For my first full day in Vienna I was really craving a coffee. Don't laugh, but I was too tired to deal with trying to figure out how I needed to order my coffee to get it just the way I wanted it, so when I spotted a Starbucks, you can imagine what happened next.
Once I was recharged by the cafe Americano, I was good to go, and on the hunt for breakfast. I knew I should give the apple strudel a try, so that is what I looked for. Thankfully, it wasn't hard to find. It was just as good as everyone says.
My main plan for the day, since I was by myself, was to check out the Vienna Hop on Hop Off bus. On the way to find the bus, which I will point out was not easy (although I don't know why, since once I found it it seemed easy), I passed by these sights.
Cute police cars! I am not sure you want the police cars to look cute, but they were, so I took a picture.
They also had cute trams.
Then I finally found the State Opera house, where they have different shows every day of the week, and this is where I started the hop on hop of tour. Turns out this was a good idea because it started raining, and the bus was covered.
The next few pictures (and some after that) were all taken through the window on the bus. While not ideal, that was my only option, and I was happy to have the audio commentary as we drove around.
This is Hofberg Palace, which I will write more about in a later post. This center area here is Heroes Square.
This is one stop where I got off. This building was just too massive to pass on taking pictures of. This is City Hall.
This is one of the churches here, and although I forgot the name, it was build after someone important (Royalty I think) was nearly killed here, but by a miracle (he had a thick collar on his shirt) he did not die.
Here you can get an idea of the bus I was riding around on. This was the other stop where I got off. This is St. Stephan's Cathedral.
The place is having some work done on the outside, and is really too big to get all of it in one picture.
I loved that they had horse drawn carriages here and you could take one for a ride around the city.
This is the front of the church.
I also really liked this area because it was filled with little street vendors selling local, handmade crafts, as well as traditional foods and beverages.
Here was one place that had a lot of foods, although at this stand it was mostly meats.
I was fascinated by these giant pretzels. I love pretzels, so you know I was eyeing these.
But the line there was too long, so thankfully I found this place, and was able to get a pretzel.
Check out how big this is:
It was awesome, but sadly too big, so I couldn't finish it. It tasted like rye bread (minus the caraway seeds), and I actually liked it that way. It had a unique flavor.
Then I got back on the bus for the rest of that circle.
Any thoughts where I am headed to next?
Then I boarded another bus to go on one more of the loops, which included a different section of the city.
Here is the famous ferris wheel here, which is located at the Prater Amusement Park.
I have no idea what this building is, but I thought it looked cool.
This is crossing over the Danube River.
Some new, modern buildings.
Again, over the river.
After I finished on the bus, I headed back to my hotel, but not without stopping at the Mozart statue and taking a few pictures.
Once back at the hotel I decided to grab lunch before heading to my next hotel in Vienna. For lunch I went to Nordsee. While not the most traditional of Viennese food, it was next to my hotel and they only serve fish, so it was a safe bet.
Thankfully it turned out to taste good.
After lunch, I grabbed my things and headed off for my next adventure. This is my week off from teaching, since I am between 2 sessions of school, and it was between the wedding and a conference I have coming up, and I was by myself. That is how I ended up on a Contiki trip. I thought it would be a nice idea, if just for a few nights, I was with other people. This way I wasn't just wandering aimlessly, and there were people to take pictures with (and have to take pictures of me at various sights). This Vienna trip worked out as far as timing and what I was looking to do.
Contiki is a tour group for 18-35 year olds. This was my first Contiki trip, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but so far, it's been great. So here I am arriving at the Bellevue Hotel, and meeting up with my group for the first time.
I arrived at the exact same time as the girl I am sharing a room with. It was perfect timing, so we headed up and got relaxed a little, and then made our way downstairs to meet with the others just arriving. We were actually coming on to this trip while it was already in progress, so many people were already acquainted with each other. Thankfully, it was a warm welcome for us, although too many people to meet all of them yet.
The first activity was to head to dinner. On the way we walked past City Hall, which I visited earlier. This time I was more relaxed because I had seen more of the city and was getting used to the language, plus I was following people so there was no worry of getting lost, so I stopped for more pictures. you can see that this building is massive.
Here I am with the building.
Dinner was at a place called Leupold's.
I enjoyed dinner with these lovely people, all of whom I had just met. You have 2 guys from Ireland in the back, two across from me from LA (they are married, and an absolutely adorable couple), and then next to me is Keri, my roommate for the next few days, and she is from South Africa.
Notice that we have green napkins. This meant we had special meals, mostly without meat, or just no pork sausage.
We started with soup. I actually couldn't eat it because it turns out there was mint in it, and I am allergic to mint.
The meat eaters were served a steak, topped with an egg.
For us vegetarians, we were given a salad first.
The entree was spatzle, or so it seemed to be, which is almost like mac and cheese in theory. It is really tasty, and traditional for this region, so I was glad to get to eat it while here.
We finished with a sweet crepe for dessert.
After dinner, the bus made a stop off at Prater, the amusement park in the city. It was actually build on the old royal hunting grounds. A bunch of us got off the bus and decided to make an evening of strolling the amusement park, and even riding some rides. Keri and I did one ride, and even though it was more like a children's ride, it was a lot of fun.
Here you can see some pictures of the amusement park.
This is the old ferris wheel. The cars can hold around 30 people each. It was rather expensive to ride, so we all passed on it, but it looked neat.
Well hello Mr. Fish!
I must say, this was a little creepy. In fact, they had quite a few fun houses and haunted houses, and most seemed a little creepy.
Here I am with Keri.
That was pretty much it for the evening. We called it quits, went back to the room, and got some sleep because the next day was the last in Vienna and would be jam packed with sightseeing.
QUESTIONS: Do you like amusement parks? Have you ever heard of Contiki? Ever done a Contiki trip?