archives study abroad

the hills are alive…

Austria. What can I say? Where do I even begin? This little adventure wasn’t even at the top of my Europe gypsy heart to-do list, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve had that much fun! From the beginning, Emily and I were having great conversations, laughing, and having the best time. For starters, we planned this trip really quickly. We met a week before on a hike, and went to Austria together 7 days after we met. When else can that happen but study abroad?!?!? Anyway, we made our plans together in the library at UPF (Universitat Pompeu-Fabra, aka the outside university where both of us take a couple of courses) on a Monday evening, and we were wheels up by that Friday.

For our departure flight, we chose AirChina. I was a little leary after hearing about some safety concerns about the airline. Because it was by far the most economic option and was due to depart at  11:25, the perfect time for us, we decided to go for it after some research about the safety reviews. We couldn’t have had a better flight! While the flight attendants didn’t speak very good English, they were very sweet and we all laughed about our language barrier when Emily and I were told that we actually couldn’t take the blankets with us (even though we asked a flight attendant earlier and she said yes, we could keep them). What a morning!

Once we arrived in Austria, we knew we weren’t in the Mediterranean any longer. The temperature was significantly lower, and the people significantly quieter. Seeing German around me and hearing hushed conversations as compared to loud phone conversations in public, which is what I’m used to in Spain, was interesting. I think one of the main things I’ll miss about Europe is the public transportation, namely metros and trains. Emily and I paid about 3 euros each for a train ticket from the airport all the way to the train station that was right next to our hostel. The seats on Austrian trains are much more comfy than the seats on Spanish metros, and we relaxed for the hour and a half that it took to get to Do Step Inn, near the Wien Westbanhoff station. Upon arriving to our hostel, we were told that we had been upgraded to their hotel for free!

That evening, we were tired out. We immediately went to dinner at a lovely vegan restaurant called Loving Hut, just a 10 minute walk from where we were staying. My vegan Mongolian stir fry and lavender tea (yummy!) was the comfort I was needing, some warmth in the Austrian chilly breeze.

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my yummy meal at Loving Hut

Our Saturday in Austria was spent traveling literally across the country on the train, to get to our Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. For anyone wanting to travel to Austria and take this tour, I definitely recommend flying into and out of Vienna and staying there, because it’s relatively cheap and easy to get to Salzburg from Vienna. Once we got to the train station from a little vegan market where we had breakfast Saturday morning (which was a little stressful, because we were running late and got there within 2 minutes of the train leaving), we were able to sit wherever we wanted and got to Salzburg with enough time to have lunch and get to the meeting place of our tour. I actually liked Salzburg more than Vienna; I love how quaint and small it is, because it was a nice contrast to the busy culture of city life.

Our tour was no less than amazing. I can’t even put into words how much I enjoyed it! Our guides were knowledgable, friendly, and entertaining, and gave us lots of opportunities to take pictures of the gorgeous landscape!

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Emily and I in front of an unbelievably beautiful Austrian landscape
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one of the gazebos from The Sound of Music
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the lake from the boat scene in The Sound of Music

The tour was four hours, so afterwards, we went to the grocery store in the train station and got ourselves some dinner. Another thing I love about Europe is the expansive vegan section in each grocery store! I didn’t have any trouble finding enough vegan food to make myself a nice meal. Once we were able to get on our train, we relaxed for the three hour ride back to Vienna and back to our warm beds!

Sunday morning, we decided to go to the Vienna free city walking tour. Even though it was miserably cold and windy, I’m so glad we went! Vienna’s old city is so beautiful and chock-full of history. I love learning about European history through seeing monuments, old castles, and political buildings for myself. I’m also a little bit of an architecture geek, and I love how each building in Europe follows its rich cultural past.

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As you can see, we had the trip of a lifetime! I’ll definitely go back to Austria someday–maybe in summer, since I’ve already seen its magnificence when covered in snow! I’m thankful for the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, and I can’t wait to share my experiences in my other travels through Europe!

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