Austria | Salzburg

Love Padlocks

By on September 20, 2012
lovelocks, Love Padlocks
Still starting to fill up – Salzburg bridge

You’ve probably seen such rails, walls or lamp posts with padlocks somewhere else; in a distant city or at the bridge a few steps from where you live. It could be much more than what’s pictured above or there could be totally no place to put on another. No matter, these padlocks of love  are everywhere and represent couples, travelling together (though not always) – fastening their love for each other.

I don’t really know how it started but that’s supposedly the idea behind the locking but yes you’ll see them in Paris, Tokyo, Budapest, Pecs, Rome, in Taiwan and in this case, Salzburg. The couples would place their lock then either throw away the keys – so that there’s no way those locks could be opened – signifying staying together always or they could deposit it somewhere…but what if they come back and decide to call it quits? Hopefully not!

love padlocks, locks of love
I think red and blue are standouts.

To make these padlocks more personal, couples write down their names or initials before locking them in. Personally, I think it’s sweet but many would say that it’s just defiling what is supposedly a free from junk surrounding. Though it’s probably a city’s local officials that would get annoyed with this practice. So much so that some have purposely built iron trees for this purpose.

There are also superstitions following the love padlocks attachment…to which I of course just shrug my shoulders. What matters is, there are two people in love who decided to join others in that state to declare their love with the help of such metal security device as…the padlock.

locks, handcuff
Fancy a handcuff?


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Austria | Salzburg

Salzburg’s Version of the Cycle Rickshaw

By on September 10, 2012

I’m all for something new. When traveling, I am awed by the sights, I get enamored by the picturesque, I get enchanted with the bizarre and I would probably try the extreme if I’m not a born scaredy cat. But what I do most when traveling is look for what’s familiar, whatever would remind me of home. You might say that’s impossible, Asia and Europe are very dissimilar what could I perhaps find? Well, here’s one – I found Salzburg’s version of the Pedicab or cycle rickshaw or bike taxi.

flower power

Being a small-scale means of transport, these tricycles are only meant for touring. Unlike in Asian countries where it functions as a means to transport goods and passengers. In Salzburg, it is only a means of entertainment. You get to tour around the historical city (or part of) in a personal pedal-driven sort of carriage. ^_^

Did I try it? No, cheapskate me would rather walk than spend a precious 19€ for a 20-25 minute ride. Other price ranges include 39€ for 35-45 minutes, 45€ for 40-50 minutes and 55€ for a full hour.


Looking closely, this rickshaw has a different make than the usual ones I see. The bike/driver seat is behind the passenger seat when I’m used to those where the passenger seats are located beside the driver. Such design makes it easier for the passenger to see everything as there are no distractions in front or beside them. There are of course a lot more different designs and there are even those that are electrically-powered.

So how do rickshaws look in your part of the world? I’m really curious. Here’s how we roll in Vienna, rickshaw style:

rickshaw tricycle
red, Germany has these too as most in the region

And this is how a tricycle in a far-flung town in the Philippines would be like…well, not always but, for the sake of posterity here’s how a fully-packed tricycle looks.


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Austria | Featured | Salzburg

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg

By on September 6, 2012
lawn flowers
mirabell gardens
Entrance, little boy and Papagena fountain behind him

What’s more appropriate to do in Salzburg than visit the special locations it’s famous for? Aside from being the birthplace of music genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg became known for the film musical The Sound of Music which brought us the songs “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, and “The Lonely Goatherd.” Salzburg tourism capitalizes on this fact and many tours were arranged for visitors to exclusively see the locations that were highlighted in the movie. Such tours start by the Mirabell Palace which explains why there are buses parked outside.The Mirabell Gardens and Palace was where Maria and the kids were singing

We opted to go impromptu, walking as we please and because we arrived a little late (travel from Vienna took almost 3 hours). We were visiting along with a friend, a writer for the Philippine Star (I do hope he wrote niceties about Salzburg and Vienna).

From the entrance, one can already have a feel of how impressive the geometrically-arranged Mirabell garden would be.

mirabell palace and gardens
Mirabell Palace

Passing through a small garden, one would be welcomed into a bigger lawn. Flower beds carefully laid out, walls covered with vines, benches here and there, Roman statues and stone flower vases lined up, fountain features and an arbor to walk through when the scorching sun is up enchanted the photobug in me.

The palace is comparably small to other palaces and castles I’ve seen or perhaps that was just an impression as we never actually got in. :/ I truly blame having to arrive so late. But, as most palaces in Austria, the Mirabell is of Baroque style.

arbor (side of) and passageway
museum mirabell gardens
Baroque museum by the garden
garden and arbor seen from the second floor of the Salzburg Baroque Museum

I was able to visit the the Salzburg Baroque museum which was at the southern wing of the orangerie. It was relatively small, 2 storeys but they have awesome sketches that the kids and I were able to view hurriedly. It was prohibited to take photos inside so I just took photos from inside of the view outside the window. The museum holds drawings and paintings by Rubens, Bernini and Algardi, but also Cortona, the local hero Rottmayr, Altomonte,, Tiepolo, the Guardis, and Maulbertsch among others. Art enthusiasts would be happy going about and savor each on display, as mentioned the museum is “small.”

