ANGERS –> VIENNA: Where’s the Edelweiss?

Somewhere between all the screenings of “The Sound of Music” twice daily, every day of my childhood, I fell in love with a Austria; or, at least, I feel in love with my idea of Austria.

So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to visit my cousin in Vienna during my winter break.

The train station in Frankfurt gave me hell, so I was beyond relieved when, after a seven hour train ride, I finally arrived in Vienna.

On the drive to my cousin’s home from the train station, I tried to take in all the sights. The weather was pretty gloomy and gave everything a grey tinge, but it was nothing I wasn’t used to.

I felt so relieved when we arrived at her house. My cousin’s cozy home is settled right outside the city in a pleasant and colorful neighborhood. I got the best of both worlds the next few days: mornings and afternoons in the busy, city life and evenings in the quiet and comfort of the suburbs.

Over the next three days, my romanticized views of Austria were quickly deconstructed.

Granted, my images of Vienna were children performing musical numbers at random and Julie Andrew doppelgängers everywhere.

After I got past the initial shock that daily life in Vienna was not like “The Sound of Music” (and, yes, I know it was filmed in Salzburg), it was much easier to enjoy what the city had to offer.

On that note, you should all know that every native Austrian I spoke to has never heard of “The Sound of Music” before. Really, every European I’ve ever mentioned TSOM to has never heard of it either. But I digress.

My first full day, I was still trying to get a feel for the city, so I didn’t do too much. I kept it simple: Stephansplatz, Kunsthistorisches Museum, and then a slice of Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher.

Everything was beautiful, although it was hard to get a good view with the rain pelting all morning.

It was such a shock, though, actually having to pay to enter the attractions. In France, if you’re a resident under 25, you get in most everywhere for free.

That was not the case in Austria. Eleven euros to enter the art museum! Don’t they know I’m a college student?!

The next day, my cousin joined in on my adventures. We hit up the Donau Zentrum and Schönbrunn. Once her son was out of school, we enjoyed the attractions of Prater, home of the famous Riesenrad.

I was shocked at how empty these typical tourist spots were, considering that Vienna is a tourist hotspot. Then I remembered it was the beginning of March and tourist season would not start until around May.

That also explained why everything was so… barren. The Schöbrunn ground were undoubtedly gorgeous, but I couldn’t help wishing I could see it in the summer, when everything is a lot more green!

My final day in Vienna, I decided I could not miss out on seeing the oldest zoo in the world, the Tiergarten Schönbrunn!

My excitement waned just a tad when the lady at the ticket booth asked me for fifteen euros. I wish I could say it was worth the money, but half of the “exhibits” were empty and after two hours, there was not much else to see.

Before heading home, I made a loop around the ring, to snap some pictures of the regal architecture that litters Vienna, like the university and the parliament. I even read in an imperial Viennese garden and saw the world’s largest ice skating rink!

I hated that my time in Vienna had to come to an end, but I promised myself and my cousins that I would find an excuse to come back again soon.

Austria was wildly different than how I had always imagined it, but it definitely did not disappoint. I just wish everything was a little cheaper and a little greener.