Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A leisurely Monday in Wien

Summer Palace!
We woke up early to get started on our full day in Vienna. Nora had laid out an itinerary for us, and Julie and I immediately began comparing this to our map. Lesson abroad: You should try to, and you will, become a pro at navigating yourself literally anywhere in the world. Julie and I make a good team. I was shocked to figure out that I actually have a really good sense of direction. While she claims to be the opposite, Julie brings a sense of positivity and bubbliness that constantly reminds me of the little redhead girl in Frozen (I swear its more than the hair color). As I get frustrated and she gets more familiar, she offers a national championship-worthy pep talk and pick up where I left off. Anytime we are confused, we discuss our way to the answer without freaking out. (This is surprisingly less common than one would think). We have figured out how to get literally anywhere without getting annoyed at the situation or each other, I legitimately could not picture a more solid traveling pair, and the first time I am traveling without her will be very, very, strange.

Belevedere Palace!
We started with the summer palace, with gardens that give Versailles a run for its money. This was a great place to walk in the morning and it was a beautiful, albeit a tad hot, day. After this, we had a little bit of difficulty finding our way to the Belvedere palace for modern art exhibits and were somewhat short on time, but again, it was wonderful to see such interesting architecture and walk the gardens. We headed back to the Opera to meet Nora for lunch. Arriving a few minutes early, we stopped into the Hotel Sacher to see their infamous Sacher torte. While Nora had 
suggested we go to a place with better, cheaper, Sacher torte than the flagship, reaching our limits with pasteries we decided to just split a miniature piece. While I am not a cake girl, it was a nice cultural experience and the icing was delicious. Nora then led us to a famous Austrian pub, Siebenstern, 
where we ordered authentic Austrian food. I tried some old school spinach gnocchi, Julie had a mushroom and potato soup, and the rest of the group sampled what Nora referred to as “mac and cheese on steroids”, a type of gnocchi with incredible cheese, caramelized onions and pieces of ham. Everything was great, and I finally even found a beer that I (somewhat) enjoyed, called Radler which mixes beer and lemonade. Slowly, I am figuring out to how act like a Central European! We rolled ourselves out the door and we continued our Vienna tour to Stephansdom and Karlskirche. I am convinced Vienna has the most beautiful architecture in the world, and although many people have consulted me that it is “less fun”than other European cities it definitely has a cultural experience that I wish I had had more time for. There is plenty to do and see, and while it might not be Ibiza, I actually prefer that type of experience. One of my favorite parts was Nauschmarkt, the open air market outside of our hostel with about 700 stands. Going in, I did not realize the Turkish influence on the market, but it had ALL sorts of authentic food from this part of the world. With free samples every three feet, we tried every kind of dried fruit you could imagine, some authentic Turkish delights (thanks for the idea, Munt!) falafel and more. I found myself a 5 euro dinner from falafel, a stuffed date, and a giant bag of dried fruit consisting of cinnamon apples, orange peels, coconut, and watermelon (by far the best dried fruits, seriously, we tried everything). Again, finishing all of our sights a little bit early, I enjoyed resting my feet in a hammock at wombats and munching on my awesome bag of snacks. We took student agency home, by far the classiest bus line, and arrived home around 1 am. It was a wonderful, full, day

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