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  • Writer's pictureCaylie Poola

WEEKENDER GUIDE: Vienna, Austria

Another weekend, another weekender guide.

Welcome to my second official weekender guide of my semester abroad! This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit a place I genuinely did not think I would go this semester -- but am so glad I did. Vienna, Austria.


Studying abroad during a pandemic I have been asked many questions and seen some surprised faces that I am actually able to not only study abroad but also travel Internationally while doing so! My program has a form we have to fill out each week to give details on where we will be traveling the following weekend, and with who. This is to help them keep an eye on where we are going, if it is safe and that we follow correct protocols. Before booking our trips we make sure to check regulations for the place we want to go, and overall have found that traveling within the EU from Italy, with a COVID vaccine, is very possible. This semester abroad looks different then what I imagine studying abroad before the pandemic would have looked like, and I make sure to stay mindful of the standard and expectation of COVID regulations in each country, as well as my own health and those around me. Basically just be a decent person and care about the pandemic, because it still exists, even if we all wish it would disappear.


HOW I GOT THERE


Traveling to Vienna is actually extremely easy from Italy. We had a direct flight out of Florence that was under 2 hours. It was a piece of cake honestly.


Even though Vienna is relatively close to Italy, culturally and in most other aspects it was completely different which was a nice break (as much as I love Italy). We flew into the Vienna airport and found that unlike in Florence, Uber actually exists in Vienna and we were able to call an Uber to bring us directly to our airbnb. Because we flew from Italy and stayed in the EU, there wasn't insane customs lines and paperwork to be done and it was overall a really good experience, especially since it was our first out of country trip this semester.


PACKING


I like to think I did a good job checking the weather in Vienna, but honestly, I failed. It was seriously colder then Florence and I wish I packed a little warmer, but overall I have found that bringing one pair of jeans, 3 tops (one nicer for dinner, one that can be layered or a good basic), pajamas, a change of socks and the other necessities, along with toiletries is plenty. I used a roller carry on this time which was great for this trip and a tote bag for the plane that I put a portable charger, book, deodorant, ibuprofen, charger, wallet, passport & any extra paperwork or forms in. I was set and unlike Venice, did not overpack as much. (You live and you learn, right?)

I guess my only recommendation here is just to check the weather and bring a thicker sweater, because thats what I wish I did.


WHERE WE STAYED


Once again, and unsurprisingly, airbnb was our best friend. This Airbnb was overall great for the price and in a good enough location where other then having a cold walk home at night, we could get to the main city center in about 20 minutes. Before going abroad I probably would have thought a 20 minute walk anywhere was a little excessive but now I can confidently say if it is under 30 minutes, I will walk it. I found in Vienna my plug-in adaptor that I use in Italy, which is 3 pronged, did not work. My friends however, had ones that were compatible (I don't know why mine was even different), so I was lucky, but definitely check on that before you go out of country even if it is still in the EU. The Airbnb was in a really residential building that felt extremely authentic. We could literally here the locals making dinner and having intense conversations in German. It was cool. However, the buddy system definitely applied here and the Airbnb key was a little more fidgety and hard to figure out then our previous one in Venice, so it was nice to have 3 friends with me to figure it all out with. In the Airbnb itself I stayed on the bottom bunk and was cozy. So, if you don't mind a bunk bed, this Airbnb was great.



WHAT WE ATE


Vienna is known for their "apfelstrudel," so we had our eyes on that before our flight even landed. Vienna is also known for their coffee, which my friends and I even coming from Italy were extremely impressed by. Amongst many other dishes, the Viennese have some great food and it was a nice break from all the pasta I had been enjoying in Florence.


Dinner our first night: Our first night we found ourselves making last minute reservations at the airport to a medditeranean spot in the main part of the city. This actually ended up being our favorite meal of the trip (in terms of dinner) and I cannot recommend enough. We also got our first apfelstrudel here, which surpassed the one from the famous cafe we could have sworn would be better the next day.


Authentic Apfelstrudel!


The next day, our first and only full day, we made two meal reservations in advance which we are so glad we had.


The first was at the famous, Cafe Central (Wien), which has had some notable guests in its past such as Sigmund Freud. The Cafe's interior is enough of a reason to go, and was an experience in of itself. It probably made the food and coffee taste even better, tbh. There was a line onto the street to get a table, so I would 100% recommend you make a reservation here before you come. We got some authentic Viennese cuisine here as well as delicious cheese danishes and Viennese "Cafe Milange", also some cute photos.


