Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vienna, Austria and a little Bratislava (Post #10)

From February 25-27 eight of my friends and I went to Vienna, Austria.

Just to brief you on the eight of them: Ewa and Jimmy are from UIllinois, Sam is from Purdue, Zain from Dubai, Pete from UMaryland, Liz and Anna from Babson, and Gail from Cornell.

I pretty much booked the whole trip (the flights and the hostel anyways) so I wanted to make sure I didn't let anyone down. It was also Jimmy's 21st birthday so we had to do something fun. I found a cheap flight to Bratislava, Slovakia which is about 40 miles away from Vienna. This was the first trip we would be traveling together. We were all pretty excited and got to the airport and made it relatively hassle-free through the whole way. We landed in Bratislava on Thursday night and took a Ryanair Bus to the center of Vienna. I had written down directions how to get to our hostel so I was prepared!! We bought our metro and transportation passes in Vienna and were on our way. Right when we got out of the metro station there was a "hotdog" stand called Wursteland or something! We all ordered Kasekrainers (described as being similar to kielbasa or Polish sausage). They were AMAZING!!! They are at least a foot long, thrown in a bun filled with mustard and ketchup. To our astonishment, the sausage was filled with cheese. Wow, little can I say besides the fact that I had four of them between then and Saturday afternoon when we left. They are almost good enough to be thrown in the same category as gelato!!!

The nine of us hopped on the bus and headed up the hill to where our hostel was located. The website called it the "Palace Hostel" so we got off where the address I had written down told us. We look up and see this GORGEOUS five star HOTEL called the "Palace HOTEL". We looked on the sign and it said the SAME exact address given to me by the hostel. You should've seen us jumping up and down and celebrating actually thinking it was our hostel. We couldn't believe it could possibly be our hostel. You can easily tell we are all new at this hostel thing if we expected this. We walk in this gorgeous hotel where everyone is wearing suits and walk through a red curtain entering the lobby made of pure marble. I asked where the Palace Youth Hostel was and he unfortunately sent us down the road 100 yards. We were a little disappointed, but kind of saw it coming even though we didn't want to admit it.

The hostel was pretty nice. It was a little out of the way when it came to location from the center but it had a spectacular view of city of Vienna as you can see below. It really was quite a view and this picture was taken literally 10 yards from our door.

We had originally booked two rooms for the eight of us and then one other decided to join us on the trip and booked his own room. The place was a little creepy at night so he slept in our room for the two nights. One room was the girls' room, and the other was the guys. Each room had 4 beds as you can see in the picture below, so there was 1 extra girl. I decided to sleep on the floor because it was way too hot up on the top bunk and of course because I am a gentleman, ha, so I gave up my bed to the fifth girl. I am sure all five of them in the other room were trying to convince the others to let them sleep in our room. In the end, Ewa was the lucky girl to come sleep in the room with the guys.

**Please don't judge the picture too much. You can see Jimmy spraying some cologne on Pete so he can smell it. I know it makes me question their sexuality so I understand if you do the same.

The first night we were there, since we arrived in Vienna around 10pm, we decided just to go for a walk down the hill to see if we were close to any restaurants or bars or anything displaying any type of civilization. Let me tell you that this night was very dark and it was kind of hazy. In addition, there were street lights out every now and then to make it a little bit darker! Saying that this place was creepy would be a huge understatement. It was a perfect plot for the scenario in a horror movie where everything goes terribly wrong in a split second and suddenly half or all of us are dead. As a result, we quickly walked back up the hill and went in to the hostel. After a little bit, we decided to call it a night and went to bed.

We woke up, enjoyed our free continental breakfast where cereal, bread and nutella or jam, cafe, hot chocolate, and yogurt was all offered. After a couple bowls of cereal and six glasses of hot chocolate I was ready to go. While we waited for the girls to slowly eat, the guys went into the recreational room where we watched a TV show in German, played foosball in which Jimmy and I tied 5-5, and played some Ping-Pong. Everyone showered, got ready, and we took a tram to the City Center.

