Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 138-140: Vienna

Parliament (I think...)

Vienna isn't the place for the disorganized traveller on a budget. The most expensive place on our Eastern Europe trip (probably because Austria really doesn't qualify as Eastern Europe), staying under budget requires a bit of planning. For instance, there are quite a few museums in Vienna, but we weren't too eager to shell out €10 to see some exhibits that weren't even as good as the (free!) British museum. 

Children playing outside the palace.

The first day, after checking into our hostel around 1pm, we walked into the city centre. This was the biggest mistake. It was a good forty minutes walk into the touristy part of the city and we passed through some dingy areas. Not the nicest first impression of Vienna. We then wandered around downtown for a bit, unsure where anything was, and ended up at the National Library. We were more than a little tired and cold by the end of the day, but the library was absolutely gorgeous-- nicer, if anything, than Trinity College in Dublin. Definitely a Vienna highlight!

The Library
The next day we were a bit more organized and we took the metro right into the city centre. This gave us the time and energy to watch the Spanish horses perform their morning exercises (interesting, but not worth the €10 ticket), visit three small museums (on Esperanto, globes, and papyrus), as well as tour a long street market and conclude the evening with €3 standing tickets to the opera (Don Giovanni).

Curtain call at the opera
(they did so many curtain calls that the auditorium was nearly empty by the last one!)
On Sunday I went to a nearby baptist church in the morning, where I was warmly welcomed and got to meet a couple who had been missionaries in Romania (such a helpful contact, for reasons I'll reveal soon...) Then, Kayla and I got metro passes and spent the afternoon exploring the city, taking the metro out to the far corners of the city centre and then riding back in, stopping at nearly ever station to see the sights. We concluded at the Stephansdon, where Kayla met some other Canadian exchange students for supper and I headed back to the hostel for some much needed downtime.

Spanish Riding
All in all, I think I would have loved Vienna if I had had more time and money. With a week or two, and a much larger budget, I would have been able to enjoy all the museums, visit some more musical sites (like Mozart and Beethoven's houses) and enjoy a few more musical performances. As is, I thought Vienna was beautiful and cultured, but I really didn't have the chance to take advantage of it.

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