Paul Almeida: My European Favourites in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1!
Salzburg, Austria by Paul Almeida
Salzburg is one of my favourite mid-sized cities in Europe and Austria’s fourth largest city, with only about 150,000 residents. Geographically, it lies at the foot of the Eastern Alps, close to the German border and is bisected by the Salzach River. The compact old town, with medieval and baroque architecture is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is easy to explore on foot. Salzburg is visited annually by millions of tourists from around the world and our Azorcan tour groups often list it as a favourite stop.
5 FUN FACTS
Salzburg literally means “Salt Fortress.” The reigning Prince-Archbishops, the city and the region became wealthy mainly from the salt mines in the area, trade and some gold mining. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit a salt mine in the area to learn more about the extraction of the “white gold.”
The 11th century Hohensalzburg is one of the largest and best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe. You can walk up the path to the fortress or you can take the Festungsbahn funicular railway located just off the Kapitelplatz. From the fortress, you can enjoy some of the best views of the city and the surrounding area.
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, and you can visit his birthplace which is also a museum. You can’t miss the bright yellow building at No. 9 Getreidegasse with “Mozart’s Gebursthaus” in gold letters on the façade. The Getreidegasse is a pedestrian street with shops and restaurants. The ornamental wrought iron signs on the building facades harken back to medieval times. The Schlosserei Wieber shop on the Getreidegasse is a traditional metalworking shop that also continues to make these signs. The city celebrates Mozart Week festival in January around his birthday. A friend once joked that “Mozart was my favourite composer, now he’s my favourite decomposer.”
The famous Salzburg Festival, established in 1920 and which features some of Mozart’s works, is held each summer for five weeks starting in late July. With approximately two hundred drama, concert, and opera events and a quarter of a million visitors, it is a huge undertaking and an important driver of the local economy. The festival celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2020 but unfortunately plans had to be scaled back due to the corona virus pandemic.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “The Sound of Music,” about the Von Trapp family was set in Salzburg and movie fans love to search out film locations in the city.
Some of the most popular places to seek out are St. Peter’s cemetery, the Mirabell Palace and gardens with the Pegasus fountain, the Horse Pond, the Residence Square with it’s baroque fountain, Schloss Leopoldskron and the Nonnberg Abbey. The Rock Riding School, which was initially built to be a cathedral but was changed to a riding school by the Prince-Archbishop, later became Salzburg’s favourite concert venue. This is where the real Von Trapp family won the 1936 Salzburg Music Festival. There are other film locations located in the surrounding areas and there are tours that focus on the Von Trapp’s and the movie.
4 POINTS OF INTEREST
A walking tour of Salzburg usually starts at the Mirabell Palace gardens. The Palace was built by a Prince-Archbishop in 1606 and has a grand marble hall that is popular for weddings. The view from the palace’s gardens to the Hohensalzburg fortress in the summer when the geometrically laid flowers are in bloom is amazing. The Grand Fountain in the centre of the garden with four mythological statues representing the elements (Fire, Air, Earth, Water), the Dwarf Garden, and the Pegasus Fountain are popular photo stops. The best way to cross the Salzach river to the old town from the Mirabell gardens is the pedestrian Makartsteg Bridge which is usually adorned with numerous “love locks.” The locks are inscribed with the lovers initials, attached to the fencing and the key thrown into the Salzach.
As you cross the river to the old town (Altstadt), go to the right and you will find the Monchsberg lift which takes you up to the Museum of Modern Art (Museum der Moderne). The café at the museum is a great place to have a cappuccino and cheese strudel as you admire the view of the old town. The Monchsberg, which was named after the Benedictine monks, is one of five mountains or hills in Salzburg. The Monchsberg plateau has a hiking path through the forest that you can take and enjoy scenic views all the way to the Hohensalzburg fortress. The city has a mountain inspector’s office (Bergputzer) to check the mountain for possible falling rocks. In 1669, an avalanche of rock landed on the city below and killed over 200 people.
