Vienna

Oh, Vienna.  We had our shortest time here in this city and we certainly had some highs and lows.

So first, let’s start with how we got from Prague to Vienna.  Liza and I had a 6:30 AM bus to catch.  I wake up to find my glasses (without which I am actually blind) fell off my bunk bed during the night and were accidentally stepped on and broken by a bunkbed mate.  So I’m putting in my contacts into my dry eyes, rushing to finish packing, we ask the guy at the desk where the closest metro is, and rush out to catch our bus on time.  We weave through the metro station to find our metro, yay!  When before we can even catch our breath, two guys in suits come up to us and ask us for our metro tickets.  It’s approximately 6:18 and our bus leaves from the bus station at 6:30.  And Liza and I just look at each other like whaththeomgyouhavegotobekiddingmearghhhhhhwedidn’tbuythem.  The guys in uniform *escort* us through the metro station and force us to pay the 30 euro fine before we board the bus.  Then they give us a free metro ticket to use the next time we come to Prague.  OKAY BYE WE HATE YOU. We sit in the bus after struggling in English with the guy who took our suitcases to make sure we were on the right bus and getting off on the right stop.  Finally, bliss.

Nope.  Not even 10 minutes after we’ve left, our bus breaks down.  We sit for an hour before all 60-some of us are shifted to a new bus with no heater, leg space, or soundproofing for the rest of the 4 hour ride.

But then we were in Vienna!  And all was good.

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral
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Inside of the Cathedral
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We stumbled upon this one- one of the gaudiest churches I’ve ever been in. Everything was dripping in gold. We were lucky to have come when we did because there was a service going on and everyone was singing!

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The somewhat touristy yet can’t-miss Café Central was delightful.
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This espresso was perfect after our harried morning.
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We shared apple streusel for the 4th time on our trip (wuteva it was delish) and these apricot jam crepes.
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Everyone enjoying each other’s company and listening to the live piano man.
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The Belvedere- what used to be the Habsburg winter palace is now a museum that holds a lot of great art, including a number of Gustav Klimt’s works.
Seeing Gustav Klimt's The Kiss in person was simply breathtaking!
Seeing Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss in person was simply breathtaking!  It was erotic, gold, lovely.  One of those works of art that needs to be seen in person to be appreciated.  Oh, do I sound like pretentious artsy fartsy person now? Europe has changed me.
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We took a almost free tour of the Vienna National Opera House and it was one of my favorite activities we did. It brought me back to my ballet and theater days. I was so giddy throughout this tour, it was a stunning, ornately decorated theater unlike any I’ve ever seen before.  I can only imagine the posh performances that take place in this venue. I’ve also never seen an opera before and I hope at some point in Europe I get the chance!
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Backstage!!!!
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One of the many intermission halls

Then off to Schonbrunn Palace!

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Here I’m standing at the back balcony of the summer palace looking into the sprawling “backyard”
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Flowers in bloom
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Yellow tulips always remind me of my Dad
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just peasants walking through the gardens
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Look!! A really big quatrefoil! Mu Phi Mu

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What a lovely trip so far, right?

Well, remember earlier when I said there were some highs and lows?

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these snake charmers. getting liza’s number……

These adorable men were scattered throughout the city, conveniently located near touristy things, selling tickets to authentic opera/symphony/ballet concerts for fantastic prices.  Of course, I’m like GUYS THIS IS SUCH A FANTASTIC DEAL!  Aw they’re flirting with us!  Awww they just gave us a 10 euro discount!!  Oooh they just gave us free drinks at the show! Yayy we’re going to meet up with them after the show!

It was simply too good to be true.  We get back to our hostel and google our tickets and see kind of abysmal “this is a tourist trap STAY AWAY” reviews.  But we’ve already paid 30 euros for our seats and we have free champagne waiting for us, so half-laughing at ourselves, we get to the “concert hall.”  Which is like just a high school auditorium.  We go into a room that was probably smaller than my multi-purpose room in high school… The symphony is about a 10 man orchestra.  There is an old man and a buxom woman who come on stage every few songs and sing some opera.  There’s a beautiful ballerina and very effeminate ballerino who come on stage and dance these very cheesy dances every few songs.  Overall, it’s not terrible.  Certainly not the high-caliber, mind-blowing experience that we were expecting.  But definitely memorable. We laughed at ourselves and our stupidity and promised ourselves we would buy our metro tickets every time we go on the metro and LOOK into any ticket we ever purchase again.

The laughs don’t stop there.

The next morning, Liza and I had an 1130 bus to catch.  We were like, oh we made a 6:30 AM bus no problem, we’re fine.  Liza’s taking a little longer than usual to get ready and I’m just staring at the ceiling, not really double-checking to make sure we know where we’re going. Long story short, the bus station and the metro station did not have the same name.  No one had heard of the bus station. No one spoke english. No one tried to help us. Liza and I got off 5 stops too early, but we had no clue.  We ran to find a taxi because literally no one knew what we were talking about.  We got in the cab at 11:20 and got to our destination at 11:34, bus already gone.

Okay, this 100% sucks.  But there’s gotta be another bus, right?  There is no bus information desk, just a mall with wifi.  We go inside, trying to research our options on our iphone screens since we don’t have computers…  No more buses available, it’s Easter weekend. OrangeWays, our bus we originally had tickets with basically says sorry we’re not sorry. We call a bunch of numbers- no one speaks English well enough to help us and we know zero German/Viennese. We consider renting a car, but those are $500 so that’s a no.  Ships?  No, apparently that’s not a thing. Completely dejected after our hours spent at the mall we trudge our luggage back to Westbahnhoff, a big central metro and train station, also the metro station that was right next to our hostel…..  (ya i know.)  We finally find something that looks like a semi-official transportation desk and there’s a woman who can help us!!!!! She sells us stand-by train tickets for a train that left in 20 minutes and we were like whatever we’ll sit on the floor we don’t care we just need to get to budapest.

And so, the saga of Liza&Ro Go to Budapest has a happy ending.  We walked through the train cars and find the cafe train car open, so we grab a spacious booth with windows to give us beautiful views.  An old German guy sits next to us and shows us pictures of when he used to be a studly rugby player and because he speaks no English, we gesture at each other and laugh as we try to communicate.  All ends well as we played spit for the rest of the train ride and enjoyed the pretty views.

My friend Jenna told me before I went abroad that I should set out an oops fund for every trip, because silly things like this happen.  Mistakes happen, messes happen.  I hadn’t needed the use for an oops fund until this absolutely chaotic 48 hour period.  Nevertheless, I grew so much from this experience.  We became completely self-sufficient  as we navigated a foreign land, languages, and websites.  I came out of it stronger.  Seriously!  I realized, my parents have always planned all of my vacations.  I have done a heavy bulk of the planning here, figuring out the logistics to make sure we make the best of our time.  Booking buses and trains is not the most fun activity.  And when you miss said transportation, it can be really hard.  I think usually I would have called my mom crying and ask her to fix my mess for me.  But it felt really, really good to solve our own problems on our own. BOO YA STUDY ABROAD.

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