I can’t quite believe that it’s already been two weeks since I left the beautiful city of Vienna, where I stayed in Wombat’s Hostel with Beth, Jasmine, Millie and Roxy for an Elfie holiday. The hostel was really nice and was located on the edge of The Vienna Naschmarkt (Vienna’s best-known market) which is home to lots of cafes, restaurants, street food stalls, tea shops, clothing and jewellery stalls and so much more. We were told that if you can’t find what you’re looking for at the market you won’t find it anywhere in Vienna. Every time you walked through the market you would be given so many free samples of food like falafel, nuts, dried fruits and, my favourite, candied hibiscus flowers. You could go in there feeling hungry and leave feeling full without actually buying anything.
On our first day in Vienna there was a free walking tour of the city from the hostel. The tour guide gave us so much information about the city and the tour lasted two and a half hours! She gave us some great ideas of things to do for the rest of the afternoon so, after the tour finished, we wandered around some of the places that had been pointed out to us earlier. We had been told about all of the buildings we could go inside (or inside the entrance) for free so first we decided to go inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral as that was really close to where the tour ended. The cathedral has an amazing brightly coloured tiled roof covered by 230,000 tiles and looked incredible from both the outside and inside. After looking inside the cathedral, we went for a traditional Viennese afternoon coffee, which should always be served with a glass of water. Beth and I chose Bailey’s lattes and Jasmine opted for the slightly stronger (knock your socks off) Irish coffee. The coffees were delicious and it was great to go to a traditional coffee house which we probably wouldn’t have tried without the recommendation from our tour guide.
After coffee, we went ice skating outside the Parliament buildings and we were definitely not expecting what we got… three ice rinks joined by ice passages all lit with fairy lights and disco lights with music playing. We spent around three hours there it was so much fun and a really good atmosphere, by the time we had finished it was beginning to get dark so we got to appreciate the full effect of all the beautiful lights between the trees. On the way into the city centre our tour guide had taken us through all of the tunnels and courtyards between various buildings of the Hofburg Imperial Palace. We made our way back to the hostel the same way later that evening, making sure to go past the Spanish Riding School to get a peek at some of the horses.
On our second full day in Vienna we visited the Schӧnbrunn Palace, which is a short metro ride out of the city centre. We didn’t go inside the palace but it was free to walk around the grounds, which were very extensive and offered amazing views of the palace and the city. There was a large open garden space in the middle leading up a hill to a folly and to the sides of the open area there were lots of pathways lined with trees where you could wind your way through the slightly more hidden parts of the gardens. The gardens also housed a maze which we were very disappointed to find out was not open in the winter. Parts of the Palace grounds were set on a hill and, if you walked up the hill behind the palace, you had incredible views of the palace and the city behind it. We wandered around for a long time and spent a while sitting on a bench at the top of the hill admiring the view while Millie and Jasmine were drawing.
Later that evening we went to see an opera in The Vienna State Opera House. Our tour guide from the previous day recommended getting a standing ticket for the opera as it is cheaper alternative to a guided tour of the opera building and you also get to see an opera! It’s worth buying a ticket for the opera just to get inside the beautiful building, even if the opera isn’t your cup of tea. We had to queue for about an hour and a half to guarantee tickets as you can only buy them on the night and we were at the very top and back of the theatre. Our places were about as far away from the stage as you can get but we had a pretty good central view and could see everything that was going on. The opera of the evening was Manon which is a French opera following the love story of a young girl named Manon. The English subtitles on little individual screens in front of us were very much appreciated and I definitely understood a lot more of the opera because of them, however, there was a group of Americans in the same row as us who hadn’t realised there were subtitles and had still done a pretty good job of understanding the first part of the opera, I was very impressed!
The following day, we spent out last morning in Vienna having breakfast at the market, buying bus snacks and doing some last minute souvenir shopping before catching the bus to Budapest for the second part of our adventure.