• Alexandra Wendt

Vienna and Salzburg


Unless something spontaneous comes up, I have taken what is most likely my last trip during this incredible year abroad. (I realized I only have five weeks left. Five. Weeks. I can't think about that.)

One of the challenges of this year is how alone and independent I've had to be for most of it. This isn't something necessarily negative (I value my alone time), but when you're doing things like traveling by yourself, the pressure is on when you're responsible for everything.

However, there are many positive aspects to traveling alone. As I already said, you gain independence and confidence in yourself. (Cheers to this midwesterner, formerly unused to public transportation, who now feels totally comfortable navigating the metro all by herself--and in a country with a language she knows not a word of!) It's an opportunity for personal growth, as you learn to enjoy your own company on levels formerly unexplored. The best part is, YOU get to pick the whole itinerary and take it all at your own pace.

Image credit: Alexandra Wendt.

But the independence aspect is something I address more in my summary blog post about this year abroad. I'm excited to share it with you all, so look out for it next month.

VIENNA

There are two words I'd used to describe this city: "enchanting" and "posh." Full of elaborate Baroque architecture that leaves no detail unattended to, you feel important just walking down the street. I think it has an interesting layout: there's a "ring street" that wraps around the city center, replacing the former medieval walls that enclosed the city. This means that if you stay anywhere around the ring street or city center, pretty much everything you need to see is within walking distance, which is convenient.

Image credit: Alexandra Wendt.

If Italy is the place to be for art historians, Vienna is the place to be for musicians. You can't throw a rock without hitting a statue of a famous musician. Costumed workers around the opera house harangue you on the streets, trying to get you to go to a concert. I did attend a Mozart and Strauss concert, though I had booked it ahead of time. It was at the Schönbrunn Palace Orangery, and was incredible, including opera and ballet!

Image credit: Alexandra Wendt.

There are quite a few museums, of course, and I enjoyed seeing Raphael's Madonna of the Meadow, Klimt's famous The Kiss, and the Venus of Willendorf. But I like the art collections in other cities more, like the Cluny in Paris, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, and the National Galleries in Edinburgh and London. For me, the best part of Vienna was the gorgeous architecture and the rich coffee house culture. Walk into Demel or Café Schwarzenberg and be served by tuxedoed workers, and you feel like you've stepped back in time.

That being said, definitely get to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Belvedere, and the Natural History Museum. Schönbrunn Palace is another must-see.

SALZBURG

I did a day trip to Salzburg through Vienna Sightseeing, which is the best and most efficient way to see the charming city if you don't have a lot of time. I would've much preferred to do a Sound of Music tour, because that movie was my whole reason for wanting to see the city, but that would've required figuring out my own transportation and probably staying overnight, which I didn't want to hassle with since I had less than a week in Austria.

Image credit: Alexandra Wendt.

With a day trip, you do spend a lot of time in the bus, so be prepared for that. But my tour guide made it enjoyable by talking about things along the way and playing Mozart and tracks from The Sound of Music.

Once in Salzburg, we had a short tour to get a layout of the small, easily-navigable city center, then had a couple hours of free time to do what we wanted. I desperately wanted to see more sites from The Sound of Music, but since I wasn't able to, I contented myself with walking around and taking pictures.

Overall, my trip to Austria was pretty much perfect. The only downside was that a really bad cold hit me while I was there, making me nearly cancel the trip to Salzburg. I pushed through, though, and got some medication from a pharmacy and made the best of the situation. The weather was gorgeous, so I think April is a good time to visit. I definitely want to go back someday.

Have you been to Vienna or Salzburg? What did you think?

~Alex

#vienna #salzburg #personallife #travel #livingabroad

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