Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Austria - Salzburg and Vienna

PART 2 of a 5 part series

In June 2011 my friend Alvin and I took a month long backpacking trip through Europe to visit 8 cities in 5 countries. Our entire itinerary was:
  • Munich, Germany - 2 days
  • Salzburg, Austria - 3 days
  • Vienna, Austria - 3 days
  • Budapest, Hungary - 3 days
  • Kraków, Poland - 3 days
  • Prague, Czech Republic - 5 days
  • Dresden, Germany - 2 days
  • Berlin, Germany - 2.5 days
We started and ended our trip Germany which you can read about in my PART 1 blog post Germany - Munich, Dresden, and Berlin. In this PART 2 blog post I'll cover the two cities we visited in Austria:
  • Salzburg, Austria - 3 days
  • Vienna, Austria - 3 days
We arrived in Salzbug via train from Munich, Germany. The journey took 1.5 hours and cost €29/person. We took a city bus to our hotel - MEININGER Hotel Salzburg City Center (US$231.29 for 3 nights). It was a little far from the city center, about a 25 minute walk but we stayed here because it was in our price range. I was targeting to spend about US$50/per person/night and this fit the bill. We checked in, dropped off our bags, and walked to the city center to find a place for dinner. Reviews of MEININGER Hotel Salzburg City Center on TripAdvisor.

We came across some beautiful gardens and saw the Hohensalzburg Castle off in the distance.

Hohensalzburg Castle
Hohensalzburg Castle

Salzburg at dusk
Salzburg at dusk

Cozy pedestrian streets
Cozy pedestrian streets

We wandered around and ended up having dinner at Gasthof Alter Fuchs. I ordered the Farmer's Pan which was roast pork, sausage, veggies, potatoes, and an egg and enjoyed an apfel-holundersaft, or apple-elderberry juice. Reviews of Gasthof Alter Fuchs on TripAdvisor.

Farmer's Pan at Gasthof Alter Fuchs
Farmer's Pan at Gasthof Alter Fuchs


Day 1: Salzburg - his and hers tours

On our first full day in Salzburg, Alvin and I split up to take different tours. Alvin had fond memories of The Sound of Music, having grown up in a house where it played on repeat. Naturally, he jumped at the chance to go on The Sound of Music bicycle tour.

I didn't have a connection to The Sound of Music so I chose to see... salt. Actually, the promise to slide down a 42-meters long miners' slide is what did it for me. I signed up for Panorama's Bavarian Mountains & Salt Mines tour, €45. We took a coach into Germany to Hallein Salt Mines, passing by the Eagle's Nest, Hitler's mountain retreat. Once inside the 500 year old mines, we put on traditional miners' clothes and took a train deep inside the mountain. We made our way through a maze of tunnels and down 2 sets of wooden miners' slides. We hopped on a boat to cross an underground salt lake - complete with a fabulous/cheesy light show and music.

Panorama coach
Panorama coach

Train into the mountain
Train into the mountain

Deeper into the mountain
Deeper into the mountain

The tunnels sure got narrow
The tunnels sure got narrow

Picture of miners taking the slide
Picture of miners taking the slide

Steep slide miners used to take, not for tourists though
Steep slide miners used to take, not for tourists though

The underground mine crosses the Austrian-German border
The underground mine crosses the Austrian-German border

Slide #1 - so much fun!
Slide #1 - so much fun!

Light show salt lake crossing
Light show salt lake crossing

Salt visible in the rock
Salt visible in the rock

Slide #2!
Slide #2!

Soft landing
Soft landing

Miners worked in such cramped quarters
Miners worked in such cramped quarters

After our tours, Alvin and I met up to do some more sightseeing around the city center. We stopped by a chocolate shop to pick up Original Mozartkungeln chocolate balls for my friend Jamie. A Mozartkungel is a small, round candy made of pistachio marzipan and nougat, covered with dark chocolate. Jamie wanted me to make sure that I got the original one, wrapped in silver and blue foil. :o)

Rainy street in Salzburg
Rainy street in Salzburg

Original Mozartkungel

Beautiful chocolates
Beautiful chocolates

We walked around Mozartplatz and bought things to snack on from some food stalls set up in the area. We also stopped for pastries at Demel, a famous pastry shop. The Salzburg location closed in 2012 due to rising rents and low sales.

Mozartplatz
Mozartplatz

Hausgemachte means homemade. Not sure what this is but I didn't try it. It just looked interesting.
Hausgemachte means homemade. Not sure what this is but I didn't try it. It just looked interesting.

Giant cheese covered pretzel-shaped bread. It looked much better than it tasted unfortunately.
Giant cheese covered pretzel-shaped bread. It looked much better than it tasted unfortunately. 

Pastries at Demel which has since closed
Pastries at Demel, which has since closed

Salzburg Cathedral

Salzburg Cathedral interior
Salzburg Cathedral interior

Performance art?
Performance art?

