Dan and I went on this trip a few weeks ago now but I finally found some time to write today. However, it is under quite unfortunate circumstances… You can read “Too Scary to Make Friends” if you are curious.
But anyways, I’m delighted to be able to share my wonderful experience in Austria with you!
Austria is home to the Hapsburg dynasty, classical music, opera, art, weiners, spectacular scenery, and now for Dan and I many wonderful memories.
In 10 days we traveled east to west and visited Vienna, Melk & the Wachau region, Hallstatt, & Salzburg.
I actually visited Vienna before back in 2015 and remember thinking it was such an elegant city. Clean streets; white, ornate but not gaudy buildings; cafes with leather couches and waiters that wear ties; amazing art museums, which I didn’t get to see last time but made sure to see this time; and probably the only unclassy but still wonderful thing about the city, hot dog stands.
Dan & I just strolled the city on the first day and went to the Albertina Art Museum. Some may say (ahem Dan ;)) that I spent too long in the museum but I still beg to differ. None-the-less after this 3.5 hour museum spree it was decided that the next day I would go to the other museum on my list by myself.
This is one of the most prized pieces in the museum because it´s an incredible example of observational art. They do not always have it on display so I was elated to see it. Cue Dan yawning 😉
That evening we grabbed a quick but delicious dinner at the nearby weiner stand and then were able to get 3 euro standing tickets for the opera.
Did I enjoy the opera? Yes! Did I have any clue what it was about? Unfortunately not. I tried to convince myself that I was cultured enough to decipher the German subtitles that was following the dramatic scenes playing out below but that just wasn’t true.
“Was she falling in love with him? Did he leave her or did she leave him? What´s that small boy doing there…or is that a girl… it´s hard to see from way up here.” Who knows, but just knowing that anyone who is anyone from the world of opera has set foot in this famous opera house made it a bit more special.
The next day we saw the summer residence house of the Hapsburg family, called the Schönbrunn Palace.
And then I went to the Belvedere Museum which is home to the largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings and I was in heaven. These pieces are so unique and breathtaking. I wasn´t allowed to take pictures so here´s a link if you are curious.
The last day we visited the lively Naschmarkt whose origins date back to the 16th century. It´s busy, multicultural, enticing, and loud because all the vendors call at you to take their samples. This market is definitely a must see/experience if you find yourself in Vienna.
Days 4-5: Melk, a tiny town with a huge Abbey.
Dan and I had planned to rent bikes and ride through the Wachau valley following the river but it was too early in the season and the bike company was not open. So instead we hopped on the city bus and made a few stops in some quaint and quiet Austrian villages.
To be honest, we decided we had come a little too early in the season to see the Wachau valley at its best but have no doubt warmer weather and more greenery would more than triple the charm.
Something we didn´t realize was that the Wachau Valley is famous for its wine, which was surprisingly cheap and unsurprisingly delicious.
One of the last little towns we stopped in, Krems, was more lively and we enjoyed walking through the streets and sipping on local wine at a café before heading back to Melk for the evening.
Although it was the off season we still ended up really enjoying our time in the small towns in the Wachau region and found ways to make our time here sweet.
Days 6-8: Hallstatt, ¨Don´t say I dont treat you¨.
Rick Steves had prepared us that Halstatt would be beautiful but both Dan and I were still in awe of the snow dusted alpine mountains and their reflections on the serene lake.
Something Rick did not prepare us for was that as westerners we would be in the minority in Halstatt. There was an alarming number of Asian tourists, which is totally ok because the earth´s beauty is there to be shared and admired by all, but we are talking A LOT of chinese tourists. A few days later we learned that there is a city modeled after Halstatt that is located in China and then it all made more sense.
The next day we rented bikes and made a loop around the lake and then up a nearby river.
Days 9-10: Salzburg, Guten tag, Herr Mozart
We had really good weather the first day so our Air Bnb host suggested we take the lift up to the top of the hill for two euro each to get a great view of the city with the mountains in the background and stroll along the hilltop.
Eventually, we made our way down the hill and visited sites such as Mozart’s house, the oldest bakery in the city (Stiftsbäckerei St Peter), the cathedral, and a lively beer hall that was tucked down a unassuming street.
I felt a little pressure before we left for our trip because I was in charge of the planning (mind you, Dan, is still working full time while I frolick my way through Europe) but I´m happy to report most everything went swimmingly well and we thoroughly enjoyed our 10 days in Austria.
All right, glasses on, out the door, and back into the lively streets of a city in southern Spain. Let´s hope you do not have to wait until my next ailment/allergic reaction to hear from me.