On the University Square (Universitatplatz), you will find the Grünmarkt or green
Market that goes back to the 18th century. The farmers market still has vendors selling fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats, breads and pastries. It’s a great place to sample local products, or grab a quick lunch or a pretzel. The Kollegienkirche or University church dominates the square, and there are several historic buildings surrounding the lively square.
A short walk from the University Square will take you past the Alter Markt square with the St. Florian Fountain and into the expansive Residence Square (Residenzplatz). The square has a magnificent baroque fountain decorated with four horses snorting water, giants, dolphins and a triton. Here is where you can find horse drawn carriages to enjoy the city centre at a leisurely pace. The Residence museum on the square is a testament to the immense wealth and political power of the Prince-Archbishop’s of Salzburg. The lavish state rooms and painting collection make it a top attraction. The 17th century baroque Salzburg Cathedral or Dom on the square is connected to the Residence. The Cathedral has religious relics of St. Rupert, an impressive pipe organ, plus an ornate ceiling and dome. The baptismal font is the same one used to baptize Mozart.
3 INTERESTING ACTIVITIES
To fully understand the significance of salt to the fortunes of Salzburg take a short trip to the Salzbergwerk Dürrnberg, which is located on the Dürrnberg above the town of Hallein. After supplying you with miner’s overalls, you will go by rail deep into the mountain where you will walk through the tunnels, go down two long slides and take a raft trip across an underground salt lake. The very informative tour explains the history of the mine from the age of the Celts to modern mining methods. After the tour be sure to visit the SALINA Celtic village to see how life was 2,600 years ago.
The Red Bull Hanger 7 at the Salzburg Airport is an impressive glass structure that houses the Flying Bulls historical airplane and helicopter fleet plus a collection of Formula 1 race cars. Austrian Red Bull founder and billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz is the owner of the hanger and the collection. If you like cars or planes, this is a must stop when you visit Salzburg or have a layover at the airport.
The imposing 900 year old medieval Hohenwerfen Castle, surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps, is located about 40 km south of Salzburg and overlooks the town of Werfen. A funicular takes you from the parking area up to the castle’s interior courtyard. The castle has an extensive weapons exhibit. The main event is a birds of prey demonstration from the Salzburg Falconry Center in the exterior courtyard with falcons, kites, vultures, and eagles. Some of these birds are huge and have no problem walking amongst the spectators. Be sure to check the daily times of the demonstrations in advance.
2 LOCAL DISHES TO ORDER
Tafelspitz is a popular Austrian dish of veal and vegetables that is simmered slowly. The broth is served separately as a first course then the veal and root vegetables are accompanied by apple-horsradish and chives.
Salzburger Nockerl was invented in Salzburg in the 17th century. Nockerl are vanilla flavoured dumplings dusted with powdered sugar and served with fruit jams or sauces. The warm dumplings arrive in three mounds to represent the three hills that surround Salzburg.
1 BEVERAGE TO ENJOY
There are eleven breweries in Salzburg, and the city is known as Austria’s beer capital. The Stiegl brewery has been privately owned since 1492. The Stieglkeller, located below the Hohensalzburg fortress, is a restaurant and beer garden that offers great views of the old town.
Established in 1621, the Augustiner Brau brewery and tavern is the biggest in Austria with indoor seating and a beer garden. In addition to great beer, you can purchase traditional dishes from food stands located inside the hall or the brewery.
Salzburg is a university town and has a lively café, beer garden and nightlife scene.
In addition to Mozart Week and the Salzburg Music Festival locals celebrate Fasching, Easter and harvest festivals. Salzburg’s Christmas markets are very popular and some shops in the old town specialize in Christmas.
Paul Almeida is the President of Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing tours and his company has taken thousands of people to Europe on custom group tours since 1994.
Visit azorcan.net to see all our custom group tour possibilities and to see our signature sport, sightseeing and sport fan tours individuals can now join.
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Images compliments of Paul Almeida and Azorcan Tours.
