Arwa Mamaji’s adventure travel with her toddler
Of Apple Strudel and Schnitzel with Potatoes!
Among my daughter’s favourite things is the song “Do Re Mi”. This song works like magic when you want her to shake a leg, eat her meal or pacify her when she cries. We decided to expose her to the culture and milieu of the film ‘The Sound of Music’ and that took us to Austria.
Another good entry point into Austria is Robert Seether’s “The Tobacconist”. A novel is based 1937 when Germany is about to annex Austria. The book makes references to how the lives of common people, such as the protagonist Franz, changed irredeemably due to the event. The book also makes reference to Sigmund Freud, who was exiled on account of the Jews being under attack. Using the book as the backdrop of our expectation, we landed at Vienna airport. We decided to leave one of our suitcases in an airport locker
so we could be more mobile, hopping in and out of trains, buses and trams with one stroller and one suitcase.
We tailor-made our trip based on my daughter’s routine. We decided to soak in Vienna for two nights, then travel to Innsbruck, and finally spend a relaxing week in a quaint Salzburg neighbourhood.
We booked a small studio apartment in one of the quiet bylanes of Mariahilfer Strasee, which gave us the flexibility to prepare meals for my daughter. This area of Vienna has been home to Beethoven, Mozart and Franz, the protagonist of the book mentioned earlier.
The walls are oozing with history in Vienna, and everywhere you look, there is a museum or a palace. Two days is too short to do justice and absorb everything. Add a baby in a stroller to this dynamic, and it seems an impossiblity. However, there was just enough time to sit and have some yummy goulash and apple strudel in a quaint café, and soak in the vibe in the city centre.
When in Vienna for a short while, it is imperative that you be selective and organised. We decided to take the tourist hop-on-hop-off bus and get an orientation of the city. We visited Prater, an age-old amusement park, Sigmund Freud’s home, and took a guided walking tour in the city centre the next day.
Vienna has the largest collection of Klimt, and his famous work ‘The Kiss’ has been reproduced on every souvenir you can imagine. But my daughter had a preference for the outdoors, so we had to skip seeing the real painting. I wish to return to Vienna some day and get “Klimtosised”, I mean hypnotised by Klimt when my daughter is at an age where she can also enjoy his work.
To immerse oneself in Vienna and suck the marrow from it would take a lifetime, but from the brim, I loved what I saw.
Our next stop was the idyllic Innsbruck. In this town, right out of a fairytale. there are many things to see and do. But what we enjoyed the most was our aimless ambling around the old town, and getting lost in the back alleys. My daughter enjoyed being out in the open and meeting people around the squares. She danced to the tunes of street musicians, and smeared ice cream all over her face and clothes!
We indulged in a day tour to the Swarovski gallery. The gallery
has many spectacular artworks displayed by various international artists and a huge play tower for children. This worked well as my daughter slept through the gallery visit, and woke up in time for the play tower.
Our next stop was Salzburg. We planned to stay here for a week and I had two things on my wish list. One was the Sound of Music film tour and the other was to discover a little more about Mozart and his life.
The Sound of Music tour was a riveting experience. We boarded a bus in the afternoon, that took us to all the locations where the film was shot, while an interesting host dished out snippets about every scene in the film. This also gave us the opportunity to visit the city and its outskirts. We sang all the songs in the bus as a group, and my daughter enjoyed humming along. We also discovered that schnitzel is never eaten with noodles as in the song My Favourite Things. It is, on the other hand, accompanied with mashed potatoes. That’s how the Austrians like it.
Interestingly for us, the original Trapp house where the Von trap family lived, was a stone throw away from where we stayed--the Schloss Aigen neighbourhood. You cannot leave Salzburg without a slice of Mozart, though it is believed that he did not like being in his hometown as much as in Vienna. We picked his house, which is now a museum, to get a little insight into his life.
As for my daughter, she enjoyed being in Schloss Aigen, which is a fifteen minutes bus ride from the city centre. She enjoyed the long walks in the woods, and splashing away in the small streams. She loved picking pebbles and watching the sky for paragliders. As a family, our fondest memories of Austria would be sleeping supine on the grass, staring upwards, and watching gliders fall from the sky like stars.
Arwa Mamaji is a traveller. After her daughter was born, she changed gears to live slightly off centre. She is a filmmaker and writer and, runs a blog called postcardsfromamama. wordpress.com. She loves black and white photographs, is most comfortable in running shoes and is stingy about cleanliness. She is always looking out for new ideas for great stories and is truly, madly, and utterly in love with cinema.