Vienna Waits for You

DSC_5847ResizedSpontaneous trip to Vienna, Austria! When I say spontaneous, I mean spontaneous. I planned this trip two days before I left. To kick off my little weekend trip, my bus was two hours late so I had to kill lots of time at the bus station and it was pretty dang chilly outside. Luckily there were a two girls waiting for the same bus and I heard them speaking English so I went up to them to tell them how late our bus was. They were really nice girls about my age from Ireland who invited me to go have a coffee with them while we waited for our very late bus. It’s always fun to meet random strangers on my solo trips. Uneventful bus ride to Vienna…then to start my adventuring. Arriving in Vienna in the middle of the day, I went into the subway system to buy a ticket for the next 48 hours and noticed a couple of Canadian girls struggling with the ticket system so I helped them out and spoke with them for a while until they hopped off the train a couple stops before me. My inexpensive airbnb was an apartment owned by a girl who lived in Vienna. I knew I’d be staying in her living room area on a sofa-bed and I was fairly skeptical about how it’d work out. After walking up three flights of stairs, I made it to her door. Her apartment was so cute. The living room area was covered in plants, there were vintage pieces of furniture, a record player, books, and interesting art, plus she had an adorable pup. After dropping off some of my things, I headed into the center of the city. I got out of the underground and started walking with no destination in the middle of the city when someone taps on my shoulder. I turned around to find a young guy standing in front of me. He started saying something to me in German, then I told him I only spoke English. He switched to English and proceeded to say he wanted to stop me to tell me I was beautiful. I honestly don’t remember how I responded. Probably some dumbfounded look followed by an extremely awkward thank you. I think I might be in a parallel universe where people think I’m attractive, It’s very weird, unfamiliar and unpleasant. He asked me what my plans were for the day and I told him I would just be walking around the city. He asked me if it would be alright if he walked with me, I feel like if I said no to him simply walking with me, that would be quite rude so I ended up wandering about the city with some blonde haired, blue-eyed Austrian guy. He had some helpful tips about the area and certain museums to visit so that was cool. After having some coffee, I was anxious to explore the city so we parted ways.

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Downtown Vienna was immense and bustling, full of people, stores, towering architecture, statues and the great St. Stephen’s Cathedral. As luck would have it, St Stephen’s was under construction, covered in scaffolding and barely visible. Therefore, I was only able to take a few decent photos of the beautiful gothic-style church. Vienna is a beautiful city full of history, classical music, and art, I did not expect such a grand downtown area. The weather in Vienna that day was rather unfortunate, very cold and dreary. As I did not bring my gloves from Ljubljana and I was constantly taking photos, my hands were so raw. I wandered into a souvenir shop to warm up and found that my phone was nearly dead and I had conveniently left my portable charger back at the airbnb.DSC_5891Resized When traveling, I rely so heavily on google maps to direct me everywhere I go, so having a charged phone is necessary. Forced to go all the way back to the airbnb apartment, I got there when the sun was beginning to set. I didn’t really feel like wasting the evening away so I headed back out and walked to Schönbrunn Palace. The walk was a bit longer than I expected but it was quite nice to see bits of the sunset peek through the streets of Vienna. Turned out to be a very beautiful walk, although intensely chilly. Once the palace was in view, there was no mistaking I had made it to the right place as the colossal piece of architecture stood in front of me. DSC_5928ResizedIn the back of the palace was a large park, gardens, statues, and even a zoo. I wasn’t able to get any photos because it was quite dark and becoming increasingly cold. I found some trolley to take me near the airbnb. Sleeping proved rather difficult, turns out staying in a living room with loads of open windows means early rising the next morning.

Museums Day! Today was mostly taken up by visiting several museums. I wanted to start out the day by going to the Belvedere Museum to see Gustav Klimt’s famous painting The Kiss before things became too busy. The Belvedere Museum was a work of art in and of itself.