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‘War of the states’: EV, chip makers lavished with subsidies
Workers prepare the site of a $4 billion Panasonic EV battery plant Thursday, March 30, 2023, near DeSoto, Kan. Economic incentives offered by Kansas state and local governments beat out those offered by neighboring Oklahoma to help lure the project to the site on land formerly occupied by an Army ammunition plant. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
By Marc Levy in Harrisburg
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — States are doling out more cash than ever to lure multibillion-dollar microchip, electric vehicle and battery factories, inspiring ever-more competition as they dig deeper into their pockets to attract big employers and capitalize on a wave of huge new projects.
Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas have made billion-dollar pledges for a microchip or EV plant, with more state-subsidized plant announcements by profitable automakers and semiconductor giants surely to come.
States have long competed for big employers. But now they are floating more billion-dollar offers and offering record-high subsidies, lavishing companies with grants and low-interest loans, municipal road improvements, and breaks on taxes, real estate, power and water.
“We’re in the second war of the states,” said John Boyd, a principal at the Florida-based Boyd Company, which advises on site selections. “That’s how competitive economic development is between the states in 2023.”
The projects come at a transformative time for the industries, with automakers investing heavily in electrification and chipmakers expanding production in the U.S. following pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that raised economic and national security concerns.
One of the driving forces behind them are federal subsidies signed into law last summer that are meant to encourage companies to produce electric vehicles, EV batteries, and computer chips domestically. Another is that states are flush with cash thanks to inflation-juiced tax collections and federal pandemic relief subsidies.
The number of big projects and the size of state subsidy packages are extraordinary, said Nathan Jensen, a University of Texas professor who researches government economic development strategies.
“It is kind of a Wild West moment,” Jensen said. “It’s wild money and every state seems to be in on it.”
Good Jobs First, a nonprofit that tracks and is critical of corporate subsidies, said 2022 set a record for the number of billion-dollar-plus incentive deals. At least eight were finalized, though that figure might be higher since such deals can be cloaked in secrecy and take time to come to light.
Eighteen of last year’s 23 known “megadeals,” in which state and local incentive packages to private companies exceeded $50 million in value, were for semiconductor and EV plants, according to the group’s data.
More than $20 billion in public money was committed to subsidizing those known megadeals, according to Good Jobs First data. That total eclipsed the previous record of $17.7 billion that was committed to subsidizing such deals in 2013.
Many of the companies drawing the biggest subsidy offers — such as Intel, Hyundai, Panasonic, Micron, Toyota, Ford and General Motors — are profitable and operate around the globe. Some lesser-known names in the nascent EV field are getting big offers too, such as Rivian, Volkswagen-backed Scout Motors and Vietnamese automaker VinFast.
The subsidy offers are generally embraced by politicians from both major parties and the business elite, who point to promises of hundreds or thousands of jobs, massive investments in construction and equipment, and what they contend are immeasurable trickle-down benefits.
Still, academics who study such subsidies find them to be a waste of money and rarely decisive in a company’s choice of location.
In a 2021 paper arguing that subsidies are driven by politicians for their own benefit, researchers from The Citadel, the College of Charleston and the University of Louisville-Lafayette wrote that studies conclude “they do little, if anything, to promote meaningful improvements in economic outcomes.”
The mounting cost of competing for the projects hasn’t dissuaded states from trying. On the contrary, they’re clambering to outdo each other.
Michigan was stung by hometown Ford’s $11.4 billion commitment in 2021 to build electric vehicle and battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky. It responded by pledging more than $2.5 billion for electric-vehicle projects by Ford and GM and plants by makers of EV batteries and battery components.
Pennsylvania has yet to lure a microchip or EV factory, and the state’s business elite are sounding the alarm after watching neighboring Ohio land a $20 billion Intel plant.
In his first budget speech to lawmakers, newly inaugurated Gov. Josh Shapiro said Pennsylvania needs to “get in the game” and warned that it would take money.
Jabbing a finger in the air, he brought the room to a standing ovation, saying: ”It’s time to compete again here in Pennsylvania!”
