Yes, I’m getting all out of order and topsy-turvy on this blog. Bear with me. (I promise that posts about my June trips to Ljubljana, Zagreb, Cesky Krumlov, and Germany will come.)
Summer is my favorite time of the year, and this summer, I’ve had a rail pass for all of Austria, and I’ve set out to discover as much as possible of my temporary home. It all started at the beginning of July, when Linz went through a time warp, throwing us back into medieval times…
The next weekend, it was off to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. This city is always described as “up-and-coming,” so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect–but I loved it! It’s like a more compact/rougher around the edges Prague or Budapest. The Soviet days definitely show through the cracks, but the cobblestoned medieval part of the city was wonderful–and so was the food.
I will definitely be heading back to this great little city in December to check out their Christmas markets–and to eat more of the local potato dumplings with a creamy sheep cheese sauce.
Of course we couldn’t go to Bratislava without hitting up Vienna, after all they’re only an hour apart. (We didn’t take the boat, but there is a direct connection on the Danube!) We were very busy. We even saw some local celebrities…
We also visited the “Hundertwasserhaus” a public housing complex designed by painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser (what a name!). The wackiness should not be surprising coming from the man who told us that “A straight line is ungodly.”
We ended up that night at the Rathaus Film Festival, a fun event that happens all summer long, in front of Vienna’s town hall. Every night a film of an opera, play, or ballet is screened, accompanied by amazing food from some of Vienna’s top restaurants. We got to see a ballet of Romeo and Juliet.
The next day, we visited the Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt) to say hello to all the Habsburgs.
Then we finished up our Bratislava/Vienna weekend by enjoying some local wine in a Heuriger.
The next weekend brought more adventures. On Friday, my host family took me to Lake Wolfgang, where we rented a boat and had a blast!
Then we had a delicious picnic in Bad Ischl, and ended the afternoon with ice cream by the Gosausee, with an amazing view of the Dachstein, the highest peak in Upper Austria.
It was a perfect, wonderful outing. I am continually amazed by the natural beauty of Austria, but there is something really special about the Salzkammergut that I haven’t found anywhere else.
On Saturday, Julie and I made a day trip to Schloss Esterhazy in Eisenstadt, a city right along the border with Hungary. It was unbelievably hot for this part of the world, so we were very happy with the swimming facilities in the palace gardens! We ended the afternoon with a wine tasting of the (should be more) famous Burgenlander wines.
That Sunday, Julie and I headed to Gmunden on Lake Traun and did the “Rodelbahn.” It’s basically an alpine roller coaster, where you hurtle down the side of a mountain on a single steel track. It was awesome.
Then we hiked back down the Grünberg, taking in the beautiful views. It was a hotter and longer hike than we anticipated, but the nature was worth it.
During the month of July, Anna and I visited the zoo pretty often, mostly to see the new giraffe baby! Also, she got glasses, making her look like the oldest/smartest two-year-old you’ve ever met.
I spent the last weekend in July heading out to Voralberg, the most western part of Austria. The purpose of this trip was to see Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the floating stage on Lake Constance. Sadly, the show was rained out, but I will be back to try again at the end of August!
I still had a lovely time visiting the surrounding area, including a side trip to Liechtenstein!
For the record, that makes 17 European countries that I have visited so far! (With at least 5 more to go…). I stayed in Lindau, Germany, a city that is mostly contained by an island in Lake Constance.
Although I have yet to see the opera, I did get to take a backstage tour, and it was incredible. I will write more when (weather permitting) I get to see the show, but here’s a sneak peak of the stage.
On the way home from Voralberg, I even made a stop in Innsbruck, because you can do anything you want when you have a summer rail pass.
It’s hard to believe that another month has gone by–but I feel like I haven’t wasted a second of it. Here’s hoping August will be equally adventurous!