A large beautiful pond in the front and an extravagant garden in the back. Once I got inside, I went straight for the Gustav Klimt collection where a long line had already formed. Bored, waiting alone in line, I looked up to the most exquisite ceiling. DSC_6001ResizedWaiting in a room to look at art was another work of art. I swear, everywhere here is a piece of art. I wish the photo would do the real thing justice, but honestly none of the photos I’ll be posting will come close to seeing these works of art in person, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth sharing or experiencing through an online platform. Closer and closer I got to the front of the line. I was so excited to see The Kiss in person. Before coming to study in Ljubljana,  I never thought about all the incredible works of art I’d have the opportunity to appreciate in person. Here are some my favorite of Klimt’s I was able to see:

There were so many people gathered around The Kiss, but I was still able to get a decent photo once I waited it out for a window of time with less than 20 people gathered. Some of my other favorite pieces I saw included:

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Napoleon Crossing the Alps –Jacques Louis David
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A Pathway in Monet’s Garden -Claude Monet

 

I saw many more incredible pieces of artwork but I’m sure you guys don’t want to see every single photo I took, besides, I still have two more museums to go! Hahaha, sorry. After the Belvedere, I sought out a classic Würstelstand to buy some Viennese street food.   After all, how could I be in Vienna without eating sausage?IMG_1996 Completely unaware of what to order, I basically just pointed to the first thing on the menu, then the vendor asked me what kind of sausage I wanted and of course I said “the spiciest” and I was not disappointed. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of meat but it was pretty dang good and the warm bread it came wrapped inside was more than ideal(mmm bread is always the best here). Having been on my feet all day and walking around the city, I wanted to find someplace warm to sit down. I had eyed a Starbucks around the corner and was intent on getting a coffee before leaving Vienna. A little background: there are absolutely no Starbucks in Slovenia. Zero. So when I see one elsewhere on a trip, I get quite excited. After a quick coffee break, I headed to Museums Quartier where several museums are located in Vienna.

Passing by the Natural History museum, I went straight for The Kunsthistorisches Museum to see more remarkable pieces of art! So many marvelous pieces to choose from, but I’ll show you a few of my favorites again.

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The Crowning with Thorns -Caravaggio
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Vienna Viewed from the Belvedere Palace

IMG_2439By the time I left this museum, the only museum left open was the Mumok, a modern art museum. Full of exceptionally weird and abstract art, the Mumok checked off all the things I expect from a modern art museum.

Sorry to my readers who don’t like art, this post was probably boring. I love all of the art, even the super weird art that generally makes no sense. Yay art day! I spent all day at museums in Vienna, what a dream.

Last day in Vienna and I decided to use my half day before my bus back to Ljubljana in a graveyard. Yep, in a graveyard. Before I get to that though, I had to gather my things into my backpack to check out of my airbnb. I’ve become really efficient at packing for trips in a single backpack(I bet my family doesn’t believe me) and I’m pretty proud. Before going to the cemetery, I quickly stopped at a second hand clothing shop recommended to me by the girl I stayed with over the weekend. The shop was rather depressing and sparse, I miss thrift shopping back home. Okay, onto the cemetery. First of all, I think old cemetery headstones and mausoleums are super cool. Secondly, some extremely important composers lay in this graveyard. I was able to see the resting places of Johann Strauss, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, and Ludwig Van Beethoven.

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Bye Vienna! Thank you for a marvelous, spontaneous weekend trip.

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Budapest in 3 Days

Day 1:

First day in Budapest and no part of me wanted to leave my comfy Airbnb bed, but… Budapest calls. Jumping on a tram to the other side of the city, I started my full, exciting, beautiful, and exhausting day in Budapest. After getting off the tram, I headed into the Budapest underground metro system in order to get to my destination of City Park. The thing about this is that I definitely didn’t have the right ticket to ride the metro but nobody checked and I hopped on board unimpeded. Honestly, figuring out the public transportation systems in each city you visit is extremely difficult and I didn’t really feel like spending half my time working out the logistics of which ticket to buy and which bus/train/tram/metro system was which so I basically just go with it and hope for the best, haha.

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Heroes Square

Once I got off the metro, I walked up the stairs onto a street facing Heroes Square which was a large open area with impressive statues and museums at either side. Walking a bit beyond Heroes Square, a giant beautiful castle appeared and of course I went straight toward the gorgeous piece of architecture to get a closer look. Vajdahunyad castle was originally made with wood and cardboard but became so popular that it was built permanently with brick and stone. The castle was so beautiful on the outside and I wish I could’ve seen the inside but I try to spend the least amount of money I can on my trips so seeing the outside was sufficient enough(free) for me.

