Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vienna Waits For You! : Austria, Part I

"I'm going to Austria. I've been there before, but this time I'll be in the Austrian Alps and it should be pretty cool, I guess..." - Me
"Linze. Can you believe that you can just say that?" - Sarah

I guess it's official. I'm a travel snob. Sorry.

Along with taking care of two of the most adorable children on the planet, I also get taken on pretty awesome trips sometimes. Usually while the family travels, I have been known to venture around Europe by myself. However, this last time there was vacationing time I chose to go with the family to the Austrian Alps for a week! Other than a WAY too long car ride (I've become spoiled, because I travel that much in a car all the time in the states -but I'm not use to car rides anymore...), it was a pretty classic trip. I even was lucky enough to hop over to Vienna for two days - which was FABULOUS! I really love the beauty and solidarity you feel in the countryside, but I'm a complete city-girl at heart.

So, where to start? Well, the first day we were in Austria we decided to do a hike around the lake and take in the basic beauty around us in the small (mostly touristy only to Austrians) of Mariazell. My word, it was SO lovely there. Yep, I said lovely. It was quaint and calm, and just pure beauty. Walking through the lake's back trail, the smells were like that on the Soarin' Over California ride in Disneyland. I'm not kidding... You know what I'm talking about. On that ride they spray the scents of citrus and pine - and that was the smell in Mariazell's forests. I wish I could have captured it with a camera - haha! I did, however, capture the LOOK of things with my camera, if not the smells.

After the hike we laid out on the beach for a bit and soaked in a few rays before heading back to the place we were staying for dinner and visiting time. While this was going on, I packed for Vienna!

I left on Monday morning on a real cool, old train and rode through the Alps (a trip that should take 45 mins, but takes about two hours on these old trains) toward Vienna. It was beautiful, and though I often fall asleep on the trains here, I just couldn't cause I was drinking in the sights around me. I got into Vienna late in the morning and headed to Koko and Patrick's old apartment in the city. Now, their nephews live there and they allowed me to crash on their couch to save me some money and time with looking for a place to stay. It was really nice of them AND there is SO much history in this apartment... all the way back to WWII, which I didn't know at the time. I'll get to that later.

I dropped my stuff off at the apartment and headed into the city to start seeing the sights and walking the streets. I started right in the center of the city with St. Stephen's Cathedral and then ventured out from there, walking around and gettting a bit lost until later in the afternoon when I FINALLY stopped in the Rathaus (City Hall) for a map. I should have done it in the beginning, but I had basic notes from Patrick and Koko and they told me where the tube stops for things were... So, I just followed the tube stop to St. Stephen's and then walked from there to other places. The city is a pretty close together one, so it was simple enough to walk a lot and I think people see more doing that. I mean, there are so many RANDOM pictures I have in cities from just wondering around. I mean, you don't wanna go into the shady places, but one can carefully wander and keep themselves safe and seeing quite a a bit.

On the first day I saw St Stephen's, the Anchor Clock, Parliment, the Hofburg Gardens and outside of the palace (I never went inside because time was short and I chose to focus on other things), the Rathaus, University Bldgs., and a lot of downtown Vienna. I also took a ride on the #1 around the city. The city is set up like a giant ring, with areas inside and surrounding the ring of trains that run AROUND the city. The U-bahn and buses run through the city, but the some of trains along the ring are old school and really cool.

Vienna is SUCH a cute city - yep, a cute city. It has a lot to offer and you feel safe and secure walking the streets there. I was never worried I was going to get jumped or pick-pocketed. I was still smart, as one should always be in ANY city around the world, but I could wander without worry - which was nice.

That night I stayed in with Perry and Christian - Patrick's nephews - and some of their friends to watch my first movie in German - Runaway Jury. Luckily I had seen it before and was able to use my knowledge of the film from before to follow where my language gaps were. However, I was surprised with how much I generally understood. That's good, right!?

