Austria Travel Guides for Backpackers

Vienna in Three Days

Capital cities are the busiest places to visit but they are the richest as well. It is difficult to visit all the monuments and places of interest in two or three days but one can do that in the capital of Austria, Vienna.   Vienna – the Artistic City As soon as you start going around Vienna, you can't help but feel the rich artistic history of the city. It was home to many artists including Mozart and Beethoven. Everywhere you look, you can see something interesting, even a simple building looks different. The city centre is full of such points that please the eyes. The best way to visit the important spots in the city centre is a walking tour.   The Vienna Walking Tour At the airport, one can collect a small booklet listing all the hotspots in Vienna. In the first few pages of this booklet, one can find adverts for excursions that can be done. One of these excursions includes a walking tour around the centre of the city. It can be done as a guided tour with the time and place where the tour starts. However, if you want to take it slow, the tour map is listed on the booklet and you can do it alone. If you go along the proposed plan you get to see important places such as Stephansdom, Ruthaus, Albertina museum, the Spanish Riding school, Heldenplatz and the Hofburg.   All these spots are just magnificent to look at. If you have time and you are a fan of art, going into some of them is also rewarding. There are also small gems included in the tour such as the Ankeruhr, the particular clock in a side street. The walking tour takes around three or four hours. The last stop in the tour is Cafe Sacher, a famous cafe that is a must see and enter spot. They serve the typical Viennese Sacher torte, a delicious cake perfect with their in-house tea.   Other Places of Interest in Vienna There are a few historical sites that are not included in the walking tour as they are further away from the city centre. These sites include the Schonbrunn Palace, a huge palace that needs a full day to tour. If time is limited, a stroll around the gardens is what you should opt for as the gardens are a wonder on their own. The Hundertwasserhaus is also an interesting spot as the colourful complex contrasts the surrounding buildings.   Getting Around Vienna Getting to the city centre from the airport is quite easy and relatively cheap. You can catch the train from the airport itself and it takes you to the heart of the city. The underground is easy to use and reliable to go around the city. Three-day travel tickets are available and relatively cheap too.   What to Eat in Vienna Traditional food is always a must when travelling. The Sacher torte is one dessert you cannot miss. A great […]

Exploring Vienna on a Budget – Top free things to do in the city

Vienna is famous for its baroque architecture and beautifully manicured gardens. You can spend many hours appreciating the city’s strong history and artistic culture. And what’s even better? You can see and experience so much in the city without even paying a single penny. So this post if for all of you, who are traveling on a budget. Explore the hidden free gems of Austria with this city guide! Explore the Old City – Hofburg, Albertina, and Judenplatz Walk around the old parts of Vienna, exploring the Imperial Palace and museums of Hofburg. Climb up the Albertina stairs, that are painted to advertise the “Monet to Picasso” exhibition. March into the dark history of the Holocaust era at Judenplatz – you will see a memorial right in the center that bears the names of all the concentration camps where Austrian Jews were killed. Equestrian statue of Prince Eugene One of the museums in Hofburg Hofburg Market Albertina Stairs Judenplatz Judenplatz Memorial Enjoy Nature and Grandeur at Schoenbrunn Gardens You can easily spend 2-3 hours walking through the massive gardens of Schoenbrunn Palace. Take your time admiring the intricate statues and structures that are there throughout the gardens. Take a look at the rest of the city as you hike up to the palace. And when you are there you will get a tiny glimpse of how beautiful the architecture of the palace is. Priestesses Statue with basket of fruit City view and the Green Parterre Gloriette Visit the traditional Naschmarkt With more than 100 stalls of traditional food and antiques, Naschmarkt is very interesting and you can spend an entire evening, walking and trying out samples that are offered at food stalls. There are also a few restaurants that you can dine at. Jewelry and Tees Restaurants in Naschmarkt Find quiet amidst the city crowd at Burggarten Burggarten is located very near to Hofburg and Albertina, and is famous for the discrete Mozart statue. Like other gardens, this garden is also adored by intricate structures and statues. A perfect place to relax and absorb the Viennese beauty. Equestrian statue of Kaiser Franz I Mozart Statue Appreciate the grand architecture of the St. Stephens Cathedral A perfect example of grandeur and magnificence, located right at the center of Stephansplatz, St Stephens Cathedral is a giant gothic beauty. No words are enough to describe the beauty and intricacies of the cathedral’s architecture. Pay an extra 5 Euro and climb 343 steps up the South Tower. One the climb is very scary, just walking round and round a single pole of stairs, second, the city views are amazing from the top. Inside the St. Stephen’s Cathedral Intricate Architecture of the cathedral 343 steps of South that just go round and round View from the South Tower of the Cathedral Watch a pretty sunset by the Danube It is definitely a long walk from the main city to the Brigittenauer Bridge that is build over the Danube river. You can also take a tram to Neue […]

Vienna: more than sausage, coffehouses and classical music

When people hear the name of the Austrian capital, Vienna, they think about three things: the Vienna sausage, classical music, and coffeehouses. For many people, these are not convincing reasons to visit the city, and many people think of Vienna as a boring destination but there are so many cool things to see and do there! I was lucky enough to live, study and work in this city for three years and during this time I discovered many different faces of Vienna. What to do in Vienna Vienna offers diverse must-see attractions and activities which make the city a great destination for different types of travelers. Explore the classical and imperial Vienna Vienna is known for its stunning classical and baroque architecture, and the imperial palaces that used to belong to the Habsburg family which was ruling over the territory for centuries. Start your walk in the inner city (1st district), where you can find  St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg palace complex, housing various museums: the Sisi Museum, dedicated to Empress Elisabeth, wife of Franz Joseph. The Hofburg also hosts the Austrian National Library which is open for visitors and features a richly decorated central hall. To tick off the majority of the classical sights, walk along the Ringstrasse, a circle boulevard around the inner city. Along the way, you will find the City Hall which looks like the Disney castle, the oldest university of Vienna, the Austrian parliament building, several museums, and the Opera. If you like palaces, make sure you visit the Schönbrunn Palace which is a must-see attraction in Vienna and used to be the summer residence of the Habsburgs. You can visit the beautiful royal suits and the gardens where you can also find the world’s oldest zoo. Vienna is known as the City of Music, so make sure you watch a play in the Opera or visit a classical concert. The City Hall, one of the most beautiful buildings in Vienna The Austrian Parliament building built in a neo-Greek style Visit the Prater Park and the Danube Canal If you are more interested in something “fun”, you can visit the Prater park which is among the oldest amusement parks in the world. You can also stroll along the Danube Canal (Donaukanal in German), the only place where graffiti is legal in Vienna. It is full of man-made sandy “beaches” and street food stands during the summer. You can also visit the Hundertwasserhaus, a very colorful and funny-looking building designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser.   Ferris wheel in the Prater park Discover the art and architecture in Vienna If you are into art and design, Vienna is definitely a place for you! There are many museums you can visit: the Albertina and the Museum of Fine Arts for timeless pieces and the Museumquartier for modern art and performances. If you like Gustav Klimt, head to the Belvedere Palace, housing The Kiss, his most famous painting. If you like modern architecture, you should definitely visit the campus […]

