An Austrian Adventure

Vienna and Salzburg (November 14th-17th)

I decided to do a little writing on the train back to Vienna from Salzburg. There’s nothing quite like riding on the train through the mountains in Austria and getting the urge to write about it. I used to write a lot more when I was younger, but lost motivation during my teenage years. I would say that this counts for some pretty incredible inspiration to start writing again. The weekend started in Vienna with Emily and Kiara and because we booked our flights in August, I failed to realize that my return flight was at 5am (rookie mistake). I decided to spend the extra money and prolong my trip by booking a new flight home for late Monday night. By Sunday, we had seen what we wanted to see in Vienna and I was looking into taking a day trip out of the city. Kiara and Emily’s flight took off late Sunday afternoon and I was left with the next two days to myself.

For my entire life my mom has raved about her time in Salzburg, and it being her most favorite European city. I looked into train times and tickets and got on the 5am train this morning to Salzburg. Although there was so much beauty in Vienna, my favorite part of this weekend was Salzburg. I didn’t know that much about the city, so I talked to some of the people I met at my hostel in Vienna before leaving and got a decent list of places to visit.


In the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

When I got off the train in Salzburg, the city was still asleep, and I think so was I. With no map and a brisk 30-degree walk ahead of me, I headed out of the station and chose a direction. Luckily, it was towards the river and I soon saw the steeple of the duomo off in the distance, along with the Hohensalzburg Fortress looming over the city and I knew right where I wanted to be.

View during my walk into the historic downtown

View during my walk into the historic downtown Salzburg

As I watched children being led by their parents to school, bakeries opening their doors with the smell of fresh pastries wafting through the air, and an old man throw bread for some birds on a park bench, I was already falling in love with the city. It wasn’t even 9am and I had already crossed the country into an entirely new city that was so different than Vienna; this was the Austria that I was expecting. I had talked to my aunt the previous evening over text and she told me that I must take the funicular up the hill to the fortress and that the views would be so rewarding. So, I bit the bullet and paid for the slightly expensive ticket. Once I got to the top, I had no regrets. The castle was surrounded by a small medieval town on the hill, and since it was so early there was no one around except me, some workers and a younger couple (also tourists). There was small Christmas market huts being assembled at the gates of the fortress, and on the other side was a small cafe where I took the panorama picture included below.

View from the Fortress

View from the Fortress

Once I descended from the hill, the city had awoken and I was ready to see more. This was one of my first times traveling on my own and I loved doing whatever I wanted all day (lots of Austrian pastries and walking were involved). I watched the locals set up the annual Christmas markets, as I wrote some postcards. I went to Mozart’s birthplace and residence, saw his little violin and piano and listened to his music. I got to see the Mirabell Gardens, and palace where scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed. I’m so glad I was finally able to see the city my mom constantly talked about even 35 years after her visit. Maybe I’ll be telling this story to my kids in the future, but hopefully I’ll be able to take them here myself because what better way to learn about the world than to see it firsthand.  Although my mom couldn’t give my brother’s and I that opportunity herself, I was glad to have done it on my own.

The steps where part of Sound of Music was filmed!

The steps where part of Sound of Music was filmed!


About Anna Johnson

I am from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, a small town right outside of the Twin Cities! I am studying Business, with a focus in Marketing and maybe a minor in Italian. I chose the Rome Start program because I wanted international experience and what better way than to start my college experience here in Roma! The best part about Rome Start is having Europe at my fingertips for an entire year, and learning in the heart of the eternal city.
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