Six Weeks in the Balkans – Vienna

It’s been a few months now since we returned to Brisbane after the three month Asian leg of our travels, but with wallets restocked and vigour renewed we are now back into backpacking life.

Our next adventure is a six week trip across an area of the world that has always intrigued me- the Balkans.

The Route

Below is a snapshot of our planned route around the region – I’m pretty sure it will evolve and change as we go, and more than likely take an extra week or two than we intend. Fortunately, as we are visiting in the off-season of September and October, we won’t have to book things too far in advance and can be quite flexible.

First Stop – Vienna!

I’m not sure if Vienna counts as being part of the Balkans; most people would probably argue that it probably isn’t. However, as nobody apart from my Mom is probably reading this blog anyway I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I visited Vienna five years ago and found it to be a pleasant city that I’d have no qualms in returning to; this is just as well as Bristol Airport couldn’t take us anywhere else directly, and the prospect of trekking around the the UK on the horrendously unreliable public transport system to get to another airport after a day of heavy drinking at Bath races wasn’t overly appealing.

Vienna is certainly on the beaten track when it comes to global mass tourism, but despite this it still remains a nice chilled place to spend a couple of days. Below are some of our highlights:

Classical Music Concert

Austria has long being associated with classical music; some of the worlds most famous composers hailed from the area, including Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Strauss.

We were fortunate to be able to pick up last minute tickets to a Mozart concert that was playing on our second night. For just €15, we were able to lurk in the standing area at the back which gave us a really good view of the whole arena.

Even if you aren’t a classical music fan it’s worth a visit just to check out the architecture alone!

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Schonnbrunn Palace

The Schonnbrunn Palace is an incredibly large and impressive Imperial Building located just a short hop from the centre of town. It was originally owned by an Emperor some 500-odd years ago and used as a summer house. Obviously with only 1,441 rooms it wasn’t quite big enough to reside in all year round….

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The gardens made very impressive viewing as well. We were able to spend an hour walking around the place and checking it out – the bonus being that it was free as well!

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Belvedere Palace & Gardens

If you like your old big buildings and gardens then you’re in for a treat if you come to Vienna. Continuing on this theme is the Belvedere Palace, another old Baroque-era building which is also free to have a potter around.

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Walking Tour

There are heaps of other old Imperial Buildings that can be reached within walking distance of town, or a short hop on the metro if you’re feeling lazy. A self-guided or organised walking tour is always a good idea in any city, but will definitely be worthwhile in Vienna if Baroque architecture is your bag.

Overall, Vienna’s green and pleasant land was a safe, clean and relaxing start to our Eastern Europe and Balkans trip. Time to head to Budapest for more meat and Pilsner!

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