Summer in Stubai Valley, Austria – What to do

Stubai Valley is located in Tyrol, in the Austrian Alps. As beautiful as its more famous siblings, such as the French and Italian Alps, Stubai Valley is a 35 kilometers (22 mi.) long picturesque set of small villages and towns, with mountains reaching 3,000 meters peaks. It’s a popular ski resort in winter, with five main locations: Neustift, Fulpmes, Telfes, Schönberg and Mieders.  But if you think a ski resort should only be visited in winter, here’s why you should visit Stubai Valley in the summer. Hiking in Stubai There is an almost limitless network of trails and walks in Stubaital. No matter where you are staying, you are likely to find trails nearby, with all levels of difficulty. Trails are usually well signed and maintained. Maps can be found at hotels and tourist information centers. Paragliding or hang-gliding Paragliding or hang-gliding tandem flights can be arranged at seven flight centers through out the valley. A tandem flight is one where licensed pilots take a passenger with them. Or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you may choose to take a beginners course, such as the one offered by Human Eagle Air Academy, which can be done in about a week, weather permitting. To check prices and requirements for tandem flights or courses, please contact local flight centers. Booking in advance may be necessary. Kaiserschmarrn Enjoy the local cuisine There is a wide range of food choices in the area, and most restaurants have english menus to make it easier. Here are some of the local dishes you may want to try: Käsespätzle: also called cheese noodles, käsespätzle are small pasta dumplings served with cheese and caramelized onions; Wiener Schnitzel: a thin veal cutlet covered in flour and bread crumbs and deep fried; Kaiserschmarrn: scrambled pancakes served with fruit preserve; Südtiroler Spinatknödel: spinach dumplings with brown butter and parmesan; Tiroler Schlutzkrapfen: stuffed pasta similar to pierogi or ravioli, served with brown butter and parmesan. There are many other delicious local dishes to be tasted that may be found at most restaurants, but if you wish to eat something more familiar, many establishments also offer burgers and pizzas. Visit the ice cave at the Stubai Glacier Stubai Glacier Ice Grotto is located at a short hike away from the Eisgrat Mountain Station on the Stubai Glacier. The Grotto is a 200 meters (nearly 700 ft) long tour through a cave at almost 3,000 meters (nearly 10000ft) of altitude. It contains many informative signs, colorful lights and an ice throne. Even during the summer, a warm clothes and sturdy boots are recommended. Go for a Moon walk On full Moon nights, during summer months, Moon walks enter the calendar of events. The walk takes place on trails by the river illuminated by gas lamps and fires. Artistic presentations take place through out the trail and at the end of the walk, there usually is a small festival with food and drinks for sale. Check the calendar of […]

Tips for Backpackers in Salzburg, Austria

One day I decided to go backpacking through  Europe and, of course, I had to include the beautiful country of Austria during my trip. My aim was to get a different perspective of the country itself and its cities and typical villages. I went from the capital Viena to the middle of nowhere, and that’s where I discovered Salzburg, the fourth biggest city of Austria. In Salzburg, you have the chance to travel back in time, but at the same time, you’re able to enjoy the modern lifestyle too. Hohensalzburg Fortress – A top attraction in Salzburg Start your day going up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. It has the most incredible view over the city. The Hohensalzburg Fortress is a must thing to see if you’re curious and a culture fan. You can get to the fortress by walking or using the Festungsbahn funicular train. Although using the funicular seems easier and funnier, in my opinion, there’s nothing like going by foot through the small and cosy streets of Salzburg. Why don’t stop on your way to eat a delicious Kaiserschmarrn? Be sure that you discover all the marvellous spots that the city has to offer on your way up. You can spend a lot of hours in the fortress, learning about Salzburg and Austria’s past and you’ll never get tired of it. When returning, catch the funicular. 1.Hohensalzburg Fortress Must see in Salzburg – Mozart’s influence and funny stores When you return to the wonderful Mozartplatz, you will find the most delicious Pretzels, and if you’re lucky to go to Salzburg in the winter time like I was, you should drink a glass of hot wine to complete the experience. Don’t forget to visit the Mirabell Palace with its colourful garden. Recommended for Mozart fans After this, while you’re heading for the city centre again, it’s time to search for some of Mozart’s influence. Going to Salzburg I was excited to see and learn more about Mozart’s birthland and to visit his birthplace and later family residence. If you enjoy classical music this is a legendary place to go. With this in mind, you can’t forget to go to the Mozart-shops that are spread all over Salzburg. I found the cutest souvenir ever – a little Mozart bath-duck. 2.Cute Mozart bath-ducks The big surprise When I went to Salzburg, I was really excited to see all the amazing Mozart-shops, but to my surprise, I found another unexpected store – a Christmas decoration shop. It’s open all year round and it has some of the most unique decorations for Christmas I’ve ever seen. It was funny because I thought that it was only one shop in the whole city. But I was wrong. During my stay in Salzburg, I found at least three more cute Christmas shops, another unique characteristic that Salzburg has to offer. Backpacker’s tips – walk by the river and through St. Peter’s Cemetery Like I said earlier, I was backpacking in Salzburg. I wanted to see the city in a different way […]

Vienna: More Than Grumpy Waiters, Schnitzel and The Opera

Vienna is often perceived as a grey place with unfriendly service and overpriced coffee. But the Austrian capital city can be so much better and cheaper if you have a little insider knowledge about where to go when to visit Vienna and how to deal with the people’s character. I lived in Vienna for four years, which has given me plenty of time to figure out how to save some money and still enjoy Vienna’s stunning culture, eat out and get to know the locals! And now it is time to share this with you. The Viennese Coffee House Culture The coffee house culture in Vienna has attracted many visitors for a very long time, and it is a great part of Austrian culture and pride. The history goes back to the 17th century when Georg Franz Kolschitzky was the first person to have the license to serve coffee in Vienna, by using coffee beans that were left behind by the Turks. You will see his name very often in Austria, there is even a name called after him: the Kolschitzkygasse in Vienna! Anyways, if you are a coffee lover, you will be very satisfied in Vienna, because you literally cannot walk for more than a couple of minutes without seeing a cafe! Although obviously not all of today’s cafes were once the venue where literary figures would meet, there still are plenty of historical places where you can enjoy a Melange or Espresso, while indulging in reminiscences about Young Vienna and their multiple meetings to discuss their works. Historical Coffee Houses in the heart of Vienna: Café Central (Herrengasse 14) Kaffee Alt Wien (Bäckerstraße 9) Café Hofburg (Innerer Burghof 1) Café Landtmann (Universitätsring 4) First District Vienna Modern coffee spots in Vienna: Having a coffee in one of the traditional places is definitely something you should do when visiting Vienna. But if you don’t feel like digging deep into your pocket, in other words, paying 5€ for a Cappuccino, then you could also go to one of the many modern and hip places Vienna has to offer. Lately, numerous coffee bars have opened their doors for coffee lovers. You will see a lot of Latté art, vintage furniture and bearded baristas who know their work very well! Although coffee in Vienna is never really cheap, you can expect a priceworthy and delicious selection at these spots: Phil (Gumpendorfer Straße 10) Ulrich (Sankt-Ulrich-Platz 1) Café Europa (Zollergasse 8) Wirr (Burggasse 70) Also, don’t forget to order a Soda Zitron or Spritzer when you make your way to Vienna! The former is a very refreshing drink for hot summer days and merely consists of sparkling water and a lot of fresh lemon juice, and the latter is wine with sparkling water. A Spritzer can also be another variation, for example, wine with sparkling water, elder syrup and mint! You will be surprised by the many options of Spritzer awaiting you in Austria! Places to Eat and Drink […]

