How to NOT be a Tourist (and Love It Too!) - My Family Travels
A Kiss from Mozart
Vamping in Vienna
My Family in Vienna
A Viennese Park
Don't Miss the Cafes in Vienna

My very first kiss was with Mozart, and I did it WITHOUT a time machine. If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is (I’m kidding of course, I don’t think you’d want to read this blog entry if I was that narcissistic). Now, I’m no mind reader, but I’m guessing you’re asking yourself one question right now that you’ve probably never asked before. How can I be kissed by Mozart, too? By the simple purchase of a plane ticket, you will find yourself in a country full of history, beauty, culture and flirtatious but brilliant composers. This, my lovely readers, is the country of Austria.

This past summer marked my third time entering the city of Vienna, Austria, and as I stepped off the plane I immediately felt at home. You too, when you visit, will automatically feel a part of the city as you ride through its underground subway system and walk along its cobblestone streets. There is a magnetic draw to the city that one can never forget. Each street is marked by a wonderful shop, historic site or marvelous museum. I know, I know. I’m making this city sound like a fairy tale of a place. And yet, I’m not lying. It completely is. Vienna opened up to me an education of the arts, of culture and of life that I had never known existed before.

There is only one thing you should know before embarking on your journey. Being a tourist in Vienna is simple, but I strongly advise against it. I’m sure at this point you’re utterly confused, but before you completely give up on me, let me explain. Yes, there are plenty of tour guides willing and able to help you navigate the city. Yes, there are many evening concerts gauged at luring in the tourist audience with their sweet symphonies and emotional etudes. Yes, Vienna is a tourist-friendly city. And yet, I have found that instead of considering yourself one from another country who is popping in for a visit; consider you and your family as a part of Vienna. Walk the streets as if you grew up in them. Visit the museum with the Viennese, walking down each gallery marveling at the work of the great Gustav Klimt or Egon Shiele.

Attend the Prater (the theme park of Vienna) on a bright Saturday and become a part of the swarming crowds around the great ferris wheel. Do your research beforehand and find the free outdoor concerts that maybe not every tour guide will tell you about. Talk to the locals. Ask them about their lives, their trade and what THEY suggest you do in Vienna. A shopkeeper is more likely to know about the hidden gems of Vienna than a website. And of course, do not forget the good food. Vienna is famous for its delicious deserts and extravagant entrees. Look for sidewalk cafes – don’t always go straight for the cliché restaurant. The best goulash (a traditional Austro-Hungarian dish) I ever had was at a rather obscure, hole-in-the-wall café / bar that happened to be cheap and close to my apartment.

So what have we learned from this, my dear readers? You don’t have to be a tourist to be on vacation. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE CULTURE. Never do anything superficially. Learn to love learning.  Learn to love the people. Learn to the love Vienna. Trust me, it won’t take much work. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention. The kissable Mozart was a costumed composer selling opera tickets. Not quite the real deal, but a good story nonetheless.

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