May 18, 2014
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I noticed an interesting phenomenon as I was traveling through Switzerland, Austria, and Slovakia. Whether voluntarily or not, I began associating certain points of interest with songs as I hopped from place to place. Sometimes a very obviously related song would automatically pop into my head while sometimes the connection came later, as I reflected. Some even become stuck in my head for a while. I noted these songs and the respective landmarks each one is linked to, and I thought I’d share them here.
Song: Johann Strauss II – The Blue Danube
Location: Danube river, Vienna and Bratislava
Whenever I passed by the Danube, whether it was in Vienna or Bratislava, the orchestral masterpiece by Strauss sounded in my head. My dad loved this piece and he would always ask me where in Europe the river is located, so when I actually got to see it, the song immediately began to ring. The gentle flow of the Danube accompanied by the light, fluttering beats of the dancing instruments…with a majestic sunset over the river, seen from the Novy Most in Bratislava – perfection at its best!
April 20, 2014
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Part 2 of the Hallstatt posts brings out the subtle beauty of the village hidden in the mountains, waiting to be uncovered. During the unexpected hike, I’ve already discovered the trails scattered around the small village, but Hallstatt is so much more than that.
Tiny green, flower-like plants were sprouting from the rocks, very cute and delicate. When you look closely, each of them looks like a mini-rose that has turned green with envy but without the vicious thorns to launch an attack or even to defend itself…
April 14, 2014
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I had never heard of Hallstatt, a town in (sort of) central Austria, until my friend, knowing that I was going to Vienna, told me, “You HAVE to go to Hallstatt”. And that was all it took to convince me, if that was any convincing at all. Yes, it would take me 3.5 hours to get there from Vienna (and of course 3.5 hours for the return trip), but I had the time. Plus, 3.5 hours in a train sounded SUPERB especially if I was promised window-side scenes like the ones I saw around Interlaken. For this, even a 7:30am departure could fill me with anticipation.
The only way to get to Hallstatt without a car is by ferry, which takes you from the Hallstatt train station across the lake to the village itself. On this day, there were approximately 10 passengers aboard the small ferry that brought us across Lake Hallstatt in 10 minutes. I guess not many visitors come during the winter, even a mild one. The reason why the title of this post says “in-yo-face” is obvious – Hallstatt looks like a place that emerged right out of the mountains. It was as if someone thought that mountains and lakes were too monotonous and just decided to carve a town in the midst of it all. The mountains were so close, so…”in-yo-face” and that was the best expression I could think of to describe them. Really though, you wouldn’t expect the massive mountains to be hiding such a pretty gem. Well-played, Hallstatt.
April 2, 2014
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Before visiting Vienna, I thought of three things regarding Viennese food: lots of meat, lots of cakes, and lots of coffee. Meat – great, I love meat, give me more! Cakes – I’m not a fan of sweet food or desserts in general, but why not? Coffee – must have!
Compared to Switzerland, my previous destination, let’s just say…food in Vienna was much cheaper, much bigger in portion size, and much more delicious! Sorry Switzerland, you may have the mountains and the lakes (which Austria also has, in fact) but you are nowhere as attractive as Vienna to a foodie 😉 Apple strudel + schnitzel beats fondue + chocolate any day, would you agree with me?
In Vienna, you can’t avoid having schnitzel. The Figlmüller restaurant has their own famous variation of the traditional Wiener Schnitzel (made with veal) – it’s made with pork instead. Thin, crispy, warm, flavourful…so good that I might even say that it’s better than the original veal version! And it was huge! What a fulfilling lunch!
March 28, 2014
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Vienna has become a blur in my mind. I visited it some two months ago as part of my week-long (mostly) solo trip to the “east” and Vienna itself took about two and a half days. I had the impression that like Paris, I would need more time than that in order to capture the full essence of the city. Yet, I didn’t feel like I’d need to enter every museum and visit every landmark in Vienna. In these two days, I just wanted to breathe. Breathe, take the new path, eat whatever I wanted, hop on and off the tram and metro whenever I felt like, at any unknown stop – that was how I wanted to explore Vienna.
Vienna’s delicate historic streets and neighbourhoods take you on a voyage through time as you immerse yourself in its grace and charm. Violins, cafés, pastry, schnitzel, Swarovski – these may be some of the words that come to mind when Vienna is mentioned. A city of art, music, architecture, history, gastronomy…