Oregon lawmakers hoping to attract a major semiconductor plant are advancing legislation that would marshal $200 million in subsidies and loosen decades-old protections against urban sprawl.
The aim is to procure huge plots of land with ready-made utilities. That has elicited protests from conservationists who say the state mishandled developable land and agricultural groups that warned of the permanent destruction of high-quality farmland.
Dick Sheehy, a retired site selection consultant who traveled the world to inspect possible locations for semiconductor makers, told a panel of Oregon lawmakers in January that states are tipping the scales over better-qualified competitors by offering larger incentive packages.
“The money the state is putting up is so large that certain companies can’t afford not to look at it,” Sheehy said.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott promised to win passage of “economic development tools” during the current legislative session, saying the state lost out on a massive Micron semiconductor plant because it couldn’t match the $5.5 billion in tax credits offered by New York.
“The CEO of Micron was basically begging me because he really wanted to do business in Texas. He knew Texas was a better place. He said, ‘Please could you come up with some more?'” Abbott told a Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce crowd in February. “We gave every penny that we could give.”
Asked about Abbott’s assertions, Micron declined to address Abbott’s description of the phone call with CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, but it called New York the most competitive state and listed reasons why it is the “ideal home” for its plant.
Those included a compelling case made by top officials — including Gov. Kathy Hochul and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer — plus an attractive local workforce, local research and development partners, and a good quality of life for employees.
In Oklahoma, frustration among lawmakers has been bubbling over since the state lost out on a string of projects: first a Tesla plant to Texas, then a Panasonic EV battery plant to Kansas and, just days ago, a Volkswagen EV battery plant to Canada.
That latest loss led state Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat to create a committee to figure out what went wrong in Oklahoma’s bidding for a “megaproject.”
Business-friendly Oklahoma shouldn’t keep losing out to other states, Treat said.
“You never know if you’re being used so they can go to that other state so they can say, ‘Hey, Oklahoma is willing to do this,’” Treat said in an interview. “And they intend on going to that state the whole time.”
Associated Press writers Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.
Ottawa is going all in on ‘friendshoring.’ Here’s what that could mean.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 27, 2023. Economists and geopolitical experts say this week’s federal budget is confirmation that the Trudeau government sees the future of Canadian trade as relying more on allied countries, even if it is results in more expensive goods. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
By Dylan Robertson in Ottawa
This year’s budget reveals the federal Liberals envision Canada relying more on its allies for trade in the future, economists and geopolitical experts say — even if that could result in higher prices or missed opportunities.
“It’s a reframing,” University of British Columbia professor Vina Nadjibulla said after the budget’s release this week. “It’s essentially saying what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years of engagement is over.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen coined the term “friendshoring” a year ago, saying allies should rely on each other to make supply chains more resilient, and defang hostile actors from taxing or withholding goods.
The Liberals have sent mixed messages in the past year on the extent to which they agree with that approach. Last October, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada was “decoupling” from China, but days later Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said she wanted to “re-establish ties” with Beijing.
The language in the federal budget paints a clearer picture. But some experts warn that the us-versus-them language means Canadian businesses will need to adjust in order to avoid losing out on opportunities with the developing world.
Nadjibulla, speaking at a Wednesday panel held by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute in Ottawa, said Tuesday’s budget contains the government’s clearest articulation yet of where the world is now.
“The language there is that it is a more dangerous world and a more competitive world. And in that world, Canada needs to deepen its connections with its allies,” she said.
Specifically, the document says trading with other democracies prevents “economic extortion” and being “vulnerable to exploitation” by “hostile foreign powers” who are buying up Canada’s natural resources.
“Depending on dictatorships for key goods and resources is a major strategic and economic vulnerability,” the budget reads, echoing comments U.S. President Joe Biden made during his recent visit to Ottawa.
Nadjibulla, who specializes in international security and the Indo-Pacific region, said the rhetoric marks “a big departure from previous budget documents” in its frankness.
“Even more so than in the Indo-Pacific strategy, we see the direction of travel,” she said.
