But First, Austria!

Before heading to Beijing at the end of January, my 2012 has begun with a whirlwind introduction to international travel via Austria. I’ve been running around exploring and generally butchering the German language with my boyfriend, Jake, who’s working as an English teacher in Judenburg, Austria. So, before I get to Beijing, here’s a photo recap of my time spent in Austria!

First sunrise on the other side of the Atlantic. Almost to London at this point, on the way to Vienna.
My very first schnitzl! (We split). Still the first and only schnitzl I've had, but I had to try it.
Very first stop in Vienna: Stephansdom, St. Stephans Cathedral - A Vienna landmark and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna.
Karlskirche - St. Charles Church - Built by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, in honor of his namesake saint, Charles Borromeo.
At the top of the Karlskirche ceiling. The church actually has an elevator inside, and then several flights of rickety stairs, for tourists to be able to get to the top of the church.
Jake turning into a Manner zombie. Manner is another thing I was unfamiliar with, but it is apparently a perfectly acceptable obsession here. Justifiably.
The first "meal" I ordered by myself in German! The conversation went something like this. Ströck cashier: "Bitte?" Me: "Um.. eine Croissant und Verlängerten Schwarz..?" Ströck cashier: "...Bitte...?" We got it eventually.
At Schloss Schönbrunn. Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs.
The Gloriette - This structure is across from the palace.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum - Built by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. Right across from the Naturhistorisches Museum, both nearly identical and built across from each other.
I was seriously obsessed with all the ceilings. Some of the museums themselves are even more breathtaking than their contents.
Two guesses what this is. Nope and nope. This is the LIBRARY.
Train leaving Vienna. Hard to capture the landscape outside of the train in photo. Other notable stops in Vienna that I couldn't get any pictures of were: the Globe Museum, the Jewish Museum of Vienna, the Sisi Museum.
To Salzburg! This is a sideview of the Salzburg Cathedral.
One of the main squares in the old city, Kapitelplatz: features large-scale chess, a giant spherical sculpture, and a view of the fortress above.
We visited Hohensalzburg Castle, the fortress from the top of the last picture, and this is the first of many pictures taken on the increasingly ridiculous view on the hike up to it.

A view of Salzburg from the fortress as night falls.
Moving on to the Mirabell gardens.
The cemetery at Nonnberg Abbey, where some of the filming for The Sound of Music happened.
The large chess board near the sculpture at Kapitelplatz.
Everything everyone says about the coffee in Europe is so absolutely correct.
And then to the Czech Republic to visit friends doing the program abroad in Prague! This is one side of the Charles Bridge.
More wandering around Prague at night.
A view of Prague from the site where the statue of Stalin used to stand. It's now home to a metronome statue.

So, just like that my visit to Austria is almost over– we left Judenburg this morning for Vienna, and tomorrow I head to Beijing via Moscow. Sad to leave Austria, but incredibly excited to make it to China. I’m so grateful that I get to explore all of these amazing places!