Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria


Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria

Ah, Belvedere. What would a trip to Vienna be without a promenade around these beautiful gardens? Comprised of two main complexes, the Upper and the Lower, the area also includes a few very lovely gardens. The area surrounding the palace is neatly manicured (in the French style) while the other is far more wild and natural. The oldest sections of the Baroque palace, which date back to 1717 (completed 1723),  was built for Prince Eugene who, like all monarchs, wanted a nice, cozy place to relax outside of his taxing duties of being a prince. Various important people have entered these doors , including Franz Ferdinand, Marie Antoinette’s daughter Marie Thérèse Charlotte, and Maria Theresa, though she never lived here. Instead, she decided it would make a nice place to store the Imperial family’s art collection. After the first world war, the Palace officially became a museum, and was eventually opened to the public. Most people go here to visit a particular piece, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Even though the piece is surely worth your attention, don’t miss the rest of the exhibits, or the architecture, and especially not the gardens–because it is the whole experience that will make your visit special!

Bratislava, Slovakia


Castle Gates in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Bratislava’s main tourism seems to stem from those travelling from Prague to Vienna to Budapest who just happen to stop in the Slovakian capital along their way down the Danube River. It’s a good thing they do. While Bratislava doesn’t compare to its giant neighbors, it still has unexpected beauty and charm. And in the snow, Bratislava becomes fairy tale-esque. These castles gates, blanketed in snow, seem to lead to a magical, misty land reminiscent of Narnia–seemingly leading nowhere while actually going to a beautiful, other-worldly place. In fact, they’re lucky to be here at all, as the castle was destroyed by a fire in 1811 and left in ruins for nearly 200 years. Yet, with the help of the Slovakian government, the gates once again lead to someplace magical–Bratislava Castle, returned to the splendor of the shinning era of Maria Theresa.