Tuesday, August 25, 2009

K's Personal Top 5 of Beautiful Vienna...

After, yet another, long delay (moving to Ottawa and I am seriously starting to feel like a packing troll :-) here is a very short-listed documentation of sorts of my top favorite places in Vienna. This does not, however, include one of top top favorite places, that being Philip and Sandra's house and Philipp's parents' house that has always made me feel amazing, warm and welcome (Thanks again guys!). So here it goes my Personal Top Five Fabulous Sites in The Beautiful City of Vienna!!!
Number 5: The First District-Stephan's House-Amazing Restaurants and Breathtaking Architecture
Whether it is summer, fall, spring or winter there always seems to be something going on, something to see or something to do in this area.  The first district of Vienna , as far as I understand it, is one of the oldest parts of Vienna and the architecture really makes it seem like a journey through time. I strongly recommend the Christmas Market in November and December-it's simply FABULOUS! And a great Tea Shop called Haas&Haas-but bewareit seems like all teas and coffee is well priced until you realize that your cart is full and you end up spending WAYYYYYYYYY too much on Tea! Anyway, I won't do all the describing and let some of the pictures do the talking for me-after all a picture is worth a 1000 words...right?

Number 4: Mariahilferstrasse
Not much to say about this little gem of a street except..."Shop shop shop till you drop drop drop drop!" Honestly this is where you ladies can get your shop on, the street is filled with everything from small independent boutiques to large pricey department stores. My only advice, bring your credit cards :-)

*Photos courtesy of http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://image24.webshots.com/24/0/23/48/30302348HJuyXrXiaH_fs.jpg&imgrefurl=http://travel.webshots.com/photo/1030302348011726241HJuyXrXiaH&usg=__m0ruSofroSwANztANfrf_XsJ1oU=&h=1024&w=1536&sz=444&hl=en&start=6&sig2=L2d_8ThQasXDzKGdjWiAcw&um=1&tbnid=Q3cObxqP-_mtfM:&tbnh=100&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmariahilfer%2Bstrasse%2Bvienna%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DX%26um%3D1&ei=MwmUSoasGIu2NvnctfsH
and http://images.google.com/imgres imgurl respectively*
Number 3: The Nacht Market
This place is definitely one of my favourite places in Vienna. It's the closest to a "Middle Eastern" district as you're probably going to get in Austria as a whole and it's seriously worth checking out! Essentially, the Nacht Market is exactly as it sounds, a market but it's also a hot spot for restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues-and the food.-AHHHHH the food is amazing. All you have to do is walk through the tinny-tiny alleyways that dot the market and you instantly get a sense for all the goodies this place has to offer. I recommend having a shin-dig here anytime-definitely worth it!

Number 2: Prater Amusement Park
For all the Canadians out there, think CNE but way better, way classier and most importantly WAY SAFER! Prater is an institution in Vienna. It's and old amusement park with a mix of traditional, classic and charming rides plus all the modern heart-in-your-throat roller coasters thrown in for good measure. The rides are all individually priced so you can pick and choose your rides accordingly. This is nice for those like me who do not tend to be super adventurous in terms of how high and how fast you wanna go on a roller coaster ride. For those not faint of heart-some rides will definitely knock your socks off-guaranteed. Prater is also home to the oldest and largest Ferris wheels in Vienna called the 'Reisenrad'. Although expensive to ride (about 8EU per person) it does provide a spectacular view of the city. However, for a cheaper alternative, the 'Blumen Rad' Ferris Wheel is smaller but equally as fun and provides a great view of the city as well. 

Number 1: Sand in the City
Not only is this my favorite place in Vienna but I am confident to say that it is definitely one of my MOST favorite places in Europe. It's AWESOME-literally a beach in the middle of the city! Sand in the City is complex of different food and drink stands, which are themed according to different countries of the world, that encircle a large "beach" with sand, beach chairs, loungers, tables and sun umbrellas that provide the illusion of being at the beach. I recommend bringing your friends, ordering a Corona, sitting back in one of the many lounging chairs, and enjoying the fabulous feeling of being on the beach in the middle of a beautiful and classy city...

Love K

Monday, August 3, 2009

Austria Motor-home Adventure: Day thirteen, fourteen and fifteen...

Day Thirteen- Bavaria, Neuschwanstein, Germany and Salzburg
The bad weather, unfortunately, continued to the next morning and we were greeted with clouds, rain and more mud. But no matter, we persevered and continued on our projected route to Bavaria, Germany-more specifically Neuschwanstein-a gorgeous castle nestled on a mountain. After a three hour drive from Bregenz, through scenic Bavaria, we arrived at our destination (along with a slew of other tourists from all over the world). The castle, which has actually been used as inspiration for the Disney castle in Disneyland, was breathtaking albeit a bit too touristy for my taste (http://goeurope.about.com/cs/germany/p/ludwig_castle.htm). We didn't actually make it for the inside tour (mostly because we were a bit too cheap, but also because the line up to go inside was ridiculously long).  After several hours spent taking pictures, roaming around on the grounds and taking walks through the beautiful surroundings we were ready to head back to Austria and on to Salzburg. The rest of the day wasn't too exciting as we spent most of it in the motor-home driving through Germany and Austria. Once we finally arrived in a camping ground outside of Salzburg City we were too exhausted to do much else, other than chill inside and sleep...

Day fourteen-Salzburg
Salzburg...what can I say? Since this city is really too gorgeous to describe in words I will, instead, provide a whole lotta pictures (which probably speak volumes anyway!) I am also including a collage of some amazing shop signs that were prevalent throughout the city and I simply LOVED!!!  Enjoy...

shop signs-shop windows-fashion

Day fifteen-Mathausen and Bad Kreuzen
Day fifteen was the last official day of our motor-home adventure. We were originally scheduled to stay 4 days longer but because of the bad weather, flooding and generally awful driving conditions, we had to cut our trip short. Just like the weather, our trip ended on a bit of a sober note as we spent the majority of our day at Austria's largest concentration camp; Mathausen. I don't need to describe how eye-opening of an experience it was. I won't preach about how it made me feel that we are capable of such horror to each other, and it seems so pointless and meaningless that these things happen-not only in history but through out our world to this day. As depressing as the experience was, I feel that it is important to go and see reminders of such atrocities so that we never forget and more importantly, we don't make these mistakes ever again. On a more positive note, we also visited the small village where I spent 9 months of my childhood with my parents after we defected from communist Czechoslovakia in 1987. We had dinner at Gasthaus Shiffer-the actual pension where we lived during that time. We couldn't do much, however, because the weather was so terrible. The next day we made our way back to Vienna but I will save that part for the following blogs, until then I will leave off with a beautiful, yet short, quote by Benjamin Franklin:
"There never was a good war or a bad peace..."

Love K
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