How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

We’ve just returned from Croatia.

And OMG!

Even though I’ve travelled to 61 other countries!

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

My plans for 2017 (in alphabetical order) were:

  1. Austria
  2. Croatia
  3. Czech Republic
  4. England
  5. France
  6. Germany (of course. Ho! Ho!)
  7. Holland
  8. Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  9. Poland
  10. Romania
  11. Russia
  12. Slovenia
  13. Sweden

Let’s see how we’ve done so far.

Mozart & Vienna are adorable!

AUSTRIA:

CZECH REPUBLIC:

I went skiing!

I haven’t quite got around to writing about skiing in the Czech Republic this year yet, but this is what I previously wrote!

HOLLAND:

Dutch children in traditional costume.

CROATIA:

  • Yay!
Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now, to be frank, most people have never heard of Croatia.

Game of Thrones?

Yep!

I love that show by the way…!

But Croatia?

Isn’t it somewhere in Eastern Europe?

Yes.

And No!

It can’t be both surely?

The Music Producer in Split. Geographically, Croatia is one of the previous communist states!

Well, geographically, it’s one of the previous communist states.

Don’t worry.

Breath!

However, in recent years, Croatia has managed to re-invent itself, so that even though it is actually in Eastern Europe, it’s marketed as Central Europe too!

Croatia has such a Mediterranean vibe, that you could be in Italy or Austria!

In truth, it has the vibe of the Mediterranean, and you’d be hard pressed not to think that in certain parts of Croatia, you could actually be in Italy, or dare I say it. Austria!

I know!

Book your hotel here!

LET’S GET A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY!

Ceremonial Officers in Zagreb – Croatia

Croatia, otherwise known locally as Hrvatska, or officially – the Republic of Croatia – is a sovereign state between Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean!

Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and is on the Adriatic Sea coast, which contains more than a thousand islands!

Croatia’s population is just 4.28 million, and the capital city is Zagreb.

A traditional Busker in Zagreb – Croatia!

The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia way back in the early part of the 7th century, before becoming two Duchies in the 9th century.

Croatia became a kingdom in 925 and remained so, for almost 200 years!

After World War I in 1918, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary, and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared it’s independence which sadly, between 1991-1995, became a bloody war with Serbia, then known as part of the ex – Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia!

However, Croatia won it’s independence and since 2013, has also been a fully fledged member of the European Union!

WHY GO TO CROATIA?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Why not?!

Well, Croatia is in Europe!

It’s on the map where East meets West.

It’s entwined with civilizations, history and culture, that goes back centuries!

It boasts numerous architectural jewels and a world heritage that make parts of Croatia enviable. And UNESCO locations filled with buildings, marked by world history of thousands of years, that made me practically salivate when I saw them!

It’s modern, but also traditional with folk customs, rural traditions that are still adhered to.

In fact, we were all given traditional Easter eggs and Easter cake, handed out as gifts. And I can’t even tell you how many random people (many of them old), waved and smiled at me, on passing by!

The Tall Young Gentleman at the sea in Split – Croatia!

Croatia is near the sea.

It’s pretty cheap by West European standards.

Fairly developed in services and infrastructure.

And I’ve never been to the Balkans before!

Because Game of Thrones!

Because Game of Thrones!
Because Game of Thrones!

Now when I pitched Croatia to my husband – The Music Producer – he wasn’t initially convinced.

He thought that Croatia would be too far into Eastern Europe, leading into the throngs of Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria.

He wasn’t excited at all!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer were pretty excited once they got to Zagreb – Croatia!

However, one of the things that changed his mind, was the personal contact that I made with the Zagreb Tourist Board at the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin!

I was so excited to be visiting their country, and they were wonderfully helpful.

Thanks so much!

Is it any wonder that The Music Producer was caught up with my enthusiasm too!

I have a lot of things to write about, and you’ll see them all.

I promise!

No worries!

TAKE ME THERE?

Take me to Croatia by ship!

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, Croatia is quite far from Germany, so we flew!

We had planned just ten (10) days in Croatia – three (3) days in Zagreb, three (3) days in Split, and four (4) days in Dubrovnik.

We wanted to spend at least 14 days (yes, please!) but school commitments meant that the German Easter School Holidays this year, only catered for ten (10) days! But as I always advocate, be smart, use all the weekends, and make it work!