Mark Warner, a Canadian and American trade lawyer, told a panel that the implementation of “friendshoring” is already raising questions from his clients.
The automotive and textile sectors have asked him how much material they can use from China before Washington labels a product made in Canada, Mexico or Guatemala as including Chinese content, he warned.
He said that question is coming up for electronics and will likely affect pharmaceuticals, too.
“The question of how much Chinese content gets called Canadian is coming,” he said. “If we’re seen as being the back door for China, or whatever, that’s going to be more problematic.”
Warner said Canada’s geography means it will always make sense to rely on Washington, even if Ottawa needs to tweak how it treats other countries under a “friendshoring” policy.
“If the Americans are serious about this, then we really have to figure out our way to be in that (space) in a way that’s coherent. And that’s how we’ll protect our manufacturers,” he said.
Yet Mary Lovely, an American economist with the Washington-based Peterson Institute, said the U.S. has been inconsistent in listing who actually qualifies as a friend.
“The U.S. language and the rhetoric can be interpreted in a lot of ways,” she said, adding that this goes back to the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Europe and Mexico.
“We saw some confusion in U.S. trade policy over who’s a quote-unquote friend,” she said.
For example, on Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced an electric-vehicle tax credit that would apply to goods from Canada, Nicaragua and Oman, but not to those from France and Germany.
Canada is already setting the stage for a cross-border salvo with Washington, announcing in this week’s budget that Ottawa is considering retaliatory policies if the U.S. doesn’t stop blocking Canadian companies from certain government contracts and green-tech programs.
Still, Washington has successfully been wedging countries against China, such as with language in the United States-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement that forbids Canada from signing a trade deal with Beijing without U.S. consent. The same language has appeared in recent agreements with Japan and Taiwan.
Last October, the Biden administration announced sweeping restrictions on China’s access to semiconductor chips made in any country using U.S. technology, in order to slow Beijing’s technological and military rise.
Washington is already talking about similar restrictions on biotechnology and quantum tech, Nadjibulla said. She added that this is causing consternation in Southeast Asia, where countries want to maintain economic links with China, Australia, Europe and the world.
But Lovely said many countries are willing to go along with these rules because they crave American investment and a guarantee they won’t be suddenly frozen out of the world’s largest economy.
“They fear coming a closure of the American market, and they want to be on the right side of that door,” she said.
Lovely expresses skepticism about governments combining “friendshoring” policies with subsidies for their domestic businesses. She said this imposes a necessity to make subsidized companies succeed even when they’re inefficient, and positions foreign trade as a threat to local firms.
“We can think of these (partnerships) as secure, like-minded, that speak to our values — however you want. But they are going to be higher-cost,” she said.
“We do need to be aware of the fact that closing markets will lead our own economies to be less competitive on the export side.”
She said this will further isolate countries and make it harder to rally global investment to counter climate change.
South Africa’s high commissioner in Ottawa expressed a similar view.
In an interview, Rieaz Shaik argued that Yellen’s term lets rich countries divide the world without acknowledging the realities of developing countries and the need to address the climate crisis.
“It is the most dangerous term in the history of global political relationships, ‘friendshoring,’ because it’s exclusionary. Worse, it says that your non-friend is the other,” Shaik said in a wide-ranging interview.
“We know how apartheid South Africa dealt with the other. They dehumanized us and they removed all our rights to exist. As the other, they could do whatever they want. So I detest ‘friendshoring.'”
In any case, Nadir Patel, a senior strategic advisor with Norton Rose Fulbright Canada, said Ottawa’s simultaneous rhetoric around shoring up trade with allies and developing deeper ties with regions such as Southeast Asia will only come to fruition if corporate Canada follows suit.
“Canadian business needs to step up and do more in other parts of Asia, where we’re not active,” said Patel, a former Canadian high commissioner to India, during the panel.
“Businesses need to step up and want to leverage that, and not just kick tires once in a while, but really be out there with a presence on a regular basis.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2023.
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