Meet all of the international students in Liechtenstein!
Meet all of the international students in Liechtenstein!
Since the other two have been just so entertaining, I guess I should finally disclose details of our last day in Vienna. I must warn you though, while it was great the first two days were filled with much more exciting things so if you aren’t up for some relaxing tales just call it quits now.
Our hostel required us to check out, and by check out I mean be good and gone, by 10 am so as we lethargically woke about 45 minutes before then it was quite the scramble to get 8 people dressed and ready and out the door. Most of us accomplished the task. Memo..not so much, but I guess we will blame it on Princess Rodrigo for taking so long in the shower. (He’s probably going to kill me for that, but most likely he won’t even read this so don’t worry…)
Once we checked out and gained our footing and a plan for the day, Jennifer, Elina, and I headed to the Prater (a famous Viennese “amusement park”) while the others set to look at buildings…ALL DAY. Reminder- they are architects so that is a completely normal daily activity.
Once we grabbed a breakfast at the nearby ice cream shop (yes I had ice cream for breakfast…and?) we caught the closest U-bahn (metro) and arrived at the Prater. For those culture junkies, the Prater is the sight of the famous “Ferris Wheel” and is also known for a scene in an Orson Welles movie “The Third Man”. It was such an interesting place to start off the last morning in Vienna. What was so neat was that most everything was very “USA” themed; however, there was still a touch of foreign flair. They had everything from bumper cars, to roller coaster (ish) rides, to cotton candy stands. Tourguide Kenny had instructed us to not waste time on any of the other rides, and instead go straight to the back of the park and hop on a ride that would give us the best view of Vienna, and boy was he right!
The ride was a set of swings that went straight up (high enough to see the entire city) and swung you around at a completely relaxing speed. Once closer to the ground it sped up almost as if to give its riders their last moment of Vienna in one short turn. We might have…kind of…ok we did break the rules and brought up a camera with us so Jennifer will have some fantastic video in her blogs to come! After the spectacular ride, Jennifer and I decided it was again time to eat, and since the Turkish restaurant was just so darn good the day before that is exactly where we wanted to go again.
Problem was…we didn’t exactly remember the street name, or even what U-bahn stop to get off on. We were determined to find it ourselves so while Tourguide Kenny had offered to meet up with us and take us we refused his offer, merely got the U-bahn stop out of him, and set out hoping our memories wouldn’t serve us wrong. And in case you were wondering…they didn’t! We made it straight to the restaurant without a single hitch. Booyah Tourguide Kenny!
Kenny met us at the restaurant and decided he wanted to take us to his host family’s house for a relaxing evening before we headed back to Vaduz. And relaxing it was. The house he is staying in has such a magnificent location in the hills of Vienna, with a view of the city like no other, and the nicest family one could hope for. His host mother, father, and brother greeted us with something I can only equate to our Southern hospitality. They were so pleased to meet Kenny’s American friends, and would NOT let us leave without eating dinner and dessert!
So after a lovely dinner, a relaxing evening, and a fantastic weekend we parted ways with Kenny and headed to the hostel to meet up with the gang before heading back to the Uni. An 8 hour train ride later and we were back to our home away from home. It is such a strange thing to admit, but while the weekend was more fabulous than I could ask for, I actually missed the mountains! Looking up from the streets and not seeing those snow kissed peaks made me even more grateful for the location I am studying/living. I speak for the 8 of use, when I say the trip was definitely a success and one for the books. Many pictures were taken, many sights seen, and many memories made. Here is to the next weekend getaway!
Five interesting facts (Not all of which are related to the Vienna trip):
2. Multi grain cheerios and chocolate granola (schoko mush) combined is a killer breakfast!
3. Sunbathing in the mountains IS indeed possible. Did I do it? Absolutely.
4. The game Characters is MUCH more difficult with people from all over the world. How am I supposed to know famous soccer players?! Come on.
5. It really is a shame that the US isn’t on the metric system. Communication with people from everywhere else is nearly impossible! Oh and don’t even ask me to tell someone what normal Mississippi temperature is…it takes thirty minutes just to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius!
