According to the map we received from our hostel Vienna “was a cold, expensive, boring city for geriatrics and classical music weirdos alike.” I actually disagree, especially after visiting; I feel like Vienna has a very strong youth culture, it is not overloaded with old people or music enthusiasts (assuming by music enthusiast I specifically mean classical…modern music is huge in Vienna). I guess to be fair though, we did visit in the winter and I am sure the cold does keep the old people at bay somewhat, but from what I could tell Vienna was overflowing with youth.
After a bit of consternation and conflict hunting for our hostel we found it and settled in (first hostel ever that had a sink in it, huge luxury!!!). The man working the front desk recommended a Turkish restaurant around the corner so we spent our first hours in Vienna eating the most fantastic Turkish food. I still cannot really describe what we ate or how awesome it was, so just take my word for it: yum.
We woke bright and early the next morning and wandered up a major shopping street searching for the perfect boots. The then went on to investigate the Kunsthistorisches Museum: a place I have heard about frequently from my adorable Czech history teacher. I was sadly disappointed by their Vermeer room because by “room” they meant “one painting in a room filled with other artists that are similar to Vermeer but not.” I did enjoy picking out paintings that we had discussed in class though, such as Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings of men as fruits, vegetables, leaves and other such inanimate objects. Similarly to the gallery in Dresden though, it is easy to get overwhelmed by how many paintings there are and descriptions of each and every one. Personally I cannot handle more than one museum a day because of the energy drain they impose on me. After re-energizing we set out again (with a constant eye out for some boots).
We learned from and information center that the transportation tickets we had bought we useless as they would not come into effect until Monday, the day after we left. We replaced them easily enough with 24-hour tickets for the next day. We had a lovely traditional Austrian meal of Schnitzel and fries (well I did at least) at another restaurant near our hostel then tumbled into bed.
For our second morning we walked to the near-ish Schoenbrunn Schloss where many a Hapsburg has lived in the past. The castle was much more modern than the ones we have been seeing in Prague. It was probably built in the late 18th century at the latest…(ha watch me be sooo far off). The rooms inside are beautiful ornate. Naturally everything was roped off so we could not explore too far. It has housed such Hapsburgs as: Maria Theresa, Marie Antoinette, Franz Joseph and his not-so-adoring wife Sisi. Sisi was much beloved by the people, or at least is now. An entire wing of the palace is devoted to her in spite of the fact that she did not spend much time there; instead she preferred to hide from her adoring husband in France. Sisi did not appreciate being married off at the age of 15 to her cousin for political reasons. I understand that now this complaint is perfectly valid, but back then there was no marriage for love…it was all for political or monetary gain so her complaint then…not so valid. She was also incredibly anorexic and vain (her ankle-length hair took at least two hours of every day for her maids to manage). I am presenting Sisi in a very unfair light I am sure, especially compared to how lovingly the exhibits at the castle spoke of her. Honestly though I just see her as incredibly whiney and not at all like the Princess Di figure that she has been compared to. She was very beautiful and had an incredible wardrobe and to have a mother-in-law like Maria Theresa would have been a terrific strain on anyone.
We returned to the town center with our newly purchased and actually valid transportation passes then used them to ride the Ring tram around Vienna’s city center. Ring Tram: definitely a touristy thing to do. They do provide a nice audio tour though and it is kind of a nice way to see the city. From there we ventured over to Vienna’s giant Ferris wheel. From what I could tell from the dioramas inside the wheel was built before and survived both world wars. It was one of the highest in Europe but is now more than matched by London’s Eye. Still, another fun way to see the city.
Vienna is well-known for its Christmas markets which begin halfway through November. We very luckily happened to be in there for the opening weekend of the Christmas markets. There was a tree-lighting ceremony and booths loaded with all sorts of Viennese goodies from Christmas punch to handmade Christmas ornaments. We had dinner, drinks and dessert (cotton candy!!! I am such a small child…) at the market before wandering off.
After getting lost hunting for an interactive music museum recommended to us by the tourist information center we returned to our hostel.
A longer breakfast than intended left us running late for our bus we had to rush to the bus stop with no tourist gift purchases. Very sad, no shot glass for Ashley, but no matter. Roommates are going there soon.