At the beginning of the summer I spent 10 days tagging along on a college choir’s trip to Eastern Europe (oops… I’m WAY behind on blogging!).
Our first stop was Vienna, Austria. Vienna is a beautiful city with an enduring artistic and intellectual legacy. It also features an abundance of wiener jokes if you’re traveling with your father and he has the sense of humor of a five-year-old.
We visited the Prater amusement park to stave off jet lag-induced collapse. Looking out over the city from a ferris wheel made for a spectacular introduction to Vienna.
Café Mozart proved to be an ideal lunch spot. We sat outside and indulged in the compulsory (and delicious) wiener schnitzel and a bottle of lime-ginger lemonade. We enjoyed Café Mozart so much that we felt obligated to return for another lime-ginger every time we walked by the fine establishment (which we managed to ensure was a common occurrence).
Coming from a religious tradition with comparatively austere churches and services, I find attending Catholic mass in beautiful, old European churches to be an almost transcendent experience. St. Stephen’s Cathedral did not disappoint.
At Konzert Café Schwarzenberg, I relished a dinner that was a sublime combination of adult glamour and childhood indulgences. Chardonnay, mozzarella with tomatoes, olive oil, basil pesto, and pine nuts, house bread with scrambled eggs, and hot chocolate with whipped cream made for one very satisfied girl. It also embodied the quintessential Viennese coffeeshop experience that I looked forward to after my (shamefully meager) pre-trip research about the city.
My favorite place to shop when I’m traveling (or when I’m at home) is secondhand bookstores. I had a great time perusing Antiquariat Burgverlag. From the magical perfume of old books to the archetypal gruff shop owner in a back room, it checked all the boxes for authenticity.
Other highlights from Vienna include the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien aka Natural History Museum (once again the father’s five-year-old humor really adds to the entertainment value) and strolling around this beautiful and accessible city with an ice-cream cone.
For our last hurrah in Austria, we spent a morning at Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens. The highlight of the visit was the Palm House, an enchanting glass and iron building filled with spiral staircases, bridges over ponds, and flowers. Add another must-have item to my dream house wish-list.
Although I would have loved to stay longer, we ventured onward to Slovakia and Budapest.
Viennese souvenirs: picture book & map