My next plan was to go to the House of Terror, sounds like fun right? To me, absolutely! The House of Terror is a three story museum with exhibits on the fascist and communist regimes in Hungary. Since the fifteenth of March happened to be a national holiday, this museum was free for the day! The history fanatic inside me was both intrigued and deeply disturbed by the story of this building. Hungary was occupied by both Nazis and Soviets, thousands were tortured and killed in the basement of this very building. Comprehensively telling a story of the power struggle and daily misery experienced by Hungarian people, the House of Terror was an incredible museum. It’s nearly impossible to grasp the dark history enveloping the world during this time, but I really felt the history while walking through the basement torture chambers and prisons. Easy to say, I really enjoyed this museum and should probably make an effort to visit more museums when I travel places… even if it costs me a couple bucks. Next, a long walk for a quick visit to the Hungarian State Opera House which was under construction so I wasn’t able to see the old, beautiful architecture as it was covered up.

Lunch time in Budapest was interesting. I decided to try the Hungarian food special called langos. IMG_1477Since it was a national holiday, there were little parades, shops, people celebrating, and food vendors selling the popular fast food. Langos is a fried circular dough with a layer of sour cream(yuck) then cheese. When the the woman working the food stand asked me if I wanted the classic Hungarian Langos, I said sure because I didn’t really know what I was ordering anyway. Turned out classic meant covered in fatty bacon… which I despise. Reluctantly, I ate about a quarter of this until I could not force any more down… then I found a bench outside St. Stephen’s Basilica and fed the rest to some pigeons.

 

Already sitting outside my next destination, I took a few steps and headed inside St. Stephen’s Basilica. With only a 1 Euro donation, I was able to explore the most beautiful building I’ve ever been in my life. Upon entering the place of worship, I looked up at the ceiling and my breath was taken away. Sitting down, I took in the beauty of the interior architecture for a little while. Feeling overwhelmed by the stained glass, murals of Jesus, statues, and gold tainted details, I really wanted to share the exquisiteness so I Facetimed my Momma and showed her around the Basilica because I knew she would appreciate the splendor as much as I was. Since there were people worshipping and signs suggesting silence, I tried to keep my photo taking to a minimum due to the annoyingly loud shutter release, but it was pretty stunning, take my word for it…or look up other photos on the inter webs.

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Heading to another interesting piece of history, I made it to the Danube Promenade DSC_4087Editwhere a memorial called Shoes on the Danube honors Jews who were ordered to take off their shoes and shot by Arrow Cross militia men, their bodies falling into the river. This country has such an interesting history, there were museums, statues, exhibits, and memorials everywhere. Architecture was probably my favorite part of exploring Budapest. Most iconic is the Hungarian Parliament building. You can see the ginormous building from practically anywhere in Budapest but since I was so close, I decided to get an up close look. DSC_4116EditTrying to take a photo of the entire building while standing in front of it is nearly impossible because the sheer massive size. Conveniently enough, while I was taking photos in front of the Parliament building, the guards changed posts and it was a pretty cool spectacle. Setting out for my next interesting piece of architecture ended in some disappointment as the Great Synagogue was closed. After taking some unsatisfactory photos of the outside, I moved on into the inner city. Luckily enough, I stumbled into a cute little parade and then went into a couple souvenir shops. Apparently embroidery is a big thing in Hungary because souvenirs are covered in floral embroidered designs. I love embroidery so much and I miss doing it when I’m at home, so it was pretty difficult to keep myself from buying everything, especially with the very persuasive vendors.

Feeling my stomach rumbling, I realized that I hadn’t actually eaten anything all day since I hated the Langos. Passing a restaurant sign advertising Hungarian dishes, I walked backward and entered on in. IMG_1480Looking over the menu was a chore, but I settled on Paprika chicken and noodles because it’s one of the dishes most commonly found in restaurants in Hungary,  besides goulash, the national dish, but I didn’t really feel like eating beef stew. I really didn’t know what to expect but I’m trying to be more open with food because at home, I eat like a small, unhealthy child. Of course, in the middle of my plate is a huge dollop of sour cream. I hate sour cream, why are they so obsessed with it here? But guess what Kassie(older sis)? I ate it all. I even ate the dark meat on the chicken leg. Overall, it was pretty good, I was not disappointed. By the time I left, it was dark and rainy. Taking the scenic route home, I walked back to the other side of town over the illuminated chain bridge. I attempted to take some decent long exposure shots but I forgot my tripod back in Ljubljana like an idiot. Oh well, I was still able to experience Budapest at night and it’s a whole new view.