If you’ve watched the Sound of Music, you’re definitely familiar with the scenes here, if not, go ahead and squeeze it into your schedule…it’s never too late to watch a classic Julie Andrews film, you’ll probably find yourself singing to one of its catchy tunes.

fountain at the middle of the garden
exit –


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Austria | Ski Holidays | Vienna

Why Vienna is Worth Visiting come Winter

By on August 24, 2012
umbrella snow vienna
Red Umbrella. All photos mine, unless otherwise stated.

To some, travelling to another city almost happens in summer, in spring, or autumn. To those in countries experiencing winter, many would opt for a vacation to equatorial countries and territories as a means of escape from the cold. When you hear “winter travel” you think of snow and gloomy skies, that equates to being bored and lazy. Winter sports enthusiasts though would definitely maximize the short span of time they can enjoy skiing, snowboarding and such.

Austria along with its neighbouring countries are a popular winter destination. But if you are in doubt of coming over for some ice, here are a number of reasons why you should take advantage of a Vienna winter tour.

1. Shopping. Winter inventory sales offer customers discounts upto 70% off on items- making shopping twice the fun. The Mariahilferstrasse and the Kärtnerstrasse are two of the famous shopping streets (Strassen) in Vienna. These streets are lined up with shops and boutiques of international and local brands offering all kinds of clothing, accessories and other items. What’s best is…the items on sale are not only for the winter season, you get discounted products for spring and summer use too.

2. Have some winter street-food and glühwein (mulled wine) in a glowing, elegant street at night. You know those cookie cans you received from a relative abroad depicting a snowy night, snow-laden windows and pine trees? That’s how Vienna is in winter…well, almost. The wonderful smell of Kartofelpuffer  (hash browns), geröstete Maronen ( roasted chestnuts), Langos (flat bread) and sweets would make you enjoy the the night markets all-over the city. These are especially available only in winter. Though you can cook them at home in a different season, the experience of having to eat them while walking around Vienna in a cool evening is priceless.

3. Coffee. The best time to enjoy Vienna’s famous coffee shops and their offerings is in winter! Vienna is sometimes nicknamed the capital of coffee  and cakes. The words (and names) Melange, Julius Meinl, Demel, Hawelka, Frauenhuber, Gerstner and Bräunerhof would definitely stir your thoughts of aromatic coffee. (No pun intended.) Sip yours along with the famous sacher torte, mohr im hemd or apfelstrudel while listening to Mozart at one of those famous cafes.

My kids by the frozen lake, the Danube.

4. Frozen lakes. When the weather gets below -10°, the lakes around Vienna and parts of Austria get frozen. Most of these are opened to the public for outdoor ice skating especially parts of the historical Danube. Don’t worry though since the city governments would make sure that it is safe to skate, that the area for skating are smooth enough and there are a number of safeguard personnels in the area.

5. Ski Resorts. Switzerland and France may hold the edge when it comes to alpine terrains, both would be first choices for seasoned skiers. Austria lag behind in this depertment but with better services, worth your money experience, lift systems – Austria’s ski resorts would fare well. Though Vienna doesn’t have a ski resort, head to a number of resorts worth visiting as St.Anton, Sölden, Kitzbühel, Unterberg, Innsbruck and more – just a few hours away from Vienna. You can even find one suitable for the whole family with activities suited for kids and adults. If snowboarding, skiing isn’t your thing, you can always build a snowman with the kids with all the snow around.

Unterberg, photo by hubby

6. Visit the Markets. Vienna along with a number of German cities is a popular December destination. Why not? The city sets decorations as early as the start of November; real pine trees with colored, shiny balls, giant chandeliers hanging at the city center and snow (for as long as their white) gives you a real feeling of the romantic movies Serendipity and Love Actually. Such markets have become increasingly popular throughout the years. Most popular among the season’s markets is the one at Vienna’s Rathaus, the building that serves as the mayor’s seat along with his council.

The market tradition started 700 years ago and it still as charming to locals and tourists then and now. The Rathaus’ front lawn, which serves many purposes, is erected with stalls selling trinkets, goodies, books and other stuff for children and adult.

Winter night market stand selling sweets.
rathaus at night
Rathaus at night
rathaus lawn winter, vienna
My boys at the outdoor rink.

 7. Wiener Eistraum. After the markets come Vienna’s Viennese Ice dream (literally translated) or Wiener Eistraum. The same lawn at the Rathaus becomes a giant ice skating rink come January until March and kids enjoy discounted entrance tickets to skate outdoors and in front of the historic building too. There are also stalls selling traditional Viennese treats and drinks…Wurst (sausages), Palatschinken (crepes), Knödel (dumplings), hot chocolate, tea and a lot more snacks and whatnots to keep skaters going.

8. Ball and Opera/Concerts. Vienna’s famous Opernball happens in winter (within February 4 and March 10). There are a number more balls happening in the season in the different settings and dates. You can be sure to get a feel of the rich Austrian culture when you attend one.

