Monday, 18th August – Prague to Salzburg

Today we leave Prague for a bit of a Bec indulgence – the city of Salzburg. For those of you who don’t know, Salzburg is the city around which most of the Sound of Music movie was filmed. We actually changed the trip a little so that Bec could do some nerdy movie fan sightseeing as well.

On the way, we stopped in at an ancient little town in Czech Republic called Cesky Krumlov. It is a UNESCO listed town and it was built in the 13th Century. After seeing it, we would have to say that if you only had time to see two cities in Czech Republic, Prague and Cesky Krumlov should be the ones.

There is a castle that is the centre piece of the town that has its own bear pit! The views from the castle are awesome and the town looks like something that belongs on a model train set. The two bears in the bear pit didn’t have that much room to move around, but they were quite old and seemed to be well looked after.

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It seemed that as soon as we crossed the border in Austria, the landscape changed dramatically. It was almost as if the hills were alive….

IMG_5506IMG_5537Salzburg is quite a large town and very popular with tourists. It was a beautiful day with rainclouds threatening in the afternoon, but it didn’t stop thousands of tourists flooding the streets.

The first stop was Mirabell Place and Gardens – perfectly manicured gardens with the castle in the background. (The fountain was seen in the Do-Re-Mi song in Sound of Music)

IMG_5544 IMG_5551The Salzberg Cathedral was actually built on the ruins of the original Roman Empire city built in 15 BC. It’s huge and the architecture is amazing!

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Mozart Platz is one of the main town squares and celebrates the fact that Mozart was actually born in Salzburg. The Horse pond is in the middle of one of the squares and is in front of the Old Town Hall – The Sound of Music features the horse pond in one of the songs.

IMG_5592IMG_5601The castle overlooking the city is called Fortress Hohensalzburg and can be reached by a Furnicular Railway. Bec was scared the whole way up, but it went so quickly that it was over before she realised. The castle itself is amazing and has spectacular views of the city.

IMG_5737IMG_5713IMG_5650IMG_5687IMG_5657IMG_5665 Another location in the Sound of Music is the Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria Von Trapp spent some time. The abbey is actually beautiful in its simplicity and has some extremely old artwork within its walls. The gate of the abbey (pictured below) also featured in the movie.IMG_5776IMG_5781

The Glockenspiel in the Town Hall plays a chime melody three times a day. We were lucky enough to be able to hear it – everyone in the square clapped when it had finished!IMG_5625

Salzburg itself has some great buildings and sights – here are some of the photos we took wandering around the city.

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We ended the day with dinner at a restaurant called Elefant and then grabbed a taxi back to the hotel exhausted.

2014 European Adventure Austria Czech Republic

Friday, 15th August – Vienna

Even though we saw loads of Vienna yesterday we still had so much more to explore.

Before taking the Underground into the city we walked about 1km in the opposite direction, to see the ‘new city’ from the bridge. It was a pretty cool view and the perfect blue sky was a good start to our day.

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We got off the Underground at the Opera House and walked through Burggarten, it’s a really pretty park and has a Butterfly (Schmetterling) House, the Palace of Justice and a few cool statues.

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From the park we then headed to Hofburg Palace, it’s a huge space that holds convention centres, museums as well as the Austrian National Library.IMG_4806IMG_4819IMG_4825IMG_4843IMG_4864IMG_4868

It was turning out to be such a beautiful day, the clouds were so pretty and made the perfect backdrop to one of the most spectacular buildings in Austria – Parliament. It really is a massive building, just over 13,500 square meters holding 100 rooms. The statues and architecture were amazing.

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The Rathaus (Town Hall) in Vienna is stunning, very much built in the Gothic style between 1872 and 1883.

What we didn’t realise was that the 2014 Austrian Film Festival was being held there. The set up was really interesting and the important thing was that they had many markets and food/wine stalls set up! We had a good look around and then had ourselves some lunch and a beverage soaking up the atmosphere.