Why visit Linz when in Austria

Never heard of Linz, the Upper Austrian capital city? You are missing out on something, let me tell you that. See why and start planning your next trip to Austria: Getting there and around in Linz Linz has its own airport, located a bit outside of the city centre, but reachable by public bus. Due to the reason, there are not many connections to the small airport, there is a direct train from the Vienna airport to the Linz main railway station. If you arrive by train at Linz Hauptbahnhof, you are already in the middle of the city and to get to your hotel, either a cab or public transport are the easiest. Public transport of Linz AG The public transport in Linz includes trams and busses. You can get almost everywhere with them and do not need to hire a car. Public transport tickets you can get for 1€ for one way up to 4€ for a 24h ticket, which can be used on both, busses and tram. Quite a bargain, right? The famous Niebelungenbrücke at night [Photo: tuku /] Best Hotels in Linz When it comes to accommodation you a have a few options. Here is a list of well-located hotels: Dom Hotel Linz (pricy) Courtyard Linz (pricy) Hotel Kleinmünchen (affordable) Arcotel (affordable) Park Inn by Radisson (pricy) Hotel Schwarzer Bär (pricy) City Hotel Linz (affordable) Hotel Kolping (affordable) When you are searching for the Austrian hostel experience, you might consider the Jugengästehaus Linz, which is by now the only real hostel in Linz. For the camping fans, there are many lakes around the city, including beautiful and fully equipped campsites for the real nature experience. You might also consider checking out Airbnb and rent private rooms or flats. Linz has a pretty decent range of offers on there and it is a great way to meet locals and get more unique tips on the city. The Old Town of Linz [Photo: MAKY_OREL /] Must see and do in Linz Linz has a lot to offer, you will not get bored, no matter the weather. Museums, easy hiking trails, … Let’s start! Must do activities First of all, you need to participate in the Höhenrausch, where you walk on wooden pathways around the roofs of Linz. It is an outdoor museum on the roofs and the theme changes every year. Attention: For safety reasons, it is only opened in the summer months! The wooden building of Höhenrausch [Photo: Smaragd /] If you are on the Main Square, maybe enjoying an ice cream, you might stumble across a small yellow train. Buy a cheap ticket and hop on! It takes you around the city centre and the Old Town. It’s fun and not only for kids. The Linzer Main Square featuring the yellow train [Photo: LudmilaUjezd /] Do a Segway tour around Linz! Ever been on one? If not, you have to try, it is so much fun, especially with a group of friends. […]

In the city of balance and culture – Vienna

City of culture, dreams, music and balance! The capital city of Austria will tuck you in the sweet melody of classical music. It can alter your dreams, and revise your travel stories. 🙂 Vienna deserves its title “The City of Music”, and not just because of Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, and many others who gave mark and such an influence on the world music, but also for all those steps in Vienna that are filled with music, even though you haven’t brought your mp3 with you. Vienna was also named “The City of Dreams” because it was a work home of Sigmund Freud. But also, if I may add, for all the people who dream about living in this capital. It’s on the list of world’s most desirable places to live for many years now. But since I felt so refreshed after visiting Vienna, a fresh nickname for it was “a must”. So I called it “The City of Balance”. The main reason for that is the perfect coexistence and cooperation between – traditional and modern, nature and humans, rules and freedoms, car and bicycle drivers. Sightseeing Museums and palaces More than 100 art museums are in Vienna, but to me, it felt like there were a thousand of them. I had a chance to see a couple of expositions, and the one I enjoyed the most was in Leopold museum. Since I love paintings, and I love to paint, this was a real treat for me. But if you’re like Ross from “Friends”, the exposition with Dinosaurs theme in another museum, which was five minutes walk from there – the Natural History Museum, will probably be more interesting for you. 🙂 You can get to the right conclusion that there is something for everyone. So a list of the most popular museums will be helpful. And the most admired are – Albertina, Belvedere, Museums Quartier – in that entire complex, Leopold Museum is the most trendy, and the Museum of Art History and the Natural History Museum aren’t far away, so check up on them too. 🙂 In the yard of Quartier Museums, they have a very efficient way of stopping you from jumping into a fountain or throwing trash in it. “Don’t feed the crocodile!” is written as a warning sign by the fountain. Well, I wouldn’t risk it. 🙂 A special place in my memory is reserved for the imperial palaces Holfburg and Schönbrunn. Note for Schönbrunn that you must see the magnificent Neptun’s fountain and Gloriette there! Neptun’s fountain could be a portal to the world of legends. I think that any artist can easily get inspiration there. Please pay attention to Austrian Parliament Building! It’s not a museum but by beauty, it may as well be!   Opera on the street sidewalk This was a bit of a culture shock for me, although it was a positive one. Vienna state Opera is not just another opera house. It has a giant screen on the side of the […]