The first building we visited was the Austrian Parliament Building. Before I go on, we did not go into any buildings and am not really sure why. Some of them were closed, some weren't interesting enough to go into, and some I guess we just didn't really think about going in to be honest haha. The coolest sculpture I have seen to date (I am behind schedule on my blogs so I have seen the Statue of David which is now #1 since I visited Vienna) is pictured below with the Parliament Building in the background,
This statue known as the Pallas-Athene-Brunnen also known as the Athena Fountain. I ended up researching the history and meaning of this fountain a bit, and it is as interesting as the statue itself is. You can see the two bodies laying down in front of it. There are two more laying in the back which as a whole represent the four most important rivers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Danube and Inn Rivers are the front two in the picture and the back two are the Elbe and Vltava Rivers. The two women at the feet of Athena represent legislative and executive powers of the state. Interestingly enough, Athena is the goddess of Wisdom which makes perfect sense that all of these statues and allegories relate to the Parliament Building. We hung around and looked at the statues and architecture of the incredible Parliament Building and got a great group photo (Nice picture Ewa!)

We crossed the street as we headed to the Hofburg Square; home of the Hofburg Palace. I saw the most outrageous worded sign and had to take a picture. Can anyone try to guess one word on there? I certainly couldn't!! Haha this reminds me as I prepare you for my mini-tangent. These words on the sign were probably the shortest words I saw that weekend. Listening to us pronounce the words on the metro and all over the city was quite entertaining to everyone around us. We would obviously over-emphasize every little accent mark or sound imaginable to make it sound even more ridiculous. My friend took a picture of ONE WORD near the escalator that had so many characters it would probably count for a paragraph. I was very tempted to open a book written in German just to see the pages of long, illegible words. I bet books in Austria are twice as long as the same book written in English would be.

Anyways, back to the important stuff. A picture below shows Rathaus. Looks kind of like a cathedral some sort huh? Well it isn't!! In this deceivingly-cathedral looking building the mayor and city council sits. In normal terms, it is the city hall. We didn't walk to it, but as you can see it is a very pretty building and would like to check it out sometime in my lifetime.

Next we saw the Hofburg Imperial Palace. The President of Austria resides here. We went inside but it was closed so we could not explore. It is a very cool building with numerous individual statues and a couple of awesome looking lion statues which was the ideal component of many individual pictures. The Hofburg Square is a neat place because of the open area with a couple big statues, a passageway of trees leading up to it, and the City of Vienna surrounding it. In the picture below you can see the entrance to the Palace from a distance. In case some of you do not believe me for some reason that this is Hofburg, but really because I like the picture, here is my evidence!! Something about the architectural style catches my interest. It is also partly because the color of the structure combined with the color of the door and the trees nearby make it a beautiful picture.

The picture below shows a few of the neat and very impressive statues as well as the awesome Lion with the shield of the man he probably just ate.

Right across the street is the Museums Quarter. In this square rests a handful of museums including the two most popular imperial museums: the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum. These two museums have EXACTLY the same exteriors which was quite ironic yet neat at the same time. We had to pay to go in and most of us were being too stingy with our money (including me) so we did not go in any. The K.......Museum is the Museum of Fine Arts and the N......Museum is the Museum of Natural History of Vienna. To be honest, I wasn't interested in either of those aspects to enter either museum.

It started to rain so we decided to cut the exploring short and headed to a shopping section of the city. We just walked around for the most part, went to another square which consisted of outlets and restaurants. We all agreed on a place to eat, and I had some Schnitzel. I had always heard about schnitzel and never knew what it was. The schnitzel was excellent as it tasted sort of like a slightly sweeter chicken cutlet. We went to H&M and I bought a nice dress-shirt for a very good price; the first thing I think I have purchased that I haven't eaten, drank, or used for some type of transportation.

After the girls were done shopping, we went back to the hostel. It was raining so we just hung around the hostel until finally we went out to celebrate Jimmy's 21st. We went out and everyone had a good night. The next morning we woke up to check out and head back to good old Milano. It was a great trip where we all got closer, had a good time, and enjoyed the nice, english-speaking people of Austria compared to the asses of Milano.

No trip for me this weekend so hopefully I will catch up on the blog some more. Up next is Cinque Terre and our rental car experience! Hope JJ had a good birthday and hope everyone back home is doing well and enjoying the nicer weather! Keep up the emails!!

Email me at if you are interested in seeing any pictures. I have been posting them online but a couple people with less powerful cameras and lower photography skills than myself ended up copying my entire album which is a little ridiculous in my opinion so all of my pictures are now private. I am happy to share them with you if you shoot me an email.

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