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Austria: Where “Vienna waits for you” and “The Hills are Alive!” June 8, 2012

Posted by Lizzie Kornegay in Travel Log.

Hello all!

I am studying abroad at Georgia Tech Lorraine in Metz, France this summer and will be writing as much as possible about my adventures across Europe!

This past weekend, some friends and I traveled to Austria for our three-day weekend!  We left Metz Friday afternoon, and after several transfers found ourselves in a tiny sleeper compartment on an overnight train from Koblenz to Vienna.  Upon our arrival the next morning, we dropped off our stuff at our hostel and set out to explore the city!  First stop: the Old Town square.  We started at St. Stephen’s cathedral, constructed in the late seventeenth century under the rule of Leopold I.  The cathedral was absolutely beautiful, with very unique stain glass windows; instead of portraying religious scenes, the panes of each window were different shades of a single color.

Next we were off to Mozarthaus Vienna, the only one of 13 former Vienna residences of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that still stands today.  It was nice to walk around in his former apartment and stand in the room where The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni were composed, but the house has largely been made into a museum and holds none of the furniture or decorations from Mozart’s time there.

Vienna is famous for its gardens, and as such, we spent much of our time there taking pictures of beautiful trees, flowers, fountains, and statues.  The first garden we explored was Burggarten, or Palace Garden, which was once the backyard of the Hofburg palace.  After taking pictures with a statue of Mozart in front of a flowered treble clef, we were off to Vienna’s Natural History Museum!

The museum houses the most valuable gem collection on the European continent in addition to Venus of Willendorf, a 25,000 year old statue of a woman, believed to have been a symbol of fertility.  We had fun taking pictures with dinosaur bones and beautiful gems, but we had to head back to our hostel to get ready for the evening!

If you’re ever going to see an opera, what better place than Vienna?  Roberto Devereux was showing at Staatsoper, the State Opera House, and standing room tickets were only 3€, so of course we went!  After about an hour, our feet grew tired of standing and our necks tired of craning around the people in front of us, so we headed Prater Amusement Park to take pictures of a famous ferris wheel and get some local food.  Then back to the hostel to rest up for the next day!

We started our second day in Vienna at the gardens of Belvedere Palace.  What we found there was absolutely breathtaking; words cannot describe.  We continued to Schonbrunn Palace.  We were unable to tour the insides of either palace, but their gardens kept us happy for hours!  The picture above was taken on a hill beyond the gardens at Schonbrunn Palace, which is in the background.  We also enjoyed the labyrinth at Schonbrunn but had more fun in the kiddie maze and at the ice cream stand!

After Schonbrunn, we headed back to the train station and caught a train to Salzburg, the setting of The Sound of Music. As such, we of course went on a guided bus tour the next morning which took us to the house whose backyard was used for filming the terrace and lake scenes in the movie.  We also saw the gazebo that housed the ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ and ‘Something Good’ scenes and the park where ‘Do-Re-Mi’ was shot.  Finally, we took a trip to Mondsee, a small town outside of Salzburg, to see the church where Maria’s wedding to Captain Von Trapp was filmed.  While we couldn’t explore it, our tour guide pointed out the abbey where the real Maria lived, which was also where she was married to Captain Von Trapp.

After our tour, we hiked up to the Hohen-Salzburg Fortress, whose presence kept away any potential attackers for 1,000 years.  It was opened to the public in the 1860s and provides fabulous views of the city and of the Alps!  After the fortress, we headed back to the train station to catch a train to Munich and then spent an uncomfortable 7.5 hours on an old overnight train back to Metz.

That’s all for this trip!  Coming soon: Munich, Interlaken, and Rome!




1. Chaffee - June 9, 2012

The gardens at Schonbrunn were wonderful! I’m glad you got to see them. I look forward to your account of Rome, the subject of both my history degrees!

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