Experience of nature on the traces of the historical Austria

If you live in close touch with nature and you have a fable for historical castellated buildings in which former monarchs could have lived, with high rooms and lovely balconies as well as saunas and health spas? – Yes, you are totally right in Bad Gastein, Austria. This remarkable place is a spa town in the district of St. Johann/Pongau in one of the nine Austrian states called Salzburg. For those of you haven’t really heard about Austria yet… Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe with over 8.66 million citizens. It is bordered by Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, Switzerland to the west, and Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany to the north. The small but highly mountainous territory is lying within the Alps where only a third of the country is below 500 meters (1,640 ft.) above sea level. The highest point is the summit of the Großglockner at 3,798 meters (12,461 ft.). Bad Gastein is located at the head of the Gastein valley which separates the Ankogel Group in the east from the Goldberg Group in the west, two important mountain passes rising as high as 2,000 meters above sea level. Bad Gastein was a strategic essential location in former days for people who, either on foot or by horse, transported goods from north to south. That’s probably why Romans settled Gastein Valley more than 2,000 years ago, and were probably well aware of the healing powers of the waters that bubbled up from the hot springs. [single_map_place] Bad Gastein, Austria [/single_map_place] The town center is built around a giant waterfall, about 1,000 meters (3,300 ft.) above sea level and is characterized by numerous historic hotel buildings erected on the steep slopes. A nice promenade leads you along the head of the valley through all the historic buildings of the Belle Époque (the time span of about 30 years around the turn of 19th to 20th century) and reveals the view at the huge waterfall and the valley. waterfall in the heart of the town The name German word Bad means spa and is reflecting the town's history as a health resort. The so called healing tunnel which carries the world-famous hot springs earned the town its early fame. During the centuries numerous illustrious guests, such as Emperor Franz Josef I and his spouse Empress Elisabeth, Franz Grillparzer, Franz Schubert, Arthur Schopenhauer, Sigmund Freud and many others, gave Gastein the reputation of a modern, cosmopolitan spa destination. historic buildings So the village is quite popular for its relaxing atmosphere and treatments since a very long time. But nowadays there is a lot more to experience in the Gastein valley than the hot springs. So what to do? The village is definitely not only a memory of former times but provides a lot of activities throughout the whole year. The Hohe (which means high)Tauern region is a mountain range on the main chain of the Central […]

Achensee,Tirol, Austria: the paradise between the mountains

  I have always had a weakness for the clear, blue, water, but i could not imagine the day when I will see this clear, blue, water giving birth to beautiful, tall mountains as well as to sandy beaches? How is this possible? Well, by descovering Achensee. Location and surroundings When you think about Austria, you imagine Vienna and some fancy ski resorts, winter holidays, Christmas markets and some hiking. But this is not all. When I think about Austria, I say Achensee. Of course, I can recall clear blue sky even in winter time, beautiful scenery and other lovely places, but none impressed me this much. Located in Tirol, one hour away from Innsbruck, this place is awaiting quietly and full of surprises for its visitors. It is not only about the place itself, but I call it an experience. The Achensee experience, which starts from the moment you begin your way towards this place, continues while being there and keeps on impressing you until the moment you leave. Getting there My proposal, as well as my favourite way to go up there is the Achenseebahn, a steam train, 125 years old which will keep the smile on your face throughout the travel. Starting from Jenbach, the journey will take about an hour and you can enjoy the mountains' view, the green fields which become smaller and smaller as you go up, the lovely villages which remain behind and listen to the old sound of the train (Tchu, tchu, thcu!!!…) – might be tempted to bring your hands on the ears, because the noise is quite…noisy. But check the timetables before. Austrians take great care of the little jewel and use it a few hours per day. For the modern transportation lovers, there are also alternatives. Driving about one hour from Innsbruck or by train to Jenbach, then by bus to Pertisau or Maurach. The lake is surrounded by small villages: Pertisau, Maurach and Eben am Achensee. The closest place, right next to the lake is Pertisau. Basically, this is right on the shore. But the other two are not to miss, either. The scenery is amazing from every single point, considering the mountains and the clear sky. On top of that, this is a popular place among paragliders and kitesurfers. Things to do Sun bathing Achensee is the place which can easily please all tastes. To start with, it has a small sandy beach, where you can lay in the sun and even swim. The water is usually very cold, but somewhere in August becomes reachable even for the sensible ones. The rest of the time, I recommend it only for the adventurers. Sight seeing Walking around the lake is also an option, seeing the crystal clear water from different angles together with the arising mountains is quite a fulfilling experience. It is also very likely to watch landing a paraglider or to get an adrenaline boost from a kitesurfer. Hiking and cable car riding For mountain lovers, there are two cable […]

Vienna: small tips for newcomers

My seasonal highlights in Vienna Would you like to see Vienna imperial, noble, proud, luxurious, old-fashioned …  or  perhaps better chic, fresh, unusual, contemporary? Don’t worry, you’ll be able to enjoy both sides of its world. Vienna is the city of grand past, sparkling present and for sure overwhelming future. It will catch your attention from the first sight, and will not leave you go… part of your heart will stay here forever. Vienna is charming all year long Christmas markets From November till the 24th of December the city sparkles with decorations, air is filled with punch and mulled wine aromas;  numerous big and small hidden secret Christmas markets with food and souvenir stands can be found everywhere- almost on every square, near palaces  and also in some unexpected places- for example, on a rooftop of Ritz-Carlton hotel, with a breathtaking view over Vienna.  It’s the time of pure fairy tale. Ball season in Vienna From the end of December till February- fragrances and sounds of tradition are in the air,  ladies and gentlemenwearing elegant apparels… the city invites you to become a part of this festive celebration of  life and joy (the most important- the Vienna Opera ball- mind the dress code). Wiener Eistraum  Ice dream in Vienna / 25.01-12.03.2017 the square near Rathaus transforms into a huge ice skating park, with numerous places to eat and drink- pancakes, burgers, Viennese specialties, sweets …  and of course “Glühwein” (mulled wine) and punch. Easter markets Charming markets and festivals with small concerts, delicious food and nice cute stands with souvenirs- spring is in the air. Summer in Vienna Numerous open-air bars and restaurants, pools,  music festivals, annual Film festival on the Rathaus square (with food&drink stands)– these events make Vienna so hot =) so don’t forget about refreshment drinks-  Beer, coctails (the most popular in Vienna- Hugo and Aperol) and numerous drinking water fountains (Vienna is famous for its high quality tap water mainly from mountain springs). Wiener Wiesn-Fest Vienna Oktoberfest-  annual festival in Prater amusement park to enjoy great atmosphere, beer, sausages and music.Allmost everyone wears ustrian traditional costumes here: “Dirndl” for ladies (dress) and “Lederhosen” for gentlemen (leathershorts). While planning trip to Vienna don’t forget to check calendars for  top- concerts, sporting events and exhibitions. Some practical information How to get to Vienna Vienna International airport Offers flights to more than 160 destinations, so it will not be a problem to find a proper variant- nonstop or direct. Railway stations There are 4 of them in Vienna-  comfortably located not far from the city center+ underground stations nearby- Vienna Main Station , Vienna Meidling Train Station, Westbahnhof  and Wien Mitte Station. Busses If you travel around Europe it could be a good option to take a bus to go to Vienna- there are a lot of transport companies, that offer international bus connections-  so  you should check for prices at several different operators- my favorite are-  Flixbus  , Hellö  and VIB. Car for rent It's another popular way to reach Vienna while travelling around Europe- my best […]

