Thursday, March 19, 2015

Last stop, Vienna!!

Oh, hello there blog! 

Sorry I've ignored you for so long. 

Seems my to-do list spiralled out of control, and I completely put-off blogging the final destination of our European Escapade: Vienna, Austria!! 

Looking back at my blog and all of the memories in it makes me so insanely happy. Reading some of my old posts brings me right back to the time I went sky diving, or hiked a Swiss mountain on my own for four hours. Some people buy souvenirs, I have these photos. That's all I need! 

That's why even though I've been home for WAY TOO LONG NOW, it's so important to me to finish blogging the last leg of this trip. SO time to sit down, put on a cup of tea and get to it. Welcome to Vienna, Austria! 

We stayed at the Wombats City Hostel Vienna, at the Naschmarkt location. 

I wish I could comment on the accommodations… But I can't remember!!! NOOOOOOOOO. Seriously April??  Well that's not COMPLETELY true. I remember the room was alright, more fun because there was six of us girls with a room to ourselves (woo no stranger danger) and our own private bathroom. There was a bar, I think it was legit, and you got a free drink when you checked in, which is neva bad! Other than that I think the rest was pretty standard. HOWEVER the location, was unreal. Why you ask????? Well let me tell you why. The Wombat is right smack dab across from Vienna's biggest market, The Vienna Naschmarkt, aka HEAVEN. ON. EARTH. 

^A little something that reminded me of home, hehe. 

Being across from the market was ideal. We would wake up in the morning, mosey on over across the street, buy some fresh fruit and other assorted tasty treats for breakfast, boom ready to start the day. However, my favourite thing ever from the market, was THE DRIED FRUIT!!!! Ok ok so I know how weird that must sound, but this is not your standard dried fruit ensemble. No shrivelled-up apples here! Pre-made bags of brightly coloured pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi and star fruit. This stuff was EVERYWHERE in the market, for good reason. I lived off this stuff. And the coconut…… the deliciously sweet coconut cubes…. I can't even. I think of those cubes, from time to time… miss u cubies xoxo. 

On our first day in Vienna we inadvertently stumbled upon Demel, a famous pastry shop and chocolatier founded in 1786. There's a long and interesting history surrounding Demel, the Sacher Hotel (a famous hotel in Vienna) and a famous chocolate cake called Sachertorte. To be honest I don't fully understand the story so I won't try to get into it here, but you should eat the cake! It's one of those things to add to the touristy must-eat list (they even sell full sized cakes and pieces at the airport! I bought mine from a street vendor. It was okay.) What I loved most about Demel, was the decor and the packaging!!!! SOOOOOOO CUTE. Everything was so pretty and adorable I couldn't decide on just one so I didn't end up buying anything. Womp womp. But at least I have these photos! 

We roamed about and enjoyed the city. 

I'm no architecture buff, but the one thing that I did notice, was that the buildings in Vienna were BLINGED OUT. I kept noticing such intricate decorative detail, like the gold work here below. Vienna you so fancy! Can I buy a house like this? 

Although we were there only briefly, Vienna seemed incredibly royal. It was an interesting mix between old and new - buzzing restaurants and cafés with trendy shops and graffiti, on a background of imperial grandeur, opulent palaces, and a Spanish riding school. 

We ate at Figlmuller, the go-to spot for schnitzel in Vienna. 

I'm all about eating the touristy things when I travel, and also about just eating in general, so this was right up my alley.

Schnitzel itself isn't too interesting. It's usually thinned veal, coated with breadcrumbs and flower, and fried. Garnished with lemon... I find it to be a little dry. 

But what made this schnitzel exciting, was the people I was sharing it with (awwww) and ITS SIZE! Just look at the diameter on that thang!

All for me! Num num num num num. 

Like that wasn't enough food already, on our way back home we decided to hit up a café for some apple strudel. In our defence there's a strong café and coffee culture in Vienna, so we basically had to! Apparently the Viennese will linger in cafés for hours, relaxing and reading the news. With every cup of coffee is served an obligatory glass of water, which is refilled an unlimited amount of times without request. The guide on our walking tour really emphasized this point, this unlimited free tap water. Seems kind of strange, to linger around in a coffee house alone all day drinking coffee and water, but it's all in the ritual. 

We visited Schönbrunn Palace, a former imperial summer residence and one of the most important monuments in Austria. 

We didn't make it inside, but check out that view!

The gardens and fountains alone were enough to keep us occupied. 

In need of a little R&R, we wandered over to the Danube river for a bite to eat. 

We stumbled upon Motto am Fluss, a hip lil place with sleek modern lines contrasted against worn white wooden tables. The restaurant had a fresh feel to it - bright oranges sat in old wooden crates on the bar, and fresh flowers were centred at every seating. 

At this point in the trip, the heavy Eastern European cuisine was starting to weigh me down. Both metaphorically, and physically. Potatoes on potatoes on potatoes. I needed a food time-out. 

Motto am Fluss was a delicious and relatively healthy breath of fresh air. I had quinoa!!!!! With avocados!!!!!! And fresh-squeezed lemonade!!!!! I think this was the overall, across the board, most enjoyed meal of our trip. You can only eat so many goulashes and pierogies before you start to feel and slowly begin a physical transformation into a pierogi. It's science.

Along the Danube River you'll find the most urban beach you ever did see. On a backdrop of graffiti and street art, man made adult-sized sand boxes line the river with lounge chairs and umbrellas. You can sit back, relax, and order a drink from one of the bars. Such an interesting concept! I still find it so intriguing that this is a thing. Smack dab in the middle of Vienna, boom, a beach. In a box. Awesome. 

Besides the schnitzel and apple strudel, Vienna is known for one last thing. Wine!!!! Of the white variety. Sign me up!!

Just a short bus ride out of town, you'll find these places called Heurigers. They're wine taverns, where wine-makers sell the most recent year's wines. But it's more than that. Heurigers are known for their warm and friendly atmosphere. They need their own special license, and only sell their own wines. No outside stuff allowed. There's usually a limited menu of food available, generally local and homemade. And sometimes they're only open for a limited time, like 2 or 3 weeks, until more wine has been produced and they can re-open. Pre-recorded background music is NOT KAY. Rather a guitarist or musician on the accordion will walk around playing songs by request, expecting tips. 

I don't think it can get any more Austrian than this!! 

We hit up a Heuriger called Zum Berger

It felt like we were in someone's backyard for a neighbourhood BBQ rather than a stuffy restaurant. We sat and enjoyed our crisp white wine in the open air, on rustic green picnic tables surrounded by lush foliage and hanging lanterns.

We were also the youngest people there by at least 4 decades, lol.  

So this… is where the party ends! 

I went on to take a quick day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, BUT ACCIDENTALLY ERASED THE PHOTOS :( :( and then headed back home. 

Looking back, I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I had, the places I got to see, and tasty eats I got to eat. 

I never want to stop travelling!!!! It makes you richer than money ever will. 

And with that, I leave you with this:

Make voyages!
Attempt them…
There's nothing else.
-Tennessee Williams