Au-struck

I got back tonight from my weekend in Vienna, Austria. I traveled there with Adina, and we stayed with her freshman year roommate from school, Jocelyn. Adina and I realized that we haven’t flown anywhere together since Prague, which feels like ages ago! It was so nice to have company from the minute I left my apartment to the minute I got back; the traveling part went so much faster. Jocelyn was the sweetest, and it was so nice of her to open her apartment to Adina and me while we were there. It is a beautiful and clean apartment. She has two other roommates, one of whom was traveling for the weekend. They also have plenty of common space. Jocelyn was a great navigator, and she knew her way around a relatively big city. I hadn’t realized how big Vienna is, so having her as our tour guide was especially helpful.

Adina and I got to the airport a little early on Friday to have dinner at Yo! Sushi, which is a restaurant in CPH airport we’d both been wanting to try. The concept is cool: you take dishes off a conveyer belt until you’ve had enough to eat, and you can see what you’re taking by the color-coded menu that you have in front of you. It was fun! And the flight was smooth; we both loved the Austrian airline and ended up talking most of the flight to pass the time. Upon arriving at the airport on Friday night, Adina and I followed Jocelyn’s instructions and took a bus to the city center where we met up with Jocelyn. Then, we took a subway for a few stops, followed by a short walk to her apartment. We hung out for a little while in the kitchen before going to bed.

We woke up on Saturday morning ready for a long day of sightseeing and walking. We took the subway again to the city center (it was such a good move to get the 48-hour unlimited subway ticket this weekend, as we took it all over the place). As soon as we exited the station, we were looking up at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which reminded both me and Adina of the first time we saw La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It was a stunning building, and we walked around the sanctuary for a bit. Then, we bought tickets to climb 343 steps to the top. It was truly an exhausting climb, as the steps were all pretty steep and spiraled around countless times. We were all breathless by the time we reached the top. The view was beautiful, as we could see the whole city. However, it was a bit disappointing that the viewing area was not outdoors. We spent a few minutes taking in the scenery at the top, and we learned that the roof of the cathedral is made up of 250,000 glazed tiles. The way down was not nearly as tiring but it was extremely claustrophobic, as the staircase did not really allow for more than one person to pass at a time.

When we reached the bottom, we continued walking on the streets of Vienna. I must say that the white and pink colored buildings that lined every street reminded me very much of Prague. The architecture throughout the whole city was absolutely beautiful, and it seemed that the grand-looking castles and palaces were endless. Jocelyn showed us the street where she takes all her classes, which, like DIS in Copenhagen, is in the very center of a heavily tourist-populated area. We stopped in a shop called Cheese and More, where we each had dozens of tiny samples of different cheeses—such a fun snack! I tried pesto truffle cheese, gouda, mozzarella, and many others.

Then, we saw the famous Opera House, and while we collected a pamphlet that advertised the showtimes for later that day, we ended up getting involved in other activities and not going back. We didn’t get to see the inside of the building, but the outside was beautiful, as it was surrounded by water fountains and pretty pillars. We also saw the outside of the Albertina Art Museum. It was fun to see all the tall buildings we had seen from the top of the cathedral earlier in the morning. Then, we decided we were hungry, and we were just about to pass several brunch places Jocelyn had visited before. We settled on Joseph Brot, where I had a vegetable omelet and decent coffee. It was fun to sit and chat, and we enjoyed the break from walking. Especially after all the stairs, our legs were a bit sore.

We headed across the square to a pretty lookout of the streets below, where we took a few pictures. We were people-watching and talking about our previous travels throughout Europe, especially how it was cool to connect history from high school to real-life encounters abroad. Next, Jocelyn took us to Hoffberg Palace, where lots of horses pulled carriages around the circle. From that spot, you could literally turn in every direction and marvel at the pretty streets. We continued walking through the palace’s back gardens to find more palaces and horses, all the way until we got to an area called Museum Quarter, which is a quad of grass surrounded by several museums on all sides. We didn’t go inside a museum until Sunday, but it was nice to get a preview of the scenery, especially because we got so lucky with beautiful weather this weekend.

The next stop was Naschmarkt, which Jocelyn really wanted us to see before Sunday, when it would be closed. We learned that unlike Copenhagen, Vienna is a city that is somewhat religious, so most stores and many restaurants close for a family-day on Sunday. While this is lovely for the citizens of Austria, it does make it a bit more difficult for travelers to see the whole city in just one weekend. Naschmarkt was so fun; it was basically Vienna’s version of the Glass Market. There were countless vendors that sold stuffed olives and peppers, schnitzel, apple strudel, ice cream, feta cheese, and several snacks like candy and nuts. There were also restaurants with fancy-looking meals and drinks. I got a small scoop of gelato while we were there.

We took another subway to Schonbrunn Palace, which is a bit more secluded than the palaces in the city center. We walked around the courtyard for a while, as it was sunny and warm by this point in the afternoon. We took a few pictures in front of the grand palace, although we were a little squinty. We stumbled upon a strudel-making show, which, although not gluten-free, was an important food for Adina to try over the weekend. I really did enjoy the smell of the strudel, and it was cool to watch the chef roll the dough. We learned that in order to make good strudel, it has to be thin enough to read print through it! I ordered a hot chocolate to drink, while Adina and Jocelyn tried the strudel.