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After enjoying our lunch in the sun we continued on to see the University and the Votiv Church, it was a bit of a walk and so we decided it was time to find somewhere for a quick beer/wine.

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And well that’s where the afternoon/evening ended – Crossfields Australian Pub.

It was a great way to relax and have some fun, we chatted to many fellow Aussie Tourists got some tips about future destinations and provided some tips to where we had already been.

2014 European Adventure Austria

Thursday, 14th August – Vienna

The public transport in Vienna is awesome, the underground trains are really easy to navigate so after plotting our route on the map we headed out to explore Vienna.

First stop was St Stephen’s Cathedral, it was incredible as were the number of people in Stephansplatz shopping! As with many of the buildings in Europe the Cathedral was undergoing cleaning – you can see in one of the pics below where they have cleaned the building versus where they haven’t yet got to, the contrast is quite evident.

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The next item on the list was St Peter’s Church, it too was very beautiful and the artwork was amazing, it was hard to comprehend that this church was consecrated in 1733. We are so lucky that the investment to restoration and maintenance is made by many countries to beautiful icons such as this church so we can all still enjoy them. St Peter’s Church went through major renovation between 1998 – 2004 to ensure all the paintings and sculptures were returned to their original colouring.IMG_4602IMG_4622IMG_4598IMG_4608

The architecture in Vienna is amazing everywhere we walked we came across something beautiful. Walking through Stadtpark we came across a gold statue of Mozart and some other impressive sculptures.

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Below is the Imperial Palace – huge but not really impressive in comparison to the other buildings in Vienna.

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The Opera House in Vienna is a big deal, it has been the subject of much controversy in the country as it has had to be rebuilt a couple of times after being damaged/destroyed during war time. It seems the design and size caused some debate and costs as with most projects of this nature were huge. In present day it’s used extensively, there are many classical music concerts held here every day as well as ballet and theatre. In fact, we were constantly hounded by men dressed in classical costumes asking us if we wanted to see a concert (for those who have been to Bali it was a bit like being asked if you wanted your hair braided every 10 minutes).

IMG_4702IMG_4701IMG_4699After we had some lunch we went on a mission to find the Church of the Jesuits. It’s hidden away down a few back streets but we had seen some incredible pictures on Trip Advisor and were determined to find it.

The church itself was so plain and simple on the outside that we nearly walked past it! However once inside the pictures we had seen just didn’t do this amazing building justice. It was one of the most incredible places we had seen to date – and you know we’ve seen a lot of awesome churches! What made this experience so special was the church choir practising as we had a look around, they sounded fantastic.

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After a long day of walking around for hours it was time to get back to the hotel, have some dinner and plan what was left to see in Vienna tomorrow!

2014 European Adventure Austria

Thursday, 14th August – Bratislava

This morning for the first time since we left home it was actually kind of chilly (don’t worry, it didn’t last all day).

Wandering around the streets of Bratislava, we felt that it was a shame in a way that we had just come from Budapest, it just didn’t seem fair to compare the two towns. The old town part of Bratislava is much grittier and less maintained than Budapest – but still has some fantastic little curving streets and lots of history. Some of the buildings were quite large and elaborate and parts of the old wall were easy to find.

The hotel we stayed at was wedged between a castle and a brewery, with the old town across the road.

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All in all we didn’t have a lot to see in Bratislava on our list, so after getting a coffee and some breakfast we decided to start on our way to Vienna.

On our way from Slovakia we spotted this massive castle just sitting quietly on a hill. We pulled over to take some photos, but couldn’t work out if it was open to tourists.IMG_4536As we crossed the border into Austria, we took the back roads to see as much as we could. The photo below was an example of the tiny little towns with amazing buildings that are hardly ever on the map!IMG_4537

After travelling for a couple of hours we reached Vienna! We were a little ahead of schedule and so begun our sightseeing straight away, our experience in Vienna continues in the next blog.

2014 European Adventure Slovakia