Sunday, June 22, 2014

First full day in Vienna (June 21)

Whew! I finally got some sleep! I slept 8 hours and I'm not sure I've ever needed it more. I felt recharged and that's important because we did a lot of walking during our Saturday in Vienna. Each hotel we are staying in serves breakfast and we noticed at breakfast how crowded the hotel is. Manuela told us that last Thursday was a holiday in Germany and no one in Germany worked on Friday meaning many are traveling. There appeared to be quite a few tour groups staying at the hotel.

After breakfast we met at 10:00 for a guided walking tour. We navigated the underground transportation and our first "stop" was in the Museum's Quarter. Vienna has tons of museums and I think many of us will be visiting one or two during our free afternoon on Sunday. Since Vienna is a heavily Catholic city, shops remain closed on Sunday but the most museums are open. 

As we left that area, we walked across to the Habsburg Palace area. On the way, we saw one of the many monuments. This one showcased Maria Antoinette on one side but another side showed Beethoven as a young boy around 6 years old. The Habsburg Palace was extremely large and Manuela mentioned that Maria Teresa had 16 children, with Maria Antoinette being the most well-known. I'll admit - this trip has test every bit of my history knowledge and I definitely needed to brush up on history a little more before coming. Manuela went over how the assassination of Ferdinand led to the beginning of the WW1. She moved on to discuss Hitler coming to study art in Vienna when he was 15. Vienna had a large population of Jewish living in the city (20% or so) and "the Jewish had all the money and intellectual power" in Vienna at that time. Hitler was told by his Jewish professors that he didn't have the talent to make it and Manuela mentioned how this fueled his behavior later on. 

While in the Habsburg Palace courtyard, we ran into a group of Maryville residents and Bearcat alum and fans. This group was on a tour to benefit the Humane Society. What a great spot to see them because we were able to stop for a group picture and ended our very short visit with a BEARCATS chant! 

We finished our tour by passing through the expensive shopping quarter of Vienna and ended a city centre near St. Stephen's church. We plan to go back there on Sunday after mass and climb the 365 stairs to the top. From this point, students split off into groups to explore Vienna a little more on their own. Since we are here over a weekend, we have each afternoon and evening free which is nice for the students after a busy work week in Budapest.

On Saturday's the market is packed in Vienna and we spent hours walking around the market area. We picked up a few souvenirs and ate lunch before heading to the Vienna Opera House. By this time, it was nearly 5 p.m. and we came back to the hotel to recharge a bit before dinner. Later in the evening, Teri and I walked down Mariahilfer street and looked at the architecture, shops, etc. We also found a spot for those interesting to meet for a group dinner on Sunday evening. Some students enjoy the free time and lack of structure this weekend while others seem to struggle a little more if the day isn't fully planned for them. I am trying to plan options with hopes each student gets out and explores the city, making the most of this learning experience/opportunity!

As I close tonight I'll mention that the students are noticing the price difference from Budapest to Vienna. Budapest was very low cost for meals, etc. On the other hand, Manuela mentioned Austria is the second richest country in Europe, so prices are much higher here and more in line with what we would likely pay in New York City, etc.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday night! I know we enjoyed our Saturday in Vienna!


No comments:

Post a Comment