Concerts, theatre, opera are open all-year round. The Vienna Philharmonic, considered one of the finest orchestras in the world, prides itself of playing pieces composed by fellow Austrians Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss Sr., Johann Strauss Jr., Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert and a lot more. You will also enjoy those  angelic voices in sailor suits, the Vienna Boys’ choir.

Vienna’s top destinations during other seasons are still of importance on a winter vacation. The charm of castles Belvedere, Hofburg and Schönbrunn with snow-laden gardens as if sparkling when some rays of the sun shines on them is such a lovely view. The museums, more than a 100 of them are open and just perfect for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to coat yourself with a warm jacket, snow-ready boots, gloves, scarf and bonnet to enjoy the clean Viennese streets even when it’s full of snow. Here, you get to see the best when…in Vienna you do as the Viennese do, walk.

  canes  crepe nutella

winterspass, burgtheater, red tram, vienna
Burgtheater at night. On red tram – “Winterspass” — means winter fun. 🙂


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Austria | Vienna

5 Reasons to Visit Vienna: Living the Good Life in Austria

By on April 28, 2012
The Vienna Opera House (Staatsoper) taken from the Albertina’s Mezzanine

The grand imperial city that is Vienna stands proud, claiming its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ninth most populous city in the European Union is also one of the most preferred locations for the headquarters, conventions, and events of international organizations. Even as Vienna has retained its old world grandeur, it has kept up with the developments of the modern world. The city has been ranked in global studies as one of the most innovative cities the world over. Not lagging behind are its rankings in terms of the quality of life it provides its residents. There is no wonder that tourists have grown fond of Vienna whenever they want to take a break from their daily grind.

Here are some of the 5 reasons why you should put down Vienna as your next vacation destination:

1. Musical Treat – Vienna is not called as the City of Music for nothing. The best talents in classical music were nurtured in this Austrian capital, some of which are Strauss, Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn. Vienna is also home to world-renowned musical groups like the Vienna Boys Choir and the Wiener Philharmoniker. Music lovers should include the Wiener Musikverein and the Wiener Staatsoper in their itineraries.
Palatschinken/Pancakes served with ice cream, fruits and whipped cream.
Wiener Schnitzel – Veal in bread crumbs served with potato fries.

2. Gustatory Journey – The unique gustatory offerings of Vienna are among the best in the world. Most popular of Viennese cuisine are the Wiener Schnitzel, the Tafelspitz, and the Geröstete Erdäpfel. Of course, no one should forego the Viennese cakes and pastries that provide the perfect crescendo to any meal. Cap your gustatory journey with Vienna’s versions of the hot Apfelstrüdel, Palatschinken/sweet pancakes and Marillen Knödel/apricot filled dumplings. Make it a point too to try out the Sachertorte that the Sacher Hotel is world famous for.

albertina painted stairs, vienna
Painted stairs at the Albertina.

3. Treasure Trove of Art – Vienna is known as one of the major centers of contemporary art what with its extensive collection of works from old masters like Rubens and Raphael. The city boasts of a museum complex where Hofburg’s imperial stables used to be housed. Tourists can visit the Museum of Modern Art, the Belvedere Palace Museum, the Albertina, the Leopold Museum, and the Liechtenstein Palace Museum.


wedding schönbrunn
Be an emperor and empress on your wedding at the Schönbrunn Palace. (My first wedding shoot.)

4. Palaces and Gardens – You will be transported through time with the preserved imperial palaces that are full of interesting stories and artifacts. At the Hofburg Palace are massive tapestries as well as the Schatzkammer which holds priceless imperial jewels and other treasures. The Hofburg Palace is also home to many of the balls held in Vienna throughout the year. Around these palaces and other buildings in the city are vast gardens where tourists can join locals in strolls through the greenery.

Wiener Melange and macaron.


5. Coffee and Company – Viennese cafes trace a tradition of their own, surrounded by legends dating back centuries. Just about every corner of the city has a Kaffeehaus serving up coffee concoctions and perfect pastry pairings. Hanging out at Cafe Diglas, Cafe Pruckel, Demel or any other cafe in Vienna is a great way to enjoy Viennese coffee. One of the must try is the Wiener Melange (German for “Viennese” and French for “Blend”), it is “properly” coffee with milk and is similar to a cappuccino but usually made with mild coffee (e.g. mocha), preferably caramelized. Drop me a note if you happen to be in the city, I’ll treat you to a cup. 😉

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Austria | Drive By | St.Poelten

Driving by to St.Pölten

By on July 23, 2011
siblings, brothers

Taken on our way to St. Pölten – a one-hour train ride from Vienna. During such a trip I let the kids take their portable game consoles and they play. I, on the other hand, would take photos of the scenery outside, especially of the green, brown, yellow fields. — Spring! The lively colors I always love to take photos of.

windy trees

I’m assuming this to be rice paddies…but I could be mistaken…There are times when the fields are yellow and for sure those are mustard. The ride from Vienna to our destination are full of trees too save for some small villages that would appear in the middle of all those greens.

If you haven’t yet, you can contribute your own photos to our Drive By blog. Simply take shots of the scenery or anything outside while you were in a vehicle….that would be fun – including the motion and reflection from inside the vehicle…


Will show more soon.


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