Ok now that I have you drooling wanting to hear more about our Vienna adventures, I guess I should reveal the details of day number two…
We began our day again in two groups Jennifer and I with Tourguide Kenny and the others with Tourguide Santa. Before meeting up with Kenny, Jennifer and I headed to the Naschmarkt, a street wide flea market with meats, cheeses, other foods, antiques, and a great deal of other things. After roaming around for about an hour we headed to Café Sperl where we were given instructions to meet up with Kenny at 11 am. Well of course we were late, but we made it! (Much to his surprise might I add.) He seemed to have the idea that Jennifer and I were directionally challenged…NO way!)
After a grabbing coffee at a traditional Viennese café we set out for Schloβ Schönbrunn, the former residence of Maria Theresa, a member of the mighty Habsburg family, who ruled over Vienna for hundreds of years. Again, I could launch into a rather lengthy explanation about the Habsburg (a result of Tourguide Kenny’s knowledge), but for fear of miscommunication and time, I will refrain from doing so. Aren’t you lucky…
Anyhow, Schönbrunn was a sight of pure Viennese beauty. (really any beauty for that matter) The palace was encompassed by gardens spanning meters and meters on each side (notice that metric system usage), complete with its own zoo, and buildings of pure grandeur. The palace itself was situated at the foot of a hill with a place called the Gloriette situated along the horizon above.
The Gloriette was the favorite breakfast place of Maria Theresa; I mean naturally who wouldn’t want to start the day off with a breathtaking view of the city? Funny story that Tourguide Kenny mentioned: Apparently Maria Theresa was so fat that walking up the giant hill to the Gloriette was an unthinkable feat, so instead she had her servants carry her to the top and back down every day! Oh and she often got bored, so she had the same servants fetch her lions and tigers from the onsite zoo and have them roam around as she ate breakfast. Talk about luxury!
Unfortunately our servants had the day off, so we had to make the trek up the hill to the Gloriette ourselves. But it was definitely worth it! Surrounded by oodles of fellow tourists, beautiful gardens, and the European air again it was one of those sappy “how lucky am I” moments. But can you really blame me? I didn’t think so.
After our tour of Schloβ Schönbrunn and the Gloriette our stomachs were again begging for attention so we headed to the 16th district (fun fact Vienna is separated into numbered districts) for lunch at one of Kenny’s regular spots. And by “regular” I mean literally every day, if not twice a day. Name? No idea. Good food? YOU BET! It was a traditional Turkish “hole in the wall”, and by traditional I mean not a single word of English was spoken. Turkish first, German second, English never. Tourguide Kenny thankfully knew exactly what to order, and boy was he right! “Drei chai und drei bürek, bitte.” Three chai teas and three büreks, please…Best words ever. This food was beyond good!
Oh I guess I should explain what bürek is…think heaven in your mouth..got it yet? Ok it is actually a pastry/meal type thing made from phyllo dough type stuff, with butter, cheese, spinach, meat, or potatoes. Really that is the explanation I’ve got. Just take my word for it…it was delicious!
After lunch we roamed around a nearby market, and went to meet up with the gang to continue our plans for the day. Jennifer and I went to visit Belveder (another palace) and purchase souvenirs before the weekend slipped away from us! Once again we were hungry (I swear all we do here is eat!!) and we began searching for a place to grab a Wiener Schnitzel, apparently a must have in Vienna. After about an hour of roaming looking for the PERFECT dinner destination, we finally stumbled upon “Mama’s Kitchen”. An appropriately named restaurant where we were able to indulge in soup, wiener schnitzel, dessert (I had Sachertorte another Viennese specialty), and a glass of wine all for only 15 Euros. WIN. Plus, it was outdoors by candle light with an accordion player nearby on one of the busiest streets in Vienna. Double WIN.
After dinner we headed back to the hostel to meet up with the group before we experienced the nightlife in Vienna. At the train station we had run into one of our fellow students who is from Vienna, and he was able to tell us the best places for a night out on the town. We went to a place called Volksgarten where we celebrated with new found friends and danced the night away. This was the perfect ending for a fantastic day in Vienna, and again a perfect ending to this here blog entry.