Musicians working for tips
Musicians working for tips

Stiftskeller St. Peter, the oldest restaurant in Europe
Stiftskeller St. Peter, the oldest restaurant in Europe

We stopped by the Sebastiansfriedhof, a cemetery where royals, dignitaries, and a few members of Mozart's family are buried, including Mozart's wife Constanze. Mozart himself was buried in an unmarked mass grave in St. Marx Cemetery in Vienna.

Constanze Weber Mozart Nissen's grave in Sebastiansfriedhof Cemetery
Constanze Weber Mozart Nissen's grave in Sebastiansfriedhof Cemetery


Day 2: Salzburg - Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

Alvin and I wanted to see the Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave but since we took "expensive" tours just the day before, we decided to figure out how to get there on our own.

We took an OBB train from Salzburg to Werfen (€15/person) and then a small bus (€5,80/roundtrip per person) from Werfen station to the Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave ticket office. Tickets for the Ice Cave and cable car were €19/person. We walked to the cable car station and then took a 3 minute cable car ride (or you can walk but it would take an additional 90 minutes) and then walked the rest of the way to the Eisriesenwelt entrance. Reviews of Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave on TripAdvisor.

On the small bus to the ticket office
On the small bus to the ticket office

On the way to the ticket office
On the way to the ticket office

On the way to the ticket office
On the way to the ticket office

Gorgeous views
Gorgeous views

Cable car - get ready to feel like a sardine
Cable car - get ready to feel like a sardine

View from the cable car
View from the cable car

Walking to the ice cave entrance
Walking to the ice cave entrance

Ice cave entrance
Ice cave entrance

There's no electricity inside so the guide holds a really cool torch
There's no electricity inside so the guide holds a really cool torch

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave
Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave
Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave
Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

Emerged from the ice cave and back in daylight
Emerged from the ice cave and back in daylight

Walking back down
Walking back down

Amazing views
Amazing views

Amazing views below
Amazing views below

Quick carb-heavy spaetzle lunch
Quick carb-heavy spaetzle lunch

Enjoying the train ride back to Salzburg
Enjoying the train ride back to Salzburg


Day 3: Salzburg - Mozart birthplace and residence, Mozart Museum, travel to Vienna

We had time to do some quick sightseeing before we leaving for our next destination, Vienna. Alvin decided to tour Hohensalzburg Castle while I went to Mozart's birthplace and Residence (combo tour €12). The yellow house on Getreidegasse is the house in which Mozart was born and lived until he was 17. In 1773, the Mozart family moved to what's known as the Mozart Residence on Markartplatz Square. Reviews of Mozart Geburtshaus on TripAdvisor.

Mozart's birthplace
Mozart's birthplace

Kitchen in Mozart's birthplace
Kitchen in Mozart's birthplace

My friend James put me in touch with his cousin Paul who lives in Vienna who offered us his apartment to stay in while he was out of town on business! And on top of that, his friend Jan happened to be driving from Salzburg to Vienna so he gave us a ride, complete with a tour of the beautiful countryside and great company. Lucky day!


Day 1: Vienna - Schloss Schönbrunn, Hotel Sacher, Stephansdom

On our first full day in Vienna we visited Schloss Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs' Summer Palace. We didn't even set foot inside the palace, just walked the grounds, garden, and "Labyrinth."

It was an incredibly hot day and we were walking the massive grounds under direct sun. I was burning up wearing capri leggings under my dress and at some point I ducked behind a tree to take off my leggings. I might've given some unsuspecting tourists a bit of a show but I needed relief from the heat.

Expansive grounds of the Habsburgs' Summer Palace
Expansive grounds of the Habsburgs' Summer Palace

Expansive grounds of the Habsburgs' Summer Palace
Expansive grounds of the Habsburgs' Summer Palace

Neptune Fountain
Neptune Fountain

Palace and grounds
Palace and grounds

Gloriette
Gloriette

Gloriette
Gloriette

Palace
Palace

View of the Gloriette and Neptune Fountain from the palace
View of the Gloriette and Neptune Fountain from the palace

After touring the Summer Palace, we made our way to Cafe Sacher to have Original Sacher-Torte and coffee. One of the most famous Viennese desserts, Sacher-Torte was invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. It's a dense chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam, encased in chocolate icing, traditionally topped with unsweetened whipped cream. People rave about it but I'm personally a fan of very moist cake and I found the chocolate cake a bit dry - I suppose it's meant to be dry so it doesn't turn to mush under a layer of apricot jam. Still, I managed to enjoy Sacher-Torte because come on, I can enjoy almost any dessert! Reviews of Cafe Sacher on TripAdvisor.

