Summer is in full swing here in Central Europe. Things are HOT HOT HOT! We do not have air conditioning in our little German house so I am feeling it big time. I swear there is not a store in all of Bavaria that has an extra fan for sale; everyone is sold out! I am by no means complaining. As an Arizona native, I welcome the sunshine with open arms. When the weather is good, it means only one thing for us here... WE ARE GOING ON A TRIP!
This last weekend, Kevin and I drove down to Austria for a tour of all the highlights. We had never been to Vienna and I was excited to see it! I think this city is on my top 5 list so far. With it's multiple gardens, baroque architecture, and classical music it left me simply enchanted. Here are a few shots of our road trip through Austria I hope you enjoy!
DAY 1 : VIENNA
We booked our stay with Flemings Hotel in the neighborhood of Josephstadt just outside of the city center. This one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in since moving to Europe! This hotel was a little more than we normally spend but well worth it. We felt like royalty! The only downside was that we booked with them because they had parking available yet upon our arrival their lot was full! Major bummer!! So with a 30 Euro parking ticket and 80 Euros worth of parking meters we learned that sometimes you have to pay for convenience.... Ouch!!
Fun little note** Does the bed look a little different to you? It is very common in this area to have two small down comforters instead of one large comforter. The two duvets are folded nicely and laid on either side with no flat sheet. Kevin loves this style of bedding because I tend to be a bit of a blanket thief.
When we arrived in Vienna and I had one of the worst headaches of my life! My head was pounding and the heat was not helping. I felt terrible but I was itching to go exploring so we set out for the city anyways. I was starving but nothing sounded good because my head hurt so bad I couldn't imagine chewing on anything. We ended up stopping at a créperie called Variation, just down the street from our hotel. Eating at a french restaurant in Austria seems a bit funny but this place had AMAZING crepes and it was just what the doctor ordered. A savory crepe followed by an espresso on ice gave me the pick me up I needed to hit the town. Here is what we saw!
For our first night in Vienna I booked us tickets to go see a Mozart Symphony. We got so caught up in sighseeing that we were late getting back to the hotel to change. Our dinner plans went out the window and we grabbed a bratwurst on the way to the symphony. This is one of those memories we will have forever. All dressed up, speed walking down the streets of Vienna, shoving street food into your mouth as we are on our way to see a classical concert– they were some of the best fries (pommes) I have had in my life.
DAY 2 : Vienna
Day two in Vienna was just as big for sightseeing. We had plans to make it over to the Schönbrunn Palace but first things first, we had to stop for breakfast. We stopped at a great little bagel spot called Blue Orange. We sat on the patio and did what we do best.. Eat! After breakfast, it was off to the palace.
On our way back from the Schönbrunn palace we stopped at the Naschmarkt for lunch. This is a famous food market where vendors can sell their goods. They had everything from meats and cheeses to bread and spices. It was all so colorful and beautiful I wish I could have taken it all home with me. Our original plan was to buy a few things and have a picnic. However with the weather being 95F and humid, we settled for lunch at a restaurant with lots on fans and shade.
We sat down and I ordered a BIG plate of fruit. The waitress thought it was a bit odd for me to order this for lunch but I didn't care.. Look at how fabulous this fruit plate is. One of my favorite things about Europe is their food presentation. They have it figured out. Absolutely beautiful...
We stopped in to enjoy some cake and coffee at the famous Central Café. Throughout history this cafe has had many famous regulars– even Adolf Hitler. It closed down after World War Two but has re-opened in a different part of the same building. It has great cake and fabulous live classical piano as ambient music.
We finished our tour of Vienna up above the rooftops for drinks at a bar called Dochboden. We loved the swanky concept of this rooftop bar and the drinks were fun as well. You have to wait a significant amount of time for your drinks but I thought it was worth the wait! All around it was a great way to end our stay in Vienna!
DAY 3 : KONIGSEE LAKE
The heat was record breaking this weekend but that did not stop us. I had read about this lake and knew we had to stop by. We drove from Vienna so we got there in the late afternoon, of course, right in the heat of the day. We sweat our little behinds off but look at these views! It made it all worth it.
We took a boat out on the lake which was super fun. About halfway to our first stop the guide stopped the boat, took out a trumpet and played for us. He was a great trumpet player and I loved his little tune, but what was most amazing is the echo we could hear coming back to us. I was reminded in the scene in the Grinch when he has a conversation with himself. Kevin and I laughed as we joked about the trumpet players echo reverberating back and messing with him.
Our boat stopped and we got off at the St. Bartholomew Church. This is an iconic building that you always see with any picture of Konigsee lake. We toured the church and then sat down for a bite while taking in the fabulous views. It was quite the afternoon!
After our afternoon at Konigsee lake we drove up to Salzburg which was only about a 30 minute drive. We spent the evening strolling the streets of Salzburg and grabbing a bite for dinner. I was not expecting Salzburg to be so small. I loved its charm and quaint little alley ways.
DAY 4 : THE EAGLE'S NEST
We drove back from Salzburg to the Eagle's Nest in the morning and I am so glad we did. We had to decide between this site and the famous Salt Mines of Salzburg. Ahhhh the ever torturous saying "so much to see, so little time"...
We got up to the site and took a tour for only 5 Euros. I think this is the best deal we have ever scored in Europe so far. The tour was fantastic! I learned so much not only about some of Hitler's personal life but also the amazing construction process of the actual site. This is a photo of the tunnel you must enter to take the elevator up to the site. Yes, the site has been converted and is now just a privately owned restaurant BUT I did learn that some of the ticket costs goes to charity so I did feel a little better about that. All around it was very interesting but would have been a worthless trip had we not gone on a tour.
After we visited the Eagle's Nest there was one more stop that Kevin wanted to make before we started the trek back home. The mountain that the Eagle's Nest sits on is full of secret bunkers and tunnels. We ventured a little further down the mountain and under what is now Hotel zum Türken is a massive tunnel system that you can still go down and see. The bunker had a VERY eery feel to it but it was interesting to see how the tunnels were fortified and to see quarters of the soldiers who manned these posts. The temperature dropped 20 degrees and the floor was over an inch in water in some places– not so fun for this genius who wore her flip flops! This picture below is the tunnel that would lead up to Hitler's old house on the mountain.
This is by far the prettiest road trip I have ever been on. Despite the heat we had a fabulous time. A little heat can't phase these two Arizona natives. I hope to return one day to Austria. I feel as though there is still so much to see! Austria, you're beautiful!
What is your favorite city in Austria?
If you would like to read more on my trip to Austria, I have written a guest blog about how to spend 5 days traveling through the country. You can read more about it by clicking here.