We have about a month and a half left in Galway, which means we have to jam pack these next couple of weeks with everything left to do on our study abroad lists. This especially includes trips. That’s why, right before finals began, we fit a quick trip to Vienna, Austria on March 29.
Vienna was one of the cities on my list because my grandmother kept nudging me to go and it’s also the title of my favorite Billy Joel song. So, I was excited to go. However, my trip began a little different than all of my friends. You see, sometimes things get lost in translation like the difference between a.m. and p.m. It wasn’t until a month after we booked the trip that I realized I bought a plane ticket for early Friday morning while my friends all got airplane tickets for Friday evening. That meant I was heading to Vienna all by myself.
It’s not the first time I’ve traveled somewhere by myself. The first time I went on a plane alone was last year to Argentina. So I wasn’t nervous about the traveling part. I was more so nervous about the fact I’d be alone in a strange city for the following couple of hours as I waited for my friends. I had no clue what to do with my myself.
When I arrived in Vienna, it was gorgeous. As many of you know, Ireland is a lot of rain and wind. When I got to Austria, it was 70℉ and sunny. That’s when I decided I was going to roam the city and mimic the movie “Before Sunrise.” So, after dropping my stuff off at the hostel, I headed out. I really didn’t have a certain place I wanted to go, but I just kept walking. I came across a bunch of cool museums, statues and old buildings. Vienna is a city that really has kept a lot of its old historical features and it really makes the city unique. I even went shopping in an H&M that was in a really old fashioned building.
One of the weird things I came across in Austria was my last name. A couple of months ago in Switzerland, I found out my last name is slang for “air conditioner” because the name loosely translates to climate in German. It tends to happen when I go to countries like Austria, Switzerland or Czech Republic that people who look at my passport tend to giggle because my last name translates essentially to air conditioner. So every time I passed a store front with air conditioner, my last name was everywhere. So kind of weird.
After some wandering, I ate dinner at a place called Cafe Central where I got traditional Austrian food such as schnitzel and apple strudel. The food was amazing and, to be honest, I deserved to treat myself to something good. Anyway, as fun as it was wandering around by myself, I was excited when my friends finally arrived that night.
The next day was a time to explore a lot of the historical sights in depth. The first place we went to was a brief stop at the Spanish Riding School, a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses, and then off to the Hofburg. The Hofburg is the former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers. Two of the country’s most famous rulers were Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria and her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph I.
The Hofburg was really cool because it was dedicated to these two monarchs and had a lot of their items there like Sisi’s dresses and their old furniture. It really gave us insight into their lives and was a really neat trip.
After this, we branched off in half. Some of us headed to the Belvedere, a famous art museum, to see “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. It’s definitely a must see in Vienna. However, I ended up opting out to enjoy the beautiful weather because many of us have not seen the sun in many, many moons. So we walked around, enjoyed a lot of Vienna’s parks and got traditional sausage that was really, really good. We even stumbled across some sort of X-Games where Austrian bikers competed for something. I don’t really know, I don’t speak German.
After wandering around again and enjoying the weather, we headed to Schönbrunn Palace. Schönbrunn is essentially the “country” home for Sisi and Franz, and monarchs before them like Maria Theresa. The palace was my favorite part because the entire place was breathtaking. We roamed all around the gardens which had beautiful flowers that were starting to bloom and amazing surprises around each corner. It was really interesting because a lot of the royal architecture is Roman influenced. Overall, it was super beautiful. However, my favorite part was when we climbed up a hill to a building dedicated to Maria Theresa’s reign. This building overlooked the entire palace and Vienna. We also headed up there during sunset so it was extra breath taking.
After that, we got some dinner at Wienerwald which is a German franchise chain of fast-food restaurants and then headed to bed early. We did explore the city a little more in the morning before our plane and went to see Stephen’s Cathedral. It’s one of the more famous churches in Vienna. We also decided to climb up the tower of the church with all of our backpacks. Big mistake, because that is a round staircase so it was not made for people to bring their backpacks along. I want to say the view was worth it, but after almost falling down multiple flights of stairs, I’ll just leave off with the fact climbing that tower was an experience.
Overall, my trip to Vienna was unique. It was a lot of fun being able to enjoy the city as a whole and enjoy the warm and beautiful weather it gave us. I had a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see what more cities will bring me as I start to finish up my semester here in Galway.