My Kind-Of-Weekend in Vienna, Austria

Why did Glorie go there? My current “do-good” work regularly involves travel. We went to the Vienna, Austria in time for a global convention. As much as I want to share what the whole meeting was all about, I will have to stop myself, and not digress. Not that I am complaining, but after ten-day’s worth of meetings and chasing people around to discuss projects and collaborations, it wasn’t such a bad idea to have a weekend to enjoy the charming capital of Austria that is Vienna! Vienna is roughly a full day’s worth of travel from Colombo, Sri Lanka, where I am currently based in. Our flight route was Colombo- Dubai- Vienna. It was a fairly comfortable flight, and good food was served on the plane— probably because the set menu was “inspired by regional flavors” of the destination. We arrive in Vienna on a chilly day, at 3 degrees Celsius. A caveat here, it was my first trip ever to a four-season-destination— during winter. For an Asian born and raised in the tropics, this cold weather wasn’t a welcome treat! But, for some odd reason, the cold weather in Vienna made me fall in-love with it even more! Everything in the Austrian capital is picturesque and looks like it was taken out of a postcard or a movie scene! Vienna has earned votes as the world’s second most livable city. It is a true-blue, down-to-the-core, cultural capital. So, here goes a run-down of what transpired in my weekend going around Vienna.   Where did Glorie go? St. Stephen's Cathedral Stephansplatsz Square St. Stephan’s Cathedral— In one word, “beautiful”! It is difficult to not be captivated by this church’s intricate architectural details. St. Stephan’s Cathedral (also Stephansdom) is one of Vienna's main landmark, so expect that you will not be the only one trying their best to take a snap (“photobombing” alert!), especially of its spires. Stephansplatz Square— You get shops and restaurants here. Not tempting? How about I say you get shops and restaurants— housed in classic architectural gems of old Vienna, on a cobble-stone path? The Square is a never-to-be-missed site for everyone! It is, arguably, the heart of Vienna. People would say, it gives you a glimpse of Viennese life and culture, and it all unfolds here! Nearby you will find some of Vienna’s oldest architectural landmarks such as the Staat Oper (State Opera House) and the Mozarthaus. Close to The Square is the Kaerntnerstrasse which is synonymous to Vienna’s “ultimate shopping district”!   Naschmarkt Naschmarkt Flea Market— Name it, and for sure, this market has it! Nestled conveniently in Central Vienna at Kettenbrückengasse, 1060, this flea market offers everything from organic produce, meat, dairy, preserves, deserts, to antiques, kitsch, souvenirs and even products from as far as Asia and Africa! It has something for everyone. If you are a bargain-hunter, this is a must place for you to go to. If you are a foodie, […]

Graz, in the heart of Europe.

From where could I start? Graz is the capital of the federal state of Styria and it is the second largest city in Austria after Vienna. It is located on the Mur River in the southeast of Austria. Graz is an alpine town with very pleasant summers. Temperatures range between 20 and 25 degrees and hardly overcome this barrier. The winter is hard, because it snows and temperatures tend to go below zero.I wanted that my first post was about the place where I had the best experience ever. I have stayed there for five months during my bachelor studies and I can say that Graz is one of the most organized and clean cities I have been, I always felt safe, it is like a miracle city. I met not only locals but people from all over the world, Graz is known as a student city so you will find people from different places. One-fifth of the more than two hundred thousand people of Graz are students. Every Wednesday, international and local students gather in The Office Pub located on Trauttmansdorffgasse 3 to have a beer, play games and share with friends. Where to go? The Old Town Old Town of Graz The old town, a world heritage site by UNESCO since 1999, is full of exquisite architecture. It is easy to walk and impossible to get lost. You can take a tour of one day if you want to see the essentials and some more if you want to roam around and walk the trails. It is full of shops, hotels, bars and restaurants. You can take a walk through the Herrengasse, the main shopping street of the city, an avenue where we find the most international stores, accompanied by local businesses and where the tram passes through. There is the Sporgasse as well, one of the most beautiful and picturesque streets in Graz. Born in the Hauptplatz and it has many shops of all kinds. In winter, at the end of the street there is an ice skating rink. There is another pleasant street to walk called Sackstrasse. The entire historic center of Graz is worthwhile, even if only to stroll through its streets and window shopping or enjoy coffee or tea in any small bar. As you stroll look up and enjoy the facades of its buildings, some are impressive. The Schlossberg View over Graz The Schlossberg is a wonderful place where you can see the city from the heights. You can get there by the incredible and beautiful stairs in a zigzag pattern called Kriegssteig or you can pay to use the lift or the funicular (Schlossbergbahn). The name of the hill Schlossberg, refers to the castle or fortress that was there since the eleventh century and was sent to destroy when Napoleon occupied the city in 1809. This park contains the Clock tower, a Belfry, a cistern (Türkenbrunnen) and two bastions from the ancient castle. It also […]

The heart of Europe – Vienna

The heart of Europe – Vienna [single_map_place] Vienna [/single_map_place] Our first trip together. Europe. The heart of Europe – Vienna. It took us almost nine hours to arrive to our desired destination. Finally we were there – in the “city of music”, the hometown of grand composers such as Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. Exhausted due to the long overnight journey, we got off the bus filled with enthusiasm for what was ahead of us. Maria Theresa Square We followed the tourist guide who walked through the center showing us the most important attractions of this amazing city. We started out tour from Maria Theresa Square, which is the very center of Vienna. It is situated between the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art History. Right across the street there is Museumquartier. The famous Maria Theresa monument, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was put up in 1888 in the presence of empress Sissi. From the very beginning I noticed that the city was overflowing with tourists. Various languages could be heard at Maria Theresa Square, among them- mine, Serbian. I was so extraordinarily excited at the unknown. A new country, a new city, new people, a new language, new history- everything in front of me bore the sense of newness. And it filled me with some sort of awe and reverence. We were following the tourist guide avidly listening to the history lecture she was providing us with. The Vienna Parliament The next impressive attraction was The Vienna Parliament located on Wiener Ringstraße. It is one of the most visited Vienna sights. The splendid building was built in Greek style in the late 19th century. St Stephen’s Cathedral However, St Stephen’s Cathedral maintains overwhelming dominance in this area. Constructed in Romanesque and Gothic style, it makes this place even more appealing and attractive. It is the most significant religious building in Vienna. Hofburg Palace Hofburg Palace is worth mentioning, as well. It traces its history back to the 13th century when it was built and over the centuries it housed a lot of important people, among them monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty. This sumptuous palace was the royal winter residence whereas the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace was their summer residence. Learn more about Hofburg Palace here: Mozart There is a park next to Hofburg Palace. Since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was tightly connected to Vienna, it is no surprise to see his statues in beautiful Vienna. One of them is located just here, at Burggarten park. Learn more about Mozart here: So many different, amazing things to see. So many diverse stories about amazing people. I rushed to see more, to know more, to get more. Thoroughly immersed in what the guide was talking about, I hardly found the time to take some photos there. I was not a photographer at the time, however. I was just a tourist. My photos were not great, but they were dear and they still are since that was […]

