These Hills Fill My Heart: Austria, May 25-30/31

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We arrived in Salzburg from Venice late on the 25th. It was a little bit nerve wracking to see all the snow covered mountains and people getting on the train in thick jackets. Salzburg was definitely much chillier than Italy (tear) but no snow, thank god.

We were in Salzburg for two nights and while I don't feel like we missed anything, it would have been nice to have more time. We got up early-ish and did the Sound of Music tour (because when in Salzburg, right?!). I got suprisingly emotional. It was so amazing to be a place that is the actual embodiment of a movie I've loved for so much of my life. (My mom and dad got me the digitally remastered VCR tape for my 9th or 10th birthday, so it's probably their fault a little bit.)

The bus tour was neat because it took us out of Salzburg and up into more of the mountains around the area. (Unfortunately, it rained the entire day--otherwise we would have been able to see some of Germany!) We also got to see one of the two exterior locations where they filmed scenes on the terrace, as well as the infamous gazebo, and the chapel where the wedding scene takes place. I was only a little bit excited. 

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After the tour, we got some apple strudel and explored the Mirabell Gardens, where more of the movie was filmed. Naturally, we had to recreate the Do Re Mi scene

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Since it was still so early in the afternoon (it was a long day, y'all) we left Mirabell to explore more of Salzburg's Old Town. We walked by Mozart's birthplace and residence before heading dragging ourselves back to our hostel. (Yoho in Salzburg. Highly recommend!) (For those who have asked, I'll do a post at the end of our trip with links to everywhere we stayed and reviews.)

We wanted to try authentic Austrian food, so on a suggestion from our hostel receptionist, we went to a hole in the wall restaurant off of a little side street and it was so good

I got spinach spätzle and tried valiantly to eat the whole thing but just couldn't do it. We all got something different and we all liked what everyone else got. I could have gone there for the rest of the trip, probably.

The next day, we took a late morning train to Vienna. There's this awesome train company that has hourly trains every day all across Austria and you can buy seats on the train. (It was a bit of a weird feeling, already being on it and not actually having a ticket.) So if you're traveling in Austria--Westbahn is the way to go!!

The trip itself was uneventful, but it took us an hour and a half to find the hotel from the metro station. We were literally wandering up and down the same street carrying our bags. We checked a map, asked several people, and finally called the hostel before realizing the street sign we were looking for was just so covered in stickers that we couldn't read it. It was a bit of a harsh welcome to Vienna.

After such a busy few days, we crashed in our room before ordering dinner through the hotel and attempting to make a game plan. 

Our first day, we went to the Hofburg Palace (after grabbing breakfast from the Penny Mart down the street. As one does in a foreign country). There are three exhibits in the palace: the China collection, the Sisi museum, and the imperial apartments.

The China and silver collection was interesting and gave a lot of close insight into the palace and the amount of work it took to run the palace kitchens. It started running together and feeling repetitive by the end, so if you go-do the short tour, not the long. Unless you really like plates and silverware. I don't judge.

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We did the Sisi museum next and it. Was. Amazing. Possibly the best thing we've done on this trip so far. Empress Elisabeth was so interesting and really didn't like to be in the spotlight, but also seemed to take advantage of it. She used to her beauty to get what she wanted and her husband was entirely devoted to her. From what we could tell, she tolerated him.

One of the most interesting parts for me was when the exhibit talked about her empress' physical health. Her eating was very disordered, she over-exercised, and hit all of the warning signs that we talk about in Embody. Unfortunately, the museum tried to brush it off and reassure everyone that she was fine, but I ranted through the rest of the palace about it. Do better. (And don't use unnecessary triggering numbers!!!!)

Both before and after the palace tour, we visited St. Stephens Cathedral and did some shopping in the old part of Vienna. European H&Ms alone are enough to get me to leave the States.

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Our second day, we started at the Spanish Riding School for the morning training. In retrospect, I would have done the tour instead. The training was more of less the same exercises over and over with different groups of horses and while it was all impressive, it was not any of the spectacular movements they're known for. Even as a rider, I was getting a little tired of it and we left after about an hour and a half. 

(The hall is beautiful though! Nearly worth it just for the view.)

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For lunch, we went and got bratwurst. I got the spicy kind and it was so good. Set my mouth on fire but it was entirely worth it. I'd been searching for a scarf while we'd been in Vienna so we wandered until I could find one before heading back to the hostel for a lazy afternoon. It's surprising (or not, I suppose) how all these days are starting to run together. Greece feels like it was two years ago, instead of just two weeks.

That night, there was a big bier festival going on down at the canal by our hostel. We went and just walked around pushed through the crowd for about an hour. It reminded me a lot of Asheville. :) It was certainly a new side of Vienna for us!

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Our third and final day (or so we anticipated), we toured the Schönbrunn Palace, or the Habsburg monarchy's summer palace. The tour through the interior rooms was neat and I highly recommend it, but the gardens are where I fell in love.

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We had booked a bus leaving at 11:15 that night, so after another dinner of amazing Austrian food (which I could legitimately eat for the rest of my life), a long phone call visiting with family ❤️, and a great conversation with a Carolina Med student staying at our hostel, we headed to the bus terminal. We were early, so we waited...and waited...and our bus never showed. We talked to three different drivers and several other passengers and waited just in case it was late, but finally headed back a little before midnight. We stopped by our hostel, but they were totally booked and referred us to another one. They were wonderful and fortunately had a room open, so as soon as we booked a bus (with a different company!), we collapsed.

Now, we are on our way to Munich for an action packed two days before Paris.

Danke for some amazing times, Austria!

Xoxo.