Last Pit Stop: Vienna

By the time we got to Vienna, I was pretty worn out. The very painful shoes that I worn certainly did not help. This time around we decided to stay at a couchsurfer’s house. There a few hours gap between when we arrive in Vienna and when our host could pick us up. We decided to explore the city for a bit before meeting up with our host so we had to find storage for our luggages in the train station. Originally, the storage lockers were all occupied and just as we were walking away someone emptied one of the larger lockers. We were so lucky because there were two other people looking for lockers as well, but the person who took their belongings out happened to use a locker right by where we were standing. To our convenience, he was using a large locker or else it would be awkward figuring who’s suitcase to squeeze in the smaller locker that wouldn’t have been able to hold all of our belongings. We bought a 3-day Vienna card for unlimited train rides and discounts to attractions for the duration of our visit. It turns out that Vienna also has an honor system similar to Copenhagen where there are no turnstile to go through, but you’re expected to pay for your ride expecting occasional check up on your tickets. Before meeting with our host, we visited the Schönbrunn Palace on another beautiful sunny day. The palace was encompassed by a large green garden. We climbed to the top of the hill for a nice top-down of Vienna. The audio tour inside the palace gave a good overview of the history of the palace and important historic figure; admittedly, I did not retain much of the information except the part about the 6 year old Mozart performing to the royal family.

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Lately that evening we were picked up from a train station and driven to our host, Christine’s house. She told us that her neighborhood is considered to be a very green and expensive area. The only reason she is able to afford it was because her grandmother had bought the house many years back. Indeed it was a nice residential area; the only problem was that we had to take a bus to get to the nearest metro stop, very much like my transportation situation back at home. All three of us stayed in her son’s room while Noah slept on the couch during our stay.

Not wasting any time, we decided to head out that evening to explore the city a little bit even though we were all exhausted. We visited one of the popular cafes in Vienna. To be honest, I was a bit turned away by the planned when I heard that we were going to a “cafe”. By cafe, I imagined something like a coffee shop serving coffee, beverages, light snacks, and desserts. This cafe that we went to for dinner was more like a restaurant or rather, a diner. I was extremely excited to finally enjoy a nice sit down meal after days of irregular meals of mainly desserts. 

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My first two choices of pork dishes were all sold out. I was slightly disappointed, yet had a feeling of satisfaction because that meant I had good taste is selecting the popular/good dishes, haha. I ended up quickly picking some sort of beef dish along with a beef liver dumpling soup. It turned out the beef dished that I had ordered was a stew, well more like soup to me because it was very liquid. Despite having to finish two soups for dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

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On Saturday, we left the house early to visit the Vienna Naschmarkt before it gets too crowded. The market is separated between the flea market and the food stalls. I didn’t have much interested in the flea market section even though I did see some interesting vintage items for sale. We made our way past the scarves and other little potential souvenir items to the produce and snacks section. I immediately bought a salty pancake from one of the stands and shared it with Brytne to satisfy my stomach as breakfast. Most of the food stands sold similar items such as dried fruits, spices, salads, and chocolate. We saw huge loafs of bread; I was tempted to ask to hold one for a picture. We all ended up buying some dried fruit snacks. I bought a little bit of coconut bites, dried mango that tasted nothing like mango, and tiramisu flavor chocolate coated over nuts.

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Making our way back to the city center, we decided to go inside Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Another beautiful church with art all around. Vienna had a similar pedestrian shopping street similar to Copenhagen’s Stroget. Being the birthplace of Mozart, many of the souvenir shops printed Mozart’s face and violins on them. They even have Mozart chocolate which is made up of several layers of sweets including marzipan, pistachio, nougat, and chocolate. I was convinced to buy some since the picture made the chocolate look so colorful, but of course the taste did not live up to expectation. We made our way to the Spanish riding school where we decided to purchase tickets for a horse show for the next early afternoon.  Since we had time, we headed north towards Vienna’s giant ferris wheel. I didn’t understand what was so spectacular about this must-see. It did give a nice view of Vienna, but I already had a chance to it the day before. We then tried looking for this cafe a random Australian girl recommended to us the day before. In the end we gave up trying to look for the cafe and settled for a random one on our way. I eagerly order the pork schnitzel. I ordered a mini version of it, but don’t underestimate the small breaded meat because it was extremely filling.

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After our lunner (? haha), we quickly head towards the Raimund theater to try and get stand up seats to a musical called Elisabeth. We would like to go to an opera, but Christine advised us that the chances were slim that Saturday because a new show was premiering at the Royal Opera House. Christine told us that Elisabeth is a famous musical that she’s watched over 20 times because she loved it so much. For some reason, I was under the impression that we were going to an opera until the act started and I was confused on how musical-like this “opera” was, silly me. Since Elisabeth had been playing in Vienna for so many years, we easily bought good seats near the front of the stage for Elisabeth. There were English subtitles on the screens to the sides of the stage so I was able to understand what was going on. I really like the songs and the story overall. I can relate to Elisabeth or Sissi, an empress of Vienna. The story revolves around beautiful Sissi who married the emperor and losing her freedoms living in the palace. The song I Belong To Me really describes my stubborn fight for freedom. By freedom, I refer to the ability to do whatever I want. I take freedom to get extremes by what I meant to be able to do whatever I want. It’s my main motivators to make a lot of money because money is freedom. Money gives me options. To be free is to have options. Though the play portrayed Sissi’s yearn for freedom to be a very selfish desire because she abandoned her son to travel all over the world. Her neglect ultimately led to her son’s suicide and eventually death took her away as she wailed away with misery. Despite sharing the same desire for freedom and ownership of self, I hope I don’t turn on the wrong edge become someone who selfishly pursues freedom at the expense of others.

The next morning we loaded our belongings into Christine’s car before leaving for the horse performance. 1 word – Boring. That perfectly describes my experience with the performance. I was so bored of seeing the repetitive horse dancing routine, I almost fell asleep. I cannot believe I paid around 20 euros to watch horses trying to ballroom dance. I was not impressed with what they trained the horses to do because the trainers had trouble instructing the horses to follow directions multiple times during the show. Before leaving the riding school, we tried Vienna’s famous sachertorte cake in their cafe. It might not be the most authentic version, but it gave us a good enough idea of what all the type was all about. As usual, I was unimpressed with this fudge cake. For some reason, it came with a bit of a sour taste. It had the try and spongy taste that I normally do not enjoy anyway.

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With time to spare, we decided to browse around the Albertina museum before meeting up with Christine to get our luggage for the airport. We only have time to look through two exhibition including the Matisse one. As a faster museum browser, I was done quickly since I do not normally read the signs by the art. Outside of the museum we saw a mini protest going by. Since none of us understood German, we were not sure what the people were not protesting about.

We met Christine in front of the Wien Mitte Mall. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of shopping done for this travel break. I really wanted to buy a nice pair of casual shoes, but it’s always so hard for me to find shoes. It is especially hard to find a pair with a good price without sacrificing quality. I think I spent more money than I had originally anticipated. Cheap prices can be deceiving because you end up spending more since everything seems so affordable.

Well that was an eventful week that made me desperately want to just go back to Copenhagen and plop back on my bed.

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