Vienna took my breath away. Literally, it was that cold. The temperature all weekend averaged around 26 degrees and snow, but that didn’t stop me from being completely taken aback by the city’s navigability, food, and all-around beauty. From the Christmas markets on Friday, to hanging out in cafes and defrosting, or frolicking about the snow, Vienna definitely took the cake for favorite trip this semester.
We arrived late Thursday night after having an encountered a lost baggage situation with one of our travel companions, and settling into the hostel to snow already starting to fall. Friday we tackled the Christmas markets, which were few and UN far between. We visited a few churches around the city, and managed to spend an hour or two in a small cafe enjoying tea and apple strudel. We also went to the opera in Vienna’s famous opera house to see La Boheme. Only I did not know that by paying 3 euro for the performance meant we would be standing the entire time in the bloodiest of nose bleed seats. I found myself sitting on the floor most of the time listening to the music instead, since I couldn’t even see. The house was so ornate and beautiful. Definitely worth the 3 euro. While many of the attendees were dressed to the nines, I couldn’t even manage to change into something remotely opera-appropriate on account of the freezing temperature. After the opera (or intermission, I edit), we continued our high-class evening at a restaurant down the street for dinner.
Saturday we went over to the famous Schonbrunn palace, although forgetting it was a major tourist day, therefore zoo, and only managed to walk around the “garden” aka narnia. It was amazing. We walked up the top of the hill in the back of the garden where a cafe was situated and took in the stunning view of the city and a warm cup of hot chocolate. You can see from the photos but it was quite the spot! From there, we moved to our next eating location, the Hotel Saccher for the world-famous Saccher torte, a special chocolate cake that still has the secret recipe maintained by this restaurant to the day. We walked around the city as the sun went down (around 4:30pm), and went back in the direction of our hostel to find a traditional schnitzel restaurant for dinner. My pork (I’m so kosher!) schniztel didn’t exactly the-first-night-of-Chanukah-dinner-make, but it was quite delicious.
Being able to travel this semester was one of the best ways I could have spent my money. Or anyone could, for that matter. Even though they were very short weekends away, they were always condensed with many activities, friends, and food. I am so glad I got to see every place I visited. If I had more time, there definitely would have been a few other places I would have LOVED to visit. To sum up my travels: I started out the semester in the mid-east part of France, right next to Switzerland in a little town called Thonon, where I also went to Annecy, Montreux, Geneva, and Lyon. Then came Paris, Normandy, Munich, Giverny, Brussels, Rome, Barcelona, and Vienna. My wish list also included Prague and Berlin but I couldn’t fit them in. Oh well, next time! The list of places I want to visit keeps growing, and I am adamant that one day I will be able to visit them all. I have definitely been bit by the travel bug!
It’s amazing being in central Europe when I can travel to another country in less than 2 hours when it takes the same amount of time to get from Seattle to San Francisco. Yet as soon as you leave one place you enter an entirely different culture and language. Lucky for us English is universal, but it’s still bizarre to be in a place and not understand what anyone else is saying. It frustrates me that learning another language in school in America isn’t required, nor do we start early enough for it to make much of a dent. Learning French has been a fantastic challenge – but always that, a challenge. I am proud of myself for how far I have come and I can say I will never want to let it go.
I keep thinking “This is my last [fill in blank here]” of abroad. Last trip with my friends. Last weekend away. Profitez profitez profitez, keeps ringing in my head. I hate that they put finals at the end when we should be going out and
get wasted checking things off our bucket list, but instead we have papers on papers and many tests to study for. I have five between Monday and Tuesday, not including oral tests this week and a large history paper to write. If you have any last-minute suggestions you can think of for me to squeeze in my final days, feel free to comment!
Happy Chanukah! L’chaim ya’ll.