Today is day 14 in Vienna, and unfortunately, day 11 of me being sick. It hasn’t been a great way to kick off my semester, but I’ve tried to let it affect me as little as possible from enjoying the city.
The past two weekends have been dedicated to, primarily, exploration of the city. From my time earlier this summer in New York, I’ve found that the best way to get to know a new place is through spontaneous exploration, and so I’ve applied this principle to Vienna as well. And it certainly has not let me down so far. 🙂
Whilst exploring last weekend, Ross and I started by venturing around the Burggarten. I’ve mentioned it before, but green space is exceptionally well-placed around this city, and the Burggarten is one example of this. The Burggarten is home to the famous Mozart statue, as well as the Austrian National Library, a popular butterfly house, several cafes, and an area that very much resembles a Quad on a college campus.
From there, we moved onto the rest of the Hofburg District, where we wandered into the ruins of some old Roman buildings, the Spanish Riding School- which has horse shows staring this month- and some really fascinating works of architecture. One of the best parts of wandering around Vienna is that there are so many impressive fountains and statues scattered about that it’s impossible not to not wander upon something interesting!
In the afternoon we went to Shonbrunn Palace, one of Austria’s key landmarks. Built in the 1630s, it’s where the Hapsburg rulers resided, and the palace itself was modeled off of the Palace of Versailles in France. The area around Shonbrunn is quite impressive in itself- the complex includes countless numbers of gardens, the oldest zoo in Europe, and a hedge maze, among other things. Apparently when Maria Theresa lived here (and was getting old and senile) she made her servants wheel her up this hill (see below) for breakfast. She would then ask for the animals of the zoo to be let out so that they could wander around the gardens and she could watch, haha. True story.
Some other things I found this week while exploring: Zanoni & Zanoni (one of the top gelato shops in Vienna), several Austrian movie theaters, and 6 defunct (yet impressive-looking) towers built during WWII that served as one of the last layers of defense against the invading Russians. One of these towers has since been changed into a sweet rock-climbing wall/aquarium though. Pretty sweet.
This week also offers some nice things to look forward to. This is the 3rd and final week of the intensive German portion of my program, so after this week I venture on a 10-day tour of 3 countries surrounding Vienna: Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary, and Krakow in Poland. More on that later. Also this week, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is on tour in Vienna, meaning my trombone professor will be in town! It is also the first week of Vienna’s Opera season, so I’ll most likely be checking out that scene. Should make for an exciting week!