After only 6 days here, I’ve decided that I am very much in love with this city.  On my first Saturday in Vienna, we took a free, 3 1/2 hour bus tour of the city!  I’m learning so much about the history of Vienna, and I’m finding that it’s a VERY fascinating city.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The heart of Vienna is surrounded by a street called the Ringstrasse, which, before 1857, consisted of an actual wall surrounding the entire city of Vienna in order to protect it from the Turks.  In 1857, Franz Joseph ordered the wall to be torn down and an enormous construction project was enacted, expanding Vienna’s borders.  For this reason, it seems like many of the greatest architectural achievements in Vienna lie on this one road (the Ringstrasse), encircling Vienna- the Opera House, several museums, the Austrian Parliament, the Burg Theater, the University of Vienna, etc.

The IES building, where I’m taking classes is in District 1 (Vienna has 23 districts) and is located within the Ringstrasse, meaning it’s super close to so many incredible, historical landmarks.  The other day I ventured into Stephandsdom, an enormous and breathtakingly gorgeous church 5 minutes down the street from the IES center.  (Expect pictures later after I take a formal tour of it).

Also today on the bus tour we stopped at the Belvedere Palace.  (Also expect pictures later).  Surrounded by gardens, the Belivdere Palace was built as a summer house/guest house, but it was enormous.  It actually reminded me a bit of the Taj Mahal.

We also drove across the Danube River today, which cuts through Vienna.  It’s actually REALLY interesting how the construction within Vienna is laid out.  The core of the city remains free from truly modern architecture- it upholds its historical and cultural worth by not allowing skyscrapers to take away from its older, architecturally-astounding landmarks.  Once you cross the Danube river to the north, however, modern Vienna can be found.  It is much smaller, but resembles what one would expect from a normal city- a lot of corporate buildings, some skyscrapers, and a very urbanized feel.  This is also where the U.N. is located in Vienna.  I, personally, like this separation very much because it allows Vienna to expand as a city, but to uphold what makes it an interesting and unique city to live in.

On a more personal note, auditions finished today and we should be hearing about what type of ensembles we will be playing in early next week.  I also had my first German test, and am continuing to scrape by with my minimal ability to speak the language… although…throughout the last week the way I order food has gone from pointing and grunting in pitiful German to actually being able to form coherent sentences.  So…success?

Haha, well it currently raining in Vienna (for the first time since I’ve been here) which is a nice change of pace from the relentless heat wave that’s been reigning over Vienna so far.  So…at that, I’m going to go enjoy my Saturday night in Vienna!