Vienna Week 4

When we got back, we had a busy week with school as well as just trying to see as much as we could. That Monday was my actual birthday, and it was pretty nice. When I got to my first class, my classmates sang about three different German versions of Happy Birthday, at the same time. So in the middle is sounded like this to me, “mer mer ag phr u ALICIA!” It was great. After that Joni, Becca, Grace, and I went over to Billa (grocery store) to get some cheap lunch and then we went to Cafe Sacher and they were awesome enough to treat me to the most awesome birthday cake ever. We all tried Sacher Torte, which is a dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate on top and some orange custard stuff. And Becca and I tried an Einspaenner (black coffee with whipped cream) while Grace went with a Kleiner Brauner (sp?) and Joni tried the Melange. I thought it was really good, but maybe not worth the approximately $18 spent on just a coffee and cake. Thank you guys for treating me, you are awesome!

We also went to the Jewish synagogue near St. Stephens and learned more about the history of Jews in Austria. It was interesting to learn about all they had to go through (not just what they went through during WWII, but also the discrimination and pogroms they suffered since their arrival in the late 10th century). The synagogue we went to actually was not destroyed in the 1938 Pogrom (Kristalnacht, but you are not supposed to call it that anymore.) There were three main reasons for this. It is too close the St. Stephens and they did not want to risk damaging the symbol of Vienna. It is also attached to several other buildings, which would have been destroyed had they set the synagogue on fire. And the most important, and saddest reason, is that every Jew was filed in the synagogue, so it would be easier for the Nazis to find all of the Jews if they preserved the synagogue.

I also saw a car get towed, which sounds unimpressive except they have a miniature crane on the tow truck and they lift the car up and put it on the back of the truck. I have pictures (#becauseiamatourist). Later that night a group of us went out to dinner. I had Wiener Schnitzel again, and water. I know, old lady. But I was kind of over the whole ordering alcohol by then. And after we ate, we went to an ice cream place, where my teacher bought me ice cream. It was nummy. I had stuff called topfen (tasted kind of like cream cheese) and possibly hazelnut? I don’t remember the other flavor. Then I went home and worked on homework (I had an oral presentation for my German class that Wednesday, which I’ll go ahead and say Becca and I aced.)

The rest of the week’s activities included a trip to the Rome Museum (because Vienna was a military town on the border of the Roman empire, so there are ruins, most of which are buried below the ground.) It was a small museum, but very interesting, especially getting to walk through the ruins. We also saw some small tools they had compared to their modern day equivalents. My favorites were the safety pin and the key. There was also a lego roman town in the kid’s area, which some of our guys decided to play with. Very amusing. We also went to the Wiener Museum, which is a pretty broad overview of most of what we had already seen. There was military, history, art, and St. Stephens (but it was kind of cool to see the exhibit on the architecture plans). I felt like it was mostly a review, and so I did not pay special attention to a lot of it. Plus, I was tired and just about museumed out.

That night we went to the English movie theater nearby and watched Harry Potter 7.2 (Es endet alles!) The smell made me somewhat nostalgic and I kind of missed some of my coworkers, but the theater was totally different than what I am used to. All of the seats are pretty much at the same level (no stadium seating) and they were all significantly below the screen, so we had to look up at the screen. The chairs were low to the ground, but very nice and comfortable. I overall liked it, and the movie was pretty good. We also went out a couple of times that week to the Irish pub in the 1st district. And, I think this was much earlier in the culture class, but I know I forgot to put it in. We, at one point, visited the US Embassy. It was the most boring thing we did for the culture class. We sat in a room and there was a man who talked to us for 2 hours about how awesome the US Embassy is.

The weekend was much more interesting. We had our second free weekend in Vienna. That Friday I went shopping for a bit, because I needed some new flip flops, mine had developed a hole in the bottom. After that I met up with some friends and took a tour of the opera house. It was interesting. Most of it got damaged in WWII, but instead of rebuilding it back in it’s original architecture, about 70% of the opera house is built in the 1950s architecture. The parts which were not destroyed during the war, were gorgeous, and I was sad they did not try to rebuild it back to its original design. But it was really interesting because we got to go backstage and see that as well. After that Becca and I went to St. Augustine Church, where they keep the hearts of the deceased Hapsburg emperors and empresses. We did not get to see the heart chamber, but we did see the church, which was cool. Then we sort of chilled out and went to a cafe and got wine, coffee, and a pastry. It was nice to just sit around for a couple hours and talk. It is something missing from American restaurants and cafes.

The next day we went to the Prater, which is a famous amusement park. We rode the Riesenrad (the famous Ferris wheel which gives a nice view of the city). I mostly watched everyone else as they rode things, 1. because I am chicken, and 2. I didn’t have much money on me, and it was kind of expensive. But I did ride the bumper cars and I also rode what I call the swings of death. If you’ve ever been to a carnival, you are probably familiar with the swinging chairs that go around in a circle. Well, picture that only it goes up several stories while swinging you. It was unnerving when we went up or down, but once we were all the way up it wasn’t so bad. I overall enjoyed it.

That Sunday we decided to go to Catholic Mass in St. Stephens. It was pretty crowded, and there was a gated off part so that tourists could not come in and bother those in mass (which didn’t really work because the guy in front of me had his camera out taking pictures). It was nice, but I realized I did not know what to do because the whole thing was in German and I do not know the customs of Mass anyway. But it was an overall interesting experience, and such a beautiful place of worship. After that we spent the entire afternoon in the Schoenbrunn zoo, which is the first zoo, and it was huge. We pretty much got to see every animal you can think of. I did somehow miss the giraffes though. It’s layout was kind of weird. You don’t go in a straight line, and the paths all intersect at odd places, making it kind of hard to navigate. There was one exhibit which was kind of fun. It was for giant walking sticks. And for a minute we tried to find the walking stick, until we realized, almost all the branches in the exhibit were walking sticks. And towards the end, we came upon a playground, which had a kind of hammock thing close to the ground. So Grace and Becca took advantage of this and laid down on it. A few seconds later the cutest little boy comes up and starts swinging them back and forth, for 10 minutes. It was awesome.

Then after that everyone went their separate ways. I ended up eating at McDonalds because I had heard good things about it. It was better than ours, but I think I would have liked it better had I ordered an actual cheeseburger. But that was pretty much it for the day.


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