Saturday, November 16, 2013

Man, I Love Europe! Part 2: Vienna and Bratislava

Kristen says...

We have ANOTHER new niece! Amazing. (The count, if you're keeping track, by the way, is 2 girls, 3 boys. Awesome.) Welcome, Gemma Michelle.

When I left you last I was getting ready to leave Germany for a few days of vacation in Austria. We have a friend living in Vienna, and she nicely agreed to host me for a few days, and it was to her home that I went after the short flight from Frankfurt to Vienna.

We spent the first night catching up, and the next morning I set out to explore the beautiful city of Vienna:

My first stop was the Hofburg Palace and the Sisi Museum. I'm pretty up on my English royal history, but was much less well versed in the history of the Austrian (and Spanish, and Hungarian, and seemingly everywhere else!) Hapsburgs, so the Sisi Museum was enlightening.
Not every museum has Roman ruins just outside!
A fancily-folded Viennese court napkin--a turkey just in time for Thanksgiving
 I also visited the Globe Museum and adjoined Esperanto Museum, both very informative and worth the price of admission! For example, did you know that up until the 19th century (or later) it was common practice for globes to be made in globe of the Earth (the one we are used to) and one of the stars and constellations...who knew. Also, if you didn't know, Esperanto is a planned language, one that incorporates elements of many of the languages spoken in Europe (which makes sense because it was planned to be a language that could be used to conduct business and connect people all over the European continent.) Haven't heard of it? Neither had didn't really catch on, although there are still people around who can still speak the language.

On my second day in Vienna, a Wednesday, I woke up and decided to hop on a train and head to Bratislava, Slovakia, for no reason other than that I could! :)

I wasn't really sure what to hit in Bratislava, other than the castle on the hill, so I went there first.
It's nicknamed the table, because it looks like an upside-down table. It's also almost all re-built, as it burned down a few hundred years ago.
The view of the Danube from the castle
The stairway in the castle...I closed my eyes and imagined myself a
 Bratislava isn't a very big town, so I was able to see the castle from all over the city, including from the windows and tower of the Bratislava City Museum
I read Rick Steves' account of Bratislava in his Vienna book, and I thought more of this museum than he did. I encourage you to visit it, it really is quite interesting.
Kristen and the Castle
Table in the background, main square in the foreground
 I also saw a few other famous Bratislavian sights, including this guy:
Cumil, the peeper
 And then returned to the train station to take the hour-long train ride back to two more days of sight-seeing in Vienna

The next day I had a large decision to make about which of the multitude of Viennese sights to see. After wandering around the city for a bit (and enjoying this gorgeous sight)
I decided it was too nice of a day to go inside at all, so I chose to just sit outside and enjoy the sun for about an hour (and watch the setup for the upcoming Christmas Markets). A little later the clouds came back and I decided to visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which turned out to be a very good idea indeed. :) I love art history museums.
I'm so sad to miss the Christmas Markets, I hear they are fabulous!
I've never felt that this was a proper way to study art, but what do I know?
I love cameos! Glad the Hapsburgs did, too!
I always forget that Marie Antoinette was Austrian, rather than French...thanks for the reminder, every museum in Vienna!
My last day in Vienna was also spent at museums, beginning with the Schönbrunn Palace
I like palaces.
Schönbrunn is supposed to be second only to Versailles as an example of European royal life...I've now been to both, and like both for different reasons...although if you do visit Vienna, and go to the Sisi museum, and don't want to see anything Rococo or about Marie Antoinette's family, you can skip Schönbrunn and just hit the Sisi...if you want. :)
Remember when you read that Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer book and they talked about building a faux Roman ruin in the backyard...take at look at the Hapsburg's Roman ruin! :)
The Schönbrunn tour goes pretty quickly, so that afternoon I found out that my Kunsthistorisches Museum ticket also got me into the museums at the Neue Burg (national library building), including the Collection of Arms and Armour
Nice skirt ;) (Actually, according to the audio tour, this type of armor was a reflection of the actual clothing worn by men of the day...)
Ephesos Museum
I never know how to feel about museums that have large amounts of ancient ruins originally from other counties...
 and Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, so I figured, why not?
I used to play the clarinet, way back in the day
 Finally, just as the sun was setting, I headed back to my friend's house to pack, go to bed early, and get ready for my 6 am flight back to Frankfurt, Moscow, and finally Vladivostok.
Couldn't go through Vienna without seeing Mozart!
It was a really great trip, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to see three new countries in two weeks! :)


  1. Very cool pix. Looks like you had a great time. Ahhhh. I miss my traveling days when I was young, single, and childless. Most of my travels were in Latin America.

    1. Really? Did you ever visit Honduras? We lived there for two years and really enjoyed it!

  2. Hi!

    This is really random but i have a question. Is your friend willing to host other people as well? I am currently studying in the UK and me and my friend from France are going to Vienna this coming January. I came to find you because i am really interested to live with local Austrian as opposed to hostels/hotels. I'd like to know more about them, learn their culture (even a little).

    Hope to hear from you soon! If anything, my email is :) thanks!


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