Crossing into Austria was uneventful, with a line on the road and a few small signs to indicate that you have actually crossed the border and now in another country.
We headed straight for Vienna as we had a few things planned there. There is a lot of fascinating history to Vienna so we decided on doing a walking tour to get the full story’s about the different attractions. There are so many beautiful buildings in town each with it’s own story. The architecture is very impressive, every building is adorned with statues on every corner or cornice. There is a real sense of pride to Vienna, everything is well kept, people are well dressed, very polite and nearly everyone speaks English. We also noticed Vienna was more multicultural than a lot of the other cities we had been through.
The walking tour was interesting we were told many stories about the different royal families, their wealth and lavish lifestyles.
We were also told about the Austro-Hungarian empire which encompassed what’s now 13 different countries across the Balkans and Eastern Europe. The kingdom existed from 1867 to 1918. After defeat in World War I the empire was abolished along with four other empires including the Ottoman Empire.
There is also great food in Vienna, we got our first hit of Pho Bo or Vietnamese beef noodle soup which is one of my favourite dishes, traveling Vietnam for a month it was our staple diet. Obviously this is not an Austrian dish but with the multiculturalism there is many different cuisines to choose from.
After lunch and the walking tour we decided to hang around in town to enjoy the Christmas winter festivities. In the museum district there were a number of stalls set up selling all sorts of Christmas stuff, good place to get some Christmas shopping done.
There are actually over one hundred museums in Vienna alone including some of the more strange or morbid ones which took our interest such as the funeral museum and Federal Pathological-Anatomical museum.
That afternoon we made our way to the funeral museum which took our interest for some odd reason. Turned out we got a little lost on the way and got there just as they were closing which was a bummer.
We decided to head back into town to check out the main mall get a bite to eat and see all The Christmas decorations at night.
It really is beautiful how they have set up all the lighting, neither of us really being the Chrissie type it was still impressive none the less.
The next morning we decided to brave the Federal Pathological-Anatomical museum. It is a collection of medical specimens and wax moldings from the 1700’s onwards. Most with shocking disfigurements, diseases and rare medical conditions.
It’s all housed in the worlds first mental asylum. We were ushered through the building by medical students that explained to us some of the specimens and answered any twisted questions that we had.
It was pretty freaky and really makes you appreciate modern medicine. Lots of the peoples ailments that would have caused them to suffer so horrifically could easily be cured with a tablet or even just sunlight (rickets).
From there we went to the Prunksaal Library to check out an exhibition on archangels and the devil. The interior decor of this library it totally over the top but not to be missed. There were books on display that were over 800 years old with the finest of detailing on each and every page. Thinking it was just a library I picked up an old book that wasn’t in the display case to have the security guard jump me and tell me off for touching it. Mean while Jess is in the background in fits of laughter, jeez what kind of library doesn’t allow you to touch the books?
On that note it was time to make tracks and leave Vienna for the Austrian alps.
We headed for Salzburg with the idea of crossing the border into Bavaria (Germany) to check out a scenic drive through the Berchtesgaden National park and to Hitlers Eagles nest.
We stayed the night in a hotel in Salzburg, camping was getting to difficult in the weather and with dusk at about 4:30. The next morning we were off and heading for Bavaria and Jess’s first taste of the Alps. The drive up to the border was typical of the alps with the beautiful wooden chalets sat in perfectly green fields surrounded by snow capped mountains. This is the picture perfect setting that you would imagine when thinking of the alps.
The drive up through the national park was nothing short of spectacular with some high mountain passes and snow fields to be crossed before coming to the peak to which I’ve forgotten the name?
From there it was a sketchy down hill section which hadn’t been graded so was quite snowy and Icy. We pressed on slowly so we could get a good view of the Eagles Nest. This was built as a 50th birthday present for Hitler and used as his retreat and a place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries. Unfortunately it’s closed during the winter but we were able to get a decent view from the road.
We then continued down the icy road and back across the border into Austria. Our next stop was the Neuschwanstien Castle better known as the Disney castle which is also just across the border in Bavaria. As the sun started setting we decided to brave the camping once more and spend at least one night camping in the alps. We had dinner in a restaurant to avoid having to cook in the cold and dark and found a nice quiet snowy spot amongst the mountains to curl up in the back and call it a night.
The next morning we continued our trek through the alps taking some of the more minor roads and more picturesque routes to take in the beauty of the alps.
After crossing the border again into Bavaria it was only a short drive to the Neuschwanstien castle. We were immediately turned off as we approached by the shear number or tourists even in winter.
We pulled off in a field before the tourist centre and took a few photos of the Neuschwanstien castle and it’s sister castle the
schloss Hohenschwangau (no I didn’t make up that name).
We got a few nice pics and decided to hit the road back to into Austria and towards the border with Liechtenstein. I have to say that Austria is probably one of my favourite European countries, with the beautiful cities, friendly people and natural beauty.
To all reading this that have been following our blog, we are very sorry for the big delay in keeping everything up to date. Clearly we are now months behind talking of Christmas and winter. We are back in Oz now with a crazy few months after getting back to the UK we are finally finding the time to finish off the blog. Stay tuned we’ll try and get the rest up soon!