As I mentioned in my last post my last post, my spring break was spent in Austria and briefly Germany on the way. My friend, Jackie, and I started out our trip flying into Munich and went from there. The first night we just spent exploring, wandering around until we found the Glockenspiel and absorbed a bit of the city. It was rainy and cold, but nothing a beer and a bratwurst couldn't fix. The day next we woke up early and got on the train to Neuschwanstein castle . We went on a tour found on Viator which I would highly recommend (I put the link below). Much to our surprise it was snowing (Happy Spring Break!). This turned out to be both a good and a bad thing. The good part was obviously that snow in the alps was stunning. The bad part was that the snow allowed for a visibility of about 10 feet. Because of this the bridge from which the famous photos of the castle that inspired Walt Disney are always taken was closed. We also were unable to see the lake that inspired both the name of the castle and Tchaikovsky. Neu Schwan, seemingly obviously once you know, translates into English as New Swan. In other words, what we couldn't see even standing on the banks of it was Swan Lake. Even so, though, seeing this iconic castle was worth every penny. I have never been somewhere quite so fantastically royal and dreamlike. Also, as a side note, if you go to Neuschwanstein be sure to get the fried balls of dough that will smell like the greatest donuts ever created. I have no idea what they were called, but they were absolutely delicious.
After being in Munich for a couple of nights we got on the train to Salzburg. I was initially surprised by how quick of a ride it was, being only about an hour and half. It was an absolutely stunning train ride through the alps so it felt like it passed almost instantly. Once I got to Salzburg I was blown away by how beautiful it is. The city is quite small, having only about 150,000 residents and it built in a valley of the Alps. A river runs through the center and the city is full of both breath-taking landscape views and also beautiful architecture. I was surprised by how much Italian influence existed in Austria, both in Salzburg and Vienna, but was certainly pleased by all of the amazing food that brought along. While in Salzburg the best thing to do is purchase a Salzburg card. It's an amazing deal and can be bought all over the city. You pay a set rate and can go to any of the tourist attractions in the city as well as use the public transportation for free. With this we went all over to Mozart's residence and birthplace, the state rooms, a fortress, on a cable car to the top of a mountain, and a lot more. We also went on the Sound of Music tour which I would highly recommend. Not only is the Sound of Music a seriously guilty pleasure of mine, but the tour itself was great even for people who may not have been the biggest fans of the movie because it takes you to smaller Austrian towns that you might not get to see otherwise. The tour featured such places as the church where the Captain and Maria were married, the gardens which she and children sing Do-Rey-Mi through, the lakes and mountains panned over at the start of the film, and the gazebo where Liesel and Rolf sing 16 going on 17 just to name a few. Unfortunately you can't go inside of the gazebo anymore because some overly keen woman around the age of 85 decided it would be a good idea to dance on the benches only to end up breaking her hip. Still, though, it's fun just to see the outside. Overall, Salzburg was stunning. I could not have been happier there. The city was beautiful, the people were incredibly nice, and as far as small cities go, it might just be my favourite.
The last stop was Vienna, which while still Austrian was incredibly different than Salzburg providing a good contrast for the end of the trip. It was big, loud, and bustling. Our hostel was right next to the Naschmarkt which is this great outdoor market full of fresh food and restaurants, as well as fun souvenirs and such. On Saturday it even became a full flee market, and apparently it has remained setup in that same location for hundreds of years. Definitely check it out. The first night we arrived, we went to the opera. The disappointing, and also hysterical thing about it was that the "partially restricted view" we were warned of upon purchasing the tickets turned out to be a complete inability to see the stage even standing. However, just listening to the music and seeing the interior of the opera house was worth the 10 euros we paid for the tickets. The other really amazing thing about the opera is that every night a live broadcast of the show inside is played on a massive screen right on an exterior wall, so that passers by can just stop and watch. The weather in Vienna was in stark contrast to that in Germany. It was sunny and 70 degrees F everyday so we made sure to spend a lot of time outside before returning to the always unpredictable and almost guaranteed to be cold Scottish coast. We lounged around the exterior of palaces in the gardens and on the lawns and just walked around shopping and eating gelato. Basically, the ideal European experience. One thing you must see if you go to Vienna, though, is the Belvedere. It's a museum where many famous works are held and is sure to be an unforgettable experience. By the time we got back on the plane both of us were exhausted, but sad to be leaving. It was an amazing trip and certainly something I will always remember as one the best parts of being abroad.
P.S. This is what Neuschwanstein castle is supposed to look like