Bitte schön Vienna

Vienna was an easy 2 hour train ride from Budapest. The day started with an interesting time purchasing my train ticket, interesting because I wasn’t really sure what to do.  When my turn came up, I walked up to the counter and asked the clerk for tickets to Vienna. She didn’t ask me any information and just handed me a ticket stub. Okay. Every word on the ticket was in Hungarian: I couldn’t make out which train I should get on or what time, and what numbers I could make out I assumed as the departure time of the train. Then I talked to a couple of people who have bought tickets before me and they showed me where to find the departure time on the ticket: on the receipt. But I had no receipt! Also they have assigned seats, and I evidently did not. So I went back to the same window, asked the clerk for clarification and also for my own seat (which cost a few more forints. It is common to buy just a ticket and take any available seat on the train. The trouble is when the train is full, then one would have to stand,or sit on the floor for the duration of the trip.) Good thing I got seats because the train seemed full. Next to me were a couple from Boston who’s been to Vienna a few times and we spent the train ride talking about our travels.

Compared to Budapest Vienna was easier: I didn’t learn German but at least it’s a romance language and I could make out the words. I quickly learned that Bitte schön is quite useful here and could be used on many kinds of situations: please, Bitte schön; you’re welcome, Bitte schön; excuse me, Bitte schön, …  Plus it was really fun to say the words.  

Amazingly enough my hostel was situated right across the biggest market in Vienna, the Naschmarkt. The street itself was lined with asian restaurants and stores that I jokingly called my area Chinatown.

Vienna felt very modern and tall compared with Budapest. I loved the buildings and the intricate designs on the façades. Even just regular buildings, apartments maybe, have very beautiful façades; a far cry from our utilitarian buildings here. Here are scenes from Vienna in photographs:

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vienna street

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art structure on the main plaza

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Pestsäule, Holy Trinity column

Pestsäule, Holy Trinity column

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I loved the stoplights in Vienna: they showed 2 people hand in hand either walking or standing together.

I loved the stoplights in Vienna: they showed two people hand in hand either walking or standing together.

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National Library

National Library

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Secession building, aka, the Golden Cabbage

Secession building, aka, the Golden Cabbage

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golden cabbage front

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

vienna cathedral

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The coffee tradition is strong here as evident by the numerous Cafes around the city. It is said that a traditional Viennese Cafe is a place where “time and space is consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.” Marble tabletops, waiters in black suits, sweets, and a plethora of newspapers and other reading materials complete the scene. I partook of this tradition inside Cafe Central, one of the oldest Cafes in the city; Adolf Hitler, Lenin, and Trotsky used to frequent this establishment.

cafe central

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Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the imperial Habsburg family; a touristy, but impressive, yellow palace and well-manicured gardens. Inside the palace rooms I was surprised to see very simple but tasteful decorations, nothing over the top.

schonbrunn

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schonbrunn

the gardens

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I couldn’t leave Vienna without watching a show in the State Opera. There’s a program nightly and this night was a ballet. I went early enough to grab “Standing room only” tickets for 4 euros. It turned out to be a good location: 2nd balcony facing the center of the stage. The ballet was amazing that I didn’t even mind standing for 2 hours.

state opera

vienna ballet

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Have you seen the movie Before Sunrise with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy? Great movie set in Vienna: two strangers who met on a train and decided to disembark in Vienna to spend more time together. They rode Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna Giant Wheel) and shared a kiss on top of the ferris wheel. I loved that movie and thought I should go see this giant ferris wheel. So I took the metro to Praterstern, walked to the site, took a bunch of pictures, and rode the metro back to the center. (The site was like a carnival, better suited for young kids.)

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sacher

Sacher Torte, chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam on top and coated with dark chocolate icing. The original recipe is only sold here in Sacher Cafe/Shop.

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Mozart star on the sidewalk by Theater an der Wien

Mozart star on the sidewalk by Theater an der Wien

***vienna food

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a Viennese schnitzel

a Viennese Schnitzel

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