First part of the trip can be viewed here.
We woke early the next morning and caught a 6 am train towards Vienna. We got exceedingly lucky and got an entire 6 person cabin to ourselves. What do you do on a three hour train ride, with three seats to yourself? Put up the armrests and catch an hour nap across the three seats, best sleep I have had while on transportation.
From the Vienna train station, we went to pick up another city pass. However, because we were students, we were able to get just a transit pass that would cover all the same things as a city pass. While at the information booth, we picked up multiple walking maps of places to explore for both architecture and music.
Once we settled into our hostel, we toured the main architectural attractions of downtown Vienna. First stop, the Vienna Opera House.
Outside were people dressed in costume offering tickets to see an orchestra perform Mozart and Strauss in concert. At first we were very much intrigued to listen to Viennese musicians in Vienna, but after listening to their spiel, we couldn’t ascertain if the tickets were a scam. We decided the best course of action was to NOT buy those tickets until we either found a 100% legit ticket sale or found evidence that these tickets were in fact real.
We chose one of the routes on our walking tour and decided to go see as many sites as we could. The brochure advertised each of the two walking tours to be done in one day. Yet, over the course of the next five hours, we were able to see the Castle, Parliament, Cathedral, Walking street, and many more. We covered 20 of the 25 places the brochure highlighted.
After stopping back at our hostel to recharge phones and plan the evening, we headed over to the Naschmarkt – an open-air street market that reminded me greatly of Pike Place Market in Seattle. As we walked past a stand selling dried fruit, the salesman offered just a quick sample of dried apricot. This started a dialog that felt like five minutes, but easily could have been 10. Every time we tried to leave, he would bring us back with “But you need to try this one, this one is much better than the one you previously tried.” We then proceeded to sample green apple, strawberry, tangerine, and kiwi. We found a great liking to everything but the kiwi. We got a nice bag of all the other flavors which we slowly munched our way through over the next several days. Every time we walked past another vender of the same goods, they would ask jokingly “What do you have in the bag.”
From there, we chose to buy tickets to listen to Mozart and Strauss at a place that puts on a concert every night. Can one say TOURIST TRAP. However, it was an amazing performance, with opera singers and ballet dancers accompanying the symphony.
The next day was all about music. We started off by touring Mozart’s apartment. This told the story of Mozart, from his birth to his death with letters and music written from him. The end of the self guided tour was fascinating as it was a mock up of his apartment in the actual rooms that he lived in. One of the key reasons to why the museum was able to restore much of the same pieces back to his apartment was he died only three years after moving out of the place and any furniture possessions that he had when he died, were most likely in the previous apartment as well.
From there, we went to Beethoven apartment from when he lived in Vienna. Not as large as the museum for Mozart’s apartment, it still adequately told the story of his life and had the originally face mask to create busts of him. One of the most lifelike busts is present in the museum and the bust was used by many to depict Beethoven after his death.
Having toured both Mozart’s and Beethoven’s apartments and thoroughly tired from three and a half days of exploring cities, we headed off to Prater. This amusement park and large green space is one of the few large public green spaces in Vienna, it is described to be Vienna’s lungs. None of the rides seemed to be worth the money except a double ticket to the Ferris Wheel and the small train that went the length of the park.
The ferris wheel was amazing! It allowed us to get above most everything in the city and gave us gorgeous panoramic shots of Vienna and the outer-lying suburbs. The train itself was very much a kids train, however it was great to have 15 minutes of pure relaxation. While going down the tracks we saw what looked to be a race being set up: barricades, finish tent, markings, etc. I remarked that many times that we travel to the European cities we run into a half marathon or marathon, this was the fourth time it seemed that we had come across one. It turned out that the “race” we were looking at, was Ineos 1:59. Where the next week, Eliud Kipchoge would run a 1:59:40 marathon, the first person ever to break two hours!
Outside of Prater was a Vienna Oktoberfest in full swing. With free admission, sans any fluid containers (read water bottles), we joined in the festivities. Not two minutes after we sat down in a tent, a waiter asked what we would like to drink and after another two minutes our drinks arrived. Impeccable service! We moved tents and found a German singer who was in the center of the crowd and making the place roar with song.
This will continue soon with Prague.
Pictures from Vienna can be viewed here