Vienna, Austria

 On Saturday the 4th I left my throne in Kosice, Slovakia, to head to Vienna, Austria. The train ride was very scenic, as it went through northern Slovakia and the High Tatras, which I had been up to a couple of days before. I also had a Slovakian lady and her 3-year-old son sitting in my same cabin. The kid was soooo cute and I played toy cars (toy cars literally from the movie Cars) with him for a while, which was somewhat entertaining. I then had to change trains in Bratislava, and I had about a 45 minute layover, so I did a kwick exploration of the city in the limited time I had. I had planned on staying a night there, but after staying in Kosice longer then I had planned I crossed Bratislava off my list. That ended up being a good move I think, because I loved Kosice, and Bratislava looked pretty dirty and scary from what I saw. Right outside the train station there was this crazy cracked-out gypsy lady, who was bothering people, and they were all yelling at her, and she wouldn’t leave them alone. Finally they started kicking her ass, literally kicking her in the ass, until she finally wandered off and passed out on a bench. Time to leave Slovakia!

I arrived in Vienna around 7pm, took a short tram ride and then easily found my pad, the Vienna City Hostel. I dropped my stuff off in my room, which nobody was in yet, and immediately headed off to explore the city. I asked the hostel worker dude for directions and how to get around, and he suggested the subway, and told me not to pay. He said that they never ever check tickets, but if a local gets caught without one it’s a big fine, but they almost always let off tourists. So this set the precedent for the rest of my trip of pretty much not paying for public transportation. I really don’t plan on taking it that much, because I don’t mind walking and I will almost always walk it out, unless it is really far.

I didn’t have a lot of time in Vienna so I wanted to see as much as I could this first night as I could. I got to the city center, which is centered on Stephansplatz, a big pedestrianized square that is dominated, like many European cities, by a giant gothic Cathedral, here- the Stephansdom. After checking out that area, I randomly started walking around, with no real direction in mind, and ended up not really seeing anything. After a while I got out the map and realized I was just in the city-city area, not the historical/cool city area. From there I went to the closest attraction, Stadtpark, where a cool monument is of Johann Strauss, the famous violinist. From there I slowly made my way back to the hostel and called it a night. So far I wasn’t very impressed with Vienna, but I did realize I kind of missed the main touristy parts of the city besides the Stephansdom. Oh but I did see couples eeevvverrrryyyyywhere, gross, I guess it is supposedly a pretty romantic city.

I got up real early the next morning, got my free hostel breakfast in me, and I was out of there by 8am, so I had 5 solid hours to see the city. I took the subway back to the Stephansdom, where I realized Catholic mass was just starting there, and it was also Palm Sunday, so I thought it would be a good idea to sneak in the back and attend mass. I didn’t stay for the entire time, partly because it was all in German and partly because it was annoying being in the back with tourists keep coming in, taking pictures and making noise. And I only had limited time left, but I am glad I got to experience it.

From there I headed to Judenplatz, a nice little square that is dominated by an enormous concrete Holocaust Memorial. Then off to the Innere Stadt, or the historical center, a small area, but the central location to where most of the important sites of Vienna are concentrated. The Hofburg is one of the most well-known constructions in Vienna. It is a very complex system of buildings that house a lot of the city’s key imperial sites. I choose one area in here to go to that I thought looked really cool, the Schatzkammer. Inside was loads of medieval jewelry, craftsmanship, clothing and relics from the Roman Empire, including the Habsburgs’ own crown jewels. Right by there was a small church, the Hofburgkapelle, which I heard was famous for its Mass with the Vienna Boys’ Choir. I got a free, standing room only ticket for the back and watched/listened for a little while before growing bored and leaving.

I then went to Rathausplatz, a park that is surrounded by four monumental buildings; the Rathaus (city hall), the Burgtheater, Parliament, and the University. The park had some type of festival going on and I walked around it for a while and also got lunch there (kebab and Austrian beer). I then continued to wander around the city and pretty much saw all the points and sites that my book pointed out before I had to head to the station for my train at one.

Overall I wasn’t terribly impressed by Vienna. It was very cool and I am glad I went, but also I feel as though I spent just enough time there and I wasn’t really shorted by only staying one night. I liked the Rathausplatz and the Hofburg areas the most, the best area of town I felt and it had many impressive buildings. One thing I did notice about Vienna was the lack of street vendors I have found peddling the same crap (sunglasses, purses, and basic junk) in most Euro cities I’ve been to. The only things I really saw on the streets to buy that Sunday were the branches for Palm Sunday and other Easter themed things, so that was nice. But so now it is time for my much anticipated visit to Prague!


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