It’s not possible to fly non-stop from Berlin, so we flew with Lufthansa, via Munich on the way in, and Austrian Airlines, via Vienna, on the return leg.

Our outward journey from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Zagreb (ZAG) with a stop-over, took 6 hours and 20 minutes. Our return journey from Dubrovnik with a stop-over, took just 4 hours.

However, you don’t even need to fly, as you can either take a cruise ship in from the Mediterranean States, a ferry from Italy, take a bus-coach from anywhere you like, or simply rent a car and drive from Austria or Slovenia!

Note: There aren’t a lot of inter-city trains. In fact, there’s no train station in Dubrovnik at all!

There actually aren’t a lot of trains in Croatia at all!

If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as MeinFernbus FlixBus also go to Croatia. But do be aware that the fastest routes are usually only sold in Croatia itself.

We decided to use the coach-bus between Zagreb – Split and Split-Dubrovnik.

Zagreb – Split was a straight-forward ride, and took 6 hours and 20 mins. Cost: €24.00 per person.

Split – Dubrovnik proved problematic, as the coach-bus actually went backwards in the direction of Zagreb, then dropped us in the backwater town of Benkovac, at the Benkovac Busbahnhof!

I didn’t like Benkovac in Croatia, at all!

Benkovac was yucky!

As soon as I saw the “bus station,” I wanted to get the hell out of there!

It was practically deserted and every “room” was boarded up.

We had a 1 hour stop-over at 10:30, and the next decent place was a bar. So we ran to it and ordered a few (non-alcoholic) drinks there!

It’s 10:30 in the morning remember.

An early morning shot of vodka in many East European countries, is believed to be quite healthy!

Not that it stopped any of the local punters. Ho! Ho!….!

Our journey took 8 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus was 45 minutes late, so make that 9 hours and 15 minutes instead!

We probably should have rented a car, and be done with it!

Cost: Split – Benkovac €12.00. Benkovac – Metkovic €7.35. Benkovac – Dubrovnik €5.65 per person.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Croatia isn’t crowded in the Spring – Locals in Zagreb – Croatia!

Not in the Spring it isn’t!

In fact, there were very few tourists around as it wasn’t yet “the season,” and many a restaurant were luring customers in with 10% discounts.

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and it’s very small!

Zagreb is the capital city in Croatia, and it’s very small!

Split and Dubrovnik are even smaller, and receive up to 3,000 guests per cruise ship, in the summer!

I haven’t a clue how many cruise ships sail by, but it won’t be pretty.

Having said that, if that’s the only time that you can travel, don’t let anything get in your way, as most cruise visitors are only in town for half a day, so that evenings will all be yours!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS CROATIA LIKE?

Croatian food is most delicious!

We were only there for 10 days, but Croatia definitely made an impression on me.

It’s of historical and architectural interest, the food and wine is impressive, the waters are clean, green-blue, and crystal clear.

And it’s very, very pretty!

I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN.

Our guide speaks at least four (4) languages. Possibly, even more!

Not. A. Problem.

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.

Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

A stone house in Croatia!

Ha! Ha! Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This plate of Cevapcici was certainly pretty cheap. Ho! Ho!

Croatia isn’t cheap-cheap.

If you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at far cheaper prices!

We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking a few glasses of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!

And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.

Book your apartment here!

Booking an apartment in Croatia is by far better, than booking a hotel!

We had great difficulty with personal space in Madrid last year, as The Tall Young Gentleman has recently turned 15 (OMG!), and is very tall. We decided to either book two (2) hotel rooms, or a large apartment instead.

Prices are low, and the quality and standards of apartments available, are exceedingly high. I’ll write more about it in the next few weeks!

Frankly, if you’re paying between €45.00 – €60.00 per night, for huge apartments with terraces, working kitchens, and a piano, you simply can’t go wrong!

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

The Adventure Begins – More next week!

Absolutely!

Too many to write at the moment.

More next week!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

A vintage car, ‘cos modern cars aren’t allowed in the Old Towns, in Croatia!

All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.

In most cases, cars are not allowed into the Old Towns!

However, you could take the bus, the tram, or simply walk!

ANYTHING ELSE?

