Our weekend began with a delayed flight, but that wasn’t really that big of a deal. The Wombats Hostel was great! I have never been in such a nice hostel before. It was super clean, we had a huge room, cheap all-you-can-eat breakfast—pretty much anything a traveler would need. Plus, we were right next to the Naschmarkt (a famous outdoor market in Vienna) which was near to a train station that was within minutes of the city center. Speaking of trains—it’s amazing how great public transportation systems function every except in Italy.
We left late Saturday for the Schönbrunn Palace, where we began our weekend full of Christmas markets. We sampled lots of food from the market vendors, including a pretzel (a staple in German-speaking countries) covered in chocolate. We strolled around the city the rest of that day, and a couple of us had to buy cold weather attire in the main shopping district, which, by the way—is super! The Churches in Vienna are beautiful and also located in the city center.
We had a late dinner at a small local. It came in handy to have had a Host mom who was from Austria–I explained to my friends what Austrian food was and what they should definitely try. We all ended up with different assortments of Wiener schnitzel, which is normally made out of calf meat but is also made with chicken or pork. It’s one of the most famous dishes of Viennese Kitchen. On the side we had Spätzle, which is a type of egg noodle found in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Then there is the Almdudler drink, which is a popular Austrian soft drink.
On Saturday we headed down the street from our hostel to the Torture Museum, a tiny museum that displays torture methods and instruments used since the middle ages. It’s sponsored by Amnesty International and hopes to also bring awareness to human torture still occurring today.
After that we jumped on the U-Bahn and headed over to the Rathaus (Town Hall) where we spent the rest of our day at the enormous Christmas market. To the side of the market was a huge Milka chocolate stand that was given out free chocolate and selling cheap hot cocoa. I also went to see the University of Vienna, a historical building and school that has produced numerous Nobel Prize winners in science. We saw the Staatsoper, a famous opera that we didn’t get the chance to go into, and a Theater across from the Rathaus that has musicals featuring major historical musical giants such as Mozart and Bach.
When we all met up again we head to dinner, which took us forever to find a place that wasn’t all booked up. But we finally found “The Centimeter” a homey café near the Sigmund Freud Museum (which we then decided to visit the next day) where the food was supposedly measured in centimeters. It wasn’t—it was measured in miles it seemed like! I order Wiener schnitzel, and ended up getting two, plus a huge plate of French fries. Another girl got her food served to hear in a shovel—yes, like the kind used to scoop grain out of a bin—and yet another girl received three huge sausages when she had only ordered one. One of my friends also ordered two bowls of soup, and that reminds me, we all had ordered soup as a starter too, since we hadn’t eaten all day. The portions were enormous! I haven’t ever in my life seen that much food on a plate. We are Americans, but c’mon! The other people in the Restaurant were getting normal portions of food—a man near us ordered the same meal as me and received only one Schnitzel. Needless to say, we weren’t able to finish everything. J
After dinner we went to the new movie about Sigmund Freud called “A Dangerous Method.” It was based on a book and filmed in Vienna and in Freud’s house. So the next morning we decided to go to Freud’s house. The Museum about him was interesting, and the movie was actually based on a true story. We were able to see his office and home too. Afterwards we went to the Haus der Musik (House of Music) which is an interactive museum that explores all different aspects of music and also has a floor dedicated to the most famous musicians who either grew up or lived in Vienna at some point in their lives.
Vienna is the first city that I have fell in love with—the coffee houses, museums, architecture, culture and language are so ideal for me. Overall, best weekend of the semester!