Hannah Silvia is a student at the Charleston Southern University and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in London, England.
To say we woke up before the sun was an understatement. Rather, we journeyed to the airport in London, hopped on a plane, and greeted the sunrise peaking over snow-capped Alps in Austria. As the plane touched down in Salzburg, I wondered how we would ever take in an entire city in one weekend.
Walking from the airport on a foggy morning led us to the Airbnb, a cozy studio flat with a loft. The host left chocolates and helped with any questions throughout the weekend. He even had a neighbor print our return flight boarding passes since we were unable to. This warm welcome into Salzburg made all the difference to us.
My friends and I escaped the fast-paced life of London to a different kind of urgency to take in the picturesque landscape around us. We tried Wiener Schnitzel Viennese style (with jam and a lemon slice) and shopped around a market. We saw Salzburg through the eyes of The Sound of Music, visiting film locations from my favorite musical as a child (which isn’t well-known to most Austrians, we found). And we explored a fortress with QUITE the view over lunch. Dinner was at a restaurant on a houseboat, where we befriended locals.
The last day consisted of spontaneously hiking to Germany literally from our Airbnb. The ten miles wore straight through the soles of my boots. At the mountaintop sat an old church and restaurant, where everyone spoke only German. I kicked towards the sky on a swing overlooking Salzburg and reenacted The Sound of Music’s opening scene where Maria throws her arms out and sings freely. We hiked back across the border to the Airbnb just in time to pack and head home to London.
If you’re studying abroad, take every opportunity to head somewhere new. Here’s some points I have found useful:
1. Just get on a plane and go. (Sort of.)
Book the flight first and then the accommodation. Tours early on in the trip help get your footing of the area and tour guides are a great resource for all things, well, touristy. Research what you want to see and try to stay near there if public transportation isn’t as available. Opting for Airbnbs are also the way to go. A lot of them are cozy and affordable.
2. Be a tourist.
You’re never “too cool” to reenact movie scenes or pose in front of a British telephone booth because “everyone’s done that.”
3. Don’t let language barriers keep you from doing anything.
Especially things like ordering apple strudel on top of a mountain.
4. Not every minute traveling must be spent doing something.
A movie night in the loft complete with a pile of pillows and blankets taught me that. Simply being away from a dorm was a vacation itself, which we explained to the locals in Salzburg who asked why we ever left the hustle and bustle of London.
5. Overcome slight obstacles by seeing the beauty around you.
Our bus randomly stopped in the middle of the route back to the Airbnb, causing slight panic initially. However, walking down a road winding through countryside, I realized it was my first time in two months seeing a sky freckled with stars.
While weekends are so short, with the right amount of planning (not too much or too little) any getaway can be so profitable. Traveling down roads carved through the Alps in Mondsee on The Sound of Music tour, we sang along with Maria that “I’ve always longed for adventure, to do the things I’ve never dared.” While we didn’t exactly climb every mountain in Salzburg, we gathered enough priceless stories to carry with us for a lifetime.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.