A Bosnian waitress - Don't forget if you're travelling to Dubrovnik, you'll have to go through Bosnia!<br /> ©Photo Adam Jones - adamjones.freeservers
A Bosnian waitress – Don’t forget if you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, you’ll have to go through Bosnia!
©Photo Adam Jones – adamjones.freeservers

If you’re travelling to Dubrovnik, note that there’s a tiny strip of road that’s actually in Bosnia! It only takes about five (5) minutes, but make sure that you have your passport with you.

The motto in Croatia is to relaaaaaax & not rush things.

I think we did that rather well!

MY VERDICT:

You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!
You know nothing Jon Snow except that Croatia is pretty brilliant!

We all loved it!

Croatia has got art and culture, and has a vibrant history.

Because, Game of Thrones!

Just kidding!

Or am I?!

You know nothing Jon Snow…..!!!!

But seriously.

For many international visitors, Croatia isn’t a destination that immediately comes to mind, but if you’re in the Balkan area, make it a point of duty to spend a few weeks days, in as many cities as you can manage.

If you’re looking for a new destination that isn’t really on the beaten path, say hello – CROATIA!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Totally!

Croatia is a sunny dream, and I can’t wait to visit again.

Let’s do it!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

HOW TO VISIT THE BALKANS: INTRODUCING CROATIA – THE DREAM OF GAME OF THRONES!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful cobbled walks that we happily rambled through, are my very own!

In April & May, I’ll be writing more about Croatia, and visiting  Sweden & Finland!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re quite mad!

April is going to be superb!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!
How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

Have you ever been to Croatia? Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

So last week, we returned from Vienna.

And what a marvellous time we had!

‘Remember how I told you that Vienna has the most frequently photographed monument in the city – the golden statue of Johann Strauss, has the circus fairground of Parter, the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace Gardens, and a history to be jealous of.

Vienna - a city with a precious heritage, charming traditions & imperial architecture!
Vienna – a city with a precious heritage, charming traditions & imperial architecture!

Well, I wasn’t joking when I told you that Vienna has a precious heritage, charming traditions, imperial architecture, museums, art collections, works of art, the world’s first psycho-analyst – Sigmund Freud, the home of musical geniuses such as Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms and Mahler, as well as the era of the Habsburgs who reigned for more than six (6) centuries!

Oh yes!

Vienna is rich in baroque, historicism, art nouveau, as well as a nod to a world-class cultural complex and a future-oriented design of 60,000 square meters of space for a highly creative cultural scene in the Museums Quartier where we stayed, and in fact, all of the city!

Vienna is a highly creative cultural scene in the Volksgarten, and in all of the city! © WienTourismus / Christian Stemper
Vienna is a highly creative cultural scene in the Volksgarten, and in all of the city!
© WienTourismus / Christian Stemper

All!

Of!

The

City!

It was a miracle that we had the energy and enthusiasm to do anything else as I spent most of the time, staring at the glorious buildings, with my mouth wide agape.

And it’s not that I’m a novice either.

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

I’ve travelled the world. I’ve been to many a country with wonders, but I’m of the school of thought that whatever funds a nation has, it should use it to restore it’s buildings, it’s history, it’s music, and it’s culture.

And most of that, you’ll find nowadays, in it’s museums and art galleries!

Near the Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Vienna!

I like music.

I may be a lifestyle travel blogger today, but none of that stuff ever left.

I still love music.

And art.

And literature.

MUSIC! MUSIC! EVERYWHERE!

Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

At first glance, Vienna seems to be all about classical music. And that’s a very good thing!

Did you know that Vienna has:

  • Around 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music. Every night!
  • More than 15,000 concert events of various sizes and genres
  • Around 120 music & theatre stages
  • An impressive 2,000 hours of dancefloor music at 450 balls each year
  • Around 750 bars, dance venues, and discos
  • Vienna State Opera with a line-up 300 nights of the year!
  • The Vienna Boys’ Choir – Established in 1498, it’s the oldest boy band choir in the world!
  • The only surviving Viennese apartment used by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and located at the Mozarthaus Vienna! In fact, we visited this apartment which has now become a museum.
The only surviving apartment used by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and located at Mozart Haus in Vienna!
The only surviving apartment used by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and located at Mozart Haus in Vienna!

