For the holiday weekend, I spent four great days in Austria: Thursday morning I took the train to Salzburg, Friday a day trip to Eagle's Nest (Bavaria), then Friday night headed to Vienna. Salzburg was lovely but I definitely recommend Vienna. It was a city I could have spent more time in, especially all those art museums!
The Austrians do have a sense of humor! These signs were all over Vienna. Sad truth though - the German words for 'Austria' and 'Australia' are not similar at all, so this really only works in English. Additionally, when I was younger, I was very confused and thought Arnold Schwarzenegger had a really odd Australian accent.
Most of The Sound of Music was filmed in or around Salzburg and the town is very happy to oblige fans of the film. The residents of the town? Not so much. The Salzburgians I talked to had never seen the film... The picture is of the gardens at Schloss Mirabell. The gardens were lovely and a fun place to people watch - lots of tourists, street performers, and musicians.
In addition to The Sound of Music, Salzburg's other claim to fame is Mozart's birth place. This is the Wohnhaus. Mozart moved here in 1773. I also visited his Geburtshaus building in Salzburg (where he was born) and then his apartment in Vienna. He only lived at the apartment for a few years but it was the longest time he lived in any place in Vienna. The Wohnhaus was interesting; it included his original fortepiano and had a room dedicated to each one of his family members. As for the Gebhurtshaus, it was mostly a rehash of information covered by the Wohnhaus, but it was still exciting to be in the room where the genius was born. The museum in Vienna was much more thorough, exploring his career and the times in which he lived. All I knew about Mozart before this trip came from the excellent Amadeus. Spoiler alert - his apartment was not accurately portrayed in the film.
The old town square in Salzburg. Apparently there was some large, impressive car show going on. The white building is the Salzburg Museum and the clock tower goes off three times a day. I stuck around for the 6 PM show. It was honestly a little anti-climactic but the square was interesting to check out.
Inside the Dom. The Dom was part of an impressive complex of museums and buildings called the Residenz. Definitely a must-see when in the city.
The fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, is one of Salzburg's most famous icons. This is the view! It's a bit of a hike up, though a cable car is also available. On the fortress grounds, in addition to great views, are restaurants and museums.
And now to Eagle's Nest. I took an organized tour from Salzburg to Mt Kehlstein in Berchtesgaden. It was definitely worth the trip, for views alone. We had about an hour on the site, just to walk around. The building was Hitler's conference room complex, basically. Getting there is an adventure - the road is only big enough for one car. There are shuttles at the base of the mountain to take people up. I highly recommend doing a tour - we got to skip all the lines, both at the shuttle bus station and at the top where the elevator is to take you up to the top. Our guides were also entertaining.
There was a bench on the edge of the mountain! A lovely American couple asked me to take their picture sitting on the bench, so I asked them to do the same. So glad I did - a once in a lifetime photo opportunity. Thanks, random American couple!
And now the view, without me. The lake in the corner had a couple of boats. I just wanted to be on one.
Marble fireplace in Eagle's Nest. The marble is Italian and it was supposedly a gift from Mussolini to Hitler. Several chunks are missing - they were taken as souvenirs from the Allied forces.
And now, Vienna! The city center is beautiful and I could have spent the entire weekend there - it's dominated by the Stephansdom, which was an incredible cathedral. Some European cities seem to stick their older buildings in a corner but Vienna is very much built around its origins.
Friday night in Vienna. This is right around the corner from the Dom. Vienna is a beautiful city - lots of interesting, colorful architecture. Every building is a pastel color. The city center has everything - old buildings, unique shops, excellent restaurants. I had one of the best meals of my life, no kidding, at a restaurant right off the main path. It was some duck ravioli thing, I sat outside and people watched. There was bread and wine and some raspberry version of a cosmopolitan. Just an excellent night. Thanks, Vienna!
And an opera house! The opera house had a big screen television outside that showed whatever was happening on the stage. Friday night was opera, Saturday ballet. Big crowds both nights. If I had more time, I would have planned my evenings around it.
Schloss Schonbrunn, the Hasburg summer palace. I learned so much about Austrian royalty while I was there. And I have to say, they're some interesting folks, especially Marie Theresa (Marie Antoinette's mom) and 'Sisi.'
The gardens at the palace were especially lovely. They had everything - hedge mazes, something called a Gloriette, a tunnel of roses. And great views, of course.
And the world's oldest zoo! It was founded in 1752. I didn't go for time reasons but there it is! I should have spent more time in Vienna - could have explored the zoo and the gardens in general, seen an entire show at the opera house... Vienna visitors: learn from my mistakes!
And now we move on to the other Hasburg palace, the Belvedere. There are two parts, Upper and Lower. Both have been preserved but also converted into museums. The Upper was my favorite. Honestly, I would probably just do Upper. The Lower had a Picasso but other than that, skipable.
The Upper, on the other hand, very much worth the visit! There was an excellent collection of artwork, including a Van Gogh and several pieces by Klimt, including his most famous "The Kiss." Wasn't able to take a picture of that one. There was also a series of these excellent face sculptures. Early emojis!
The Upper Belvedere.
The Hofburg, home of the Hasburg dynasty from 1273 to 1918. This was just around the corner from the modern, busy city center. It's now been converted to a museum that includes the Imperial Treasury and an exhibit on "Sisi." It's one of the more famous sights in Vienna and definitely worth a visit.
Vienna is serious about their museums. MuseumQuartier is also near the city center and a great place for a Saturday afternoon. There was a concert going on when I was there. There were also lounge chair things, just a lot of people hanging out. There are two museums - the Leopold museum and the Museum of Modern Art. I only had time for the former. Best decision ever. It was an excellent museum and I found two new painters to love: Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Both are Austrian and I've added them to my list of painters to follow (currently it's short - Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, I like impressionists!).
Vienna is a very musical city. Of course - it's the city of Mozart and that other guy from Amadeus! There were street performers everywhere. In the main city center alone I saw two opera singers just belting it out. Outside the Leopold museum, I saw this enterprising young fellow, who had created a guitar out of a broom. Take my money, young people, just take my money.
The Rathaus. It was under construction and this was as close as I could get. Still a gorgeous building!
Another famous Vienna site: the ferris wheel at Prater. I did not do my homework. I assumed Prater was just a park, so I visited it early in the morning on my last day in Vienna. Apparently, it's more of an amusement park. There were rides and games and basically I was back in the fairgrounds at home.
The Albertina. Another awesome art museum in Vienna. There were two great exhibits that traced various movements, Chagall bis Malewitsch and Monet bis Picasso. A really excellent art museum. And like some of the other gorgeous, older buildings in Vienna, this one was just around the block from the city center. In Vienna, you can visit different centuries, different art movements, all in a few city blocks!