DAY 5 CONTINUED
After a very eventful Christmas Eve morning in Budapest, we finally arrived safely (with a few Euros less in our pockets) to Vienna! We immediately checked into what was hands down the best hostel I have ever stayed at in my life. Seriously. If you ever go to Vienna, stay at the Wombats Hostel at Naschmarkt. This hostel was essentially a massive hostel bursting with young travellers. There was a huge lobby with a Christmas tree to make things festive, beautiful and clean rooms with private bathrooms, a legitimate bar (not like your typical hostel bars), and an impressive breakfast buffet for only about 4 or 5 Euros more. The breakfast buffet was incredible and definitely better than most breakfasts you pay for in restaurants. There was tons of bread with butter, jelly, and Nutella, fruit, cereal, meats, cheese, eggs, etc. But my favorite part was the coffee machine that gave you about 10 different choices between regular coffee, cappuccinos, espresso, lattes, and even hot chocolate! Sorry, I could obviously go on and on about how amazing this hostel was but I’ll stop myself now.
That afternoon we had a wonderful outdoor lunch (because the sun made Vienna feel like summer compared to Budapest!) at a market close to our hostel. I had a delicious hummus dish with chicken and vegetables. After lunch, we decided to explore what we thought would be our last Christmas market (little did we know they would last our whole trip!). On our way to the market, we passed by a small mulled wine stand, so obviously we had to stop to get some! The “kinderpunch” was listed as the cheapest and it sounded good so I ordered it. Apparently I wasn’t thinking because obviously kinder means child in German (cough, cough- kindergarten!). It turned out I got kid punch AKA not wine haha oh well, it was still good!
Since many things were closing early for Christmas Eve, we headed back to our hostel to get ready for our dinner. Knowing we were away from our families on Christmas, we wanted to go all out for our Christmas Eve dinner together! We stumbled upon an Asian restaurant close to our hostel that was open for dinner. We celebrated with a TON of delicious food and a couple bottles of wine all while being surrounded by several couples having romantic dinners haha. Our constant laughing may have taken away some of the romance from their nights- oh well! After dinner we went back to the hostel bar and that’s when we realized where everyone in Vienna was. They were at this bar! We were not expecting to walk into the chaos that was occurring but we were definitely excited to partake in the fun.
DAY 6: CHRISTMAS DAY
The next day, Christmas day, we went where every other tourist in Vienna went that day: to the Schonbrunn Palace. It was one of the few tourist spots that was open which was convenient because you need pretty much a full day there anyways to explore the palace and the gardens. We took an audio tour of this Imperial palace that was home to the royal Hapsburg family. Then we walked around the gardens where we hiked a giant hill to get a beautiful view of Vienna. Inside the palace’s gardens you can also find the world’s oldest zoo! Sadly we didn’t have time to go inside. Instead, we spent our last moments at the palace walking around the Christmas market that was in front and grabbing some food. I really enjoyed seeing the palace and hearing about the Hapsburg’s because I learned a lot about them in my Spanish history class in Sevilla. The Hapsburg’s played an important role in Spain’s history so it was really cool to be in the place where they lived!
That night we saw a Christmas showing of the Nutcracker at the Vienna Opera House! The Opera House offers standing room tickets for 3 Euros to any show The only catch is you have to stand in line at least an hour before the show and depending on how long the line is, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll even get a ticket. Furthermore, it’s best to be first in line so that you can get a good view of the stage. I guess we should have known that this was going to be a popular show because when we got there, we were afraid we weren’t even going to get tickets because the line was so long. Thankfully we got tickets! But sadly we got some of the last choices for views and we could hardly see the stage. It’s ok though because it was great enough to just be inside that absolutely stunning building listening to an incredible orchestra.
After the show we treated ourselves to another fancy meal because when you spend Christmas away from your family, you have to treat your homesickness somehow! I ordered the famous Viennese dish, Wiener Schnitzel which was essentially fried/breaded meat. It was still good though!
We spent our last day in Vienna touring the city a bit. We paid for the double-decker bus tour to take us around the city and give us a little information. Afterwards we toured the house that Mozart lived in during the years that he lived in Vienna. At night we rode the The Wiener Riesenrad: A famous ferris wheel that is featured in the movie The Third Man and is a symbol for Vienna.
When I think of our time in Vienna, I think about how I left it wanting more. We accomplished so much and yet there are still so many more things I wanted to see such as the Vienna Boys Choir, The Third Man Museum, and the zoo. We found out that the museum is only open on Saturdays and the choir only performs on Sundays, so now I know to go back to Vienna over a weekend. Nevertheless, what we did see was amazing. Vienna is such a classy, sophisticated city which is what I loved about it. Our time there consisted of touring the palace of the royal Hapsburg’s, seeing the Nutcracker at the famous State Opera House, and exploring Mozart’s old house. Vienna’s appreciation for the arts, its royal history, and classical music made this city feel magical. It’s a city that can be enjoyed at any age which is another reason I would love to return.