We couldn’t really take photographs so I only have a photo of the outside!

This apartment on 5, Domgasse 5, is the apartment that Mozart and his family lived in between 1784 – 1787, and where he composed his most famous opera piece – The Marriage of Figaro.

The price includes an audio guide in twelve (12) languages as well as three (3) floors of fascinating information about Mozart’s time and some of his most important work. In fact, the street opposite in its narrow cobbled nature, has hardly changed at all, and you would feel fully engrossed in Vienna of the day!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This museum was impressive, and I absolutely loved it!

Price: Adults: €11.00. Under 19 – €4.50. Students & Concessions such as the Vienna Card – €9.00. Families of 2 adults & up to 3 children – €24.00

In fact, Vienna is the only city in the world where it’s been the home and inspiration of so many composers of international renown!

  • Composers such as – Ludwig van Beethovan
A genius such as Ludwig van Beethoven.

Whilst in Vienna, we visited the Beethovan Pasqualatihaus. This house was where Beethovan lived and worked for eight (8) years of his life. Some of the pieces he worked on were his 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies, and most of all, his opera – Fidelio. The house was pretty basic and not as comprehensive  as that of Mozart. And moreover, we went on a Sunday where the Beethovan shop, and a possible tour of the building weren’t possible.

I found the inner yard of Beethovan Pasqualatihaus – where he lived & worked for eight (8) years of his life – to be quite authentic!

However, I found the inner yard to be quite nice and authentic!

Note that Beethovan’s apartment is on the 4th floor with no disability access. However, I found it endearing that normal Viennese people were living and gettng on with their lives in the apartments below, and next door! Note also that the original apartment was actually in the building across!

Price: Adults: €5.00. Under 19 – free of charge! Students & Concessions such as the Vienna Card – €4.00. First Sunday of every month: Free of charge! Guided tours – Free of charge!

  • Johann Strauss II – Otherwise known as Johann Strauss Jr., the Younger, or the Son!
Johann Strauss II ©August Eisenmenger, 1888 - composer of light music, dance music & operettas - also known as The Waltz King!
Johann Strauss II ©August Eisenmenger, 1888 – composer of light music, dance music & operettas – also known as The Waltz King!

A composer of light music, dance music and operettas, he also composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet! In his lifetime, he was known as The Waltz King, and the reason why waltz became one of the most popular dances in Vienna and throughout Europe!

For more info: go here!

Price: Adults: €5.00. Under 19 – free of charge! Students & Concessions such as the Vienna Card – €4.00. First Sunday of every month: Free of charge! Guided tours – Free of charge!

Joseph Hayden – A friend / mentor of Mozart & a teacher of Beethoven in Vienna!
Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!
  • Vienna has the most successful German-language musical of all time – Elisabeth, otherwise known as Sisi, the Empress of Austria – translated into 7 languages, seen by 10 million spectators worldwide, performed in 11 countries!
The most successful German-language musical of all time – Elisabeth, otherwise known as Sisi, the Empress of Austria!
Photo @Juliane Bischoff
  • The only city in the world with it’s own musical genre!
  • Europe’s largest free open-air festival & party! – Danube Island Festival
  • Music Film Festival on Rathausplatz – Europe’s largest culture and culinary festival!
  • ImPulsTanz – Europe’s largest contemporary dance festival!
  • New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

In fact, one of the musical highlights of the year is the New Year’s Day Vienna Philharmonic Concert, which is organised by the Musikverein, otherwise known as the Vienna Music Association, and hosted in the Golden Hall.

It’s such a huge deal that only the best musicians in the world are invited to perform, and tickets are so hard to get, that the waiting list is three (3) years long.

In order to make it fair and easier for international visitors, tickets for the New Year concerts are drawn by lots, at the beginning of each year!

Not only that, but hotel availability at this time is non-existent.

‘Best to book early!

At the Vienna Opera Ball.
@ WienTourismus / Peter Rigaud/Couture Vivienne Westwood

Thankfully, there is a live world broadcast that is seen by up to 50 million people, in 90 countries! In fact, we watch it too!

Yes, we’ll be in our jammies, with glitter, balloons, and champagne glasses, strewn all over the house, but we never fail to sit down and watch the concert, as it’s actually so much fun!

