Oh, how Vienna stole my heart.
Wien was our next stop after Prague, and the city completely blew me away. We were only supposed to stay in Vienna for two full days, but we enjoyed it so much that we canceled our trip to Bratislava and stayed longer!
I decided to start my first day at the Hofburg Palace complex (top left) to visit the Imperial Treasury (bottom right), but was surprised to find celebrations and festivities crowding the complex--it was Austrian National Day! I even got to sneak a peek at the president, PM, and defense minister (top right, men in black suits)! They were clearly there to welcome me to Vienna. Then I popped into the Hofburg Chapel for Sunday mass so I could hear the Vienna Boys Choir perform (bottom left). It was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.
After wandering around the Hofburg complex, I spent a few hours at the Kunsthistorisches art museum and made my way to Volksgarden (top left), Rathaus (bottom left), and the Austrian Parliament building (bottom right). In a most perfect way to end the day, we got standing tickets to La Bohème at the Vienna State Opera for only 3€. Sure, standing for two-and-a-half hours was a bit rough, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
The food was simply marvelous. Make sure to stop by Café Central (left) for lunch or tea and enjoy an Austrian pastry--they're famous for a reason. If you want to try some exotic fruit or enjoy another nation's cuisine, make your way to the Naschtmarkt (right). There, I tried my first dragon fruit, ate some nougat, tried some dried fruit, and enjoyed an Italian dinner. Also, no trip to Vienna is complete without stopping at Café Sacher for a real Sachertorte. For those of you unfamiliar with Sachertorte, it's a decadent chocolate torte that was created in Vienna in the 1800s.
Schönbrunn Palace (top two and bottom right) is a Viennese gem, as it was the summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph and his family. When purchasing your ticket, make sure to spend the extra few euros on the option that includes the Strudelshow (bottom left). Not only do you get to see an apple-strudel demonstration, but you also get to try some!
Our third day was spent at Belvedere Palace (top left). Now an art museum, the palace boasted magnificent works that are relevant to Austrian history. My favorite exhibition was Looking at Monet, which highlights Monet's influence on Austrian art. I also couldn't resist buying a coffee-table book about it...oops! Later that day, I separated from the group to find the Jewish museum, but was not nearly as impressed with it as I had been with the one in Prague.
Vienna is also home to some of the most beautiful Baroque churches I've ever seen, like Karlskirche (top right), Jesuitenkirche (bottom left), and the Gothic-style Stephansdom (bottom right).
There is so much more I could write about, but I'll end the post here. In my opinion, Vienna is the most underrated European city--it beats Prague any day! If you're looking into study-abroad options, please consider Vienna. It is the most culturally rich city I've ever visited, and I've been to my fair share of places. Is anyone else as in love with Vienna as I am?