Wow…. this weekend was probably one of my favorite. The scenery of Austria was absolutely breathtaking. It reminded me a bit of Denver with the mountains and the greenery all of which were going through their seasonal fall changes.
I think it was also one of my favorite weekends because I was just with my best friend Emily, exploring the beautiful country, drinking warm punsch (mulled wine), and getting in the christmas spirit with the christmas markets. Friday day we walked all around Salzburg, home to Mozart, the Sound of Music, and to my favorite (smaller) christmas market. We saw the sights of course: Salzburger Dom Cathedral, St. Peter’s Cemetery, and the Residenz Castle.
There are many cemeteries in Salzburg which I found out because Austrians have these odd fascination with death. There are more gravestones that living residents in Vienna, but we only visited the ones in Salzburg (one tombstone was enough for the weekend). They devote a lot of their money to “death clubs” which are basically funeral insurance societies. Anyways they are beautiful and very well kept.
The christmas markets were insane full of ornaments, hot drinks, and of course some typical Austrian treats.
We ended up taking a small elevator that went up to the top of the city to the Residenz castle where the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg would live. It was amazing to see since it was at the highest point of the city and looked out to all of Salzburg.
Of course Emily and I indulged in some typical Austrian food which is very similar to German good with the ‘steak & potatoes’ theme.
That night we actually left and went to Vienna by bus, only about 5 hours away. When we arrived to our hotel we were starving and started aimlessly trying to fine restaurants. Problem is, most restaurants allow people to smoke inside and since it is so cold there, many people gather in restaurants for their social hour, very different from Italy. We ended up running into an extremely nice lady who told us about three restaurants and even took us into one to try and get a table but it was so crowded she just kept suggesting more. Finally our fourth restuarant we went to called Schilling, we got in and ordered a typical Austrian beer and Goulash. It was such a memorable experience.
The next day we saw everything there was to do in Vienna. First we did a walking tour with our group where we saw the enormous palaces which seemed to be all over the city. Since Vienna is the third largest city in Europe its pretty astonishing how many palaces there were. Afterwards we headed to the larges christmas market called Rathausplatz which was situated right in front of their City Hall. Absolutely gorgeous.
Of course we had to go to the Potato Jim stand where they have these giant baked potatoes filled with sour cream, chives, ham, and cheese. Yeah a heart attack on a plate that was literally to die for. We split it don’t worry!
Afterwards we went to Naschmarkt which was super hard to find but so worth it! Right as we stepped off the tube line (very different than London’s, much more confusing) we were in a flea market which is supposedly the biggest in Europe. Then the actual food market started full of fruits and veggies and then towards the end of it since its 6 meters long, there are all these restaurants, mostly were Asian but some were typical Austrian. The smells were to die for. I did find myself keep saying “do you smell that Emily?” all throughout Austria. They are known for their danishes, there hearty plates, and lots of potatoes. No wonder I was in heaven.
After our exploration we headed to Grinzing which is an area outside of Vienna where they are known for their wine taverns and holiday spirit. It was a quaint town full of small Austrian looking buildings, colorful with small roofs, and they were filled with christmas lights. We had Austrian wine and cheese while visiting then just headed back to our hotel to get ready for our Mozart concert!
We went with our group to a Mozart concert which also featured Strauss. It was my first classical concert and I actually didn’t hate it. There was dancing and two very good opera singers. I learned to appreciate it while watching and I was very glad we decided to go. Who can say they went to a Mozart concert in Vienna while abroad?
Afterwards we went back to the Sacher Hotel where we went previously in the day to have their famous Sacher torte as well as some Weiner Schnitzel on rucola. Yes, we had two sacher tortes in one day but I’m not counting. Its a famous torte for anyone who hasn’t heard of it that was created by an apprentice of the hotel, Mr. Sacher, because the main chef had gotten sick and couldn’t serve the prestigious royal guests who were coming that day, so Mr. Sacher ‘whipped up’ this famous chocolate marzipan torte which ended up becoming so famous that today 360,000 tortes are shipped all over the world. It was delectable.
On our last day we started off heading to Hundertwasser Hauser’s modern architecturally designed apartment buildings, yes, that’s his name. They reminded me of the Gaudí architecture in Barcelona with all the colors and crazy designs on the buildings.
Then we went to the grandest of palaces called the Schoenbrunn Palace which was copied after the Versailles Palace. There were christmas markets in front of the palace which totally set the scenery. We walked around but got sooo incredibly cold that we ended up going into the Palace’s chic cafe called The Residence which is home to the best Apple Strudel, I agree too! We had lunch and talked more about how much we loved this trip.
I’m so lucky to have even gone considering I was orignally suppossed to go to Prauge but my travel plans were cancelled twice that last minute we made plans to go to Austria. I can’t say I regret the decision either since I now have such a fascination with the Austrian culture. I loved the food, people, and city so much that I would without a doubt go back. I don’t know if it was being there with my best friend or having such a calming and relaxed schedule or all the holiday cheer, but thus far Austria was my favorite.