Gustavo Dudamel – the youngest music conductor ever to lead the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert!

However, Vienna today is much more than that.

Vienna has traditionally accorded the arts great respect, and over the centuries has never failed to foster creativity, and attract people from all over the world.

Vienna today is much more than classical music!
Vienna today is much more than classical music!

Vienna boasts:

  • 15,000 concerts. Every year!
  • 150 museums
  • 60 different operas and ballets
  • 50 theaters
  • 4 opera houses
  • Several stage theatres
  • Numerous galleries as well as renowned drama, music and dance festivals
  • And the largest repertoire in the world!

Vienna isn’t Berlin. Not for a single second, but you can have your music fix in a variety of places such as cafes, bookshops, wine taverns, at the Summer Night Concert in the Schönbrunn Gardens (a bit like the Proms), and even during the Vienna City Martathon where classical melodies fill the air, so that you can jog and strut your stuff, while running!

Vienna isn't in any way, like Berlin. Not for an item of a second! Beissoul &amp; Einius at the BMVA.
Vienna isn’t in any way, like Berlin. Not for an item of a second!

Vienna is the world capital of music everywhere.

I really can’t think of anywhere nicer!

I’ve got lots more to say about Vienna, so I’ll tell you all about it next week. If you really can’t wait, there are loads of pictures and funny quips on Twitter!

Book your hotel here!

VIENNA – THE WORLD CAPITAL OF MUSIC, MUSIC EVERYWHERE!

Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

This article is part – sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board and I received a press discount from the 25 Hours Hotels, but all opinions and the delightful music that we heard, are my very own! Thanks so much!

In April & May, I’ll be visiting Croatia, Sweden & Finland!

From 07.03.17 – 09.03.17, our friends – the British musical and comedy duo – Carrington Brown – will be performing Germany’s premiere of Carrington-Brown feat. The Swonderful Orchestra: Comedy meets Classics at Tipi!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in March, where are you?

Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!

Do you like music? What kind of music do you like? Share & let me know below! 

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

How to visit Austria: Introducing Vienna – the most civilised city. Ever!

One of the best types of sausages in Austria – A most wonderful hotdog. In Vienna!

My! My!

I’m doing rather well!

So far this year, I’ve been to Amsterdam, I’ve been to Zaandam, I went skiing in the Czech Republic, and I’ve just got back from Vienna.

In Austria!

You know the one!

The hills are alive with music n’ all that….!

Visiting Vienna is quite delightful!

I’ve been to Austria before of course, and I’ll be telling you soon enough all about it!

Myself on the balcony of our room at the 25 Hours Hotels, Vienna!

This time however, the reason that I decided to choose Vienna was to celebrate the “0” birthday of my husbandThe Music Producer.

I wanted somewhere “nice.”

And I wanted somewhere connected to music.

Voila!

Austria!

Let’s get a little bit of history.

AUSTRIA

A horse & carriage in Vienna!

Austria, otherwise known as Österreich, is a federal republic, and a country of just over 8.7 million people.

It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. Most of Austria is highly mountainous in the Alps with its highest point 3,798 m or 12,461 ft! In fact, only 32% of the country is below 500 m or 1,640 ft!

Most people speak a local Bavarian dialect of German as their native language, although Austrian German is the actual official language of Austria!

In fact, the last time I went to Austria about 10 years ago (cough! cough!) we went hiking for a week in the Austrian Alps.

Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them!
p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!

And it was all rather pleasant until we went mushroom-picking in the forest.

The guide was explaining where we were going, and the safety of identifying edible mushrooms.

Now I speak and understand German.

In fact, I’ve done a few TV / radio programmes and spoke quite successfully (I think), in the Germanic tone expected.

But I couldn’t for the life of me understand a single word he said!

I couldn’t for the life of me, understand a single word he said!

I was standing in the middle of our mushroom-picking crowd, so I moved to the front.

No can do!

I stood literally eyeball to eyeball with the fellow, in order to enhance my hearing.

Nope!

Nothing!

Nada!

I was quite distressed.

I was quite distressed.

And my husband wasn’t with us.

So I turned to my son who was five (5) years old at the time, to see if the guide was speaking utter nonsense, or if it was just me.

It was just me!

My toddler had to translate things so that we wouldn’t get poisoned, and die!!

