Vienna

Vienna

This past weekend, Melissa and I did some tourist activities in Vienna. It was awesome to look at Vienna from that perspective, as I have been more or less taking Vienna in from the perspective of someone who lives here. Just going about my daily life in Vienna has really given me an interesting view of the culture. In some ways, the culture is much more relaxed. For example, it is pretty common to see a policeman driving around and holding a cigarette outside the window (and as a side point, a LOT more people smoke!). On the other hand, the culture is much stricter, especially in terms of rules. J walking is taken much more seriously, even though people still do it. I guess if I had to summarize based on my brief observations, it seems as though there aren’t as many rules here, but you are more strictly expected to abide by the rules that do exist. Also, just through walking around, reading signs, listening to conversations, and basic interactions, I have been picking up a little German. Hopefully I’ll get even better as the trip goes on!

Anyway, as for this past weekend, we went back to Schönbrunn palace, as Melissa had not yet been there. As it turns out, though, the area does not only consist of a palace, but also of a zoo (which is the oldest in Europe!), several gardens and just an overall beautiful landscape. The zoo had mostly the same animals as I would see in Cincinnati, but two main animals that stuck out in my mind were the Kuala Bear and the Panda Bear, both of which I had never seen (I don’t think!). I’ll probably get to see more Pandas in China, but it was still exciting for now!

On Sunday, we walked through downtown Vienna. I got to see the famous Opera House, and Karlskirche, which is a famous baroque-style church. My highlight of the day, though, was the Sacher Torta that is a very famous Austrian dessert. Apparently about 360,000 of these cakes are exported per year! It is chocolate cake with apricot fillings and whipped cream – really, really good! Other good food I tried this weekend was a Döner, a typical Austrian sandwich served out of a cart – also delicious! In the picture the above, I’m taking one of my first bites on the subway!

I’m excited to keep learning about Viennese and Austrian culture, both through observing and talking to people, and by looking at historic landmarks. This coming weekend we’re going to Munich, which should be very fun! Until next time, aufwiedersehen!

Prague

Prague

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write the actual post about Prague. I wish I could say I’ve been really busy in Vienna so I haven’t had time, but the truth is I’ve been relaxing, going to the gym, and hanging out at the pool – which has been absolutely amazing!

Anyway, Prague was really fun! We got there by bus, which wasn’t so bad and arrived last Thursday evening. We then walked from the bus station to our hotel. Our hotel was nice considering we paid 60 euro for three nights. We had a decently sized bed, a table with some chairs, a bathroom in the hallway, and we got to shower between 10:00 and 12:00 in other people’s rooms who weren’t there – what a deal! The hotel was in an amazing location, just a few blocks from the Charles Bridge.

Both Friday and Saturday, we explored the city after doing workouts in different parks. When we went on our cool down jog after our workout on Saturday morning, we left our water bottle and Melissa’s soccer ball under a tree within view – it seemed like a pretty safe park, and we didn’t really leave anything too valuable. But on our second lap I noticed a homeless lady sitting by our stuff, and then I noticed her putting it into her bag. So I informed Melissa, and she ran over and said, “Excuse me, I’m sorry, but that’s ours!” And we ran away and decided we were done with our workout. The lady was not too thrilled to give back our stuff, but thankfully she did with just a few angry words that, probably lucky for us, we didn’t understand.

We covered what felt like the entire city of Prague by foot over those two days. We didn’t use any public transportation – our original reason was to save money on the tickets, but it turned out to be a great way to see the city. One thing that struck me about Prague was the number of tourists – it was difficult to tell who was Czech and who was from simply a different country because there were so many different languages being spoken.

My favorite location was probably the St. Vitus Cathedral. This cathedral was huge, and provided an incredible view of the city (whose architecture from that height is really cool). We walked about 280 stairs to reach the top, but the view was completely worth it. The picture above is from the top of the cathedral.

Sunday morning, Melissa and I left for the bus station early so we could get tickets. When we got there, they informed us that there was only one ticket left for the entire day. After a brief moment of panic, we tried another bus service which fortunately had two tickets left. Needless to say we felt very relieved to get on the bus home that day.

So, I had a really good time in Prague – we got to see a lot of the city, try its authentic ham (as seen in the video!), and observe people from all over the world!

Dürnstein and Schönbrunn

Two days ago, Melissa woke me up bright and early, which was at first very unenjoyable but then I realized I was in Vienna and decided getting up wasn’t such a bad thing.  We then went to the gym and ran some errands. Melissa showed me how to use the public transportation system, which I’m going to need some practice to learn how to use it before I can do it on my own (I’m a slow study with these kind of things and run the risk of looking like a tourist, which is of course not a good thing!). For example, on the buses here you have to press a button to open the doors, which of course I will probably forget to do and just stand there staring at the bus while the passengers look at me wondering what I’m doing.  But I’m sure I’ll figure it out, eventually!

After we worked out, Melissa had a really busy day, so her family took me to Dürnstein, which was a town about an hour Northwest (I think) of Vienna. There, we first had a picnic, then went on a hike to the ruins of a castle with amazing views of the area, which was filled with vineyards.  The area truly was incredible, and very high up – so I, naturally, didn’t get close to any of the edges, but the family did, which I got some pretty great pictures of from my very safe, solid seat on a rock.

Yesterday, Melissa was also really busy so I explored the city with her cousin and his friend. We went to Schönbrunn, which is a beautiful castle about an hour by bus and subway from the house. We then went paddle boating and swimming in the Donau which was really nice, especially since the whether has been so hot (not quite as steamy as Cincinnati, but still up there!).  I have tons of pictures of all these events but I’m having trouble uploading them, but I’ll figure it out and hopefully get them uploaded soon!

We’re leaving on a bus for Prague in about three hours, which I’m really looking forward to but don’t know exactly what to expect – we’ll see!

Arrived in Vienna!

Arrived in Vienna!

After about 18 hours of travel I’ve finally gotten here, and it was not easy! From dealing with a thunderstorm in Cincinnati, to kicking a stubborn, old Polish man who didn’t speak English out of my seat on the plane, the journey itself was very interesting. I’ve learned that I look kind of Polish, so I’ve had several conversations in the last few days that were very one-sided, and I just smiled and nodded. But in summary, I’ve gotten here in one piece, I’m not too tired, and ready to explore!

Getting Ready!

I decided to do a blog for all of my travels this summer and fall semester because I thought it would be the easiest way to give my friends/family updates on all I’m doing.  I’ll do my best to update as much as possible, but I can’t promise how often that will be! At the moment, I’m getting very excited to go! Still have a lot of packing to do, but one week from tomorrow, I’m on a flight to Vienna!