Our traveller Sandhya Raghunandan shares her magical experiences across Austria with us.
Over so many years spent travelling and learning more about different people, their culture and traditions, I realize that my urge to go on this continuous journey comes from an inner need – an insatiable curiosity.
This summer I decided to visit Austria and Czech Republic, our holidaymakers being Pickyourtrail.
Touchdown Vienna ~
My heart skipped a beat as our plane taxied into Vienna, the excitement before experiencing the unknown began to sink in.
The river Danube flows gracefully along Vienna city, home to eminent residents of the past such as Mozart , Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. Our evening started with a Strauss and Mozart Concert, at the Kursalon, a Renaissance styled hall. My first ever live Western classical concert in Europe was simply an enthralling experience, so also was the performance by ballet dancers. The impressions of this first evening in Vienna will remain in my memories forever.
We decided to take the City Tour Bus to visit the Vienna Woods. Through the drive we were accompanied by the great Danube River. Sight spotting was what we played on this tour – we saw the UN building and the Danube Tower before we started ascending into the woods, passing vineyards and little villages on our way.
Vienna is a paradise for the architecture buffs; one would have to be blind to not see the beauty in the buildings of the city. The imposing Schönbrunn Palace with its baroque styling, was we learnt both an important and historic landmark. It has stood the test of time and over 300 years of changing rule. With 1441 rooms and manicured gardens to the boot, the Palace is something one won’t forget easily.
The Hallstatt Surprise ~
During our stay in Vienna, we were curious about our next leg of the trip and had several chats with the locals. But not too many people had anything to tell us about Hallstatt. So with a wary mind, we set on our three hour journey from Vienna to Hallstatt.
A ferry across a lake took us to the little village of Hallstatt. This tiny village turned out to be the best surprise of our 12 day trip.
Hallstatt is a single lane village, situated in the mountainous Salzkammergut region of Austria. When you get off the ferry, you just walk towards the centre of the village . A gothic styled church faces the Lake Hallstatt, and the village is dotted with 16th century Alpine houses. Trees border each and every home in the village, perhaps a tradition. Quaint cafes that serve cakes and coffee can be found across the entire village.
The best part of the Hallstatt surprise was the hotel we stayed in. Called Pension Hallstatt, it was a house built entirely of wood and now converted to a home stay. The room was quite unique, huge with sky lit windows that gave us an amazing view of the mountains and the sky, on one end, and another window faced the pristine waters of the lake. The Pension Hallstatt belongs to a family who have let it out to a young girl, Andrea who manages the rooms.
We spent a whole afternoon just walking the lane, taking in the fresh air and the spectacular view of the lake with the mountains in the background.
After some home made cakes and strong coffee, we set off on a shopping expedition – taking home some amusing curios and knick-knacks. We managed to capture some very beautiful photographs as we explored the village. Dinner was a simple yet magically the best vegetarian dinner ever. The experience was more magical as we watched the shadows of the mountains playing on the waters of the lake.
It seemed as if the village was celebrating our holiday at Hallstatt. The first happy coincidence was that April 30th is celebrated as Witch’s Day, and we had fun looking on at some unique celebrations. The second being May Day – celebrated with great pomp and festivity. The village turns out dressed in traditional costumes, for Sunday Mass at the local church. With half our hearts left behind in this beautiful village, we left for our next destination – Salzburg.
No, reader, the story doesn’t end here! Check out Sandhya’s Segway adventures in Prague and Salzburg here!
About the Author
Exploring new places and their culture has always enthralled Sandhya Raghunandan.
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