Everyone that I have talked to about Europe has told me that one of there favourite spots by far is Austria. So coming into Vienna I was expecting nothing but the best, and I can tell you now that Vienna does not disappoint. Its a world of all things lavish and upper class. Beautiful to the eye and extravagant in every way. The land of art and music, with some of the worlds most profound schools of art and music with grand pianos played in the streets and a new opera and ballet performance every night. Its the type of place where you could wear your finest gown in amongst the streets and not feel out of place.
Being a backpacker Vienna may not seem like the most ideal situation to be in. Normally to grasp an idea of how expensive a place is James and I look at the pricing of beer. In Prague beer was around €1.20 in Vienna beer was about €5. This being said there is always an alternative to every situation. We stayed at the hostel Wombats Naschmarkt which was across the road from The Naschmarkt. With fabulous cheap food stands selling the best falafel, meats, produce and asian noodles. Everything was fantastic quality and the best prices in town. Its was here that we spent most of our time throughout the day and most nights.
When it came to going out and drinking there was only one place to go, The Travellers Shack. It was a place that was born and bred for Aussie backpackers. Everything about it was beyond outrageous. They had a number of shots that were house specialties that turned drinking into an extreme sport. For instants The tequila slammer, where you would wear a helmet and someone would smash the tequila on your head and after you go for the skull a bat would be smashed across your head. The Chuck Norris, where you would take a shot and then get violently slapped across the face. The snuff shot where you would take a shot and sniff a line of mint tabbaco. Then the must do Viennese blood shot which can only be found in Vienna, where you would swish the shot around in your mouth for ten second then as soon as you swallow you would take a long deep breath in and endure the burn travelling through your body. When all the shots are complete you could join in on the typical Aussie game of beer bongs or spend your night attempting to hammer nails into a block of wood, yes they really give you hammers when your hammered. The best part of it all was you could end your night in true Aussie form, with a Vegemite toastie. The place was the dumbest most ridiculous fun you will ever have. Proving that even when it comes to Vienna there are two sides to every story.
On an 'Island' not far from the city centre was the music festival, Donauinselfest playing all weekend. Every year around mid-June it is one of the largest open-air music festival in Europe. Despite our hangovers we decided to make the most of the sunshine, rallying up our Busabout Clan we headed out to see what it was all about. 6.5kms long it was a massive day, wandering between sets, drinking and eating local beer and foods and making the most of the rides and amusements. Being near the river it was a perfect location to sunbathe, naked if you pleased and take a swim in the canal, if your brave enough to step into the water. It was the perfect way to end our weekend in Vienna.
Next stop on the Austrian adventure was to the secluded town of Grunau. Staying at one of the only places of accommodation, The Tree House. The town had a population of 2000 residents, most of which would spend their time down at The Tree Houses bar pouring their own pints because everyone is the best of friends. The man running the house, Gerhard, was a truly beautiful soul. From the minute you meet him he would know your name and everything about you that he asked. We weren't treated just like guests, we were made to feel at home.
Every morning we would all wake up and go down and enjoy breakfast together, once we would finish Gerhard would clap his hands together and say right what are we doing today everybody! Some would stay in and enjoy the serenity of the Tree House, watching movies, playing board games and listening to the pitter patter of rain against the window pain. The rest of us would spend our time deep in the forest trying our hand at archery where we would hunt wild fake foam animals. I found my calling deep in the forest that day as a pro archer. Although after shooting the 'animals to death' I made sure to apologise immensely to my poor prey.
Gerhard luckily was the best cook. At the end of the day we would sit down to the huge dinning table where we ate the most fantastic home cooked three course meals of roasts, lasagne and stews. Which were always complete with home made baked cakes and ice cream. Of course Gerhard would always go out of his way to make sure I had my very own special vegetarian dish. It was such a blessing to finally have someone understand and look after me. He looked after us all so well and made us all feel apart of his special Tree House family.
Although it rained we never let it effect our plans. Instead we sucked it up and rode 43km through the rain to the towns lake. The towns water comes from a glacier. So all of its rivers and lakes run with the coldest most clearest water I have ever seen in my entire life. The water was so fresh you could drink straight from the stream, one of natures pure delights. Riding through the town you were surround by the tallest mountains covered in evergreen pine trees. Breathing in some of the freshest air I have ever encountered in my life I embraced my surroundings. For a moment you forgot there was a world outside full of fear and hate and for just a moment it felt as if it was almost possible that there truly was peace in this world.
To most Grunau is and never will be a second thought in your mind but to me it was a home away from home. A magical little world full of natures wonders. A truly awe inspiring visit.
The Wanderers Daughter xx