Wunderschönes Österreich

Please watch this short video of my GREATEST moments spent in Austria. I will most definitely be back.

5 months of bliss

 

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Das Rathaus

The city hall (das Rathaus) became one of my favorite buildings early on during my time abroad. My first memory of it was just a couple days after arriving. We had an AIEP ice skating event one evening at the Rathausplatz, where a large, winding ice skating ribbon gets built every winter. Especially at night, the building becomes magnificent to look at. I remember one night, stepping out the front doors of the national library around 9pm after a day of studying, and seeing the building from afar, lit up against the night sky. It took my breath away. Me and Cassie just stood there admiring it for a couple minutes before catching the tram back to our dorm. The proceeding photos are ones I took during a free tour I went on towards the end of my stay in June.

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Taken from the Rathauspark

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The many arches and doors of the outdoor corridors.

These are photos from the courtyard.

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View from an upstairs window looking into the courtyard

Our tour started with this map of Vienna before the fortification walls were taken down. You can see how the city walls went in and out like spikes (for military purposes).

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Like every other building in the city, this one didn’t fail to impress. From the ceilings, to the light fixtures, to the windows, I became even more in awe with every room we walked through.

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The large Festival Hall is used for major events like balls, exhibitions, and concerts. The lofty room is unbelievable. I felt important and regal just passing through it.

This tour is well-worth the visit inside. Participants get access to rooms and corridors not open to the average passerby. Day or night, das Rathaus remains one of my favorite buildings in the city.

Hermesvilla

Another one of our day excursions took us to Hermesvilla, located within the Lainzer Tiergarten.

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Emperor Franz Joseph had this villa built for his Empress Sissy, with the hopes of persuading her to spend more time in Vienna. She called it her “Schloss der Träume,” or “Palace of Dreams.”

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What was once the imperial hunting grounds is now known as the Lainzer Tiergarten. It is open to the public, free of admission.

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Tiergarten translates directly to animal garden, or zoo.

It is home to wild boar, deer, mouflons, and elk, who roam freely over 6,000 acres of nature reserve.

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Ester and I went at the end of June, so we were surrounded by green, among other vibrant colors.

Hello there, Ester! 🙂

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Justizpalast

Located near the Ringstraße, the Palace of Justice is the seat of the Supreme Court in Austria.

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I discovered this gem because my friend Cassie came across a photo of the grand staircase on a Vienna blog she follows on Instagram. It then became one of the necessary places to visit on our list of things to see before our departure.

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Its free public access is scarcely known, so it’s not overly populated by tourists. It is, however, an absolute must-see.

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Upon entering, guests must pass through a security check, but from there it is open for exploring.

From the outside, it is unassuming. But inside, the Neo-Renaissance architecture is striking and beautiful.

The view from the rooftop cafe (Justizcafé) is spectacular, and unique from any other view of the city.

A Magical Day in Austria

Suggested by our program directors and Metropole, a Viennese magazine published in English, Ester and I went on a day excursion consisting of a bike ride through Wachau Valley from Melk to Krems directly along the Danube River. We took a one hour train ride to Melk and explored Stift Melk (Melk Abbey), the most famous abbey in Austria.

This 11th century abbey sits up on a rocky hill and overlooks the Danube. It contains 500 rooms and houses a museum and impressive library. Benedictine Monks still live and work in Stift Melk. I spy.. eine gelbe Kappe!

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It seems like anywhere I go in Austria, the views never fall short of spectacular.

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The view from inside, looking out the window above a stairway

With our entry ticket we were able to walk all around the building– inside and outside–including the museum, the library, the outdoor deck, and the monastery.

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We also had access to the gardens and pavilion. We sat in the grass beneath some trees on the back side of the pavilion and ate the packed lunches we brought– fueling up for the long bike ride ahead!

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Standing inside the pavilion

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Rose garden next to the pavilion

We spent a good while wandering through the garden paths. At the end, we found winding stairs that led up to the roof of one of the buildings, and took some shots from there.

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After spending the morning at the abbey and strolling through the very quaint town of Melk, we found bikes to rent using a shared bike service. This way, we paid just a couple euros to ride them to Krems (~36km) and leave them in the assigned bike racks there. It took us a total of about 4 hours, double the amount of time Google Maps initially proposed to us.. However, we took numerous breaks along the Danube and a ferry ride to other side of the river, bikes and all! The entire ride we were surrounded by green hills and mountains and tiny villages and vineyards and rows of Marillenbäume (Marillen are like apricots –> apricot trees). It’s hard to put the experience into words and capture the full effect on camera.

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Wonderful wonderful Ester, my model for the day 🙂

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At our destination, we treated ourselves to many scoops of Eis. Oh, how I miss the Eis Cafés! Bellies full of ice cream and legs like jelly, we caught the train back to Vienna. It was the most magnificent day. Imagine in the movies when people go on picturesque bike tours through Europe.. That was us. There is nothing I would have changed about that day. Wunderschönes Österreich! ♥

Schloß Schönbrunn

Surprisingly, it took me until late April to finally make my first trip to Schönbrunn, one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions. This massive palace and garden is the former summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph. Blooming yellow roses lined the sidewalk leading up to the entrance.

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Accompanying the palace are vast gardens and Europe’s oldest Tiergarten (zoo, or translated directly to “animal garden”).

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Following my first visit, I frequented Schönbrunn a few more times thereafter. On this particular evening, I came with buddies from my dorm to watch the Sonnenuntergang (sunset). We had to hike up a hill towards the gloriette to get a perfect view of the palace, with the city and mountains in the background.

Group shot- Notice the gloriette in the background and the cans of Stiegl in the foreground!

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