Innsbruck, Monaco, San Candido – An adventure Christmas weekend

Christmas markets through San Candido, Innsbruck and Monaco Planning the great escape View from Monte Elmo If someone does not know, northern Italy, Austria and Germany are famous, during Christmas period, for their theme markets, where you can find a lot of different typical food and particular Christmas presents. The atmosphere is very joyful and unique, red, green and white are dominant colors and make you feel the happiness of Christmas time. So under the desire of feeling part of this joy, we began to organize an escape-weekend to visit the markets. We did not want to lose any of those beautiful experiences, so we organized very rich schedule. The adventure began in the middle of a Friday night: we left Bologna at 2 a.m. in order to be in Innsbruck in early morning, have enough time to visit it, reach Monaco in afternoon, visit the markets, sleep there and then, the day after, leave for San Candido. I understand that this could sound a little bit crazy, in fact I suggest you to visit the same places slowly to enjoy them completely, but still, if you are crazy as much as we are (and you do not have much time), this “squeezed” experience will be unique! Innsbruck, Austria As I said before, we arrived in Innsbruck in early morning so we could admire how the city wakes up, we reached a very cute café were we had breakfast and there, we waited. Slowly every shop began to open, so we went out to explore. Innsbruck's details We visited the markets but without forgetting some of the typical places of Innsbruck, as Goldenes Dachl, Palais Trapp and the Inn’s bridge. It was very cold so I suggest to bring with you proper clothing, however, even if in early morning weather didn’t seem good, at 10 a.m. sun suddenly began to shine, and the climate became more temperate. Unfortunately, we arrived there too early to find open all the markets, but still, we enjoyed the city from a particular point of view. Inn river Monaco, Germany If we were enough lucky with the traffic on the way of Innsbruck, the road to Monaco was not that merciful. Our schedule shifted of two hours, and we arrived in Monaco in late afternoon, but at least the landscape from the car was always interesting: typical mountain houses, trees and snow everywhere! On the road to Monaco Once arrived in Monaco, we decide to recover in the hotel for some hours and visit the city after dinner.  We ate in a typical alehouse with pretzel, sausages and beers, and then, we went to explore the city and the last open markets. We were too tired to enjoy the nightlife of Monaco, but we saw Marienplatz, the Hofbräuhaus, the Frauenkirche and some other typical places, very picturesque in the dark! Monaco's details I suggest you to try […]

Dating Abroad: Meeting the “One” while Traveling

  Everyone secretly hopes that the love of their life will be waiting for them when their plane lands. Or better yet, that their special someone will be traveling with them to an exciting new city sipping complimentary white wine and picking out favorites from travel guides in flight.   If you’re single and you’re traveling abroad the chances of you finding someone special are actually quite likely! It could be an old fling that you’ve reunited with abroad, a friend traveling with you that has shown a different side, or even a complete stranger who locked eyes with on the dance floor. In any case, once you’ve found your someone special how do you maintain a stable relationship when your own itinerary is constantly changing?   [“Second” Date posing as Gladiators in Rome]   I myself never thought that I would find my prince charming, let alone find him 6,000 miles away from home. But here I am now, living in Vienna, Austria and married to my best friend.   I met my husband when he was studying abroad at my home university in California in 2011 just days before he left back to Vienna, Austria. Fast forward two years later I was on my way to Europe to spend a semester abroad. I was coming from Kolkata, India and arranged for a quick 5 day trip to Vienna to be reunited with an old flame. Keep in mind we rarely talked in the two years between our first and second encounter. In those 5 days we quickly fell head over heels for each other and enjoyed a wonderful three month long distance relationship between London and Vienna before spending another one and a half years dating between California and Austria before getting engaged.   So if you clicked with someone over gelato in Rome or tapas in Barcelona, don’t despair – it can work!  You never know, this person might become someone significant in your life and could even become your soulmate, so don’t let “the distance” get in the way.   Have Fun Traveling is fun – you’re in a new city and you’re going with the flow. Love abroad should mirror that easy going nature as well. In the beginning don’t sweat the hard questions like:   What are we? How can this work? Do I need a visa? How will I find a job here?   Of course these questions will come when you two get more serious but in the meantime just enjoy each other’s company. Don’t force a label onto something you both aren’t ready for and don’t try to fit your relationship into a box… especially when your hometowns may be separated by an ocean and 20+ hour flight.     In the beginning, just go for it even if you’re unsure of how it will end. Don’t let the fear of hurt prevent you from enjoying a new and exciting romance. No matter what you’ll both be making memories that last […]

Salzburg: Its Essence in a One Day Trip

During the past six months, I was living in Vienna (City number 2 in my top 3 of most amazing cities I ever have been). During my time there I had the chance to meet remarkable people from different countries and origins. Zuza one of my friends who is originally from Poland, told me about all the places she has been in Austria and we noticed she didn’t have time yet to visit Salzburg. I express to her my interest to visit Salzburg and suddenly we were planning how to get there. I must confess that the first time I heard about Salzburg was when I was a child (around 7 or 8 years old) and I was watching “The Sound of Music” movie (1965). If you are not familiar with the history and you like musical I encourage you to check it. My friend Zuza, never saw this movie before so the day before our trip we check it together. Here you can appreciate in advance the beauties that Salzburg has for you. How to get to Salzburg?  We decide the easiest way to go was by train and we pay around 38 Euros each per round trip. We plan our schedule for a one day trip because the hostels/rooms were quite expensive, and yes we’re students 🙂 Our train departs around 7.30, and it was almost empty. Zuza expends that time checking intermittently through the window and her mobile phone, because she forgot her earphones. I just felt sleep until our arrival. What to see in Salzburg? Mirabel's Garden, Mozart's House and Residenz Square Once we arrive, we found a map and we decide to start or adventure. So we start follow the zombies (all the huge group of people leaving the train station) and suddenly we were in our way to the city center. The first place we visited was the gardens from Mirabel Palace. In general this place is really beautiful if you have a sunny day it will be splendid expend some time walking around the different gardens. My favorite things in this place were definitely the Pegasus fountain and the Dwarf Garden, because even when this places are not the most beautiful for me were the most unique. Specially the Dwarf area, because all the sculptures are really funnies and we were making funny pictures resemble the dwarfs poses. Then, when we leave Mirable Garden we proceed to see the Mozart-Wohnhaus Building (The residence of Mozart) and we decided skips the tour because I already have been in Mozart’s residence in Vienna. Anyway I believe it may be an interesting point to refresh the biography from this talented musician. From there we walked trying to reach the Salzburg’s old town and suddenly we found the Salzach River which gives a wonderful touch to the amazing landscapes. Then we saw the city center mainly the commercial part and then we stopped in the Residenplatz. We recognized this place from the movie, because there are several scenes were recorded in this […]