The second day I spent the entire morning at the Schonn Brunn Palace. I have been to quite a few palaces in my day (I know, that sounds snobby again... hm.), but this one had SUCH an impressive garden. The palace it's self was cool, but only okay. The one in Salzburg is MUCH more beautiful and interesting in my opinion. However, I had a great time! It was fun to walk around and see everything the palace, grounds, overlook & viewpoint, and maze had to offer. Oh yea, there was a maze yard! Haha... There was an adult maze and a kids one, and a game one. Yea, a game one! Haha... The game one was super fun because there was all these random water games you would stumble across, AND there was a tanzen glockenspiele (Dancing Bells)! It's basically like one of those giant foot keyboards... and I took a video of me dancing on it! Haha...
Here's testing who actually reads this blog - which block did I NOT step on?

The last thing I did at the palace was hit up the bakery for the "Apple Strudel Show!"
Haha... When in Austria... It was just a cheesy little demonstration about how to make Austrian strudel and eat some (YUM), but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed myself and then headed back into town right after to grab some lunch and chill around the city.

I hit up the Nachmarkt - a giant street market with clothing and food products - and it was really cool to see.
However, the more and more I travel around to different countries the more I see the little differences in each place, and the similarities. Every country has those markets, but each one is slightly different. It's different in how the sellers approach buyers and how the products are displayed. However, the content is mostly the same, as are the ideas and methods used for bargaining. There are only slight differences in each city Market... but enough that I'm SURE someone could write a dissertation about it - if it hasn't been done already.

I bought an eighth of a giant watermelon and ate that in the park for lunch - Es war ser schön! Really. I headed from this little park over to Carl's Church, oder Karlsplatz. It's another old church, but it was fantastic. I love churches with old art on the walls, and beautiful carvings. I loved how the receipts said, "Thank You for your generous donation!" too, when they MAKE you pay to enter. Haha... I just think it's funny. I would perfer no sugar coating. For example, "Thank You for not sneaking in!" That would be much more delightful.

After visiting good ol' Carl's I headed off to the apartment to take a little nap and do some scripture reading - which I have really been getting into and doing great with! - before I headed back to the Rathaus for the evening's event. What was the event, you ask? Three animated opera shown on the giant projection screen to hundreds of people. The operas were The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, and Carmen. With each piece, the animation and voices got better and better... it started out cheesy, but ended with cool animation and presentation. It was just a lot of fun and made me want to bust into opera again. Haha! PLUS, I had a lovely dinner view in front of the Rathaus - they had TONS of restaurant vendors there set up around the Rathaus, and I found decent Mexican food there!!! Be still my heart... decent Mexican food in Europe? Love it.

After the operas were through, I headed to the apartment to watch The Grown-Ups (The new Adam Sandler movie) with Perry and Christian. It was pretty hilarious and not too inappropriate or anything... It was a good one-time see at least! :)

The next morning I boarded a train and headed back to Marazell - riding the same beautiful way I came through awesome countryside. It seriosuly reminds me of Pennsylvania and Wyoming mixed in Austria. They have the hilly farmlands and then the massive mountains with gorgeous pine trees... but they're greener! I have AMAZING pictures of the Alps, but I'll have those for the next post. For now... I gotta be out and gettin' my sleep on. This week is putting me in FULL care of the boys all day because school is out for another week and a half. So, I get the little tykes full days - which has actually been a BLAST! I'll be sure to write a blog about our adventures this week... It's been a great one!

Austrian Alps - Austria, Part II... Coming Soon to a Blog Near YOU!

Song of the Day: This is a fabulous choice that I discovered on Koko and Patrick's IPod along the Austrian roads. Black Devil Car, by Jamiroquai = BLISS for a long road trip! :) Enjoy!

1 comment:

Ash and Matt | A SoCal Story said...

Ah, I'm in LOVE with all of these pictures! Vienna is such a beautiful city and you captured it so well! I wish we'd had more time at Schoenbrunn (or however you spell it?) to walk up and take the picture of the gardens & palace that you did. GORGEOUS!

Can we talk again about how jealous I am that you get to travel around Europe so much? Because I am seriously so, so jealous. I love that you're taking full advantage of it, though! I can't wait to see part II of your Austrian trip :-)

(Oh and PS--I'm pretty sure you didn't step on the top left or bottom left stone. Right?)