well-versed coachman. “Long-johns or thermal underwear are a must.” When it comes to beating the cold, it’s virtually impossible to take it too far. “You know, you really need to keep your feet warm as well”, says Franz Winter, his personal preference being fur boots. And then, with a sly grin on his face, likely anticipating our reaction, he slips off one of the shoes he is currently wearing and proudly pulls out a thermal heating pad, which is his secret safety net whenever the mercury drops way low.

It figures

By the way, here’s a real insider tip for you: Slide your gloves under the horse blanket. “By the time you pull them back out, they will be toasty warm”, he explains enthusiastically. Needless to say, he (almost) never takes a day off because of the cold. “It rarely gets horribly cold here. Though there was the one time when the temperature dropped to -17°C or -18°C. That was no fun at all, so that was an exception and we did stay home. And it isn’t good for the horses either – but let’s face it: If it gets to be that cold, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be eager to sit in the back of an open carriage anyway.”

Arnold Fellinger: a dedicated ‘Standler’ at the Salzburger Christkindlmarkt

Actually, he owns an advertising agency. But every year during the run-up to Christmas, Arnold Fellinger switches roles to become a Standler (= the local name given to merchants at the Christkindlmarkt), proudly standing behind the counter of his “Speck-Willi” hut, where he gleefully serves his culinary fare to passersby one and all. “That’s one reason the cold isn’t as much of an issue for us as it is for those guys over there who are just selling clothes”, points out Fellinger. As a member of the Salzburger Christkindlmarkt Association, Fellinger is well aware of his colleagues’ ongoing battle against the cold. “We do our level best to support the people who make these market stalls happen. That’s why it’s not that unusual to encounter infrared panels here nowadays. However, these huts are privately owned for the most part.” Which means it’s up to the owners themselves whether they dress nice and warm, install floor heating, or simply opt to take their chances. “But if they don’t do something, they can pretty much count on being chilled to the bone for five long weeks.”

Low-tech but effective

“The people selling roasted chestnuts definitely have it the easiest. After all, they do have an oven right under their noses”, chuckles Arnold Fellinger. However, if you are not one of those fortunate few, experience definitely helps. “For example, most of us are well aware that alcohol actually cools down the body. That’s why we avoid it and, instead, stand as close to heat sources as possible, such as my cooker over there.” And if you don’t have one of those at your market stand either, then it’s all about keeping in motion. “Hopping around and jumping up and down really does help”, Fellinger confirms.