Some friends from work and I decided to put aside the stresses of work deadlines and the like, in order to take full advantage of a four-day weekend! After researching options, we landed on Vienna as the destination!
After a rather dramatic landing, complete with a seemingly never ending holding pattern and air flight sickness for one of our group, we managed to make our way to the apartment we had rented for the weekend. We stayed in the second district directly beside a metro stop, giving us quick access to the city’s offerings.
Three of us had decided to take in the opera La Bohème at the Volksoper, and so immediately dove in to the Veinna experience. We enjoyed a glass of wine in the restaurant across the street, and started to appreciate the differences in style of the interior and the wonderful attire of the people. Scandinavians do not necessarily dress formally for many occasions, so I think we all enjoyed appreciating the men in suits and women in fine colorful dresses enjoying a glass of wine outside before heading in to the opera.
The opera house was beautiful, and much less opulent than the state opera house. The staging and performance were excellent and set the tone for a wonderful weekend!
A former Austrian colleague had lived in Vienna for many years, and his friends who still live there kept in touch since my visit for the Christmas markets last year. Harald, very kindly, took a few of us out into the country for a day trip! We drove out to the town of Melk to appreciate the monastery there.
Harald is the kind of person who retains historical facts and loves sharing stories, so we were able to put the monastery into context while his pointing out of small details brought it all to life. For instance, the main courtyard is built with its two sides gradually growing closer to create the illusion of it being bigger- the intention of this was the put any visiting nobles, emperor included, in their place in relation to the church.
After absorbing as much opulence as we could,
we drove to through the countryside along the Danube. We spotted a trend of, what looked to us to be Christmas trees, high up on poles in each of the villages we passed. Evidently, this is a tradition for the first of May. It is also tradition to try to steal the tree of neighboring villages in the first few nights of May! If your tree is stolen, you must host a dinner in order to have your tree returned; the humiliation of such a feast is too much to imagine!
We stopped in the town of Dünstein for lunch overlooking a vineyard and the Danube. Apricots are a local crop, so we savored fresh apricot juice-yum! It was a completely relaxing day, and an absolute treat to be able to get the insider scoop on things in addition to a glimpse of Austria’s countryside. It was clear to me why it is so popular to take a few weeks and bike along the Danube.
All five of us had decided to attend the ballet, which meant we were able to enjoy the State Opera House.
After seeing all the intricacies of Melk, I could not help but think about how many man-hours went into each square meter of these incredible buildings. Though our seats were terrible, and we did not even buy the obstructed view tickets!, the ballet blew us away! Beyond being impressed with the building and ballet, we indulged in having champagne and a treat waiting for us at intermission!
For our third day, we took advantage of the warm sun and decided to enjoy the outdoor market, Naschmarkt. It was teeming with people, but that did not get in the way of our enjoyment of looking at the antiques and appreciating the facades of surrounding buildings. Once saturated, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and an afternoon in the park and a walk along the shopping street. Though it was not a day with any museums or performances, we enjoyed the local culture, the calm energy of the city, and the people watching.
Harald and Martin took on the role of tour guides for our final day. After breakfast in a café, we meandered through the medieval section of
the city, before splitting off to enjoy the Mozart Museum, the Freud Museum, and the Jewish Museum. We all reported back on our museum visits over afternoon coffee and cake. It was impossible to choose which cake to have, so we each chose a different one and then did a little carousel taste test! I only wish our group had been bigger, so I could have tasted even more cakes!
Vienna delivered a wonderful stimulating yet rejuvenating visit! We all were grateful for the opportunity and the time spent together. Now for the final push to summer!
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