26 April 2011
We arrived to the train station quite a bit before our train left so we got to hang out in the Prague train station for a few hours before boarding our train (which had Hogwarts Express-style compartments). We arrived in Vienna in the mid-afternoon and got to our hostel, Wombat City Hostel, to check in and get settled. It was a very nice hostel, definitely aimed at college students, complete with laundry facilities, breakfast bar, and the WomBar, which had signs boasting “Happy Hour 6-8pm! Beer one f***ing euro!” We ate dinner and had a few drinks at the hostel then headed to bed to be well-rested for our first full day in Vienna.
27 April 2011
We got to sleep in for the first time all break, and after breakfast headed out to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs, and childhood home of Marie Antoinette.
We explored the extensive gardens, navigated ourselves through a hedge maze, and viewed the privy garden before touring the royal apartments inside the palace and learning the history of members of the royal family and the emperors of the Austro-Hungarian and Holy Roman Empires. We also saw a demonstration of the royal bakers making their famous apple strudel, which is delicious in case you were wondering.
After Schönbrunn I went with Kelsey and Libby to see St. Stephen’s Dome, the massive cathedral in city center. It’s still a Catholic cathedral, which is actually pretty rare in a lot of places around Europe, and was very pretty on the inside.
For dinner, we went to a traditional Austrian restaurant recommended in Libby’s guidebook and tried the famous Wiener Schnitzel, which is fried pork, turkey, or veal, served with lemon and German potato salad.
28 April 2011
We slept in a little bit again and after breakfast Kelsey, Libby, and I took the U-Bahn into city center to see Hofburg Palace, the Hapsburg’s city residence. Much of the palace is dedicated to the extensive silver and dining ware collections, as well as the Sisi Museum, which chronicles the life of the Empress Elisabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Josef. There was also a tour of the royal apartments. It was a bit redundant having been to Schönbrunn the day before, but it was still a very interesting look at the Hapsburgs. From Hofburg we went to the Parliament building for a tour, only to discover it was closed for session, and wouldn’t reopen until the following week.
We got lunch from a street vendor (amazing bratwurst hot dogs served in a mini baguette) and dessert from a nearby gelateria, before walking to the World War II memorial, and taking the tram out to the Zentral Cemetery, the final resting place of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Strauss, and the memorial to Mozart (who rests in a mass grave in another cemetery). We went back to the hostel and met Anders for dinner and drinks, then packed and got to bed early. Tomorrow would be spent traveling all day to Rome!