August 1, 2018

Landing in Vienna, Austria


During the first two weeks of July, my family and I went on a Trafalgar guided tour around Eastern Europe. The first country we visited was Austria which was always a country near to my heart for being the setting of my favorite musical: The Sound of Music, the homeland of the beloved Von Trapp family singers. Once we landed and I could see the hills outside, I started to hum the opening song: The Hills are Alive which Fraulein Maria sings. It's only proper to enter the country by singing that classic tune, right?!


Out of all the places where we could have landed in Austria, we landed in what is considered the music capital of the world: Vienna. Before-hand, I had never learned that this Austrian city was so famous for harboring the world’s greatest musicians and composers, so it made me all the more excited to discover that when I arrived (especially since I’m a music major!). Our tour guide told us that classical music is practically the heartbeat of Austria. Composers like Mozart, Strauss, and Beethoven lived the majority of their lives and attained famous recognition inside the city. I could tell that the Viennese especially love Mozart when I found big chocolate figurines of him in a store that we stopped in!


Classical musicians lived like rockstars in Vienna during the 1700s and 1800s. According to our tour guide, Dean Smart, most of them lived extravagantly, but unfortunately died early. For example, Mozart started to become cocky by his twenties, but because of his lavish living during dry spells in his music career he constantly had to beg his friends for money. Johann Strauss Jr managed to live like a king and still be financially stable. What was very shocking and intriguing to me was how he actually kept three dogs for the upkeep of sending fake locks of hair to his crazy female fans! I guess some fans have always gone to extreme levels of adoration no matter the era or the music genre!

When we first arrived at our hotel, we were happy to find the Danube River on the other side of the building and took a few moments to walk beside it. Soon after, we headed back onto the coach for a tour around the historic center of Vienna.


During our drive, we passed a Soviet war memorial as well as statues of Mozart and Beethoven. The vibrant graffiti on the walls by the banks of the river seemed to give the place more of an urban, millennial feel that felt like home.


I absolutely loved taking in all the Art Nouveau architecture. The more fanciful and colorful the building, the better in my opinion!


My favorite part of the walking tour was when we were near St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the bells (23 in total) from its tallest tower started to chime all together creating a haunting, yet mesmerizing collection of ringings. In that moment, it felt as if the bells were cordially inviting us into their city to enjoy everything it had to offer!

This is as close as we could get to the cathedral

I enjoyed getting to walk down one of the oldest streets in Vienna called Graben and Kohlmarkt. Like it sounds, the name "kohlmarkt" refers to the charcoal market that was once found there. Nowadays, there are many big brand stores that tourists can shop in. The composers Haydyn and Chopin had once lived in houses on the street. There were many statues to admire, but one in particular stood out since it was the tallest and had golden sculptures on top. There were many cherubim circling the statue as well as engraved Latin religious sayings. 

Found a bumblebee!

We then walked to the square separating Kohlmarkt from the Hofburg Palace complex which looked very grand. It was surprising to find actual Roman ruins right in front of the palace. Apparently, the ruins had been unexpectedly found when the square was being redesigned in the 1990s. How cool!

Ancient Roman ruins!
We passed some incredible cakes from the window of a bakery!

Vienna is known for its cafes, so we had dinner at one of its most famous ones called Cafe Central. The interiors of the cafe are inspired by Venetian Trecento-Era architecture which is why it's probably the most fanciest place I’ve ever dined in my whole life.

The building where Cafe Central is

Some of the world’s most famous poets, philosophers, and architects like Polgar, Freud, and Loos have dined in the specific coffeehouse. It was intriguing to learn the history behind the place where we were enjoying our traditional Austrian dinner. Right next to where we were sitting were large portraits of former Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph, and his wife, the naturally beautiful Empress Elisabeth. Near the center of the room, there was a talented pianist playing covers of popular songs (including Music of the Night from my favorite musical: Phantom of the Opera!) which heightened all of our moods after a long flight and busy walking tour.

After our meal, we walked back outside and saw many carriages pass by. There was one pair of horses I especially admired because they were white and black speckled.


As we waited for our coach to pick us up, we had time to watch the sun slowly set behind a cathedral. Our tour guide told us how Vienna is known for its sunsets since the humidity makes the clouds light up. It truly was a pretty sight and calming conclusion to our day.


UP NEXT: Slovenia!

The next morning, our coach drove us to the country of Slovenia. It’s one of the most underrated countries in Europe which is sad to say because I was so surprised to discover how incredibly scenic their land and warm their culture are! I can’t wait to jump into the details of our trip to Lake Bled in my next blogpost.

P.S. Hopefully my style of story-telling and unique framework for my travel blogposts suits your taste as it does mine. I can’t help but mention all the little details and include most of my favorite pictures!
Till the next post! 😉


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