As promised there will be a third entry recounting the details of our third, and final day, in the city, but until then enjoy these tidbits!
2. The Russians occupied Vienna for about ten years following World War II. This is evident in the monument that is erected to salute the Russian soldiers that died saving the city during the war. The monument was one of the negotiating terms for the Russians to leave. Vienna said you guys leave, and we will build you a monument to thank you for your service. They did…we saw it.
3. Never underestimate the beauty of a palace.
4. Zanoni and Zanoni has the best gelato in Vienna.
5. Chai tea and büreks are a killer combination!
Tour of the University of Liechtenstein!
I guess it is about time to admit, why exactly it has taken me such a long time to blog about our trip to Vienna. The thing is…it was such a fantastic/inspiring/awing trip that I haven’t yet found the words to explain just how fabulous the weekend was! But….I guess since the purpose of a blog is actually to USE words I have to somehow document the trip so…here goes.
We arrived…we conquered…we left. Does that work for you? Ok I guess not, but that is pretty much the gist of it, give or take a few AMAZING things!
Warning- If you aren’t looking for an in depth detail of our journey, I suggest to cease reading right about…..now. If you are ready to hear about the glorious 3 day adventures of 2 Americans, 4 Mexicans, and 2 Latvians in a city called Vienna read on my friends read on.
It all began about a week ago when a few of us where sitting around the dinner table telling stories of class, life, and what had happened that day. Jennifer and I brought up the topic of visiting a friend (and fellow Millsaps student) in Vienna. One of the Latvians mentioned she had a friend there as well. The Mexicans mentioned they would love to visit the city and see the architecture it had to offer. An entire 5 minutes later we were going to Vienna the next weekend, and ten minutes after that our hostel was booked! Seriously…just like that. I guess studying abroad has definitely increased the spontaneity in me.
I guess now would be a good time to go ahead and give names to the people that we went on the trip with just to make things easier. Find a nifty chart below:
Mexican Latvian American
Rocio Zane Me..duh
Rodrigo Elina Jennifer
Memo Santa (friend studying in Vienna) Kenny (studying in Vienna)
Now that that is cleared up…back to the story. We booked the hostel, and a few short days later our train tickets were purchased. That was an ordeal in itself, but long story short the lovely Australian (yes I mean from down under) lady at the Austrian train station helped us out, and even told us how to get a group discount! So about three days, 80 Euros, and a few laughs later we were geared up for our trip.
On Thursday after a three hour German lesson (it wasn’t as bad as it sounds) we were FINALLY on our way to catch the midnight train. The train left at 12:15 am and arrived in Vienna at 7:30 am Friday morning. So we didn’t even miss out on a day of sightseeing! Now since we didn’t miss out on a day of sightseeing we were required to sleep on the train, which was definitely memorable. Try sleeping with 6 people in one train car, no blankets or pillows; in the freezing cold…needless to say we have all reached a new level of closeness.
Once we arrived in Vienna we headed for the hostel to leave our bags and attempt to check in three hours early. Take note of the picture as we approach the hostel, and Memo shares his lovely face with us…Since this was my first experience staying in a hostel, I have to admit that I am now somewhat spoiled. The cleanliness, service, location, atmosphere, everything was so great I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay. It was budget friendly too! Since there were 8 of us, we were able to book a room to ourselves so we could lock the door to our entire room, and didn’t have to worry about any creepers sleeping nearby…double win. During check in we were greeted with our first surprise of the trip as Kenny (our Millsaps friend) waltzed through the door in all his unexpected Viennese glory.
We hadn’t exactly set a specific meeting time for Kenny so when he suddenly appeared it was such a strange experience. Seeing someone that Jennifer and I have always equated Millsaps and our Millsaps life with, in a European city thousands of miles from home was certainly different. Good for sure…but different. With Tourguide Kenny (as he will be referred to from now on) in tow we headed out for the city beyond. After a quick breakfast at one of his favorites, we set out for St. Stephan’s Cathedral, which in Tourguide Kenny’s words IS Vienna.
