Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planning an Austrian Itinerary

Our trip to Austria is closing in on us and until now, I haven’t given it too much thought. We’ll be in Salzburg for 2 nights and then we have 2 1/2 extra days in which we can take a side trip if we choose. Jonathan put the planning in my hands, and at first I felt dizzy with power, but now I just feel stumped.

First things first, I gotta find out what there is to do in Austria. Alpine skiing? Not in September. Sound of Music tour? Already on the itinerary…and I’m out. What else does Austria have to offer? When I politely asked Jon for some input and what he’d like to see, he spurted out ‘Vienna’, but I feel like Vienna is just a knee jerk reaction. When I politely followed up with the question of, “and what do you want to do in Vienna, exactly?”, he was stunned into silence. Neither of us had a clue as to what Vienna, or Austria as a whole, had in store for us.

After some scatter brained research, I came up with the following four options, all of which are readily accessible by train.
1. Vienna (so cliché!)
We’re in Salzburg Wednesday through Friday for Jonathan to attend a work conference. He’ll be let out at noon on Friday, at which point we can wrap up Salzburg and take the train to Vienna. We don’t have to be at the airport until 2 pm on Sunday, so that should give us a full day Saturday and a full Sunday morning to explore. But what would we be exploring exactly?
My friend Nary pointed me towards CN Traveller’s City Guides for an in depth orientation. It seems like the main attractions are similar to most large European cities: museums, cafes, beautiful cityscapes, large parks and promenades, and some quirky parts of town as well.  Oh, and of course, Mozart! If you go to Vienna you just have to go to a Mozart dinner concert! Apparently.
Mozart Statue (source)
Please don’t tell anyone this but I have absolutely zero interest in classical music. I took a fine arts survey class in high school where we had to identify different composers by listening to music clips and I flat out failed at this assignment. Within 5 seconds of playing, I can identify any alternative rock song released between 1995-2002, but I still can’t distinguish between Mozart and Beethoven. When I had to choose songs for my harpist play at our wedding, it was all I could do not to fall asleep while she played samples. I ended up just telling her: “Why don’t you just surprise me?” What can I say, it’s just not my thing.

2. Innsbruck.
Oh Innsbruck, I don’t know anything about you, but you sure are photogenic. I’m a sucker for mountain scenery, so it makes sense that I’m drawn to this capital of the Alps. Similar, to Vienna, I don’t know much about this city other than it is so purdy!  
I’d love to do some alpine hiking and just soak in the scenery and fresh air in this heavenly setting. It’s more of a winter destination, but so is Colorado; doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting in summertime.

3. Bad Gastien.
This valley town is located just south of Salzburg. Part of the land is private property belonging to a massive resort, and is a good starting point for several mountainous hikes. Plus, being a resort, it’s also up to par on the little luxuries like a full spa, heated pool, etc. It could be the relaxing and romantic honeymoon that we never had. So do we want to ditch the cities for this vacation and bask in the quiet nature of a resort so spectacular that Jude Law himself has spent holidays here?

4. Staying in Salzburg. 
Another option for our extra two days is just to stay in Salzburg. We arrive in Salzburg late Wednesday afternoon, and Jonathan will be in a conference all day Thursday and half a day Friday. So while I’m out participating in Sound of Music bicycle tours, he’ll be improving his professional knowledge. Is it fair to whisk him away to another locale as soon as his conference is over, so that he doesn’t get ample time to explore Salzburg? I mean, is it fair that he should have to miss out on the Sound of Music bicycle tour? Can I really live with myself if I'm responsible for him missing out on a photo op in the gazebo where  Maria and Leisle sang "16 going on 17"? 
If we stayed in Salzburg for the full 5 nights, we’d probably do a day trip on Saturday. For this we’d have several options: a very long day trip to Vienna, the Austrian wine country, taking a cable car up a mountain and hiking down, ice caves, etc. Salzburg is a pretty good base camp for several fun day trips, which means we'd never have to pack up our bags and change hotels.

I guess it all comes down to what we want to see and do while we’re there. All I can think about is mountains, which is probably why I’m shying away from the whole mandatory Vienna stopover itinerary. Have any of you been to the land of doe, a deer, a female deer? If so, I’d loooooooove your insight! Is Vienna really worth the hype?


  1. Never been to Vienna, but I personally thought two nights in Salzburg was enough time. I vote Innsbruck!! Mainly because we wanted to go and didn't have enough time, so I could live vicariously through you :-)

  2. You have to have Sachertorte while in Austria - of all of Katherine's traveling and food finds, she still talks about Sachertorte - Have fun! Aunt Beth