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Day 2:

This morning I went on a journey to the top of Budapest.

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First stop: Fisherman’s Bastion, a building/terrace overlooking Budapest

 

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Right next door: Matthias Church

Next, I headed for Buda castle and also stopped to see the funicular which is the second oldest in the world, using weights to raise carriages up the hill.

 

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Buda Castle
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Funicular

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, my daily adventure took me to new heights as I climbed to the top of Budapest called Gellert Hill. Walking up the stairs nearly killed me but I finally made it, the view was worth the near asthma attack. From the top, there was a barely visible rainbow resulting from the drizzle.

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Can you see the faint rainbow?

After enjoying the view for a little while, I went back down to the city and wandered around and visited some shops, found some art to buy of course, and just enjoyed some free time in the city. As I was walking around, some guy tapped me on the shoulder, slightly alarmed, I turned around to see a guy in his late 20s with long hair smiling at me. “You are Hippie?”, he said in a thick accent. Confused, I replied with a shrugging hand gesture. “I like your style” he replied, then he waked away. Super weird encounter considering I’m wearing big overalls covered in distressed holes, an oversized “Harvard for Earth” long sleeve shirt I stole from my brother-in-law, dirty hair covered with a thick brown headband, no makeup, and my black combats boots. I was looking real rough… perhaps that’s what he’s into, haha no judgement. As I was walking the streets of the inner city, I passed an ice cream store that allured me with a swirled cone made of dough, dipped in cinnamon sugar, coated in nutella, and filled with strawberry ice cream. d4a09bd6-fa9c-437d-9817-1154cbb8bf29.jpgIt was beginning to become dark so I decided to head back to airbnb. Since Budapest is a big city, I needed to jump on the tram to get back to my room in a timely manner. Jumping onto the tram, I realized it was going in the complete wrong direction then course corrected by getting on the opposite bus. Finally going in the right direction, I realized there was a guy checking the validity of passenger tickets coming closer to me, one passenger at a time and I still hadn’t bought a ticket. Can you blame me for trying to save a buck? Also I was still horribly confused by the entire ticket system and it turns out not as many Hungarians speak English as the Slovenians so I couldn’t find any help. Anyway… the man was coming closer and closer until I was able to hop off at the next stop unchecked. Needing to make it home, I was supposed to get back on a different bus, but the man was waiting to get onto THAT bus to check some more tickets. So, I waited about 15 minutes for the next, next bus and by the time I made it back to the apartment, it was much later than I originally intended. This is definitely not the blog for people who want to know a lot about food and what I’m eating in all these fun countries because I might be the first human who doesn’t need sustenance in order to live. Having not eaten anything but a cone of ice cream all day, I stopped in a small grocery store outside the apartment and grabbed some noodles for a super late dinner because I know my mom would want me to eat something even though I wasn’t hungry(you’re welcome Ma). I also bought a thing of crushed red pepper because I can’t find it anywhere in Ljubljana and I can’t live without spicy in my life; priorities right?

Day 3:

Last day in Budapest! I decided to have a pretty relaxed day because I had been doing a ton of walking and climbing and also, since I had to check out of my airbnb early, I had to carry all my belongings on my back all day which includes a heavy laptop and several camera lenses plus toiletries and clothes so my back was basically dead by the end of the day. I walked to Margaret island, an island in the middle of the Danube between Buda and Pest. DSC_4531Edit.jpgA decent sized island with parks, rose gardens, tandem bicycles for rent, playgrounds, fountains, and medieval ruins. I wish I could have seen the island in spring when all the flowers are budding, but it was still pretty and the weather was surprisingly warm. I enjoyed my time walking around and sitting in the Japanese garden. Heading back to the main part of Budapest, I looked up antique markets in the area because it’s my favorite place to be. Desperately wanting to buy antiques, I decided I didn’t have any room in my backpack for anything extra or breakable so instead I meandered around enjoying the familiarity of old jewelry and dust. My next stop at Starbucks seems kind of dumb, but my back was killing me from walking through the whole city, and there are zero Starbucks in the whole of Slovenia so I was very excited to see the green siren calling me in for coffee and free wifi in Budapest. Time to head for the bus station back to Ljubljana, my temporary home! I know this was a long one to read so thanks for sticking with me.