And boy was he not kidding. The cathedral has hundreds of years of history within its walls, a beauty that could put most churches to shame, and an ambience that is like no other. Jennifer and I were lucky enough to have our own Tourguide (Kenny of course) that was able to tell us the ins, outs, quirks, and secrets of the entire cathedral, and our tour even included a trip up the south tower to a breathtaking view of the entire city of Vienna.
Following St. Stephan’s we headed to Kenny’s “school”, if you could even call it that. Sure they have classes and such, but I mean who has a classroom with walls that look like a room in Versailles? Or a library straight out of the story books! This is not a joke. Kenny’s “school” was a piece of history and beauty in itself! Since he actually had to go to class, Jennifer and I were released on our own and given strict instructions to meet up in front of the Kunsthistor Museum (art history).
Jennifer and I made a quick pit-stop by Mozart’s house (I mean who goes to Vienna and doesn’t see that?) and headed to the Kunsthistor museum on a mission to discover the hidden Heritage works that Kenny had promised where in there. For those readers who don’t know what heritage is here is a brief description:
Since I don’t claim a deep knowledge of art history, seeing a piece of art that I studied a few years ago that I CAN actually remember things about was so empowering. Granted I didn’t actually point them out…Jennifer did, but hey I recognized them once she did! We did a quick power tour through the museum and headed to the statue where Tourguide Kenny was eagerly waiting. Our stomachs were by this time craving attention so Kenny brought us to the “best falafel place in town”, and he was not kidding. I don’t even LIKE falafel, but I liked this place!
Skip a few hours and we were again being given a tour of the beautiful city, this time with the Ringstrasse as the target. The Ringstrasse is a street that was formerly a guarded wall of the city, but now is lined with the Austrian parliament, Vienna Rathaus (town hall), Burgtheater, Hofburg (one of many palaces),and a number of other places. I could launch into a deep detailing of everything that Tourguide Kenny was able to tell us, but I am afraid that would take more time than I have and more words than you want to read so I will just give the highlights. Apparently if one were to dig up the entire city, there would be Roman ruins underneath the entire thing; however, the feat is nearly impossible so only a small section is exposed near the Hofburg. Vienna has been under a number of countries/civilizations including the Celts, Romans, Turks, Germans, and probably some more I can’t remember. There was obviously a great deal more information, but for fear of sighting incorrect facts I will leave you to discover your own Viennese history.
After a day of sightseeing, history, and Gelato of course Jennifer and I parted ways, (oh I guess I should mention earlier in the morning Jennifer and I went off with Kenny, and the rest of the group went off with the Latvian student, Santa…we didn’t meet up until that evening) with me heading to meet the others at the Vienna State Opera House, and Jennifer to grab dinner with Kenny’s Vienna crew. Once at the Opera House I found the long lost Mexicans and Latvians and we waited in line for last minute standing room tickets for the ballet. For this I have five words. BEST. FOUR. EUROS. EVER. SPENT.
It was such a surreal experience, in my brother’s (a Millsaps alumni) Facebook words “it looks like the Von Trapp family was about to perform”. And it truly did. The feeling of knowing that I, a 20 year old college student, was blessed enough to be surrounded by new found friends watching a ballet in one of the most famed Opera Houses in the world while on a weekend getaway in Europe is a feeling I can only hope you are lucky enough to experience one day. The same feeling occurred on the train as I was nuzzled…that word actually sounds comfortable so maybe not nuzzled, but sardined in the train car with people from all around the world. How lucky and blessed am I?
Whoa…got deep again. Oops..I guess I just feel it necessary to document how fortunate I am for the world to see! Now back to the trip. After the BRILLIANT ballet, the plans to go out that night went out the window thanks to Tourguide Kenny guiding us around town, and a sleepless night (sorta) on the train and we headed back to the hostel and crashed for the night.
Since this blog seems to be getting QUITE lengthy…now would be the appropriate time to stop writing and split the trip into three portions so that is what I shall do! But not without leaving you my five interesting facts for the week:
1. Sleeping in a confined train car with a sick person will undoubtedly get someone else sick. Elina’s cold= Stevie with no voice.
