I think Vienna was my favorite city on the trip because of its sheer beauty, I only wish we had more time!! The location of the hotel was ok, not really walking distance to anything but the train station/supermarket. They bus you around everywhere anyway, it just prevents you from being able to spend maximum time touring the city because you have to meet back at the bus etc etc. PS the hotel accommodations in all the cities were fine, no complaints! Anyway, by the time we arrived at the hotel it was almost time for dinner I can't remember if it was included on the trip or an optional, but I know they served goulash and dumplings with an egg sunny side up on top...pretty good
. From the dinner place we used a map to find our way to Stephanplazt, a big nightlife area. The walk took maybe 20 minutes but it was fantastic since we got to see the beaitufl city at night! I cannot explain how gorgeous everything was, even the residential homes we passed. the pictures of Vienna do not do it justice. We were bar hoping around for a little while until we finally asked a bartender were we could find a fun, popular place. She didn't speak english very well but I remember the name of the place was Red-something. we headed in the direction she pointed and finally stumbled upon the bar! It was packed but we danced the night away of course. The next morning after breakfast we were dropped off right by the Hofberg Palace, home to the great Hapsberg dynasty. Some of us decided to go on a tour of the palace, where we started in the silver/flatware exhibit. Staring at thousands of beautiful plates, forks knives and spoons for a while was a bit overkill, but it was cool to see the old menus and Gold/ivory pieces! The portion of the tour we took only brought us to a few rooms in the palace. After that we walked to the main shopping street, obviously beautiful. We happened to be there for the funeral ceremony of Arch Duke Ferdinand's son so there were hundreds of people dressed up in traditional clothing to honor his memory. We walked around for a while trying to find something to eat, but it was a little touristy so we just grabbed sandwiches and sat on the lawn in front of the palace until we had to meet up by the bus to go to the Vienna Schnaps (one "s"!) museum
. The museum was fabulous, the owner explained to us all the different kinds of schnaps, the creams, the fruit based etc etc. They even make their own absinthe. We also learned the myth of "hallucinating" while drinking absinthe came from hundreds of years ago when one of the hapsburg ladies allowed the production of absinthe for medicinal purposes. Many citizens were not making the drink properly, where the alcohol turned to Ethyl instead of Methyl. Ethyl alcohol is lethal when ingested, and so they would get sick and hallucinate. Currently, the strength of the drink depends on the amount of worm wood added. At the end of the tour, you get to sample all the different kinds of scnaps. They say to only take 3 shots but there was so much left over, I'm pretty sure some many of us had 5 or 6. Not every shot was strong like absinthe. Don't forget to cheers (Prost!) and look each other in the eyes before drinking, or bad sex for 7 years! By the way, the tour group gets smaller and smaller as you travel on to Budapest, because the trip consists od several different tours, Berlin to Budapest, berlin and prague, prague and vienna etc etc. We dropped about 20 people by the time we got to budapest and picked up about 7 on the way. It is sad to see your friends leave=(
Out last night in Vienna was the optional Dinner and Concert at the Schonbrun Palace, the Hapsburg's summer residence. I actually would not recommend this optional as the concert was about an hour and a half, really boring and inside a room with no air conditioning
. It was about 60 euro and not really worth the money. Dinner was chicken schnitzel, not bad but hey at least we got to try apple strudel. What you should do that night, is take the bus to the palace and spend you time exploring the amazing gardens. For many of us, it was the highlight of the trip to see the stunning gardens, and we did not get to see all of it since we had to go inside for the concert. I wish I could go back and spend time in the hedge maze...
Our last night in Vienna was pretty relaxing, we hung out at a big outdoor bar with a foozeball table and chatted the night away. We took cabs home (make sure you always know the address of the hotel or bring a little map with you).
The bus ride to Vienna was the longest bus ride of the whole trip, so we had to make 1 more pit stop at THE BEST rest stop I have ever been to. You should have seen our faces when we pulled up and discovered a giant casino, a duty free shop that looked like a castle, an airplane restaurant, a giant flea market complete with illegal items like police tasers and a little amusement park with rides and games. Weird, but awesome.