Theme: European Christmas Holiday Country: Austria Languages: German Unit of Currency: Euro Locations: Innsbruck & Vienna Year: 2011 & 2012 Bucket list: Celebrating the first winter Youth Olympics
DO: EMBRACE THE SNOWBOARDING CULTURE
- Spending a winter day photographing the beauty of the city within the Austrian Alps
Pre-celebration for the First Youth Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria:
1) Heart of the Alps – Snow-capped mountain peaks provided the perfect backdrop for the enchanting festive spirit in this unique city. Stepping outside the train station I could not help but smile while gazing at the towering presence of the Alps. Innsbruck is one of the oldest town’s in Austria and in my opinion, one of the best locations to go for the Christmas holiday.
2) Christmas Market – The medieval square in front of Innbruck’s well-known Golden Roof was transformed into traditional Austrian Christmas Market where the Old City laid. The picturesque and medieval old town with its pretty arcades, century old houses, and the famous Golden Roof was the perfect setting to experience why Innsbruck had become one of the greatest and most traditional places to celebrate New Year’s Day and welcome 2012. The most beautiful views that caught my eye were the Christmas trees, snow-covered Alps in the background, and the dazzling assortment of multi-colored Christmas lights that formed within the main square.;
3) Horse & carriage – The galloping of the horses hooves against the brick layered sidewalks and the Christmas lights that surrounded us created an atmosphere that one would describe as, “Peaceful.” The strings of Christmas lights lit a path, which in return, greeted the carriage through the city and explored the narrow passages nearby the streets.
4) Snowboarding culture – Out of all the places in Europe, I had felt the most comfortable in Innsbruck due to the awesome multi-colored Snowboarding outfits that the locals were colorfully dressed in. With my brown, green, and orange vibrant Burton jacket and brand new North Face boots I felt that I had found my element and the perfect location for me to settle down. In retrospect, I may never be able to live there due to the far distance it would take me to arrive at the airport; my venture to work begins in an airport; however, this would be the ideal destination to spend a Snowboarding holiday.
You can guarantee that the next place that I Snowboard and spend a few weeks in a unique locality will be in Innsbruck. The newest gear of Burton, K2, and several European Snowboarding brands were proudly viewed in the shop windows on the mannequins. In one district, I observed 10 Snowboarding shops in a 50 meter radius! Basically this was one street light to the next. The winter loved culture reminded me of the time that I had lived in Pennsylvania; I will have to rock out the newest Burton collection for 2012 in Florida! If only the climate and the culture were similar!
5) The 1st Winter Youth Olympics of 2012 – It was apparent that Innsbruck and its locals were looking forward to the upcoming Junior Olympics that were being held on the 13th to the 22nd of January 2012. The event is anticipating over 1.100 top athletes aged 14 to 18 and from over 60 nations to compete in the 7 sports (including Snowboarding!). In addition, all athletes will be a part of a Culture & Education Programme, which designates the participants to be aware of the Olympic Values and educate the public on Olympism, skills development, healthy living, social responsibility, and expression through digital media.
The 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games intermingles a unique festival of sport and culture. In such an important event coming into this beautiful city, I personally partook in purchasing a beanie that sported the Junior Olympic logo for Innsbruck. Along with the pre-celebration for this incredible event, the Austrians and Germans were very friendly and welcoming into their remarkable city.
Next stop: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg!
DO: VISIT A MULTITUDE OF MUSEUMS
- Strolling around the city and spending the entire day visiting museums
Musical Legacies in Vienna, Austria:
1) A fresh breeze of creativity had been swept through the glorious old-world city of Vienna. In the addition to the 21st century appeal to the legacies of Beethoven, the Strausses, Freud, Klimt, and Mahler, Vienna was one of the most compelling capitals of Europe. With its explosion of contemporary art in the new Museum Quartier and emerging design districts, the architecture was astonishing and created a wonderful masterpiece to each section in the city.
2) Surprisingly, a food critic would more than likely order sausages with goulash. As I experienced previously in Prague, Czech Republic – goulash tastes delicious with dumplings. It was recommended to try the goulash with frankfurts (their version of a boiled hot dog) while I was in Vienna. I was definitely not disappointed with my selection – the Vienna-style goulash with frankfurts was the added deliciousness that was encouraged for a good time in Vienna.
3) Despite the scaffolding on the Parliament building, it was still an incredible place to visit. The statues that encompassed the perfectly landscaped ground emphasized a beautiful arrangement of significant buildings that created a unique effect to the civilized architecture. The romantic city on the Danube – famous for its gemutlichkeit, its cafes, and dazzling confections, its coffee-houses, and its Lipizzaners – was a delightfully civilized and elegant place and a timeless destination for the arts, musicians, and cultures.
4) Museum Quartier – Once the grounds of the imperial stables and now Vienna’s sprawling cutting-edge cultural complex, the Museum Quartier was now home to open-air restaurants and more than 60 arts institutions, and included museums, artist studios, and performance spaces. The Kunsthalle hosted contemporary exhibitions, the steel-gray Museum Moderner Kunst featured modern art and international design, and the limestone Leopold Museum boasted the world’s largest collection of works by Egon Schiele. The angelic patterns of lights that created the Museum Quartier were breath-taking. Not to mention, the contrast of blue sky and dark clouds that surrounded the city and its magical treasures.
5) The country’s most visited Christmas Market took place in Rathausplatz, Vienna’s City Hall square, during the weeks that lead up to the holiday. Unfortunately, as I stared at the Christmas markets slowly shutting down on the night of my arrival I could not help to feel a bit gutted that I was not able to enjoy the Christmas markets at their prime time (Christmas Eve). If you recall from my original plan, I would have been in Vienna, Austria around the Christmas Eve event. Regardless, the classical music that played from Scholoss Schonbrunn was really beautiful, majestically, and anesthetically pleasing to the ears. It was known that some of the best Austrian musicians played in this very location, such as Mozart himself!.
6) The traditional values and pride of Vienna – The city took its ball season seriously. Beginning on New Year’s Eve with the Imperial Ball at the Hofburg and continuing through Fasching (Carnival) season until Lent begins, thousands of white-tied and elegant-gowned waltzers attend more than 300 formal balls. The Hofburg was linked with Vienna’s musical life since 1498 and associated over the years with composers such as Mozart, Schubert, and Bruckner. The belle of them all is the legendary Opera Ball, which was established by Emperor Franz Josef in 1877 and held in the ornate Staatsoper. Tickets are expensive, but the experience really is unforgettable!
7) For centuries, artists and literati have been gathering at Viennese coffeehouses to linger for hours over kaffee and kuchen (coffee and cake), while perusing racks of newspapers greet their audience as they long to keep warm. As I have unfolded during my travels in Europe and specifically in Vienna, every coffeehouse had its own personality and special treats that satisfied the traveler’s taste buds with the combination of their unique city’s tastes and signature drinks. If there was one city in Europe that divulged itself in sophistication and elegance, it would be Vienna!
Next stop: Zurich, Switzerland for New Year’s Eve!