Discovering the spirit of Tyrol

For most people Tyrol is synonymous with mountains, snow and tall trees. It is a top destination for skiing holidays in winter or hiking during summer. But many don’t look beyond. Tyrol isn’t just beautiful mountains and forests. Actually, the cities of Tyrol are just as worth exploring. You can find the true essence of the region in the squares and churches, markets and monuments. Formed by part of Austria and part of Italy, Tyrol has a long and intricate history of battles, anecdotes, traditions and famous nationalist characters. It’s a Tyrol that many do not know, but all should. Here are four of the best towns you should see in Tyrol, in all of which you will feel the particular spirit of the historical region among the Alps. Innsbruck in one day Tyrol was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I and Innsbruck was its capital. Today, it’s still considered the main city of the region. Innsbruck means “the bridge on the river Inn”. It is a wonderful city where you can discover the extraordinary mix between an urban and mountain environment. The historic city of Innsbruck is nestled between two Alpine mountain ranges. The city is strategically located along the Brenner Pass. The importance of the valley eventually gave rise to the evolution of Innsbruck into a cultural and commercial hub. Walking around the centre is like stepping back into the Medieval Ages. The best symbol of that time is the Goldenes Dachl (golden roof), which goes back to the time of Maximilian I, the Holy-Roman emperor, when the city became the capitol of Tyrol. It is located in the heart of the old town and is covered with 2,576 gold copper tiles. Its museum offers, thanks to modern technologies, a very fascinating picture of medieval Tyrol. To enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the surrounding mountains, you'll have to visit the Civic Tower, which in the past was used as a prison. You can also see the Saint James cathedral, one of the most significant religious site in Austria. Continue the view by going to the Imperial Palace, one of the most important cultural buildings of Austria. The palace was built in 1453 and was considered   the most beautiful creation of the time. If you are a shopping lover, you will not be disappointed, there are a lot of small shops and boutiques where you can buy souvenirs. Don’t leave the city without buying a “grappa”, the typical alcohol of the region. Originally made by farmers to survive the harsh winter, this “fire water” is strong! However, Innsbruck is not only a medieval city – it’s also very modern. If you walk along the river you can breath the modern spirit of the city with the elegance and the cleanliness that characterize northern Europe. You can have brunch in the Breakfast Club in the Landhausplatz, near the famous street “Maria-Teresien Strasse”. There, choose an omelette filled with speck and traditional cheese […]

Salzburg – 10 Reasons to Love the Awesome Mountain Town

If you have watched the Sound of Music, you may aready be familiar with some of the landscapes of Salzburg. The movie is indeed set in the city of Salzburg and I would be lying if i told you there was no correlation whatsoever between the fact that i really enjoyed the movie and that I am currently an Au Pair in Salzburg. But beside fanticising about the movie, i honestly did not know much about Salzburg before moving here, and there is way more to Salzburg than those hills that are alive. Here are ten reasons that make Salzburg a pretty awesome city you will want to visit :   1. The Fortress Hohensalzburg   Salzburg at nightime – the fortress dominates the city The Festnung Hohensalzburg is Salzburg's landmark, it dominates the city and is actually located right in the city center. Wheather you chose to reach it by foot (which takes around 15 minutes n a very steep hill) or with the funicular Festnung-bahn, you do want not to miss Salzburg's top attraction for two reasons : it is Europe's largest standing medieval castle (and you will find out about its history in the museum inside it) and it offers a spectacular panorama of the city. 2. The Old Town or Altstadt   Residenzplatz (in the Dom quartier) Inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage list, the Old Town of Sazburg is very unique and presents a combination both medieval and baroque elements. The river Salzach separates the historic city centre, with the south bank of the river being the oldest aerea while the nothern bank and its Linzergasse are more recent. The south side is particularly charming with breathtaking monuments like the Dom (the cathedral), the entire Dom quartier and the very unique feel of the Getreidgasse, Salzburg's oldest and main shopping street. And for a postcard-like picture of the city with the fortress in the background, walk on the Makarsteg, the bridge over the Salzach where romantic souls put their love locks !  3. The Mountains   Hiking the Gaisberg I particularly love Salzbourg because of its proximity to nature. Not only do you have incredible hikes offered by the moutains surrounding the city, but you also have hills within the city centre itself. These are called “Stadtberge” and enable you to look at the city from above. They include : the Mönchsberg which is where the modern art museum is located and which offer nice paths that come accross old city walls and castle parts the Kapuzinerberg with walks just as nice the Festnungberg where the Fortress is located. And if you are feeling more adventurous, the moutains right outside Salzburg, namely the Gaisberg, the Nockstein and the Untersberg will be calling you!  4. Mirabell Castle and Gardens   Mirabell Gardens Mirabell Schloss is located on the nothern bank of the Salzach and it is definitely an attraction not to be missed. The castle is a […]

Austria: Hallstatt – magnificent views, time travel and loads of bones

Hallstatt – a small village of around eight hundred inhabitants somewhere in the Upper Austria that you’re always being told about and never really get to go there. I actually did, pretty spontaneously and I don’t regret anything. After a four hour bus ride from Vienna we woke up next to a calm lake surrounded by tremendous mountains. Exactly these mountains used to make it so hard for the inhabitants to move around the village and for anybody to come to Hallstatt – until a road was built at the end of the 19th century. If there was only a little space between them and the lake, why did people want to live there? The answer is pretty easy: salt. The white gold that helped people in the pre-fridge times preserve food and therefore was very valuable could be found here. So people mined the precious mineral and had to take it down to the village – a job that often didn’t even bring them enough money to feed their families. That’s why they worked even more. The women had to leave their babies for the time they were working at home and often didn’t have anybody to watch out for them. A tough problem with a relatively easy, however disastrous solution: they dipped the tip of their skirt in schnapps and gave it to the little ones. The babies got drunk, so they were sleeping the whole day long and their mothers didn’t have to worry about them; until later, when they had health problems. To remember these women there is a plaque next to the bench where they used to rest on their way down. In the Parish of the Assumption there are two altars right next to each other. The first one was made by a local artist between 1510 and 1520 – this late gothic masterpiece was found almost three centuries later out-of-date, so the parishioners convinced the bishop to order a new one. That’s how the new altar, this time in the new gothic style appeared in the church. The last one stayed right next to it, because it would have cost too much money to get it out. Actually to me the story about the cemetery around the church is more interesting than the church itself. As there wasn’t too much space for the graves, the people of Hallstatt had to think pretty soon about an alternative: that’s why about 10 to 15 years after the funeral they took the skull and the long bones out of the grave to make room for the next body. Then the skull would be cleaned and put in the sun and  in the moonlight for a couple of weeks. At the beginning of the 18th century a new tradition was born – as it wasn’t possible to put flowers in the bone house people started decorating the skulls. They wrote the name, the date of birth and the date of death and painted wreaths, crosses, flowers and […]

