From the Archives: Kahlenberg, Vienna

September 29, 2012

In honor of the one-year anniversary of my trip to Vienna and Prague (mostly because I cannot believe it’s been a year), I decided to pull out some of my favorite memories of the two-week adventure.

A friend of mine and I stayed with another friend at her flat in Vienna, and she had insisted that we not leave the city at the end of the week without hiking at Kahlenberg. So, despite the gloomy, rainy (but warm) weather, we took a tram and a bus up into the hills and did just that. Here’s an excerpt from my blog last September:

I was excited about the prospect for two reasons: 1) it sounded fun and I like hikes, and 2) I wanted to run through an Austrian mountain meadow and sing “the hills are alive with the sound of music.”

Because I LIKE that movie, and I have always wanted to do what Maria does ever since I was little girl. OKAY?

Kristin wanted to take us to a proper “heurigen” – a buffet-style vineyard restaurant where they cook the food you pick fresh while you sip their homegrown wine.

The one we found was unfortunately touristy, with no vineyard in sight, but the food was delicious. We all split “spieรŸ” (in English, we know them as ‘kabobs’) with fresh beef, pork, and turkey, vegetables, and potatoes on the side. The heurigen was set away, up a cobblestone path on a hill, and tables and chairs were set under trees. I thought it was perfect, until we saw more authentic heurigens later on in the afternoon – and then I understood what Kristin meant by ours being touristy.

We continued by bus up the hill until we reached the peak, and enjoyed a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the Danube River – and despite the clouds (only two seconds of a break of sun), it took my breath away.

Then we began the hike – remember that I was on the lookout for a proper meadow where I could “frolic”. Ester and Kristin threatened to leave me stranded there if I started singing, but I was determined. I found one PERFECT meadow about ten minutes into the walk, but just as I was preparing to bounce away into a singing spin, I spotted people sitting on a bench under the trees nearby…and they just might have thought I was completely insane.

I was also saddened to learn the most Europeans don’t know about The Sound of Music. Kristin and her coworker Birgit told me last night that they had never even heard of it until the Americans visit and talk about it. I argued, in shocked denial, that they must at least know of the Von Trapp family. They said they’ve merely heard the name and have no idea what they did!

This is when being an American is a slightly rude awakening. You think the world is one way (where everyone on the planet knows Julie Andrews was Fraulein Maria and fell in love with Christopher Plummer who was Captain Von Trapp), and then you find out it’s really another (where not everyone on the planet knows that, and thinks you’re a complete mental case when you claim that the hills are alive.)

So we moved on, walking through beautiful woods and lush green grass, listening to the birds in the trees and watching squirrels jump from branch to branch. Then the woods broke, and we were walking through the vineyards, wide open hills and dirt paths with nothing but open sky above us, the view of the city and the river around every corner, as we got closer and closer to them.

It was strange, seeing the tightly packed buildings stretching out for miles, knowing the hustle and bustle of people, cars, busses, and subway trains that were taking place just below us….while we walked in a silent, peaceful, glorious fantasy world.

When I finally found a meadow, the grass was half-dead and a vineyard was right next to it, but it was my last chance. So I ‘frolicked’ into the depths of the meadow and spun, while my friends shook their heads (but consented to take pictures.) We took one with the open sky behind me, which I like better, and one with Vienna behind me…reminding me that this one was simply makeshift, and I WILL frolic in the Alpine meadows one day.

But for now, I have enjoyed a lovely afternoon spent in the Viennese hills, and it will probably become one of my favorite travel memories.

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