So this weekend, the whole group of UP Salzburgers went to Vienna (Wien auf Deutsch). I had a bad taste in my mouth because of my previous experience in Vienna – the part of the city we were staying in wasn’t exactly “appealing” – only one restaurant was open, no one was out, and the neighborhood we were in just didn’t feel safe. The Airbnb was pretty nice, but the entrance and the surrounding area definitely wasn’t.
That being said, the experience I had in Vienna this week was extraordinary. Even though it was only a few days, it felt like months because so much happened, so this will be a pretty long post.
Donnerstag (Thursday), 27. Sept
We started off the weekend on Thursday afternoon, by visiting two palaces – Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere Palace. Thursday was also my roommate, Max’s, birthday, so Gundi (our fine arts professor) got him a cake, and a group of us ended up hanging out in the “courtyard” area and ate and had a great time:
We went in, did a tour which was very interesting, and then we went out to the back, which is a huge, beautiful garden. We walked around a little while and took pictures:
At the top of the hill behind the palace was a huge Gloriette, made because Vienna used to be the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. It was an incredibly impressive piece of art, and it looked down on the palace and it was gorgeous. I wish I took a picture of the Gloriette itself, but I only got a picture from the top.
The Gloriette ended up having a café inside, so a small group and I went inside and got some coffee and desserts, then headed back out for a walk, and we ended up hanging out at the Gloriette, where Maya and Carly danced:
After this, we walked back to our bus and headed to the Belvedere Palace. Both the Belvedere and the Schönbrunn were absolutely fascinating and gorgeous.
We hung out at the Belvedere for a few hours, then went back to the hotel. After that, a small group of us headed out to the Wiener Prater (a local amusement park) to get food and drinks to celebrate Max’s birthday. The Prater is like a huge amusement park – rides, food stands, rollercoasters, beer gardens, etc. but rather than being a seasonal thing, it’s open every night. I was expecting it to be a little sketchy, and although it was a little sketchy, it was a TON of fun. We went out to a little beer garden and I had a delicious pesto pasta, then we went out to a little bar thing called Kate’s Bar. We hung out awhile and bonded and just talked – I felt very connected to the people I was with, and this weekend has been so beneficial in creating relationships with people, but I’ll get to that later (see Saturday’s section for more on that).
Freitag, 28. Sept
So Friday started out fairly early, and we took the bus down to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. St. Stephen’s was gorgeous – it was a gothic cathedral, and it is also the tallest point in Vienna.
We went inside St. Stephen’s to listen to a bit of the mass, but ended up leaving pretty quickly to go to the top of the cathedral, since it’s (as mentioned) the tallest point in Vienna. It was a lot of steps, for sure, but it was well worth it:
After hanging out around the Cathedral, we went to the Spanish Riding School, which is a horse training ground and they put on performances every few months. It’s very elite and it’s a Viennese tradition, and I somewhat expected to be bored from it, but it was actually pretty cool. Unfortunately though, I couldn’t take any pictures, because they’re not allowed. After the Spanish Riding School, we walked around for food for awhile, and ended up finding this little pizza place that our fine arts professor recommended, and it was really good, and fairly inexpensive! I went with a group that I normally don’t talk to a lot, and it was really nice to bond with them over some good food. After lunch, we got some ice cream (some very expensive ice cream, but well worth it, because it was delicious). Then we went to my favorite part of the trip, the UN City Vienna.
Gaby and I freaked out because we both love international politics and are both poli-sci/German double majors, and we both enjoyed the tour a ton. We even got to see a hearing on anti-corruption measures! It was really interesting to see how the UN hearings functioned, with translators and the diplomats who attended:
After this, we headed home and decided to stay in for the night. I bought some cheap pasta at Billa, as well as some dessert, and the others bought food and drinks. It was a really good opportunity to bond in a small group, since it was only four of us who ended up hanging out.
Samstag, 29. Sept
So Saturday was definitely the highlight of the trip. We started out the day really early by going out to the Volksgarten (the people’s park), then went around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I took a lot of pictures of random pieces of architecture, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.
After this, we toured the Treasury and an art museum, which were both fascinating. The art and artifacts were absolutely gorgeous (and expensive) and it really got me thinking about how much I love history, art, and architecture, all of which Vienna is rich in.
From there, we went out to explore a little bit. We saw a couple doing marriage photos in front of the Rathaus (the town hall), and there was a lot of Irish dancing from Andrés, who was wearing his jacket as a skirt and a scarf as a headband:
A small group of us went to grab food, and we split up because Andrés, Max, and I had to go to a traditional café as part of an assignment. It was a little pricey but we got the pictures we needed for the assignment, and the café was in the middle of a bustling street, so the life of the city was pretty exciting. It was a really good time spent with my roommates, and we ended up bumping into another group of UP Salzburgers!
