Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vienna waits for you

Hello hello,

In my efforts to try and catch my blog life back up to my real life, I'm writing this late night post about last weekends adventure to Vienna, Austria, before I set off on this weekend's trip to ROMA. As of now the videos can't be posted, but I'll get them up next week when I come home (there's only a few). Meanwhile, here's the usual photostream (this is my 3rd flikr account because I've gone over my limit on two others...I hope that's allowed).

So Vienna. Let me just say first that overnight trains when you're not in a sleeping car are mildly uncomfortable and awkward, though our way there was exponentially better than the trip home with an awkward Italian woman with zero concept of personal space, but that's neither here nor there.

We arrived in Vienna in early morning, waited to check into our hostel, got settles, and set out to explore the gorgeous new place we were in. The city is soooo different from Florence, epsecially because it's Baroque and much newer of a city. The architecture was amazing and we admired it on every street. Our first stop was the main market in Vienna, a long street full of vendors selling everything from fruits and veggies to hot punch and fallafels with hummus (SO GOOD).

Afterwards, we trekked into the main part of the city and saw the sights from the outside. We saw the opera house, the buildings and gardins of the Hoffburg, Parliament, the University, and even spent way too long staring at dogs in a field where they were all playing. Our next stop was perhaps the best discovery of the day: the Christmas markets in the square of town hall, set to open the next day! The town hall was decorated to be a giant Advent Callender and there were lights and treats and Christmasy things everywhere. I have a video from there when we went back the next night, so look for that in my next post.

After grabbing a delicious dinner off one of the smaller plazas near the main one, Steohansplatz (home to St. Stephen's Cathedral), we headed back to the hostel to change clothing for the evening's excursion. Before leaving Florence, we booked 8 euro tickets to SWAN LAKE at the Statsoper, the main Viennese Opera house. You can only imagine how excited we were to see the ballet in the country where it's so famous. Little did we know that our "restricted view" seating was going to mean no view at all. But, we accepted that we payed only 8 euro, and stood on our chairs craning to see the whole night. I didn't mind, it was a beautiful performance and there will also be a video of that in the future. We then headed home and turned in for the night, excited for another day in this very different city.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed away from the center of town towards Schonbrunn palace, home to the Hapsburg dynasty, where Marie Antoinette came from. We got free audio guides with our tickets and I can honestly say I had a blast touring the palace and learning everything about the rooms I was in and the history of the empirial family. We even stood in a room where the 4 year old Mozart held his first concert for the royal family. I mean, cool. We also took time to tour the gardens behind the palace and get some great fresh, cool air. OH, side note: Austria tap water comes straight from the Alps and is so delicious!

After the palace, on the way back to the center, we stopped at the main cemetary and hunted down the graves of Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and the Strauss family. It was a really interesting side trip and I really enjoyed switching the scene from art to music for a while. For the rest of the early evening we mulled around the city, visiting some of the same buildings we had seen, but at night, and also stopping at Mozart's house and the Hollocaust Memorial. Then it was time for the good stuff: Christmas Markets!

We trekked to another part of the city to the Spittleburg markets, the oldest and best ones in Vienna. There we browsed, enjoyed ourselves, and ate amazing potato pancakes and soft pretzels. By the way, 75% of the money I spent on this trip went to various foods and treats because it's all so good. Anyway, when we were done there, we went back to the City Hall markets and had a blast there as well. I got Apple Strudel (which I had for breakfast the next morning) and we got some more hot punch in gift mugs! It was really great to be able to get into the Christmas spirit already!

We awoke Sunday with most of the day left to spend before our trip home, and only two objectives: Prater and Churches. The Prater is an old amusement park on the outskirts of the city center. It's home to what we were told is the world's oldest Ferris Wheel, which gives views of the entire city around it. Of course, we took the gorgeous ferris wheel to the top and enjoyed the view. Afterwards, we headed to St. Stephen's Cathedral to enjoy a non-renaisance church, and also saw another smaller, but extremely extravagant, church. Then it was time to head back to the hostel, prep for departure, and head back home to Florence.

I had an amazing time in Vienna, and can't wait to return to Autria in a few weeks when I take a trip to Munich and Salzburg (Sound of Music Tour!!!) Anyway, like I said, we're finally going to Rome tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited, especially since I get to see Eliza, my friend from SMC. So I've got to get to bed and prep for an early departure (yuck!) but check back after the weekend for some new stories and photos and such.


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