Part 08: Vienna, Austria | Europe, 2015
We ended up stopping in Vienna because my wish list involved a little bit of time in Italy, after a month in Eastern Europe: if I ever get to choose where to go, Italy is always on my list. To get there from where we were in Poland, though, was a pretty long journey: we ended up working a short stop in Vienna in because it’s halfway between Venice from Krakow. We took an overnight bus from Krakow to Vienna: I was wary, having taken many an overnight bus and never having enjoyed it, but it was super cheap. Also, as expected, we barely slept a wink. Sleepily, we got there, found our way to the hostel by train, dropped our bags, and went to explore the city!
Our first stop, super-early in the morning, was St. Stephens Cathedral, or Stephansdom, in the Stephansplatz. Oh my. This might’ve been one of my favorites from the whole trip! I’m a fan of gothic, and it was the gorgeous epitome of it, with beautiful colorful tiling on the roof. It's so old, with construction on it starting in the 1200’s—I’m always so mind-boggled at the dates, that these beautiful things, fragile things have somehow survived intact. I’m pretty bummed we didn’t get to go inside, but it wasn’t open: so we wandered around the perimeter going camera-crazy until it got busy.
We grabbed a breakfast pastry and coffee - I live for European coffee, you guys—and had it in the park. Then it was time for some art! We’re both kind of art nerds. Everything is really walkable, so from the cathedral we walked around most of the sights in the Ring Road, or Ringstraße: the theatre, parliament, library, Volksgarten, Heldenplatz, and the Hofburg Palace. It was a bit overcast, and we decided which museums to go to (so hard!), so we spent most of the day at the Kunsthistorisches Museum: an art gallery dating back from the late 1800’s. The main hall as soon as you step into the gallery was amazing: the gallery holds the Habsburg’s private collection (which is crazy to think about, one family owning all this art!), and the hall is all commissioned from every famous artist of the time you could hope for, including the famous Klimt murals. After ogling the hall for a long time, we spent most of our time in the Picture Gallery, where rooms were filled with paintings by Tintoretto, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Raphael, Caravaggio: my favorite being ‘David With the Head of Goliath’. Aah, so good to take it all in—art history class come to life, really.
We stopped for some lunch outside, and then visited the Leopold museum, where there was a really cool Klimt & Egon Schiele exhibition: it was really great to see his sketchy work, and most of the exhibition was a big story of how his life and work intertwined with the relationship he had with his mistress, as told through letters and paintings, and also a bit on the history of women as the subject that I really liked. And, seriously, after about six hours of museum-going we were spent! We headed back to the hostel to get ready for the next day of travelling: and I have to say, the hostel we stayed at, A&O Wien Hauptbahnhof, had the most comfy bedding I’ve ever slept on in my life. I still think about it. It had this huge person-sized square pillow. Ah! I have to say, I wish we had more time here. There’s so much to see, and it just feels so classically European to me, everywhere, with so much culture smushed in: it’s beautiful!