Friday, November 22, 2013

TRAVEL | vienna travel diary

Vienna is possibly the grandest city I have ever visited. Just about every street or boulevard is lined with picturesque buildings—my camera was basically glued to my hand—and the rest of the city was littered with warlike statuary. It was truly beautiful. And to my delight I was checked into a dorm on the top floor of my hostel. It was probably the best room I had stayed in throughout the trip, and what’s more, it had a killer view. The first thing I did, even before washing or changing out of my awful bus clothes, was climb up to the rooftop for a stunning 360 degree view of downtown Vienna. My hostel was located by { The Naschmarkt }, an outdoor culinary experience where you can find various delicacies from every country from dawn till dusk. By the time I made it up to the rooftop it was nearly sunset and most of the people have gone home. But not all was lost as I got to watch all the merchants pack up their daily wares and I even managed to take a few photos before the had sun set completely.
The rest of the afternoon/early evening was spent wandering downtown. I started off at { St. Stephen’s Cathedral }, a monumental Gothic structure right in the center of town. The area was buzzing with businessmen and tourists, it was hard not to get excited for all the exploring I had ahead of me. The one thing I learned that day was that the Danube is entirely incidental to the city. From the maps I had completely underestimated how far it was from downtown and the furthest I got was to the Donaukanal before I decided to turn around to walk home.
On the way back I passed several important buildings but the one that blew me away was the famous  { Vienna State Opera House }. Vienna is known for it’s incredible history of music. The Wiener Staatsoper is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing up to 60 operas per year and ten ballet productions in approximately 300 performances. It is quite common to find a different performance being produced each day of the week. My friend was able to catch a ballet before we left, I was supposed to join her but due to an unfortunate event I had to cancel. Anyways, I ended the night with another trip to the rooftops, this time with new friends Mish and James, and it was even more incredible to see the city lit up at night. While the city looks deceivingly similar to Paris during the day, it had an entirely different vibe at night. It was louder, grittier, and more exciting than Paris’s silent streets.
Unfortunately, the rest of my stay in Vienna wasn’t as magical as the first. It was all thanks to the cold I had caught the first night that left me bed-ridden for the rest of the week (into Munich). I did manage to muster the mental and physical strength to hit the streets for several hours each day to visit all the places I had on my itinerary (and even several that weren’t), but mostly I was completely drained of all energy. There were several pick-me-ups I did manage to stumble across that did make me forget about my aching muscles for a brief moment. The first was this one friendly little café, { Hawelka }, tucked away in a small alleyway around the corner of Stephansplatz U-bahn. Hawelka is a very traditional Viennese café; inside it was cramped, musty and quite dark. It was a miracle I didn’t knock anyone over in my clumsy state. The rest of my last afternoon was spent searching for all the shooting locations of one of my favorite films: Before Sunrise. The whole film was shot entirely in beautiful Vienna and thanks to several websites I had the pleasure of visiting all the places I’d seen in the movie including the Kleines café, the record store, and the amusement park and ferris wheel, to name a few. 

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