If cities could be spirit animals, I think Vienna would be mine. Our whole time here has been absolute perfection. I feel right at home. It is a city that celebrates culture and I just love that so much!
If names like Mozart, Strauss and Beethoven excite you, or gorgeous architecture and beautiful parks is your thing, or long leisurely lunches or coffee breaks is something you enjoy, or even delicious pastries like apple strudel is what you like, or if you love fashion then Vienna might be the place for you too!
We started today with no plan, but instead, wanting to see what it was like to be Viennese for the day. We started with breakfast at a local bakery and then went (mainly window) shopping! In the process, we managed to try on some traditional Austrian clothing, specifically a dirndl for me and lederhosen for Adam (Both of us actually enjoyed wearing our outfits. Adam said that the lederhosen were surprisingly comfy).
When we were done exploring the shops, we made our way to the Vienna State Opera House where we had been last night and began (you guessed it!) another Rick Steve’s audio walking tour. A definite highlight of our walk around the city was when Adam bought a traditional (and massive) wiener or sausage from a street stand. For him, the highlight was eating it; for me, the highlight was watching his face light up after each bite. Rick took us along the streets of Vienna and to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. In unbelievable timing, we got to the church at 3pm, right as Rick said that the church performs a free organ concert at that time! Naturally, we walked right in and enjoyed listening to the organ play in the church. Next, we walked down the Graben (a famous street in Vienna’s city center) towards and through the Habsburg Palace and into the Volksgarten where we relaxed in the sun and played cards.
The best part of the day came around dinnertime. I had heard the night before that the Opera House was airing tonight’s performance of the Magic Flute live on the outside of the building on a giant screen. Adam and I bought dinner from a local grocery store and sat down outside of the Opera House with hundreds of others to watch. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Our first night in Vienna was one of my favorites from this whole trip so far. We started our night off at dinner at the famous Café Sacher. The interior brought you back in time- waiters in tuxedos, chandeliers, marble tables, and ornate walls. Adam and I indulged in Schnitzel (Adam had traditional Wiener Schnitzel, and I had Chicken Schnitzel), potatoes and the most amazing salad (Seriously, this dressing was so good I almost asked for a straw!). We ended our meal with the famous Sacher Torte (which neither of us liked very much… at least not as much as we LOVED our dinner).
After our great (expensive) meal, we walked to the Vienna State Opera. I love all sorts of art, and that definitely includes ballet. Before our trip, we purchased tickets to see a ballet called Meistersignaturen. It was beautiful and it was so satisfying to be surrounded by people who appreciate art and culture the way that I do. The ballerinas were accompanied by a live orchestra and an unbelievable opera singer, which just made the experience that much richer.
A note to any future goers to the Vienna State Opera: We decided to dress up to keep with the classy theme of our night, but it wasn’t a requirement for attendance. Also, we purchased very cheap seats (read: bad!), but found that the trick (for travelers on a budget) is to go to the center back row of the auditorium and claim a standing only spot. After the intermission we did this and from then on, we could see the entire stage perfectly and enjoyed the performance without anything hindering our view. Another trick, people “reserve” these standing only spots by either tying a scarf around or laying a newspaper over the banister where they want to stand. Does it make you feel fancier knowing this? It does for me!
Our first taste of Austria is the beautiful city of Salzburg. We have spent most of our time in the Old Town. The area is pedestrian only, very clean and not very large (perfect for walking!). It boasts gorgeous architecture, amazing mountain and river views, and a slow paced and quiet demeanor. Today, Adam and I took our time leisurely strolling through its streets as we window-shopped and ate (pretzel baguette, need I say more?).
At the center of town is Residenzplatz (or Residence Square). Here, we enjoyed the beautiful fountain located in the square and listened to the Glockenspiel play (We were there at 6pm to listen, but I think it also plays at 7pm and 11pm). We also visited Mozartplatz (right next to Residenceplatz), which is a square that features a statue of…you guessed it… Mozart!
It was still bright outside, so we decided to listen to a Rick Steve’s walking tour of Salzburg and did that until we were hungry for dinner. We visited beautiful churches and cathedrals, squares, a horse washing station (yes!), a water wheel, and Mozart’s front door. We ended on the Getreidegasse, a charming street filled with shops, passageways and unique signs (Even the McDonald’s has an ornate iron sign outside of its store front!).