Monday, May 27, 2013

Austria (Part 4)

May 27, 2013 7:00 PM—Vienna

Yesterday and today were both spent in Vienna. We started off our Viennese tour yesterday at Schönbrunn Palace. This was the summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs. After taking a tour of the palace we then made our way across town to the Belvedere which is a historic building that also used to be used as a palace. Now the Upper Belvedere, which is what we went in to, is used as an art museum housing paintings from various artists of many different styles of art. Some of these more famous artist include Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh. There is also a large collection of pieces here by Gustav Klimt, including his most famous piece, “The Kiss”.

Schonbrunn Palace

The Belvedere
The Kiss

Today we started out by going to St. Stephen's Church. This church was really interesting due to the design with the stain glass windows. All of the windows were a solid color and when the light shone through them it turned the walls of the church all these different colors. We didn't stay at St. Stephen's very long because it was totally overrun by tourist. After that we walked the short distance down to the Hofburg. The Hofburg is another royal residence. It was the main residence of the Habsburg monarchs. There we got to go into the silver collection (lots of dishes), the Sisi Museum (Sisi was the most well known emperoress to live in the Hofburg), and the imperial apartments. And finally the last site we saw today was the Donautrum, which is a tower in the middle of the Danube river where you can get a great view of the city.

All in all Vienna was a really nice city to visit. It is much more urban than Salzburg or Innsbruck and you don't get quite as much culture, but it was clean and well organized nonetheless. In the past two days we have learned how to take the public transit system here, which is quite an accomplishment. Vienna has a really great public transit system, but it is quite complicated. However, we eventually got the hang of it and utilized it fully. We also ended up getting almost all of our meals at the nearby train station and for a good reason. This train station has almost anything you could ever need. There is not only an ATM and a post office, but there are numerous places to eat of many different varieties and there are even many stores that sell anything from clothes to household goods. So we always had our pick of food from Chinese and Japanese to sandwiches, pretzels and pastries. We even got take our Weiner Schnitzel yesterday.

On the down side, we have been having a hard time with the weather. You would think that Europe in late May would at least be mildly warm, but I think global warming is getting the best of us. In Vienna since we got here it hasn't gotten above 60 degrees, its been raining on and off, and it couldn't possibly get much windier. You can tell this isn't normal weather for this time of year simply based on the store windows. Everywhere we go you can see displays showing shorts, t-shirts and even bathing suits. I doubt the people here in Vienna go laying out in there swimsuits when it is 50 degrees and raining. And from what I can tell the rest of Europe is also experiencing a lot of this unseasonable weather. When I was looking at the paper the other day, I saw a weather map where it looked like the same storm system was just totally encompassing the entire continent. So unfortunately I'm a bit skeptical that we will get any nice weather. Hopefully at the very least we will get some sunny days, but this is not the weather I expected when I planned this trip.

Tomorrow we are off to Prague and hopefully some nicer weather, but for now we're hanging in there.

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