May 22 - May 25, 2013
Wednesday, May 22nd
The train to Vienna was over five hours, so I squeezed in a really nice nap and accidentally woke myself up with a loud snore. How embarrassing. From Vienna Meidling station, we figured out which three undergrounds would get us to our hotel and it was easy breezy from there. We arrived at night, so we just dropped our luggage off and went in search of dinner. We ate at an Italian place down the street from the Hilton next to a very pretentious Old American couple. Welcome to Vienna! The whole city made me feel underdressed and small.
Thursday, May 23rd
The next morning started off very smoothly. It was actually one of the best parts of the trip. We bought a 24 hour transportation pass and took the tram to a museum called the Belvedere. This is now one of my favorite museums. Not too big but not to small. A beautiful mix of modern style with old elegance. Art that doesn't take itself too seriously. I'll show you what I mean. I got yelled at in German for taking some of these, so the stakes were high. Gustavo Klimt is my favorite artists and this museum held some if his best work including "The Kiss". I even adopted some new favorites by him including "Girlfriends". They also had a really funny room filled with busts of men making strange faces. It's a hard place to describe, but it was eclectic and simple at the same time and it was everything I want in a museum. Plus, it was surrounded by a lovely garden.
After I was able to drag myself away from the Upper Belvedere, we took the tram to Karlplatz and went inside a church we happened to find there. It had some monumental pillars on the outside and the inside was equally beautiful. They had set up scaffolding inside the middle of the church for repairs it looked like, but they let us climb them to the very top dome of the church! It was a lovely surprise. From the church, we walked to the center of town called Stephansplatz. This city is huge, so walking anywhere is an event. All around Stephansplatz is a really cool shopping area and there are little kiosks along the bottom of the huge church. We sat down for some pizza to recover fom the walk. After lunch, we went inside Stephan's church to find brilliant colors everywhere. The stained glass windows were reflecting beautiful colors all over the stone walls of the church. I'll let he photos do the talking here.
We worked up an appetite from a long day of walking and my dad really wanted to try some schnitzel (and his German pronunciation), so we went back into the center of the city to try out a famous place called Figlmüller. There was a massive crowd waiting to get in and he turned them all away except us, whom he told to come back in 30 minutes. So we left and went to browse the kiosks near the church again where I found some really cool rings. I'm hoping to find a ring in every city as a souvenir. They're such a great, small, wearable reminder of the places you've been and the good times you've had. And they're good to prevent myself from buying giant souvenirs that I will never use (like the Easter island head replica I bought in Amsterdam). We walked around a bunch more before going back to the restaurant. We were expecting to be blown off and we were waiting in another large crowd of hungry tourists when we hear "Ah Mr. Bennett come here, your table is ready." My dad was feeling pretty impressive at that point. We had a really nice dinner and caught a tram back to the hotel for bed.
Friday, May 24th
We headed to the outskirts of the city early to see a place called the Schönbrunn palace. We didn't feel like taking a really long tour, so we walked around the massive gardens. We found some fake ancient roman ruins (like a decoration you would put in a fish bowl) and we walked all the way to the top of a big hill to a building called the Gloriette, where we had an amazing view of the city. I got to see some friends of mine on our way out of the palace. My dad found a vegetarian restaurant that wasn't too far from the palace. It was definitely in a weird area of town where there were barely any people and very little English, but it was a cute little place tucked into some bushes haha. It was a little hideout and it was so good.
We headed back into the center of town. We happened to be in Vienna for the Long Night of the Churches, where all the churches in the city have something going on until around 1 AM. We peaked into four or five churches just as performances were ending. The most spectacular thing we saw that night was a man slack lining between the spires of the Stephan's church. We explored the streets around the church a little more and found a cool clock similar to the one in Prague. We also found (with the help of tripadvisor) a really trendy restaurant that had delicious food and so many vegetarian options! That's hard to come by. We headed back to the hotel after that.
Saturday, May 25th
We started our morning with an outdoor market called the Naschmarkt on our last day in Vienna. I got myself some chocolate covered strawberries, my dad got some dried fruit and baklava, and we got my mom some wasabi peas. We had enough time to walk the length of the market twice before heading into the city center. The lady who I had bought my rings from said she would make me a custom ring, so we went by in the morning to pick it up. After that, we had to swing back by the hotel to pick up our things and catch the train to Budapest.