We didn’t get into Vienna and checked into the hostel till late in the evening. As a result, we didn’t go down to the city center tonight. Instead we opted to get drinks at a local bar, which was both of ours first time in a bar. I got a white local wine and James a red. We enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of a small town on the hillsides on a Sunday night.
Day 2: Monday, 26 August
Today we started off with breakfast from a bakery that was near the train station. After eating some pastries we headed to St Stephan’s cathedral, which is over nine stories tall! There were lots of gorgeous wooden carvings of saints and God allover the church. We managed to sneak into the main naive to look at the high altar and surrounding areas. They were working on restoring the organ that had been put in after the original was destroyed during World War II.
After realizing we had gotten mass times messed up (thank you internet), we headed to Schönbrunn Palace. The Palace itself was large, but the gardens surrounding it were massive. We could’ve spent all day walking around it and saw many locals out running through it. We thought we’d walked through them all over the course of two hours, but only made it through a quarter. It was impressive to watch the people take care of the gardens. In some places they cut the trees smooth to form a natural wall along the paths. We also walked up a large hill behind the gardens to a gate structure, which provided a great view of the city.
The gardens really tired us out, so we made our way back into the city and grabbed food as quickly as we could. We got schnitzel sandwiches from a food truck called the Berlin Dönner. They were massive for only 3€ and probably one of the larger meals we’d had. We walked towards the Rathaus, or City Hall, and rested in its vicinity, which was much needed by this point in the day! A bench and some cold water revived us. The Volksgarten had very pretty Greek-esque structures and a public rose garden. We also found Hofburg Palace, but didn’t realize that it was till the next day. We believed it to just be the National Library and Papyrus museum.
We took a break from sightseeing to do a bit of souvenir hunting. James found a board game at a second-hand shop to add to his collection of Eurogames. I found a blue skirt at the thrift shop for only 4 €! It will be nice to have a skirt to wear since we got hit with an unexpected heat wave.
To finish off the day we went out of the city to the hillsides. We ate dinner at a Heurigen, or wine garden. Food at a heurigen is served buffet style, which was great for us. We could get exactly the amount of food we each needed at very reasonable prices. We both tried a local white wine that came in a glass mug instead of a glass. I was enamored with the idea of a wine mug. After finishing our meal, we weren’t ready for the evening to end. We took a bus up the rest of the hill and were rewarded with a wonderful view. We could see the entire city illuminated below us and spreading off in the distance. The evening was definitely our favorite time in Vienna.
Day 3: Tuesday, 27 August
Before catching the train to Prague this evening we wanted to get the last out of Vienna. We took the trains to Hofburg Palace after another bakery breakfast. We were able to attend Morning Exercises at the Spanish Riding School. We watched the riders train with the world famous Lippizaners while listening to classical Viennese music. The riders were mostly putting the horses through their paces and doing a few lower level dressage movements. But during the third training session (each was 1/2 hour), we got to see a few difficult maneuvers that make it look like the horse is dancing. We even got to watch as they trained a horse to do airs! I almost fell over the balcony watching because of course it was happening directly under us.
We grabbed lunch at a grocery buffet line. Afterwards we carried out our own tram tour around the Ringstrasse (or city center) using a guidebook to clue us in. After the tram, we headed to the main train station to catch our train to Prague, which we are both really excited to explore. We heard that you can get a beer for $1.50 and bread for 50 cents!