Hotel Sacher
Hotel Sacher

Original Sacher-Torte at Hotel Sacher
Original Sacher-Torte at Hotel Sacher

Enjoying Sacher-Torte
Enjoying Sacher-Torte

One of the streets around Hotel Sacher
One of the streets around Hotel Sacher

We walked along a few crowded streets to St. Stephen's Cathedral, commonly known by its German name Stephansdom, in Stephansplatz. The humongous gothic cathedral was partially under construction while we were there. The inside was awash in multicolor due to colored filters laid in front of the numerous windows and there were racks of candles lit by visitors. I had just learned to use the macro setting on my Canon PowerShot (non-DSLR camera) so I practiced some photography inside the cathedral. Reviews of St. Stephen's Cathedral on TripAdvisor.

Stephansdom
Stephansdom

Stephansdom interior
Stephansdom interior

So many candles
So many candles

Photographing a photographer
Photographing a photographer

Meta shot!
Meta shot!

Western face
Western face

Gothic style
Gothic style

Horse and carriage rides offered from Stephansdom
Horse and carriage rides offered from Stephansdom

Multi-colored tiled roof
Multi-colored tiled roof

I am a huge fan of public transit and I try to collect transit maps from every city I visit. My dream would be to install a New York City subway car in my backyard or incorporate it in my house. Wouldn't it make the coolest hallway? I dragged Alvin to a Vienna subway station to find a map - success!

Vienna tram
Vienna tram

Scored a subway map!
Scored a subway map!


Day 2: Vienna - Upper Belvedere, Naschmarkt, Café Sperl

We visited the Upper Belvedere to see works of art from Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and other notable artists (ticket with audio guide €12,50/person). The grounds between the Upper and Lower Belvedere were full of fountains and manicured lawns, worthy of a leisurely stroll. We decided to only buy a ticket for the Upper Belvedere - I was excited to see Gustav Klimt's The Kiss in person. My brother bought a poster of it back when we were in high school and told me it was one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Belvedere Schlossgarten
Belvedere Schlossgarten

Belvedere Schlossgarten
Belvedere Schlossgarten

Upper Belvedere
Upper Belvedere

The Kiss
The Kiss

We walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch where a few things on the menu looked so good that I ended up ordering 2 dishes. One was quiche lorraine and the other was broiled cheese, spinach, and salami on bread. Not a very Austrian lunch...

Lunch
Lunch

Lunch
Lunch

We walked to the Naschmarkt, Vienna's largest food and produce market. They had more than 100 market and restaurant stalls selling everything imaginable from produce, cheese, seafood and meat, dried fruit, nuts, to cuisines from around the world. Reviews of Naschmarkt on TripAdvisor.

Naschmarkt entrance
Naschmarkt entrance


Colorful fruit stand
Colorful fruit stand

Colorful fruit stand
Colorful fruit stand

Spices
Spices

We visited Café Sperl, one of Vienna's oldest coffee houses. With dark wood furniture and red velvet clothed booths, you easily felt like you were transported back in timeCafé Sperl was featured in the 1995 movie Before Sunrise starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I've never seen the movie but I could imagin the two main characters spending hours talking in one of those booths. I like my coffee to taste like coffee ice cream so I ordered a Viennese coffee with ice cream AND cream. Alvin and I sat in one of those red clothed booths and practiced just chilling and people watching. I took pictures of each of us leisurely looking out the window - it's harder than you think to look relaxed. I looked so posed that I ended up cracking up. Reviews of Café Sperl on TripAdvisor.

Viennese coffee with ice cream AND cream
Viennese coffee with ice cream AND cream

Alvin trying his best to look relaxed
Alvin trying his best to look relaxed

I try to look relaxed without laughing
I try to look relaxed without laughing 

Buildings lit up at night
Buildings lit up at night

Strolling down the street at dusk
Strolling down the street at dusk


Day 3: Train from Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary

We took an OBB train from Vienna Meidling Station to Budapest Keleti Station (€36/person for 2nd class). James' cousin Paul was back from his trip and he kindly gave us a ride to the train station in the morning. We didn't get to spend any time with Paul but he was such an amazing host!

Me and Paul
Me and Paul

Bye Paul!
Bye Paul!

Our train to Budapest
Our train to Budapest

Lunch on the train
Lunch on the train

We arrived in Budapest after about 3 hours on the train. I'll cover our travels in Hungary in PART 3, Hungary - Budapest and Szentendre.

In addition to Austria and Hungary, we covered 3 other countries during this backpacking trip. Please read about them here:
If you enjoyed reading this travel blog please check out my other trip posts:

Happy traveling and thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. Hi Conny,

    Thanks so much for your blog! I am currently working out where I will go in Austria so it is very helpful!

    Hope you are enjoying your travels!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Serica, Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and for writing a comment! I'm so glad you found it helpful - that's why I love writing about our travels. Hope you have a fantastic time when you visit!

    Enjoy planning and please let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help!

    ReplyDelete