We hit the road again, we waved goodbye to Budapest and paved our way to Vienna. A very quiet bus ride as most of us slept. When you’re stuck in a bus for hours on end, this is the main activity for everyone, I have managed to change my whole sleeping habit (previously a light sleeper who needed a bed and a pillow to count my sheep), and now can sleep through countries! Who would have thought haha.
On our way to Vienna, we stopped in Bratislava for lunch, however before we sat down, Amanda gave us a little walking tour and told us a bit about the city. Mention the city Bratislava to anyone over the age of 25 and they may conjure up images of Communist block, Soviet rule and terror, however the Old Town couldn’t be further from that image. Red tiled roofs, narrow cobblestoned lanes (keep an eye on your footing so you don’t slip) and the skyline punctured by church spires! Its so European! I got the feeling this town will be on most travellers bucket list in a few years, if you want to see an Eastern Europe town not yet tainted by the lure of the tourist dollar then go here! I am sure you won’t be disappointed. We had lunch in an open space at the marketplace. This allowed us to have a good look around the city and enjoy the shade.
We jumped back on the bus for the rest of the journey to Vienna. The home of Classical Greats, hosting such big names as Beethoven, Strauss, Einstein and home of Mozart. I didn’t know much about Vienna before this trip but I was so excited to find out more. We arrived at camp and set up, quickly as we were to get back on the bus and go back into the city to have a look around. First stop was Schönbrunn Palace, we were allowed to walk around the amazing vast gardens which was once the Summer Residence of the Habsburgs. This is also the place I saw my first squirrel. I feel like I need to mention this as everyone who isn’t Australian or Kiwi can’t believe that we don’t have them, so when we see them (at first anyway) its a huge excitement. So fluffy!!! Anyway back to it, the palace, yes! Ok so this place is huge, and to think it was their Summer Palace, they have a Winter Palace just down the road (why they need two in the same city I don’t know, wouldn’t they rather them be a little further apart?). The palace has 1441 rooms and construction first started in 1696 (much older than my country). You can take tours (both guided and non) inside the Palace but we didn’t have time.
Afterwards, we were driven around and shown some more sites, this city is truly amazing, it would be an architects dream to come and study the buildings I am sure. At the end of the driving tour, we had the option of going to a Prater, a theme park in Vienna which is open 24 hours a day, free entry (still have to pay for your rides) and is the oldest amusement park in the world! Such great fun, we all felt like kids again! I am usually not the type to go on rides which involve flips, corkscrews or terrifying loops, however after a bit of convincing by the girls I joined in and forgot why I don’t like going on rides! They’re so much fun!
The next day we had a free day, and it was an early start. We were dropped into town and had a few hours to explore. I made my way to the Museumsquartier and had a look around, I wasn’t keen on spending much money and prices for these museums were quite high, so instead we turned away from the tourist hubs and walked around the city. We first walked through the Burggarten and looked at the Mozart Statue and beautiful gardens. After stumbling upon St Stephens Basilica and having a quick look inside we decided to search for Mozart Balls (not what you think), little balls of Marzipan coated in Milk chocolate. Some have pistachio nuts inside but we wanted the real thing AND NOBODY HAD THEM!! We wandered into different stores and even a chocolatier but they were only selling the pistachio ones. We weren’t going to give up, but we also weren’t going to trapse across the city looking for them and missing out on everything else. We walked along Ringstraße (Ring Road) towards the Markets. Sigmund Freud used to walk this loop everyday so we would do the same.
We made it to the Market and I was hungry for Wiener Schnitzel, of course I was in the right place for it also. We found a restaurant and sat down, I didn’t realise that was all I would get… a plate of schnitzel and some over cooked (but still amazing) fries, the serious lack of vegetables in these countries keeps surprising me. We then had a look around the stalls, there seemed to be a theme… spice stall, dried fruit, cheese, spice stall, dried fruit, cheese… so on and so on. We kept walking to find the cotton wares. I managed to barter a huge cotton throw from €75 to €15, bargain! I can do this bartering thing! I then thought I would try it again with the dried fruit stall. This isn’t just any dried fruit stall, there was strawberries, kiwifruit, mango, pineapple, apple, guavas even dried watermelon! All the summer fruit you could imagine, dried and delicious. This was the healthy snack I was craving. Bus days tend to be filled with snacks like Pringles and chips, so this was a nice change. No sugar added and able to keep on board for a few days. After being sick in Greece I think I was lacking some serious vitamins so hopefully the fruit will boost me into health.
We then decided to leave the markets and head in the direction of the museumsquartier again where we were meeting the group, on the way I managed to find the elusive mozart balls in a supermarket of all places. Who would have guessed huh!
We found the group and waited for the bus, we were off to the Schnapps Museum!! Some were more interested in the history of Schnapps, and some were hanging out for the tasters (free shots). The site of the museum was original house which the first schnapps (originally raspberry juice) was created. You can still see the original desk and chairs which Franz Pomberger had in his office. After the tour ended we were able to taste the schnapps. Anything from Creme Caramel Liqueur to Schnapps with gold flakes which you can enjoy on its own or mixed into a glass of champagne.
We then started to get ready (one at a time) for the main event of the evening. A Mozart and Strauss concert at the Kursalon.
The show was amazing, I’m not a big fan of Classical music and admit the only time I have listened to it on my own accord was when I was studying and no other trick in the book was working. However it was perfect. The atmosphere, energy from the stage (singers, dancers and musicians) and our own excitement made it an awesome night. We even had some of the gold flaked schnapps in our champagne. Finally as the night came to an end some left for camp and others including myself head out to see what the night life of Vienna had to throw us.
Vienna was an amazing city and has so much to see and do. It’s not just for classical music lovers, or museum enthusiasts. I recommend everyone go and see this beautiful city and the rest of the country.