May 30, 2014

Travelogue - Salzburg

I guess no other city in the world would be driven this much by a single person's legacy . Even after more than 200 years of his death, Salzburg lives & breathes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart everywhere.  From chocolates & T-shirts to an international foundation,  Mozart's name and spirit is everywhere in Salzburg. It got me thinking -  What percentage of economy of Salzburg is directly or indirectly related to Mozart ?

Historic Old town of Salzburg

Salzach cutting across the old town of Salzburg

Apart from the usual visiting places like Mirabell Gardens and Mozart's house, a short walk from the old town is Salzburg castle.

Situated on top of a hill, the view of Salzach river cutting across Salzburg is really great.

For fans of "sound of music", there is a sound of music tour that takes you various locations in the movie.

A painter painting Salzach & Salzburg

Salzburg markets itself as "Stage of the world" .. And it is true in every sense.  Be it the music and culture festivals or be it the roadside musicians and artists who are trying to eke out a living, Salzburg reserves a special place in its heart for art & artists. This city has touched the lives and careers of lot of modern day musicians and artists

Stage of the World - Stage for everyone

If Vienna is about cultures & intellect,  Salzburg is all about music and art..

The beauty of Salzburg is that it'll make you realize how much you can be at peace with yourself by virtue of music & art .  The city strives to preserve those musical traditions with the same intensity as those days of Mozart.  

May 17, 2014

Travelogue - Vienna

Vienna or 'Wien' as locals call, is a melting pot of cultures. I guess you won't see any other European city with these many people with different Ethnic origins. This is where many political & economic philosophies originated.. Apparently at one point in time Trotsky , Stalin , Tito & Hitler lived in this city quite near to each other.

A good starting point to explore this 'Old Vienna' is Stephansdom or Stephen's Cathedral.. The different streets that originate from this place now sell all the modern brands like Prada , Gucci etc. But perhaps, this is a place ( quite like the Istiklal street in Istanbul, if you have been ) where you should go to feel the heart of this city.

There are a few palaces in this city, the most notable one being Schonbrunn.. A good visit.. but not very spectacular .. I tend to subconsciously benchmark any palace that I see now with Peterhoff &  Hermitage

Schonbrunn Palace

This was built by Habsburgs.  And was under their control till the end of first world war.
Unlike other European dynasties, Habsburgs kept the Church at an arm's length from the state matters.  Vienna is not a city littered with cathedrals. You would see a few here and there. But the erstwhile rulers apparently ensured to a great extent that your faith is not connected too much with the governance that you receive.

I think this attribute of freedom developed the Viennese culture.. Its Cafes, Operas & intermingling of cultures.  And that entropy continues to fuel new and new ideas in various spheres of life.

Sacher Torte ( Viennese Chocolate Cake )
Vienna as a city has got much to offer.. Be it the museums , palaces , cafes or the vibrant night life. There are couple of things that you should do if you are in Vienna..

1 - Walk into one of the numerous cafes in the city and experience the Viennese cafe culture. Quite near to our hotel, there was this place - Cafe Schwarzenberg..  A quintessential Viennese Cafe joint.  You would see that in most tables, everyone is talking something or other in a quite intense way,  yet quite at their own comfort.

2. See an Opera. Vienna state opera is perhaps the most famous, and obviously very crowded concert location.. We opted for another one - Beethovenplatz  .. I'm not a musical person.. Yet this concert kept me involved till the very end.

Town of Melk & Danube - View from the Abbey

River Danube cuts across Vienna. We did a cruise in Danube through the Wachau valley, the place where lot of Austrian wines come from. That trip takes you to the Abbey of Melck , one of the famous monastic sites with a rich history

This is a city where you can spend 4 - 5 days easily to experience it. And finally I did have a bit of regret that we spent just 2 full days here.. And I hope I can come back one day to see and experience all that I feel I've missed