Andrés and Max needed to rush back to get changed before the opera (I didn’t go because I didn’t have nice enough clothes), so we took the U-Bahn (Vienna’s U-Bahn system is surprisingly nice!), then made it back to the hotel pretty soon afterwards. I planned on heading back out with them and exploring Vienna alone while they were in the opera, but I didn’t wake up before they left so I went out with a different group and it was a TON of fun. We went to the Wiener Prater (the amusement park) and hung out for a few hours. I went on a few rides, both equal parts terrifyingly sketchy, painful, and absolutely hilarious. I got some delicious currywurst (HIGHLY RECOMMEND GETTING CURRYWURST) and had a really good time, because the group that I went out with was a group of people who I mostly didn’t talk to much at all. It was such a good experience and I’m really glad I ended up going with them, because they’re all really great people, and it’s an amazing group of friends to hang out with, and I’m really grateful to have gotten to spend the night with them.
After the amusement park, we went back to the hotel, and I hung out with another group in a hotel room for a while, watching some Ben Stiller movie in German. To finish off the night, I went back down to the room next to mine, where we had a really deep heart-to-heart with a small group of six, and it was SO needed. I talked to a few of them, the Penthouse guys, about a lot of stuff so they knew a lot about me and I knew a lot about them, and I knew the two others but not really well, minus being in classes last year or this year. But the conversation spanned so much, it covered religion, struggles, close calls with death, thoughts of studying abroad, Kairos, plans for the year, relationship with faith, interactions with others, and SO much more; it got deep and the judgment-free attitude of the group, some of whom I’d barely talked to, was really refreshing and much needed. Honestly, it was like a little retreat, and it was so enjoyable and friendly and loving and I barely have the words to describe just how much it meant to me that people were willing to talk and listen with no judgment. We all agreed that we’re so phenomenally lucky to be in such a beautiful place with such amazing people – as was mentioned, “I can’t imagine how different it’d be with one less person, one different person, or one more person.” The people that I’ve met and have made connections with on this trip are honestly one of the best parts, in my opinion. The night on Saturday was easily one of the best nights of this trip so far.
Except something had to go wrong, right?
After the heart-to-heart, we walked out into the hallway, and there was a drunk early-20s-year-old who was on the ground RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR, so we had to pass him, and this Austrian woman/early-20s-year-old came up, very angrily, and yelled “Fickt euch” (Fuck you all) and started yelling at us to “fuck off” (in English) all while berating this guy to stand up (which he couldn’t do) and yelling at us even more. I’d never seen her, but she was angry at us and the guy, but she definitely knew the guy. I don’t know if she was intoxicated or what, but she yelled at me again to “fuck off,” (very patronizingly) which pissed me off because there was literally no other way to get out than passing the guy, which is what made her mad in the first place, so I yelled back “Wir verstehen” (we understand) and it stopped her from yelling at us, but she kept yelling at the guy until 2 in the morning.
Definitely made the night a little sour, but it was all good. Unfortunately though, since she was being SO loud, it was hard to go to sleep, and we had to be up by 6am the next morning to make it to the bus to Salzburg.
Sonntag, 30. Sept
The day on Sunday was pretty short, but it was really fun. On the way back to Salzburg, we went to the Melk Monastery, which was absolutely stunning and incredibly interesting.
I was partly expecting to be a little bored during my time at the monastery, but it was tons of fun and a very rewarding experience. I decided to go to mass in German, which was really interesting but also pretty hard. I didn’t know much of the vocabulary that deals with religion, but with the help of a guidebook and following cues from the rest of the churchgoers, I made it through alright. We definitely got some weird looks from the attendees but it was totally worth it – it was a valuable experience and it was actually quite a bit of fun! After that, we went on a tour of the monastery, and it ended with a really nice view of Melk, the town that the monastery overlooks:
After the tour, we headed back to Salzburg and that was the conclusion of our weekend in Vienna! It was only a few days long, but with everything that happened, it felt like at least a week. It was so worth it though. As we talked about during our heart-to-heart on Saturday night, we all agreed that we’re in such a lucky spot to be able to experience everything we’re experiencing. It was a weekend full of love, friends, good memories, and lots and lots of gratitude for how fortunate we are to be in such a magnificent place with such fantastic people.
Mit viel Liebe und Dank aus Wien,
P.S: Here are some other pictures I took but couldn’t figure out where to include!