I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Assen and I went to Munich, Germany before Christmas, and then were back in Cambridge for Christmas Day to spend with some friends. We’ve been pretty lazy since Christmas Day, but are heading up to Scotland for New Year’s with Assen’s mom, so we’re having a nice mix of site seeing, and relaxing time.
While I build up to our trip in Germany (and eventually our trip to Scotland), I first have a few other trips to catch up on! Including Vienna and Budapest, which I went on my own, and then Assen’s and my trip to New York.
So in hopes of getting caught up: Vienna
I did a 4 day trip through Vienna and Budapest, with 2 days in each place and taking the train between the two. Fun fact- Vienna and Budapest are the closest 2 country capitals in the world. The train takes about 2 and a half hours from one to the other.
My first day in Vienna, I arrived about mid-afternoon and spent the day just wondering around the main touristy parts of town. I love Christmas markets in Europe, and Vienna was already all set up with them, and they seemed to be everywhere, so I enjoyed looking at all the various items that vendors were selling.
Anytime I go anywhere in Europe, I always try and go up to the top of at least one of the buildings for a view of the city. In Vienna, it was St Stephen’s cathedral. However, for anyone who’s going, I wouldn’t really recommend it. The view is pretty (as per below), but it is entirely enclosed. When you get to the top, it’s a gift shop and 4 windows where you can look out at. It was difficult to get into the window, and even then, you had to get really close to the glass for a nice picture. I would probably say save your money and skip this one.
I found in Vienna that about half the time, I had no idea where I was, but continued to come across amazing sites. Usually when I’m in a new place, I’ll find the main site (in this case, it was the cathedral) and then just wander around. It lets you see a lot of the main sites, as usually the big touristy spots are all quite close together, as well as sometimes it’s just nice to walk around and see what you come across. To quote Dumbledore “Not all that wander are lost”.
Case in point, while wandering, I came across many of the “things to see” places in Vienna, and the below, which I thought was a summer palace, but later found it that it wasn’t that (though I still have no idea what it actually was). However, the gardens were amazing, and the sun setting was so picturesque against the building. I sat here for awhile and took quite a few pictures.
Once the sun had set, I wandered over to the parliament building, which was very Roman inspired.
The last place I came across was my favourite Christmas market that I found. The building was City Hall, and the market in front had live music, many snow globes (apparently, snow globes were originally invented in Vienna), as well as mulled wine. You paid a deposit for the cup of mulled wine, and then could walk around the market while you drank it. I did exactly that (and kept the cup as a memento rather than returning it for a repayment of my deposit). It really started to feel like Christmas while I walked around.
The next day, I was up bright and early to go to Schonbrunn Palace. This was one of my favourite palaces I’ve seen in all of Europe. First of all, the palace itself has 1,441 rooms! Now, for those of you who aren’t so good with history (which includes myself-I’ve learnt so much through my travels), Vienna and Austria as a whole was an incredibly powerful nation for a very long time. The royal family, the Hasburg family, was one of the most important Royal families in all of Europe. I found nowhere demonstrated this, as much as I found this palace did. It was absolutely breathtaking!
The tour itself lets you wander through various rooms, with an audioguide giving you background information about certain key individuals and the rooms that your in. Two which I remember are Maria Teresa, who was the last of the Hasburg’s, and she had 11 daughters and a couple of sons- one of her daughters was Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France; the other key individual was Empress Elizabeth, known as ‘Sisi’. She was the Empress in the later 1800’s and early 1900’s, and I was so interested in her after the tour that I bought her biography in the gift shop, and am currently reading about her life!
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the palace, but it’s decorated in the splendor that it was back in the day. Some of the more amazing rooms, were the Walnut Room, the Great Gallery , and the Millions Room.
However, since it was such a nice sunny day, after the tour, I enjoyed wandering around the beautiful grounds.
Attached to the Shonbrunn palace, are many gardens and other grounds. Included in this area, is a zoo. It is the oldest zoo in the world, and it has supposed to be more modern as well, so while at the palace, I also checked out the zoo. The main animals I wanted to see were the polar bears and the pandas.
Since I was by myself on this trip, I would wake up early in the day to explore, and then as it got dark, I would head back to my room for a relaxing evening. On the second day in Vienna, I bought myself some wine, cheese and crackers, and sat out on my balcony and relaxed for a couple of hours. It was a great evening after spending the past two days walking extensively through Vienna.
I was up bright and early the next day, as I wanted to ensure I had a lot of time at the train station to catch my train to Budapest. As this post is getting a bit long, I’ll be back later this week/early next week for part 2 of this holiday, my trip to Budapest.
I’d love to hear about any one else’s recent travel plans as well 🙂 Or if you’ve been to Vienna, what your favourite part was!