Cafe Central


Our last reservation was for dinner at a restaurant I found online deep into "best Vienna restaurant" blog posts. Called Palmenhaus, the restaurant is beautiful and located in a large green house. It was GRAND, it me just say. It is large, trendy and the food was good. I also got a pretty tasty Peach Bellini. The service at the end was a little weird however. This is probably because as we are learning, in different countries there are all new norms for how the wait staff treats its customers. In the US we live in a society where the customer is always right, and in many European places, that is not the case. Now, I am not saying the food was bad and we waited an hour for our food, but a few comments were made that confused us a little. That being said, sometimes, its just apart of life and the experience of traveling. I would still recommend coming to this restaurant!



The next morning before our flight we found ourselves surprisingly finding a GREAT brunch spot called Mae Aurel. Because we had luggage we could not sit inside, but instead bundled up with complimentary blankets in their outdoor seating and had hot coffee and chocolate to keep us warm. It honestly made the experience more fun. When peaking inside to use the bathroom, we could tell how seriously cute it would be to sit inside, so I recommend this place even higher now! In terms of food, it covered all the bases of breakfast. I got an overnight oats style bowl and side of scrambled eggs, some of my friends enjoyed what seems to be the popular Viennese style of pairing lots of bread with delicious apricot jam and everyone was happy. A great last morning.


The best brunch at Mae Aurel


WHAT WE DID


We did so much our first and only full day in Vienna. I could have definitely spent more time in the beautiful city if I had a chance, but this was a great start. Other then eating, we made sure to get a chance to check out the city, its history and art.


Our walking tour was probably my favorite part of the whole trip. We found an affordable ad for a 2 hour walking tour on airbnb and took our chances in booking it! This ended up being a great decision. The tour was with the kindest Viennese woman named Maria who went above and beyond the tours description to give us the most unforgettable few hours in Vienna. Maria has an instagram as well as a page on Airbnb if you are ever in Vienna and want a great walking tour for only $19 a person! For some reason on Airbnb it says the tour is done in German - this is NOT true! Maria spoke English perfectly and language was not an issue.

@Mariatourslive on IG


Pro Tip: Maria gave us chocolates during our tour of a famous candy in Vienna called "Mozart Chocolates" they are DELISH. They are also ALL over the place in Vienna so I made sure to grab a bag to bring home. Mozart actually lived in Vienna most of his life, we got a chance to walk by his house but unfortunately didn't have time to go inside to the museum. If that is something that interests you I would recommend looking into that while in Vienna. It is something I wish I had the time to do!


The Sigmund Freud Museum

2/4 of us being Psychology majors, it was almost necessary we stopped by the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna. Sigmund Freud actually grew up and lived in Vienna, so the museum is set in his old apartment. Since personally I am not a psychology student, I wasn't so sure I would find it extremely interesting but honestly, I did! It was really cool to see something I have learned about in school and to learn more about such a historical figure in the place he actually lived and did most of his work. Definitely recommend going if you are in Vienna. We bought tickets in advance but you can definitely just get them at the window if you go!


Visiting 'The Kiss" at the Austrian Gallery Belvedere

We had the chance to last minute grab tickets to this gallery located in a beautiful, surreal castle that looks out of a movie (seriously) to visit many infamous pieces of art, specifically The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. As someone who is not as nearly educated in the world of art as I wish I was, it took me seeing it myself to understand why this piece of art is such a masterpiece and world famous. We not only visited The Kiss but also some of the other art pieces in the museum some of which included Van Goh, Monet and several others by Klimt. Seeing art that has impacted people so greatly and is truly priceless is an experience I don't think I will get tired of. Not to mention the museums outside was a photoshoot waiting to happen, which we took advantage of, obviously. We also got a discount on our tickets with a student ID which always helps!


The Kiss by Gustav Klimt


The Austrian Gallery Belvedere


Overall Vienna was a GREAT experience and I hope one day I can return. I would love to see more of Austria, especially Salzburg where the Sound of Music was filmed! Definitely look into Vienna/Austria in general as a weekend trip if you study abroad or find yourself in Europe. I think it made a great 2 day trip but I can totally see why people may spend a week or more there, there was SO much to do and eat (yup, I said eat). It was the perfect change of scenery from Florence, as much as I love it here in Italia!

See you next weekend.

XO

Caylie


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