Vienna

Austria is a German-speaking country with a charm of its own. Vienna is tucked away in the northeastern section and has all the old world charm. The capital city of Austria was home to famous residents such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud. The museums Quarters District has a lot going on within a short walking distance. If you need a break there are shops, bars, and restaurants around every turn. Enjoy a local beer and watch the people wander through the square. Vienna is a beautiful destination for solo travelers, families, and lovers.

  • Transportation

Coming into Vienna by plane or train you will most likely start your journey in the city center. Public transportation is clean and well organized with local trains, subways, trams and buses running in a timely manner. Tickets are cheap and are on an honor system. There are no booths to check tickets. if you get asked by an agent to see proof and you do not have any, there are strict fines. Believe me, the officials have heard every excuse. I was on a train and thought my ticket could go on to the next city, but it turned out the first time I saw an agent, my ticket wasn’t good. The only reason I was let go with a warning is that I had just added money to my travel card. Let that be a lesson to anyone who is thinking about skipping buying a ticket and taking their chances. There is a large fee for not having a ticket plus the cost of the ticket you didn’t buy. There are also Vienna city cards for 24, 48, or 72 hours pass for public transportation and hop on hop off bus service which is available at the airport and transit centers.

  • When to visit

Summer is the busiest month with beautiful mild weather and all the bells and whistles for visitors. Followed very closely by the holiday seasons at the end of the year. Everything in the region is decorated to perfection in old world charm.

Offseason is Spring and Fall months where you will find discounted flights and dinners to the most popular tourist locations.

  • Weather

Vienna is a four-season city. In the winter months of December, January, and some of February it can be dry cold and snowing. As long as you know how to dress for the weather and make stops to catch a break from harsh weather conditions then Vienna is still a wonderful and walkable city year-round Summers are usually in the 70s but occasionally can get up to the 90s.

  • What to see

The main city draw to this cultured city is the museum district and the many palaces. The most popular is Schonbrunn Palace which is an easy fifteen minutes away on public transportation. All around the city, there are open-air markets filled with fresh flowers, bread, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. There are multiple restaurants to sit and dine on local favorites. There are many parks with perfect lawns and fountains taking up blocks to get lost in or have a peaceful lunch.

Vienna is a great and walkable city. The locals are friendly and often English speaking for those not willing to test their German. I felt safe walking the busy areas around the city and quiet backstreets where I stayed. Like any good traveler, you should be aware of your surroundings and be careful after dark.

By Heidi Vastag

Food Roulette

Walking into a restaurant in a foreign country with no English menu and only a few pictures scattered around you and must make a decision by pointing and hoping for the best.

This is a photo in Hong Kong at a window kitchen from the bottom floor of a large apartment building in Kawloon. There were different shops and other selling food out the window. The window I picked had a few people waiting in the line for the while I watched it. As one person walked away, another stepped up to wait, so I felt it was a popular and trusted enough place to eat random and in some cases unknown selections. I walked to the counter with money in hand trying to order in English to Chinese only speaking locals. After I failed at asking for whatever they will give me for $20. Finally the woman running the cashbox told a man something as she pointed to the back and then she called for the person behind me to come forward to select fried goodies and pay. As I thought this wasn’t the way to order foot and I should go back to the pointing and grunting method, then a younger man came forward from the rear of the kitchen. He spoke in very good broken English and asked what I wanted and with a smile, he filled bags and bowls full of things on sticks and some fried balls of something with spicy sauce on them. I could figure out what some items were and others I didn’t have a clue. I sat in the hostel balcony and tried everything loving some and not too sure on others, but it was amazing gamble that I think is a great way to try local foods.

If anyone knows what I was eating in the photo above please let me know, because I still do not know.

This amazing dish is kangaroo and I can’t rave enough about it.

Solo, one way, extended trip

Coming back after a extended trip can be hard for anyone. There are many emotions evolved in the days before you leave and the trip home. Weather it is a few hour car ride or a full day flight, the travel beings the emotions of home very real.

