As interesting as Budapest was, and as beautiful as Prague was, Vienna was my favorite city on our trip. My mother lived there in her first few years of elementary school because my grandfather worked for the State Department/was a spy and he had business there. I’ve heard stories about Vienna my whole life and distinctly remember a puzzle at Gramma’s house of elegant Viennese formal gardens, so I’ve grown up wanting to visit Vienna, this elegant city with which I feel I have a history, a connection.
We arrived in Vienna in the afternoon and spent the rest of our first day in the Schloß Schönbrunn, a magnificent palace on the edge of the city. It’s like Versailles in that it is a huge yellow palace surrounded by tons of formal gardens. We didn’t go in the palace (we’re cheap, okay?) but we did spend a lot of time walking around the gardens and admiring the fountains, statues, pigeons that looked like doves, and fake Roman ruins. There were a ton of people running in the park, which made it feel like we weren’t just tourists.
We also stopped by the Easter market in front of the palace and got a snack of kaiserschmarn which is small bits of pancake that you eat with an incredible apple sauce. Deeelish. After our snack we went to dinner, which was schnitzel the size of your head. Tourist trap? Definitely. Something you have to do when in Vienna? I’d say so.
We packed our second and last day full of sights. We started at the Belvedere Museum, which houses Klimt’s famous “The Kiss” painting and numerous other beautiful works of his.
We also stopped into St. Stephan’s Cathedral, which was an important stop for me because my mom said that she and her family went to church there a few times. To walk in that beautiful sanctuary and know that my Gramma, Grandpa, mom, and aunts had worshiped there, in that exact space, 40 years earlier was just really incredible.
We also visited the Music Museum which was gimmicky but I got to create a waltz and waltz around the room so that was pretty cool. We ended our day in the Prater, an amusement park inside a large city park, which is known for its giant ferris wheel. It’s basically a low-tech version of the London Eye, and it was so fun to ride it over the city to see Vienna at our feel in the dusky sky.
We ended our trip with a 13 hour night train from Vienna to Geneva (with a 7 am transfer in Zurich) which was certainly interesting, I’ll say that, but not too bad. It was improved by my “kitten tongue” chocolates.
Although we certainly stretched the definition of a long weekend to mean eight days, this trip was an incredible introduction to Central and Eastern Europe, and I can’t wait to go back! x
*I am writing this from the Geneva Airport - what up technology!