On account of not getting home until 4am and not being able to fall asleep for quite a while, my day didn’t start until 2pm on Thursday, so there’s not much to write about. I got up, showered, got ready and then went to search for some food. Since it was such a weird time to be eating and I couldn’t think of anything that really sounded good, I ended up at McDonald’s. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I definitely do not regret it at all. It was really good to have a little piece of home. After that, I walked to first district where the state opera is and met up with Lara, Mary and Becky (from Kansas) and we bought 3 euro standing tickets to that nights opera. I will start by saying I think it’s really cool that Vienna has made things, like the opera, so accessible so that it’s not just wealthy folks who get to experience the culture. That being said, I will not be going to another opera again. Probably ever. It’s cool that I’ve been and I don’t regret it, but the opera is just not my thing. It was pretty boring, especially since for most of it I had no idea what was going on. Besides it being in another language, we were at the back of the very highest section so I couldn’t see most of what was on stage. There were these little screens in front of everyone and ours weren’t showing anything so I didn’t know what they were. Then about halfway through the first act I realized that a few of them were translating the opera into German and then I realized that there was one I could barely see that was in English. So I could start to read about what was going on a little bit, but it was hard to see. Finally at intermission I could try my screen and it turned on! Now I could really understand it, but of course I had missed most of the first half so was still pretty confused. Even better though, the stair behind us was empty so I could sit down! Of course, I couldn’t see the stage, but since I couldn’t really see what was going on anyways, I just read what was happening. But eventually I did doze off for a few minutes at the end…like I said, operas not really my thing. Overall, it was a good experience, but not one I need to do again.
I made it to Bratislava! More on that later though, first to finish Vienna…
Friday I started at the Belvedere Palace which is of Baroque design (there’s actually 2 palaces on the property- a lower and an upper). The palace’s themselves were pretty and grand from the outside, but I didn’t go inside. The grounds weren’t as nice as Schonbrunn Palace, but I thought the palace itself was prettier.
After the Belvedere, I was walking to the subway when I stumbled upon what I believed was a WWII monument. I just googled it and found out its the Soviet War Memorial or the Heroes’ Monument of the Red Army. It was built to commemorate the 17,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle for Vienna in WWII. Wow, I’m so smart 😉 but it was a really beautiful monument. And of course, there were tons of tulips around- they are everywhere in this city! Not that I’m complaining of course, they are beautiful.
A red army soldier
Close up.The tulips!
After that I rode the subway to Prater, an amusement park. There I had lunch- my first Viennese sausage! It was filed with cheese and came in a baguette with ketchup and was actually delicious. See, I told you it would happen.
Then I rode the Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna Great Wheel). The building had some cool history about the wheel- it was built in 1897! During the 15 minute ride you get to see some impressive views of the city.
After the ride, I caught the subway to Danube Island- a huge man made island in the middle of the Danube. From the little I saw, it seemed like a pretty recreational friendly place- there was skateboarding, roller blading, bicycling and even fenced-in trampolines over the Danube. I was tempted to check them out, but there were only children on them and I didn’t have a lot of time before I had to be at the Spanish Riding School for my performance!Trampolines on the Danube- pretty cool!
I rode the subway to the first district to go see the Spanish Riding School. When I came out of the subway station, there appeared to be a concert going on in front of the cathedral. There was a huge crowd waving Austrian flags and the band was playing U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” in a mix of German/English. It was one of the neatest experiences! It appeared to be some sort of political rally because of the flags and on stage there was some guy’s face plastered on the screen. I’ll post videos on Facebook, they’re too hard on here. Then it was finally time for my Spanish Riding School show! The building it’s in is pretty spectacular and not at all as big as I expected. I bought a standing ticket so I was afraid it was going to be like the opera and I’d barely be able to see anything. I could actually see everything great! And the horses were so cool! The performance was called “A Tribute to Vienna” and it featured 9 members of the Vienna Philharmonic so it alternated between them playing a song and the horses performing. And there was a “host” for the evening that told us about everything in both German and English which was nice. Again, I’ll post videos on Facebook. We weren’t actually supposed to video and we got told to put our phones away, but the other people in my section were still sneakily taking videos so I did too 😉 It was a really cool performance and I’m very glad I did it!
After that I just took the subway home, stopped for some gelato and then headed back to the hostel to pack and get ready to leave to Bratislava! I arrived via bus around 1pm today but I’ll write more about that later!