Vienna (and Salzburg)!
When I last left off (before jumping backward to show my photos from Troy), I was on my way to Vienna. Interestingly, after we passed through the Hungarian customs, we were not stopped again at the Austrian border, no doubt due to the EU. Therefore, I was completely taken aback when I was told that we had arrived in the city! Therefore, my plan to listen to the song “Vienna” by TSO as I entered the city was thwarted. Instead, I listened to the album as I waited for Christoph Jandl, a local Austrian who had agreed to host me through couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a really great program set up where people offer their couches/spare mattresses/sleeping bags/etc to fellow travelers, understanding that when they return home, they’ll in turn offer up their couch to a wayward wanderer. (Think of it as an international version of Goldkey, which I already participate in). The website has you set up a profile, much like Facebook, for you to explain a little bit about who you are, what languages you speak, and what a surfer can expect from you. There is also a security measure built in, as you have to verify yourself by donating a small amount and (when you finally get the postcard with the code), plugging it in. Further, surfers and hosts you interact with can then leave references- either positive, negative, or neutral- that give other surfers an idea of what kind of person you are, and whether it would be a good idea to surf with you.
Interestingly, Couchsurfing had an event going on during my stay, called “Vienna Calling 2011,” which I didn’t know about until I got there and my host told me about it. There were a few parties, but there were also other events. For instance, there was a “base,” which was basically the picnic area along the Danube for people to chill, cook food on the grille, and swim. Beyond that, they had events like hiking and making local food (I missed them because I was doing my own sightseeing), but one thing that I DID do, thanks to Vienna Calling, is that I went to the FREE Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performance on Thursday evening. It was AMAZING!- even if I couldn’t really see too much, being in the middle of the huge crowd. In my pictures, I have one of a poster advertising the free night, which of course I hadn’t seen until the next day. haha
In Vienna, besides the Philharmonic Orchestra, I saw the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, as well as the Natural History and the National Art Museums (directly across from each other in MuseumsQuartier). Additionally, I got to see the Schatzkammer, which is the museum housing the treasury (including the crown jewels) of the Hapsburgs in the Residenz- i.e. their palace. One other thing I saw was the Hundertwasserhaus, a very wonky building built by a famous Viennese architect- who like to break the laws of architecture. There are no straight lines in the entire place, the tiling is kind of random, and the floors, ceilings, and stairs are all uneven.
I was originally supposed to only stay through until Saturday, before moving on to Munich, but my host convinced me to stay an extra night for the final party of the event, which was right kind of him. It was a good thing he did, too, as it turns out that my trip to Munich was going to be a little more involved than previously thought. It turned out that I would have to take a train to Salzburg (which I admittedly wanted to see anyway), and then continue from there to Munich- the next day. This required me to spend a night in Salzburg at JUFA, which is an acronym that in German means “Youth and Family Guest House.”
My time in Salzburg was entertaining. I meandered through the old city a bit. First, I walked up the hill to the castle (though I didn’t go in- I didn’t have the money for the entrance fee). I did wander through the area on the paths, though, which was nice. I miss forests. After that, I continued into town, stopping at the Cathedral, which included a peak into the catacombs (which had been discovered while trying to rebuild it after WWII). From there, I wandered around and saw the birth place and living place of Mozart, though again I didn’t go in. Finally, I returned to the hostel and prepared for my trip to Munich.
Oh, one last thing: Austria has Aldi’s! haha