As an ambitious fourteen year old, I wanted nothing more than to travel to Europe. I had no money, no job – I wasn't even old enough to get on a plane by myself! All I had was a dream.
While school shopping, I noticed an advertisement for a Mead Notebook Cover Design Competition. Fortunately for me, photoshopping and design happened to be a hobby. It didn't take me long to whip up a design and submit it. I hit the "Submit" button and promptly forgot about the whole thing. A month later, I recieved an email stating that I was in the top five finalists.
Oh, did I mention the prize was $5000? Enough for me to buy two tickets to Austria!
Fast-forward. Ashlee (my best friend) and I were on a plane headed to Vienna!
We arrived on Friday, June 18th. We stayed with the family of a friend. Her family was so kind as to allow us to live with them for three and a half weeks and show us their world.
Let me tell you about Austria. It is beautiful. I thought I had stepped into a fairytale. Everywhere, there are great rolling hills (although they're really something more than a hill, but less than a mountain), picturesque vineyards, quaint little homes with flowers abundant and itty-bitty towns tucked into the nooks and crannies of valleys. There is usually no air-conditioning in homes, only in businesses or public buildings, but they leave windows open so there is a light breeze to take the edge off of the heat. Unfortunately, the Austrian people don't use screens over their windows either, so be on the alert for spiders!
The next day we went to the [url=http://www.burgruinesenftenberg.at/]Ruine Senftenberg[/url]. The view was magnificent!
We also visited the [url=http://www.duernstein.at/sites/ueber_geschichte_en.php]Dürnstein Ruins[/url] which happened to be at the top of nearly a half mile of stairs! We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!
On the 24th, we went to the infamous [url=http://www.schoenbrunn.at/en]Schönbrunn Palace[/url]. We took a tour through the 40 rooms that Maria Theresa and Marie Antoinette lived in during their reign. Behind the palace was a gorgeous garden.
Later, in Vienna, we visited the [url=http://www.srs.at/en/]Spanish Riding School[/url]. We saw the morning training session with the Lipizzaner Stallions. The horses are trained to showcase the skills war horses had to learn for battle.
My favorite place was most definitely the Alps. We spent a few days near Salzburg. Our first day there, we went to the [url=http://www.liechtensteinklamm.at/english/klamm.htm]Lichtensteinklamm Gorge[/url]. The only way to describe it is the Grand Canyon of Austria. Unlike the Grand Canyon, you hike up a narrow pass that takes you alongside the torrenting river. Our dinner was at a little restaurant outside the entrance of the Gorge. I ordered fish. What I was unaware of at the time is that when you order fish in Austria, you get… well, I'll let you see for yourself!
For the record, I DID eat it!
The next day we hiked nearly all the way up a mountain, only for it to begin raining. On the brighter side, Ashlee and I had the most fun of our lives. We ran all the way down a mountain in absolute downpour! Although we were drenched through and through, it is still one of my favorite memories.
The [url=http://www.grossglockner.at/en/]Großglockner Hochalpenstraße[/url] was another highlight. It was cold, but definitely worth the 40 degree weather!
This trip was full of excitement and loaded with friendship!
Whether you like hiking, or just want a relaxing setting, there is no better place than Austria.
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