My latest trip was almost eight months long and I learned a lot about the world and about myself as cliche as that may sound. For me it was after the first few months I adjusted to life on the road and out of a pack. I started my trip in Auckland, New Zealand and stayed in most of the major area of the city for the first three weeks, and man did I ever get my bearings of a city then walking it everyday for three weeks for most of the daylight hours. After the innatinal first weeks my mother took the twenty something hour flight to come see her globe trotting daughter. My mother, being the planner she is, had all of our ten days filled with things to see and do on this once in a lifetime trip for both of us. We travled from north to south island and back again. When I finally had to tell my dear mum goodbye I had to be on my own again and for this trip my defining moment. Having to plan where you will sleep and how you will get to that bed you booked in the most beautiful picture the hostel can create, you learn how quickly judge pictures and rating. Which I feel I had learned from hostel hopping in Europe on a tight budget. After a few mad hostels in New Zealand and one or two in Australia I learned quickly that five US dollars could mean the difference between a small or out of the way compared to toilets soaked in drunken pee from the bar hostel downstairs. Reviews are worth the read and also worth the time to write.

  • Www.Booking.com always gave me the most results generally in my International travels
  • Www.hostelworld.com come up with much fewer results but are all on a backpacker/ budget level.
  • Www.couchsurfing.com is a way to meet locals that are willing to open up their home to you after registering and filling in important details to the website and matching with locals that want to show you their city. You may have to do dishes or keep clean in exchange for a very local tour,home cooked local food, and a place to lay your head.
  • Www.YHI.com comes at a price of a year membership at a very reasonable rate. I have found over many counties that this organisation have overall the best accomadation at comparative prices. The rooms are always clean and the location is usually near the things you came to that area for. I have nothing but nice things to say about Hostel International.

Like in most things, the people in each place can make or break even the nicest hostel. Community living isn’t for everyone.

After getting used to this life of everyday new city, new people, and new

Tasmania

This amazing place is somewhere I never planned to go and didn’t know much about it until I started planning it from Canberra. There is a lot more to see and do despite the small size the island of Tasmania is especially sitting next to Australia. I started my trip from Melbourne to Hobart. It was a short flight and uneventful until the flight landed and we deplaned and waited for the baggage. Being from America I have seen dogs in airports and think nothing of it. Just another part of security. Something I have never seen before is the dogs walking on the luggage belt sniffing and checking every bag coming out from the incoming flights,. I have only seen the security dogs sitting at checkpoints at airports, I have never seen dogs running on the belt before or after in any of the 35 countries I have traveled to. I’m not sure if it is such a small airport that they have the manpower or really the dog power to do this kind of security check. I do not smuggle drugs or whatever else people try to get in other countries so I was on my way after I picked up my pack and headed out to find a bus that I didn’t bother booking beforehand. The door slid open and I walked out to a beautiful sunset with a good first impression of Tasmania.

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I tool a small airport shuttle bus stopping at every hotel and bed and breakfast on a set route. Fall was upon the regain and my thinned out Florida blood was very cold in the mornings and nights. Like a lizard, I tried to stay in the sun. The city center was about fifteen minutes from the airport. By the times we make our twists and turnarounds with the drop-offs it took another twenty to thirty minutes to get to my hostel.  The next morning I started off before the sun to catch the sunrise at the docks. A brisk fifteen-minute walk as I watched the world wake up on the way.

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The Tasman Peninsula

The great Tasman Sea off the coast of Tasmania, Australia.

This seemingly small looking bird is an albatross skimming the surface of the deep blue Tasmania Sea. With a wing span of around ten feet these sea birds can soar anywhere for hundreds of miles. There are 21 different kinds found in Tasmania. You would think they would be everywhere but two hours on a boat off the coast and the rest of the day off shore this is the only photo I have of this amazing bird. Tasmania was full of happy surprises like capturing this albatross in flight. I planned a trip for the rugged cost of the island by boat to see the shear wall of rock.

The color of the water here was just amazing. The sea felt so big and our speed boat so small, it felt like the sea was going to swallow us up. What an amazing feeling out on the ocean, in the sunshine with the sea spray coming over the sides and draining back out again. When I started setting in Hobart area I booked a Bruny Island boat Tour with Pennicott Journeys. I have many nice things to say about the overall experience. It was just what i wanted to get out and see all rolled into a package tour with all the driving and meals included. I arrived at the harbor before the people working there had arrived to unlock the doors. I wanted to catch the sunrise over the docks and it was worth the cold morning walk from the hostel. Eventually checking in and loading on a bus headed out to the water. I boarded one of two boats heading out. There were over-sized ponchos left on the seats for all the guest to wear over our clothes. I wore extra layers because of their warning of how cold it could get out there. After putting on the poncho I was over-warm with the mid-morning sun beating down on me. The caption the few other crew member were very knowledgeable about the area and the animals that would fly or swim by. The cliffs of the coast are so dramatic. I am so glad I went on this tour to see the coast from the view of the water. The few hour tours took us around to Port Arthur where the tour continued lunch at  Port Arthur historical site.