2. Vienna is a large city just like any other New York, LA, NOLA; however, it somehow has managed to remain untarnished from advertising and the bright lights of the typical American big city. The beauty and history, and laid back attitude of the tourists and natives give it a completely different atmosphere.
3. Overnight trains are the way to go! Sleep all night and wake up in a new city. No joke.
4. Gelato is a weakness of mine ALMOST as much as bakeries are which equals a problem for my waistline.
While this may not quite require an ENTIRE blog to describe I will somehow manage to tell you anyway, because I just know how much you want to read about another one of our fabulous expeditions!
On Wednesday morning Jennifer and I set out to explore a bit of the surrounding area. Buchs, Switzerland was our destination; however, once we ended up there we quickly realized we didn’t exactly have a plan of action for the day…oops. Don’t get me wrong wandering around a city for the day without a plan is definitely possible, but this city is quite small so that would have taken probably a whole…1.5 hours!
Instead of wandering…I remembered a place I had come across when googling things to do in the surrounding areas of Liechtenstein. Werdenberg, an old medieval town became our mission and after asking our lovely friend at the train station for directions we set off on Banhofstrasse for a 15 minute walk to the “suburbs” of the city.
Let me just explain to you, I use the word “suburbs” VERY loosely. The entire town of Buchs is so small it can pretty much be defined as the suburbs, but…compared to Vaduz, I guess it is considered a rather large city.
Anyhow… we wandered through the streets in search of a castle that we were told we “couldn’t miss”, and low and behold there was a castle! And a lovely cluster of houses nestled under its eaves. PLUS…a pond right in front of the old city complete with swans, ducks, an outdoor restaurant-the whole bit! People of all ages were gathered around the pond, eating lunch, catching up, walking dogs, etc. It is still so unreal that what seems like normal everyday activities to everyone here is just having lunch…by a pond…near an old castle built in 1228, beneath the ALPS! I guess if you have lived your entire life here it would be normal, but I still can’t help, but feel like the luckiest student in the world with each new breathtaking sight!
Take this morning for instance. I awoke to the site of mountains outside of my bedroom window (which I am slowly getting used to), and set out for a morning jog (really in order to work off all those Cosmic brownies I have been consuming). And where exactly did I run? Oh just along the Rhine River, beneath the Swiss Alps, along the border of Switzerland and Liechtenstein! NBD…that is just normal here! Maybe in a few months I will get used to that, but I sure hope not! I love the surprise I get every time I glance up and see snow glinting off some of the most beautiful mountains in the world.
Now…that was quite the side story so…back to the Werdenberg Castle! We made our way around the pond, and somehow ended up in the middle of the old city and found our way up the mountain to the castle. Since it isn’t tourist season quite yet, the museum wasn’t open and we had the ENTIRE premise to ourselves. Now normally being the only ones around would mean we could just talk a little louder, but no….not for me! This meant I just HAD to climb the castle wall!
And yes. I did just that. And it was TOTALLY worth it! Just check out the pictures and see! I guess I could give you a little bit of history about the Werdenberg city but…I couldn’t read any of the signs so feel free to just imagine your own history of the place, I know I did.
After our adventures in the castle we headed back to “town” for a bite to eat, and ended up at a Konditorei (bakery pretty much), and for lunch of course I somehow ordered a berliner. I know stereotypical right? But it was very much worth it! Maybe Kennedy didn’t make a mistake after all…you eat one of those and tell me you don’t want to be a berliner either! Jennifer on the other hand was a bit more unlucky. What she thought to be a salmon sandwich was in fact salmon but…cooked? Not so much… She is a champ though and ate the entire thing anyway!
The rest of the day includes not very many exciting details so I guess my story ends there. Don’t worry though, because at 12:15 tonight I will be en route to Vienna with much more stories to come!
Interesting facts I learned this week:
1. I am completely incapable of passing up a bakery. Seriously, it is a problem.
2. Olive oil and sunflower oil will not in fact cook beignets like vegetable oil will at home…
3. Sour patch kids truly are the best sour candies ever. Just ask the foreigners that tried them this week, they will agree.
4. Potato soup made abroad is much more difficult than in America…just ask Jennifer.