Yesterday I woke up around 9AM to two Mexican girls playing music from their phones at full blast as they got ready for the day and packed all of their belongings for the next leg of their journey. I thought it was really inconsiderate.
I took the U-Bahn to Schönburnn Palace around 10AM and bought a ticket for the Grand Tour for around 16€. This included a self-guided audio tour throughout the palace which was very nice and beautiful, but I wish I was able to take pictures from the inside. I didn’t know much about the history of Vienna before coming to the city but I feel like the audio tour gave me a pretty solid overview. I really enjoyed looking through the state rooms and seeing the recreations of what the palace rooms looked like back in the day.
When my tour was finished it was raining pretty hard outside so I ate my lunch and some snacks I’d bought at the grocery store earlier in the morning in the palace waiting area and used their free wifi until the rain stopped. Afterwards I went through the gardens and walked up a hill to the Schönbrunn Palace Gloriette before it started to rain again.
By this point my sneakers were getting pretty wet and I decided to go back to the hostel to change and dry off. I got back right around the same time that Bjarne and Alifa did and we decided to go try to get standing room tickets to the Vienna Opera.
We went to the ticket office two hours before the show and waited in line until we were able to buy tickets and actually reserve spots in the balcony for 3€. There were two crotchety old men who tried to push their way into our spot for the better view, but we held our ground and they remained grumpy and unhappy with their lives.
The opera we saw was Beethoven’s Fidelio, and it had two 70 minute halves with a 20 minute intermission. The first half went a lot slower than the second, but I really enjoyed the experience and would definitely be interested in seeing another opera—preferably while sitting down. During the intermission Bjarne and Alifa were confused about the plot line but I (correctly) guessed what was going on and how the whole thing was going to end and I basically blew their minds.
We got döner boxes for dinner after the opera around 10PM, then headed back to the hostel and I decided to go to Bratislava with them in the morning. They had bought bus tickets online a week ago but I was able to find a spot on their bus and a returning ticket for 10€ total. The only catch was that the bus would be leaving Vienna at 6AM.
I fell asleep shortly after midnight and woke up around 4:30 to leave for the bus stop across town at 5AM. The bus ride was pretty uneventful and we arrived in Bratislava at 7AM. We got breakfast at a cute little cafe across the street from the bus stop for about 7€ and it was pretty tasty.
We then walked around the old town for a while and then I suggested that we go on a free walking tour of the city since we didn’t really have any idea of what we were looking at with all of the signs being written in Slovak. I got wifi from a store and found a free tour meeting in front of the US Embassy at 10AM, so we went over and did that for about three hours.
We walked all around the city with a large group of people and learned all about the history and culture of Bratislava through various political climates. We hiked up to the castle which was kind of cool and went through the rest of the city and saw a church that looked kind of like it was made out of blue marshmallow.
After the tour ended we went to a restaurant the tour guide recommended and I got a traditional Slovakian dish called Bryndzové Halušky, which is a potato dish with sheep cheese and bacon. It was very tasty and filling.
After lunch we went to the UFO bridge and tower to get panoramic views of the city for 5€ with a student discount. It was really pretty and very windy up there but we got some good pictures.
I then headed back to Vienna and went to the hostel to charge my camera battery before meeting two of my new roommates, Holly and Kate. They both just graduated from Purdue, played soccer, and are traveling Europe together for two weeks. I told them about a free concert later in the evening being put on by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Schönbrunn palace and they expressed interest in tagging along so we all headed over together.
We got to the grounds about an hour before the concert and found our way towards the front and center-ish part of the standing area. The concert started at 8:30 and was very impressive. As it got darker, there were lights that accompanied the music. I really liked their performance of Hedwig’s theme from Harry Potter.
Tomorrow I go to Budapest, but I still want to see a few things in Vienna before I go. I also want to get a pair of Birkenstocks since they seem about $50 cheaper here than they are in the US and I could really use a pair of shoes that aren’t hiking boots and that aren’t wearing extremely thin on the bottom.
I’m looking forward to sleeping more than 3 and a half hours tonight.