A Day in Salzburg

Why Go to Salzburg? Salzburg is famous for being the birth place of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the filming location for “The Sound of Music”, a 1965 American musical drama starring the famous Julie Andrews. Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria and situated near the German (Bavarian) border, the city is split by the Salzach River with Altstadt (Old City) located on its left bank, and 19th-century Neustadt (New City) located on the right. On a trip to Munich in Bavarian Germany I knew I couldn't leave without sampling a little bit of Austria's gem. I had an incredible time in Salzburg and glad I took the opportunity to go. Mirabell Palace & Gardens Getting to Salzburg Getting to Salzburg is quite easy, there are many options available in a range of options to suit your financial and comfort desires. Plane Salzburg W.A. Mozart International Airport – Located around 20 minutes away from Salzburg city center and can be reached directly on several routes in Europe. Munich International Airport – Due to the short distance between Munich and Salzburg the railway connection from Munich Airport via Munich East Train Station takes passengers to Salzburg in just 2.5 hours. Train Salzburg's railway station, the Hauptbahnhof, can be reach from Munich in less than 2 hours.  If you are looking for the best route and prices to get to Salzburg then I would recommend looking up The Man in Seat 61 a great resource for train travel. Bus Flixbus are a bus company that provide connections throughout Europe.  Flixbus offer routes from Munich to Salzburg from as little as €7 one way. Getreidegasse How to Get Around in Salzburg While we were there we used the trolley buses twice and that was to get to and from the train station. Salzburg city is very easy to get around on foot and I would recommend walking as much of it as you can to really immerse yourself in the city. If walking the city is not for you then you can catch the handy trolley buses from €2.50 per single trip and €5.50 for a 24h ticket which can be bought directly from the driver but if bought from one of the ticket machines then the cost is reduced to €1.70 per single trip. Mozart's House What to See and Do in Salzburg With only one day to explore you won’t be able to see everything but you can see a decent amount of the main attractions in that time. Some of the highlights of my trip included: Mirabell Palace & Gardens The palace was built by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606 for his love Salome Alt, back then it was named Altenau Palace. It was changed to Mirabell Palace after Wolf Dietrich’s death by his successor, Markus Sitticus von Hohenems. The palace today holds meetings and is still used for wedding ceremonies. The gardens underwent many different renovations over the years and eventually […]

Vienna: The Wonders of an Old World Empire

Vienna Rathaus park Stephensdom Vienna State Opera House Why Vienna? Many people want to see and experience Europe and all its cultural offerings, but the size and shear volume of destinations can make this a daunting trip financially as well as logistically. Luckily, I offer a solution to this travel dilemma: visit the beautiful and culturally rich Vienna, the heart of the previous Austro-Hungarian Empire, an Old World power. Vienna as a destination is often overlooked, abandoned for more trendy but pricey locations like Paris, Venice, and London. But this is a grave mistake! The Austrian capital gleams alongside the shining waters of the Danube River, about an hour's drive from the UNESCO Heritage wine region, the Wachau Valley, also recognized for producing delicious apricots of continental fame. In the city center, 'Jugendstil,' or art nouveau, architecture abounds, bathed in various shades of exquisite marble and graced with ornately scrolled ironwork signs and balconies. In the picturesque distance, the forested hills are considered the green lungs of Vienna, aptly named der Wienerwald. Historic preservation here has been elevated to an art, and throughout the city one can endlessly discover tales of the Imperial era. Near the main palace rests a recently uncovered Roman ruin, and quietly remembering the second world war are ruins of bombing lingering behind the summer palace. Music and art are celebrated in both new and old style here in the heart of Old Europe, with classical concerts offered most evenings and a continually packed State Opera House. Last but certainly not least, traditional Austrian cuisine comprises hearty fare, sure to please travelers from all over the globe. For those more interested in finer foods, the Viennese coffeehouse culture, renowned patisseries and sophisticated desserts continue to satisfy connoisseurs with the most discriminating palates. Imperial History Ruled for generations by the prestigious Hapsburg family, Austria boasts a fantastic collection of antiques and Crown Jewels. The Imperial Palace (Hofburg) still rests comfortably enthroned in the heart of the Old City, nonchalantly looking out upon the ornate City Hall (Rathaus) and the great spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephensdom) alike.  The Spanish Riding School continues to reside within the palace, and performances in the Winter Arena offer particular grandeur as spectators take in the elegant, flying white horse under huge dazzling Swarovski chandeliers dripping with Austrian crystal. The Lippizaner horses have been trained in the same tradition for over 400 years and can be appreciated by luxury and budget travelers alike, as affordable standing tickets are available for purchase in addition to general admission and deluxe box seats. Across the entryway, the palace houses the Sissi Museum, a wealth of restored staterooms, Imperial silver, crystal and fine china, as well as a stunning display of the empress' state gowns. Sissi, or the Empress Elisabeth, was a Bavarian princess married at a rather young age to Franz Josef, heir to the Empire and son of the formidable and beloved […]

5 Days on 4 Mountains – Exploring Ski Amadé

To tell the truth, I didn’t expect much from this years skiing. We almost didn’t go at all. We really had organised everything last minute, and our GPS broke on the day of leaving home. But… surprisingly good things start often unexpected ways, don’t they?   An easy plan The Family Ski Trip (or Ski Camp, as we call it) have been always important  in our life, but until this year we managed to join to a bus trip or family friends, so we never actually had to organise it by ourselves. The only thing we knew was that we (mom, sis, her son and I) would like to go skiing to Austria by car. Being the most computer friendly from the „team”, finding out the details seemed to be obviously my job. Where to start? I decided to follow an easy plan, and check the most popular ski resorts.  I visited  for this part, it is full of useful and/or  fun facts –  my favourite is the list of ski areas by actual depth of snow. After some browsing here I opened – surely we’ll need an accomodation I thought. The best part of this page, that you can look for the available rooms directly on the map – it’s the easiest way to find a place really close to the pistes (also the ski lifts are visible, check it below). I mentioned before that we were last minute – 3 weeks before the trip – so I had to go through some ski resorts with no results until I found an apartment at the Schladming 4-mountains ski area. I was so happy, I felt like booking the last available accomodation on planet earth. 🙂 The price was also satisfying, we paid about 620 euros for a 4 person apartment / 5 nights. Finally, I checked the ticket prices here (or yo can do it here, as well). Ok, sincerelly this wasn’t my final move. After seeing the prices I needed to be sure that paying so much for a ski pass is  actually normal in Austria. Sadly it is. Off we go We left on the 5th of March. No GPS but –  no panic  – we had the power of a smartphone. I loaded the route before we left Hungary, so we didn’t have to use any data roaming. From Budapest it was  six hours  full of turns and changing roads to get there. Without the phone’s GPS turned on we’d have had  a hard time to find our way. Our apartment was located at Gleiming, at the bottom of mountain Reiteralm. What I really liked that we could reach the place  without riding on serpetines,  we just got off from the main road, and there we were at apartment house: Zeffererhof.      We arrived at about 8pm, but it wasn’t a problem at all. The owner, Marlene, greeted us kind and showed us aroud: ski storage, sauna, pool room and of course a nice aparment with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, huge bathroom, […]
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