Austria: home of several inspiring individuals from philosophy to music, moved by gorgeous and striking architecture. It is situated between Germany and Hungary and is a catholic country. Austrians speak German but they also speak English.
The first concern that comes to mind when one wants to travel are the flight prices; many travel agencies in Lebanon offer good deals, but I personally traveled from abroad. Anyhow, the flight is about 3 hours if you’re departing from Beirut Rafic Hariri airport, and planning to land in Vienna-Austria’s airport “Flughafen-Wien Schwechat” and you need about 5 to 7 days to visit the city of “Wien” which means Vienna. Once you land, if you take precautions beforehand while booking your ticket, you can go online and book an airport transport that takes you directly to the hotel where you’ll be staying. If you take a morning flight, you can have the opportunity to visit what’s next to your hotel in order to familiarize with the city. If your hotel is in the heart of the city, you can walk to go anywhere in the center of Vienna; if not, you can either take a taxi or an uber (which you can book through your phone, and that has your exact location and name and vice versa, you have the brand of his car and his car number that will also give you how much time the driver needs to pick you up). More precisely Vienna has a tramway and different bus stations, the bus that is practical is the “Vienna Bus” where you can buy a “Vienna Pass” and use it anytime for as long as you paid for. The best time to travel depends on the traveler, for tourism and adventures can be from May till September although it can be a little hot, up to 32 degrees Celsius; for winter sports and activities, tourists can go from December to approximately April; the other months can encounter a cool fall breeze. If you go in summer, which is what I did, you just need a pair of good sneakers because there is a lot of walking, shorts, skirts or dresses because it can be really hot; some sunglasses and a hat are a must as well as sunscreen.
A must see in Vienna can be the Schönbrunn Palace, which means “Beautiful Springs”, it is where the ancient royalty of Austria resided back in the day. There you can see the lovely palace, which is constituted of about 1,200 rooms, although only 40 are opened to the public. A garden as big as the city of Monaco can also be found, as well as a zoo. One of the rooms in that palace was the room where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed his first symphony in front of her royalty, Empress Elizabeth of Austria known as “Sissi”, at the age of only five. It is the “Versailles” of Austria and the Emperor and his family used to spend their summer there. Vienna is a beautiful architectural city within the Baroque style.
A quartier of museums can also be found where you can pick whichever you would like to visit; one of the biggest is the natural history museum. There, you can find artifacts and animals such as extinct birds, turtles, and many more as well as dinosaurs. Vienna is the city of artists; you can visit the Freud museum (philosopher and creator of the psycho-analysis) where you can see his house, where he used to receive his patients and so on. There is also the Beethoven museum; you can see the house in which he lived in, and the Mozart museum. You can float on the Danube River by boat or you can dine in restaurants that can be found on the sidewalk of the waterway. The fun zone in Vienna constitutes of a wheel that can show you the city of Vienna from above, and a “Madame Tussauds’” museum, where you can find not only local but also international wax-figured celebrities, such as Johann Strauss, Sigmund Freud, Schubert, Beethoven, President Obama, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, to name a few. Opera and Ballet are also still occurring and you can catch a show if you’re lucky. In the center of Vienna you can find restaurants, shops and also the Opera, where Beethoven performed one of his symphonies.
A must-see cathedral is the St Stephens Cathedral and the St Peter church.
Salzburg, another beautiful city in Austria can be visited (named after salt, because it produces a lot of it) during the trip in one or two days, by taking a guided bus tour. Once there, you can see a river called the Salzach, an old monastery and beautiful, mind blowing churches. There is also the Mirabelle Gardens, where some scenes of the “Sound of Music” movie were shot. Mozart’s birth house is in Salzburg and there you can see his first violin and piano, as well as his house. The Mozart Café is very famous as well as the Mozart chocolate which can be found there as well. Shops and traditional clothing are sold as well as international shops such as Massimo Dutti, H&M, Zara and Mango.
The specialty of the food is, Wiener Schnitzel (which is an escalope that can be either veal, pork or chicken), or a Goulash (which is eaten mostly in winter), frankfurters (hotdogs) and their local beer. In the sweets section, you can find their famous chocolate cake called Sacher-Torte or the Mozart chocolates made of their special chocolate with “marzipan” which is almond based; and their apple pie called “apple strudel”.
You can find those dishes in any restaurant, but a must-go café is the “Café central Wien” which is a hundred and forty year old café, where the upper class from the 20th century used to unite for coffee or tea.
All in all, Vienna is a mesmerizing city that should be on everyone’s “to do list”; I believe that its beauty and its astonishing nature inspired all those artists that we still study until this present day.