Ooops!

I needed to know what we doing, so that we wouldn’t get poisoned with mushrooms, and die!!

Back to the history!

The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty, when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria retained its position as one of the great powers of Europe. However, after the fall of Napoleon, German Prussia emerged as the leader of the Germanic-speaking countries with the Austrian Empire reformed into Austria-Hungary, thus excluding Austria from the then new German Empire.

Sadly, it was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28th, 1914, and the troubles thereafter, that ultimately led Europe into World War I!

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, 1914 – whose death brought the onset of WWI.

After the collapse of the Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empire in 1918 at the end of World War I, Austria attempted a union with Germany which, by the Treaty of Saint Germain and the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, forbade both the union and the continued use of the name “German-Austria” – Deutschösterreich. Until Adolf Hitler invaded and annexed Austria in 1938.

As a result, the Republic of Austria ceased to exist as an independent state, and officially became a legalised part of Germany, until 1955!

If you’re worried, don’t be.

Present day Austria is a lovely country, and the locals are hilarious!

Present day Austria is a lovely country known for it’s human rights policy, democracy, skiing, hiking, music, classical ballroom dancing, art and culture.

Austria has a very high standard of living, and is one of the richest countries in the world!

In fact, even Germans flock to Austria because of it’s wealth of opportunity!

And many of them go to Vienna!

WHY GO TO VIENNA?

The majestic sight of St. Peter’s Church, probably the oldest church in Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

OhMiGosh!

Where do I start?

Vienna is an imperial beauty!

It’s the capital of Austria and the cultural. economic, and political centre of Austria.

With a population of just 1.8 million, Vienna is the second (2nd) largest German-speaking city in the world, after Berlin!

Vienna is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. In fact, Prague, Slovakia, and Budapest, are but a few cheap hours away!

And just in case you have a couple more days to spare, this is what I wrote about them:

Myself as lovely as Prague!

PRAGUE:

BUDAPEST:

BRATISLAVA:

Look how wide and green Vienna is!

Vienna is not only the capital of Austria, but also the city in Europe with the highest ration of green space, woods, grasslands, parks, and gardens which make up almost 50% of the city, beating even my most beloved city of Berlin!

Vienna also has the most frequently photographed monument in the city – the golden statue of Johann Strauss, has the circus fairground of Parter, the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace Gardens, the Vienna Woods, vineyards, farmlands, and the wetlands of the legendary Danube River!

A genius such as Ludwig van Beethoven.

Vienna has a history to be jealous of, going further back than roughly 15B.C!

A precious heritage, charming traditions, imperial architecture, museums, art collections, works of art, the world’s first psycho-analyst – Sigmund Freud, the home of musical geniuses such as Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms and Mahler, as well as the era of the Habsburgs who reigned for more than six (6) centuries!

Vienna is rich in baroque, historicism, art nouveau, as well as a nod to a world-class cultural complex and a future-oriented design of 60,000 square meters of space for a highly creative cultural scene in the Museums Quartier where we stayed, and in fact, all of the city!

Vienna is a city of beauty.

What not to like?

Wow!

Myself outside one of the Habsburgs palaces in the Museums Quartier, Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

I’ve got lots to say about Vienna, so I’ll tell you all about it next week. If you really can’t wait, there are loads of pictures and funny quips on Twitter!

Book your hotel here!

HOW TO VISIT AUSTRIA: INTRODUCING VIENNA – THE MOST CIVILISED CITY. EVER!

How to visit Austria: Introducing Vienna – the most civilised city. Ever!

This article is part – sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board and I received a press discount from the 25 Hours Hotels, but all opinions and the charming traditions that I experienced, are my very own! Thanks so much!

In April & May, I’ll be visiting Croatia, Sweden & Finland!

From 07.03.17 – 09.03.17, our friends – the British musical and comedy duo – Carrington Brown – will be performing Germany’s premiere of Carrington-Brown feat. The Swonderful Orchestra: Comedy meets Classics at Tipi!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in March, I really can’t help you!

How to visit Austria: Introducing Vienna – the most civilised city. Ever!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit Austria: Introducing Vienna – the most civilised city. Ever!

Have you ever been to Austria? Is Vienna a civilised city? Share & let me know below! 

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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