After Prague, we had planned to visit my German exchange friends in Munich. However, as soon as we were in Prague, my friends alerted us that there had been a shooting at one of the big tourist spots in the city. They told us that no one was allowed into the city for the next few days and that it wasn’t the right time to show us their exquisite city. That was our last stop, so Caroline decided to go home instead of trying to head to another city. After talking to my parents, I decided to book a bus to Vienna, Austria on my own. I was nervous and scared to finally be travelling solo, but I am SO glad that I went and pushed past my fears to experience such a beautiful city.
Luckily for me, Vienna was another easy city to navigate. It seemed to be built in a circle, so I just ended up walking the circle and finding random sights to see as I went.
I started at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which was this grand cathedral in the middle of the city with huge tiles on its roof. It was gorgeous and a perfect first spot to start my solo trip. Right next to it was Mozart’s House, which was just a tiny little white house in the middle of some shops. The streets were lined with traditional dress shops and strudel houses while Mozart’s music was played from every corner. I felt like all of my years in choir had led me to this city and I was certainly not disappointed!
Then I walked to the Vienna Opera House, which had a bunch of grand statues and fountains lining the sidewalks. It was utterly beautiful and I felt like I looked too gross to be around such magnificent architecture! There were also stars of the famous composers on the ground, which was like a sophisticated version of the Hollywood walk of fame.
I then walked over to the Albertina, which was this huge piece of marble architecture with Monet’s water lilies lining the staircase up to the entrance. Seeing as Monet is my all time favorite artist, the place was practically calling my name. It had rooms decorated with furniture dressed in jewel tones and walls covered with spectacular paintings that I had only ever read about. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, this is apparently one of the best museums in the world! I will certainly vouch that it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. The Albertina is part of the Museums Quartier, so I was able to walk around and look at the outside of the other museums but didn’t have the time to go inside.
Following the Museums Quartier is the Hofburg Palace. This palace is also called the Imperial Palace and literally looks like a scene from a fairytale. The entire city seemed to be wrapped around this piece of history, so there were crowds hustling and bustling everywhere. I also caught a glimpse of the Spanish Riding School, which is where the guards of the palace train horses. The guards were wearing their traditional robes and the horses were decked to the nines, so it was very cool to watch! After that, I stopped at Demel, which is a pastry place that used to serve the Queen her breakfast every morning. I knew that if it was fit for a queen, I had to have some of their chocolate! So I got a tiny chocolate puff, some Starbucks, and sat in front of the palace to admire its beauty.
After finishing my delicious pastry puff, I stumbled upon the greatest discovery of my entire life – THE NATIONAL LIBRARY. Now if you know me, you know I love a good library and go out of my way to find famous ones around the world. However, I had not properly done my research and had no clue that some of the best libraries EVER were located right in the city center of Vienna. So I just waltzed in, not expecting anything… and then BAM!! It LITERALLY looked like Belle’s library in Beauty and the Beast. They had marble floors, huge statues of heroes, golden books lining every wall, the ladders, the painted ceilings, and everything in between. I think I literally cried for about 5 minutes because I COULD NOT believe my eyes! How lucky was I to have found such a gem?? That was definitely my favorite part of Vienna.
After strolling some more through the city circle and finding the butterfly palace, I headed over to the Belvedere palace. Now there’s two palaces, but this one was much closer to the city center and I didn’t want to trek back to the bus station in the dark. This palace was very extravagant and had gardens that definitely would’ve rifled the feathers of the Versailles. I didn’t go in, so I just marveled at the monstrous palace and walked through the hundreds of flowers that lined the place.
Once back in the city center, it was starting to get dark. I decided to pick a nice restaurant for dinner where I could sit for a few hours and then change for my bus journey to Amsterdam to meet up with George. I ended up going to Café Central, which was apparently where Freud, Trotsky, Polgar, Zweig, and Altenberg used to hang out back in the day. It had high arched marble ceilings, a sitting statue of Freud, and an entire glass table lined with pastries, so I knew it was the place for me. I ended up stuffing myself with Vienna’s famous apple strudel, reading for a couple hours, researching Amsterdam, and changing into some comfy clothes for the overnight bus to Amsterdam. After that, I walked through the shops towards the bus station. It was really dark, but there were quite a few families and the streets were well lit, so I didn’t feel terribly scared. However, I was afraid of the bus stop, so I ended up spending around 2 hours in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where I watched a service in Latin. Even though I’m not religious, it was still nice to see how they conduct religious services and I felt completely safe.
I absolutely loved Vienna and I am SO glad I was able to travel there alone. I didn’t feel like I needed to cater to anyone and could just traipse the city circle on my own time. It was also nice to have some quiet time to myself and really reflect on all the amazing sights I had seen in the past couple days!