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.