Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vienna ♥

My whole life I've been the planner and organizer in my group of everyone.  My friends and family all know me for being meticulous in my everyday life; spontaneous and unplanned are not words used to describe any action I carry out.  It's both a blessing and a curse.  This trip wasn't my brainchild, but I figured (for a change) that I'd roll with it.  I was given an idea of a place to go, and after securing a little apartment on the outskirts of town on, I looked up some fun stuff to do, but made no other definitive plans.  It wasn't "unplanned," but it was a first step towards spontaneous.  I decided to go with the flow...
...and it turned out to be quite fabulous.

Vienna, Austria.  Home to 1.74 million people.  Feels like your best friend's house, perhaps a smidge dirtier.  It was one of the chillest big cities I have ever visited.  People were friendly, unhurried, laid back, and sophisticated, all wrapped up into one.

Before this locale was suggested to me, I had never really investigated what Vienna had to offer.  The only relation I had with this place was it's in the same country where the Sound of Music was filmed (the city was Salzburg, in case you wondered).  So when I googled what to do, I was pleasantly surprised, even for it being during the "down" season.  Most of the big stuff is definitely history-oriented, which is one of my favorite things about new places.  But there was so much fun stuff to do as well, though we didn't get to do everything in the two days/one night we were there!

Our first stop was a little outside of the city center: the beautiful Schönbrunn palace, gardens, and zoo (though we didn't go into the zoo, it is right beside the palace)!  While fighting the insane winds that day, we manged to see the winter-kissed grounds and gardens, enjoy sun on our face while looking at centuries old architecture and art, and see some fabulous pieces of history inside the mostly golden-papered walls.

The gorgeous Schönbrunn Palace!!!!

After we spent a considerable amount of time touring the palace grounds (and the inside, which was fabulousssssss), we went and checked into our apartment. GO HERE for a photo gallery of the pics of the apartment!

Located at Gellertgasse 5, 10. Favoriten, 1100 Vienna, Austria. It is certainly off the beaten path, reflected in it's affordable (and fantastic) price! Paid €90 a night! Within walking distance of the train station and seems to be an up-and-coming location based on the construction everywhere! It was young and modern, fresh and clean, and had a great view and plenty of space, with a huge bedroom that would've slept three, a sleeper sofa in the living room, a small kitchenette and table seating for four, one half bath and two full baths, one of which is inside the master. It has a great little patio with a cool view and free wifi to go with it all! The only cons I could think were parking was disastrous and we were on the 5th floor (although there was a lift, it was teeny tiny and smelly). And there's nothing really to do in the surrounding area. Other than that, I'd stay there again!

After settling in, taking a tinkle, hooking up to wifi to inform our loved ones we arrived safely, we then ventured to the other side of the outskirts of the city: Prater Park!  Let me note here that using their metro/train system is easy as pie!  Although there weren't many attractions active in the park because it was wintertime, we still got to ride the really cool Ferris Wheel and get an AH-mazing view of the city at night in a way most people don't get to see!

Vienna, ya'll.

We spent the evening walking around and eventually found a nice, albeit expensive, little steakhouse where I had a dinner fondue for the first time (mannnn was it tasty) located very closely to the cathedral!  Then the next day, our first stop was a Starbucks!  Living in Italy, where there aren't any at all, getting a little treat from one of my favorite drink places is always a good time.  We had an early breakfast and people-watched, and for a Monday morning, it was confirmed even further how relaxed the city of Vienna really is.  Then we walked.  We saw beautiful, towering, marble edifices containing museums and art galleries, stables and government buildings.  We discovered another palace squished and hidden around corners and amongst everyday structures.  Eventually, we made our way to St. Stephan's Cathedral and Stephansplatz (the main square in Vienna)!

St. Stephan's Cathedral is breathtaking.  The Gothic style is amazing, and heartbreaking, and solemn, and impactful.  The most memorable part for me was a statue of a nailed man, staked to the higher walls of the church.  I just sort of turned my head while on the upper deck investigating the organ and saw it.  I stopped and gave it my full attention, the sun streaming in through the stained glass windows, illuminating it; unbelievable sadness and appreciation filled me, and I took a little moment to say a prayer.  No fakeness here, or attempt at exploiting a religion.  I took every square inch of that place in.  Churches tend to do that to me, especially the "darker" ones (don't read too much into that people).

 After the church, we really only had time left in the day for one more stop, and we decided to make our way to "Mozart's House."  There's quite a story to our last adventure and it involves a tree and the woman beside it.  Mozart's House was right in front of us, so I'd gotten down into the street to try and get the entire building in a picture when a little lady walked by.

The front of Mozart's House (no pictures were
allowed inside).
She stopped, looked at me and my group and started talking to us in Slovenian.  The gentleman in our group asked her if she spoke English, which she quickly switched to and mumbled something to him that I didn't quite catch.  I sort of ignored her, keeping my focus on getting the shot I wanted, and in the meantime, they continued talking.  The next thing I know, he's saying, "Hey... we're gonna follow this lady."  Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is - NO!  HUMAN TRAFFICKER!!!  But I didn't even get a chance to say anything because off he goes, and drags along the other girl with us.  I decided to follow along and be the lookout, because clearly this dude was convinced this little ole lady was harmless (that's how they getcha kids!!!).  We walked through alleys and doorways and down tight, little, winding staircases, and just as my heart rate really started to pick up, we walked down three steps into this apartment "garden."

She spread her arms wide, turned to face us with a huge smile on her face and said, "Here we are!"  I was pleasantly surprised.  She said it was much prettier in the spring, when the tree was in full bloom, and she always went out of her way during her afternoon walks to see the beauty in it.  Even in the dead of winter, there's still beauty here.

This whole trip showed me not to fear the spontaneity that does live deep down in inside me.  Although it certainly isn't on the level of what most would consider "spur-of-the-moment," it was for me and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to see this place and all the wonders that reside here.

Until next time...


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