The second part of my weeklong adventure outside France began and ended in Austria, the German-speaking neighbor of the Czech Republic where I had just spent the last few days.
Our first stop was Salzburg, which is most famous for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and where “The Sound of Music” was filmed.
They really didn’t let you forget either of those facts for a second. Our hostel proudly proclaimed they screened “The Sound of Music” every single night in the lounge. The Wi-Fi password was “thesoundofmusic.” There were hotels, cafes, chocolates, statues, squares and street names all bearing Mozart’s name, and buskers scattered around the city even made sure his music filtered through the streets.
We took the culture overload in stride and explored Salzburg by night — complete darkness hits at 5 p.m. here — and ended by climbing up to Hohensalzburg Castle to get a spectacular view of the city before heading back down the steep hill to try some Austrian food.
Spoiler: it wasn’t that much different from Czech food, but I did order my very first authentic wiener schnitzel and loved every second of it.
It wasn’t until we got to Vienna that I learned — and felt stupid for not already knowing — that “Wiener” is actually the German word for a Viennese person and Wien is the German name for Vienna.
So many things make more sense now.
Even though I was unknowingly enjoying a Viennese specialty in Salzburg, the meal went down as one of my favorites on the trip.
The next morning, a friend and I hopped on a tour bus and embarked on the famed “The Sound of Music” tour that brings thousands of tourists to Austria each year.
It was eye-opening to realize that for a certain generation of people, “The Sound of Music,” is the equivalent to the “Harry Potter” series for my generation.
They know every line, song, scene, actor, blooper and trivia factoid out there and have waited their whole lives to yodel on a bus winding through the Lake District of Austria.
After our interesting morning, we jumped on a train to Vienna and were on the other side of the country by nightfall.
I immediately got acquainted with the amazing coffee offerings and another Viennese specialty: apple strudel.
Don’t go to central Europe if you don’t want to gain a few pounds, trust me.
I was only spending a couple of days in Vienna, so we tried to hit as many sights as possible Tuesday. The tour was made a little difficult by the fact that it was Nov. 1, or All Saints’ Day — the holiday celebrated in Europe instead of Halloween.
Fortunately, the Belvedere Museum was open despite the holiday, and we admired some Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Gustave Klimt, which was the highlight for me.
Not only did I see “The Kiss” in person, which, by the way, is a thousand times better than the Mona Lisa, we discovered a new favorite artist who was a contemporary of Klimt — Egon Schiele.
Who says you don’t learn anything while on vacation?
I left Vienna much sooner than I would have liked, but it was with satisfaction of a vacation done well.
Auf Wiedersehen, Wien!
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