After watching the show, we sat in an outdoor courtyard to regroup and make a plan for the rest of our afternoon. We consulted the itineraries I had received from friends who had visited Vienna last weekend, and we decided we really wanted to try the electric scooters. I’ve seen them throughout Europe, but they seemed to be especially popular in Vienna, where there were plenty of bike paths alongside the walking paths—similar to how it is in Copenhagen. We took a subway to the central area, where we headed to walk through Stadt Park in search of three scooters. Initially, we downloaded the Limescooter apps and tried looking for those, but we ended up finding scooters from a different brand first: Tier. So, we downloaded this app, entered our card information, and scanned the bar code on the scooter. We rode them for about 40 minutes through tree-lined streets and beautiful parks, even passing some big event along the way with dozens of women in wedding dresses. In order to ride the scooters, you have to push off with one foot, followed by holding down a green engine pedal with your hand while standing on the scooter. You stop by holding the brake. It’s pretty simple to operate, and we all had a lot of fun.

We were getting tired, but we needed more energy for our evening out. So, we decided to stop for some coffee. We headed to Cafe Mozart, which apparently was a fancy bakery experience. It turns out that they served several gluten-free desserts, so I couldn’t resist getting a chocolate mousse with my coffee. Adina and Jocelyn also ordered dessert, so we decided that we’d just have a later dinner. It was a delicious snack, obviously. Then, we headed back to Jocelyn’s apartment to change for dinner and a night out. Resting my legs felt great.

After a short break, we took a subway to Veggiez, which had come up on my Find-me-gluten-free app earlier in the day. Jocelyn had already been there and loved it. The menu was unbelievable; I wanted to get at least five different dishes! I also learned that it was vegan, which was incredible given all the amazing-sounding options. I decided to get a gluten-free veggie burger and home fries because it was the most “fun” of my options, although I could have eaten there several times without repeating a dish. Adina and Jocelyn enjoyed the dinner as well.

We headed towards the Sign Lounge Bar, which was very out of our way. However, my friend had highly recommended the drinks there, and it wasn’t too cold for a brisk outdoor walk. Unfortunately, we did get a little lost on the way, and we had to turn around a few times before finding where Google Maps wanted us to turn. It was a bit of a sketchy area, but on the way back, we were able to avoid these streets. When we got there after about 40 minutes of trying to find it, the overwhelmed hostess informed us that we’d have to wait an hour if we wanted drinks. After seeing our disappointed faces, she offered us a little bit of wall space, telling us we could stand in a line if we wanted to stay. The way she suggested we stand single-file was funny and the three of us debated about what to do. We were pretty close to leaving and trying to find another bar when an enormous group left the bar, leaving several tables open in another room. The hostess seated us soon after that, and we were so excited to get a table. We ordered incredible and unusual drinks, including a fishbowl with tonic water presented on an electrically-blue-lit platter. Additionally, we got a butter and kettle corn drink, where the glass was surrounded by delicious popcorn. No complaints here. We enjoyed these drinks while we chatted for a while before heading back to the apartment. We didn’t go to bed until after 1, but it was worth it, as we packed so many activities into Saturday’s day and night.

On Sunday morning, we got ready and went to grab breakfast at blueorange, another place that had come upon my find-me-gluten-free searches in central Vienna. I was excited, as they advertised bagels with eggs. Unfortunately, they said that they needed a half hour to heat the gluten-free bagel, and we didn’t have the time to wait. We got smoothies instead and headed to our first sight of the day: the Kunst historiches museum. While we were walking there, we realized that the Vienna marathon was going on today, so many of the streets were blocked off. It was cool to watch the runners, but we were stuck, as we couldn’t cross the street to the museum quarter. We decided to switch around our plan and go to the Belvedere Palace instead, which required getting on another subway ride. The Belvedere gardens were exquisite, and there were tulips blooming everywhere. We walked around the whole property for a while before we got hungry for lunch, where we actually decided to go back to blueorange since we had more time with our updated itinerary. Then, we’d be closer to the afternoon activity of actually going to the museum. I called blueorange in advance and asked them to warm up a gluten-free bagel, so it was waiting for me by the time we got there. It was a yummy and casual lunch, which we enjoyed. My legs were definitely sore from all the walking we’d done this weekend.

Once we finished eating, we walked back to the Kunst historiches, which we could now access because the marathon was over. This required a bit of research, but once we figured out the marathon schedule, we were able to switch around everything on our Sunday agenda. In the museum, we saw several exhibits of Egyptian and Greek sculptures, as well as mummies, statues, and paintings. The physical building was beautiful as well. We left there at 3:30 in time to walk back to the main tourist street. Adina’s aunt was in Vienna for work this weekend, so the three of us met her for coffee and cake at another fancy bakery. Then, it was time to go back to Jocelyn’s apartment and get ready for the airport. Jocelyn was nice enough to take us all the way back to the train station, where Adina and I said goodbye and headed back to Copenhagen. We reflected on the weekend and talked about our upcoming week and weekends.

I have a super busy work week, especially since I barely did any work with all my visitors last week. I have one last round of papers and projects due before finals, so I expect to be working on those. However, with only 4.5 weeks left in Copenhagen, I’ll be sure to explore something new and make the next blog an interesting read.

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