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Mozart and Mezzo Mix August 14, 2011

Posted by Steffan Slater in Travel Log.
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This adventure occurred from June 11-13.

I traveled to Austria this weekend.  This was the first trip I’d taken which was to a place I had not been before.  To be fair, I hadn’t been to Luxembourg, but that was just a day trip, so I don’t count that.  And while I hadn’t been to Interlaken specifically, I’d been pretty close, and the Alps look pretty similar everywhere.  I’d never been to Austria, ever.

The trip started with an overnight train ride to Munich, followed by another train to Salzburg.  The overnight train was entirely too long, especially since we’d been unable to get couchettes (little mini-beds) and were in a compartment in seats for the trip.  We had 3 companions in the compartment, two Swedish girls and an Australian guy.  They were pretty cool, but all in all I would have rather gotten a decent night’s sleep.

Salzburg is an old city overlooked by an imposing fortress.  Almost anywhere in the old city you can see the Hohensalzburg vigilantly standing guard.


Upon arriving in the city, we explored the Altstadt (Old City) for a while, before heading up to the Hohensalzburg.  There are two ways up to the fortress: walking up the hill or riding an incline.  We opted for the latter, even though it was more expensive.  The view from the top is fantastic:

Salzburg from above

Inside the fortress there are several small museums, detailing centuries of Austrian military history.  My favorite room had metal sculptures of men utilizing a variety of authentic medieval weapons.

Metal warriors

After the Hohensalzburg we visited both Mozart’s birthplace as well as his place of residence.  They were really interesting (no pictures allowed *sadface*), especially if you’re in to music.  My sister, who’s a fantastic and avid piano player, would have loved them.

That evening, we ate at a pizzeria near our hotel, where I discovered that Salzburg is close enough to Germany to have Spezi!  If you don’t know, Spezi is a DELICIOUS mixture of Coke and Fanta that is available more or less exclusively in Germany, where it is incredibly popular.  I got turned on to the drink when I lived in Germany when I was younger, and let me just say that it was at least as good as I remembered.  I’m not sure why it’s only available in Germany; I think everyone everywhere would like it!  So I ordered a large Spezi, which is .4 liters.  It should have cost 4.10 Euros (half the price of my pizza, yikes!), but it was left off the bill!  Best free drink ever!

The next day, we visited some gardens in town (that’s actually where the first picture is taken from).  They were really pretty, although nothing compared to what was coming the next day.  We also took a walk to the back side of the fortress, where there was a peaceful little lake and a palace we couldn’t get in to.

We left Salzburg in the early afternoon, headed to Vienna.  Vienna has a much newer feel than Salzburg, and I didn’t like it quite as much; I’m a big fan of the Middle Ages, not so much of the Austro-Hungarian Empire time period.  Vienna was, however, full of beautiful gardens and palaces, which we visited over the next day.  We also saw a monument to the Soviet soldiers who liberated Vienna during World War II, which was very interesting, with writing in both German and Russian.  Mozart’s grave was also in Vienna.  I was expecting some sort of mausoleum there, but it was actually a fairly simple grave.  Overall, Vienna was a really nice city, but not really my style.


Wien, Austria: a few of my favorite things June 4, 2011

Posted by Joseph Mattingly in Travel Log.
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Hallo from Wien, Austria (or as you might call it, Vienna)!  After arriving in Vienna, Austria, at some point in some time zone on June 1, I can say that I am in fact in Europe, and I have a stamp from Charles de Gaulle airport (European connector) to show for it.  Our bus driver, a Belgian who goes by the name of Baloo (think Jungle Book), picked us up at the Vienna airport to take us to the Hotel Donauwalzer.  He even brought our travel group a box of fine Belgian chocolates with a Georgia Tech logo printed on them.  A couple things occur to you when you arrive in Vienna for the first time.  First, the drivers are terrible.  For the Viennese, traffic signs and signals are more of a suggestion than a guideline, and American drivers are saint-like.  (I’m told it only gets worse.)  Second, the Danube River (the Donau) is tiny.  Very, very tiny.  I drive over creeks that are bigger than the Danube when I drive to Atlanta.  It is very impressive to me how such a small waterway can have such political and economic significance.

Our first full day in Vienna included a tour of the local opera house (a sight to behold), an excursion to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and a concert by the Wien Mozart Orchestra.  The opera house in Vienna is one of the finest in the world, hosting operatic greats like Vienna’s favorite son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  The Kunsthistorisches Museum, or KHM, is Vienna’s

Scholars of the fine arts

museum of fine arts.  You can find everything from Brueghel the Elder to Titian to Raphael to Caravaggio and more in one of the museum’s many galleries.  My favorite, however, was the KHM’s antiquities collections.  The museum houses permanent exhibitions of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities.  The KHM is one of the few places in the world where you can see so many Egyptian mummy sarcophogi (including and alligator mummy and its sarcophogus!), a wide variety Roman statues, and a vast collection of Greek urns and jewelry.  Later in the evening, we were treated to a collection of Mozart operas and instrumentals by the Wien Mozart Orchestra (not to be confused with the Vienna Philharmonic, which is the big-time orchestra around here).  It was quite an impressive experience, as the players were all dressed in brightly-colored historical attire and the instruments used were more or less akin to the ones that Mozart would have written for.  Then there was the conductor.  Our music instructor Prof. Ron Mendola warned us that the conductor liked to dance around and that we should try to ignore him.  Indeed, that’s what the conductor did–he all but danced around the front of the stage.  On top of that, he led the audience in a choreographed clap, making this the first (and probably only) time I would clap in timed unison at an orchestral event.

The second day was reserved for an adventure in the Belvedere Palace, an Austrian imperial palace-turned art museum that hosted some of the stranger pieces (in my opinion) of art in Vienna.  The palace was impressive, as was the French garden between the upper and lower palace complexes.  Today, the third and final day in Vienna before heading to Florence tomorrow, is a free day, so I will be exploring some of the fabulous inner-city facilities and sending post cards (if I can find out how).

Until I get to Florence and post an update there, I say adieu to all and extend wishes of a happy summer!

Ahoj! June 24, 2010

Posted by Megan Sweeney in Travel Log.
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(a.k.a. ‘Hello’ in Czech)

We finally left Italy and headed on to Austria, Vienna specifically. At first I was sad to leave such a beautiful country where their language is so similar to Spanish that communication is not a problem, but three cities later I was about done with pizza, spaghetti, and gelato. We also had a change of pace when we got to do more music stuff than art lecture and museums! Our second day in Vienna we visited an old opera house and attended an opera that same evening. Not to say we did not see any museums: we visited the Kunsthistorisches museum, the Upper Belvedere museum, and the secession house. Vienna marked a transition from older renaissance style artwork to modern pieces (we skipped all the years in between because we have not visited those cities yet). (more…)

Grüß Gott! June 24, 2010

Posted by luciabird in Travel Log.
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Grüß Gott!

After an early morning boat taxi away from Venice and to the bus, we were on our way to Austria! Our first day there, we were really busy with tours…we started at 8:00A.M. with a tour of the Opera House, which had been somewhat destroyed in WWII. Seeing the contrast between the very new (from the 20th century) and very old architecture (from the days of the Hapsburg empire) was very interesting. Next, we met at the Kunsthistorisches Museum to see more art, and the day finally ended with a Baroque concert, Il Nascimento dell’Aurora. The next day included a few more museums, and the day ended with a classic German dinner from Beethoven’s Bar (above which Beethoven is rumored to have composed).