Vienna

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Last weekend was a bank holiday, so we had the Friday off school. I’d booked a trip to Vienna- just by myself, I’d never been to a different country completley on my own before. At least with China and Czech Republic I was with a company! I got the coach from Florenc station, which took five hours to reach Vienna, getting in around 3pm. The hostel I stayed at, Westend City Hostel, was about a minute walk from Westbahnhof metro station, so it was a great location.

I’d booked into an 8-bed dorm, and sharing the room with me was a group of Polish girls, a Brazilian and a Hungarian who were all friendly. I didn’t really have a set plan for the Friday, so I took the metro to Stephensplatz, the centre of the city, and went for a touristy wander. I had about a dozen maps with me, and following one of the recommendations I ate dinner at Cafe Altweir. I sat at the only remaining table in the cosy and smoky pub restaurant, which was good because it’d just started to rain outside! After a gulash and a beer, I made my way back to the hostel and planned a busy itinerary for the Saturday!

In total I’d planned to see 5 or 6 different things on the Saturday. By the end of the day I’d probably seen a thousand. A guide book recommended a visit to Naschmarket, particuarly on a Saturday when there’s a flea market too. I was up early on Saturday and headed there first, spending a long while browsing through the stalls. It was packed, and I could see why- everything was so bizzarly interesting. First there were the food markets, selling olives and peppers stuffed with creams and cheeses, in fact lots of small foodstuff wrapped in other foodstuff, dried fruits, sweets, fish wrapped around rice, and so on. At the flea market I saw old coins, candlesticks, barbie dolls, door handles, ivory tusks, watches, clothes, bags, army helmets for sale. It made me wonder where these things came from and how they came to be acquired by these ordinary-looking people in the first place.

After lunch, I walked to St Stephan’s Cathedral, which was really impressive and surrounded by horse-and-carriage trips (thought I was going to be trampled over multiple times), past Mozarts House (as you do), the Imperial Palace Gardens and walked along the river watching the graffiti artists. I also tried to find the Anker Clock- I had no idea if it was supposed to be good or not, but it was on my map, so I tried to find it but very much failed. Instead I went to Haus De Meeres, an original WW2 air defence tower. Now it has been converted into some sort of aquarium centre for kids, I popped into the reception/gift shop area and was stood there for probably 20 seconds before wanting to rip my hair out from the sounds of children wailing and screaming and fighting and everything else in between.

Next, I took the metro to Ratheus, where first I saw City Hall. It’s a really impressive building with a nice park opposite. I wandered through, it was all very peaceful and quiet until there was a sudden burst of shouting- a dog had ran up to a stranger and stolen his pizza. Luckily the victim found it funny and began taking a thousand photos of the dog eating the pizza. Anyway after this ‘commotion’, I took a few photos of the Theatre opposite the City Hall, then walked down to the Parliament building. The Parliament building was impressive, for me anyway, as it had a classical theme to it. The women who stand as pillars were on one side, and a ‘parthenon’ style temple with a massive statue of Pallas Athena stood at the front. Apparantly, the fact that Athena is placed with her back to Parliament is bad luck because it means wisdom has its back to them; but I disagree, surely she shouldn’t have her back to the people…? So I took a few hundred photos around here, it was a really nice area. I then asked a man to take my photo but he literally took my photo and got NONE of the impressive architecture in the background. Never let a man take your photo!!

Once I was done here, I spotted the rooves of some pretty-looking buildings peering out over the treetops, so I wandered through the Museums Quarter, before walking down between the two Art History museum bulidings. I could hear music coming from somewhere, and there was a student band performing jazz/classics/punk music! So a massive group of us stood to watch them, they were very good, and there was also a toddler who kept going over to their donations box and trying to make off with the money.

Once they had finished, I realised how hungry I was and decided to cross over the road to find somewhere to eat. But it wasn’t as simple as that- police cars were everywhere, police were marching down the road, and tourists stood poised with their cameras. Oh yes- a Legalise Cannabis march was going on. Between three lorries blasting out music, a peaceful group of protesters marched along, singing and dancing and drinking. I followed them to see where they were going, to see if there was anywhere else that I hadn’t visited yet. They ended at the Imperial Gardens, which was where I’d also been earlier that day (but perhaps a different part of it). I was really starving by now and it was early evening, so I headed back to Westbahnhof, grabbed something to eat and collapsed into bed at the hostel.

My coach back to Prague was leaving at 4.30pm on Sunday, so I didn’t really have a lot of time to do much. Originally I’d planned to visit Belvedere, as that was one of the repeatedly recommended things to do and it seemed quite laid back and peaceful there. But flicking through my guide book just before I left, I spotted that the Vienna Museum was free entry on the first Sunday of every month, so I seized the opportunity and off I went there instead! I had limited funds for the weekend, only really having enough to spend for meals. So no I Love Vienna t-shirts I’m afraid! I wandered around the museum for a couple of hours, which was really interesting, before grabbing a bite to eat back by Naschmarket. I picked up my rucksack from the hostel, made my way back to the U2 Stadion, and got the coach back to Prague all okay!

I really enjoyed Vienna and felt like I fitted in doing as much as possible- and it was all so interesting! If I went back it would be good to see what the nightlife was like, as I didn’t get a chance to go out at all. Next stop, Germany ๐Ÿ™‚

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