My last week of traveling has been among the best for so many different reasons. I spent the first part of the week in Vienna, before flying to London and spending 4 amazing days.
My visit to Vienna got off to a rough start. After arriving via a smooth 1 hour bus ride from Bratislava, I made my way to Seven Hostel, where I had a reservation for the next 3 nights. This place literally looked like where the horror film Seven could have been filmed–after one look, I instantly felt uncomfortable staying here. Not to mention, the receptionist refused to even let me in the building at 12pm. So, I took my bags and quickly found another hostel that was a bit pricier but definitely cleaner and safer than Seven Hostel.
Vienna started off a bit roughly, but being able to reconnect with an old friend made it one of my favorite stops of the summer! Lekisha and I interned together in the U.S. Senate in the summer of 2009, and grew up just down the highway from each other in Alabama. She is now living in Vienna as part of her second tour with the U.S. State Department (she’s changing the world…no big deal!). We met up for some sightseeing, an authentic Austrian dinner, and long-overdue catching up. Even though we had not seen each other in 7 years, we picked up right where we left off and had so much to discuss in terms of current events, career goals, and life in general. #AlabamatoAustria !! Lekisha generously offered to let me stay in the guest room of her (gorgeous) apartment for my last 2 nights in Vienna, so I grabbed my bags from my hostel and threw my deuces up to my last hostel of the entire trip!
In terms of sites to see, below is a list of my highlights of Vienna:
-Sigmund Freud house/museum/cafe. This was the first place I attempted to visit in Vienna. The queue was extremely long and slow-moving, so I settled on having a glass of wine and dessert at the cafe next door where Freud frequented. I recommend going early in the day if you would like to visit this museum!
-Belvedere. The Belvedere is a former castle converted to a museum with open gardens. It has the largest collection of Gustav Klimt artwork in the world, which is why I had to go! I saw The Kiss, as well as other famous works of his such as Adam and Eve and Judith. I also enjoyed seeing a series of marble busts by Franz Messerschmidt which are known for their absurd expressions.
-Haus Der Musik. Vienna is a city all about music. This was surprisingly one of the most enjoyable museums I’ve ever visited. The museum focuses on the science of sound, as well as Vienna’s significance in the history and contemporary performance of classical music. I liked how a separate room was dedicated to each great composer of the Viennese Classical school, including Mozart, Strauss, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert. The emphasis on science was particularly interesting too–one room recreated the sounds we all heard in our mothers’ wombs. It was fascinating! Another darkened room played Mozart and Beethoven scores as performed on synthesizers on a surround sound system. I definitely chilled in here for a while and relaxed.
-The entire Vienna downtown. Vienna is absolutely beautiful and the entire downtown is a UNESCO World Heritage site. St. Stephen’s cathedral is iconic with its chevron pattern, and the Hofburg (the Hapsburg imperial palace), National Library, Volksgarten, and Museum Quarter are nearby.
-Schloss Schonbrunn. This palace is in the southwest corner of the city and is Austria’s version of Versailles in France and Sansoucci in Germany. Lekisha, her summer intern Maria, and I enjoyed walking in the gardens and taking “Sound of Music” pictures on the hills (haha).
-Rauthaus and Vienna Film Festival. I happened to be in town during the Vienna Film Festival, which consists of regular showings during the summer on a giant screen attached to the Rauthaus, or city hall. Several food and drink booths line the lawn. Lekisha and I had stopped by for a drink earlier, and I went by myself for a screening (Cinderella by the Dutch National Ballet) my last night after Lekisha had left for Spain. It was a great atmosphere and the perfect way to enjoy a nice summer night in Vienna.
-Naturhistorisches Museum. My last day in Vienna, I explored the Vienna Natural History Museum, which houses the largest collection of meteorites in the world (~8,000). I saw meteors from all over the world, including ones discovered in Alabama, Tennessee, Gerogia and Arkansas! I also saw a huge collection of beautiful minerals and dinosaur bones, including a “live” animated dinosaur. While I think New York’s museum has a better dinosaur collection (and the blue whale), I feel the Vienna museum is superior in every other way.
To top off my amazing trip to Vienna, I received word from Nat on my last day that my backpack had been delivered to his house after 3 weeks of being completely missing and no word from Germanwings. I was so excited and relieved to know it was waiting on me in London! I still find it astounding that my bag made it from Hanoi to Qatar to Dallas to Lima and was the first bag off the belt in June, yet got lost between Berlin and Marseille in July. This gave me just one more reason to be so excited for my last stop–London.