Guest post written by Melissa.
Hey brb…globetrotting readers, it’s Mel checking in for this post. I’m not quite sure why I was specifically assigned the Vienna post–perhaps it’s because I led the seemingly aimless quest around the giant city of Vienna on the most humid day ever just to find its National Library–buuut more on that later.
July 10th- Vienna, Austria
So, we made our way from lovely Budapest to Vienna by train. We arrived into town and I immediately took note of the large city yet old town feel it presented. Overall, I very much admired the crosscutting of modern and historic architecture in Wien.
We dropped off our packs at our Airbnb, which was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Belvedere Palace.
We explored the vast grounds of the Baroque landmark. Regretfully, we did not get to step foot inside the actual palace as we arrived near closing time. I know Leah was hoping to see Gustav Klimt’s work, especially his world-famous masterpiece, Kiss (Lovers). Sorry, Leah, looks like we’ll just have to go back to Austria. 😉
As we walked from the lower Belvedere to the upper Belvedere, we unknowingly came across an art installation by contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei.
The recently installed art consisted of bronze animal heads representing the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac surrounding a body of water. Floating on top of the body of water were numerous life jackets once worn by Syrian refugees, connected, forming the letter ‘F’, giving the piece the name F Lotus. It was quite beautiful, yet exuding a powerful statement.
Afterwards, we decided to have dinner at Hotel Daniel, which had a very Ace Hotel vibe to it.
We headed back to our Airbnb where we met our friendly host, Thomas, who showed us the ins and outs of the apartment, including the beautiful rooftop views.
We initially sought advice on the best place to watch the Euro Cup finals that night, but decided to stay in and watch it on the tiny television in our cozy apartment. My memory tells me that Portugal won (I just looked it up to confirm that they did…soccer noob here).
The next day, we took on hot and humid Vienna. We started out at Naschmarkt, Vienna’s most popular open-air market first established in the 16th century.
Naschmarkt consists of numerous stalls and shops selling fresh produce, various foods and products, and restaurants. I lost count as to how many “ni hao’s” (meaning ‘hello’ in Mandarin Chinese) were hurled at me as we walked the 1.5 km of the market. We sat down for a hearty lunch at Neni. I was all about that Jerusalem Plate.
Afterwards, we went on our self-guided tour of the city AKA “all the spots Mel wanted to see according to the cool Instagram posts she screenshot and saved on her phone”.
We started at the giant Natural History Museum and through the Museums Quartier while desperately seeking shade and places to cool down.
We passed the Parliament, then into the Volksgarten. I absolutely love that Vienna loves flowers.
Next, we were on the hunt for the National Library as previously mentioned. We cut through to the Hofburg Palace–residence of the Austrian president(s).
We walked around the huge palace grounds and it felt like we were aimlessly walking in circles, failing to land at our destination. Did I already mention it was hot and humid?
We FINALLY found the National Library, specifically the State Hall, and let me tell you–it was worth the trek! The library looked like it was the sole inspiration for Beast’s library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Serious heart eyes, y’all. There was a Franz Joseph I exhibit chronicling his emperor rule and life commemorating the 100th anniversary of his death.
As we were about to leave the library, it started pouring rain and even some hail. We waited indoors until the weather calmed and then decided to run through the light rain to our next destination: Palmenhaus.
Palmenhaus is a beautiful palm tree cafe designed to look like a greenhouse. Unfortunately, due to the humidity and sudden rainstorm, the beautiful cafe turned into a giant sauna inside. It made it very difficult for us to enjoy our experience there, but again, it was visually gorgeous.
We continued our walking tour and stumbled across the Goldenes Quartier, a luxury shopping area situated in Old City Vienna.
I gleefully spotted a Massimo Dutti and obviously spent some time in there. 😀 We were soon approaching dinner time and so referring to Leah’s extensive list of food suggestions, we attempted the infamous Figlmüller only to find that they were completely booked, but the host suggested that we try their sister restaurant, Lugeck, that was right around the corner. And boy are we glad we did!
I would go as far to say that Lugeck was one of my favorite and most memorable food-related experiences during this trip. Everything I had was perfect. In addition, the modern interior of the restaurant was also very attractive.
With our bellies full and satisfied, we dared to venture further into the evening.
We took a stroll by the river and walked alongside a makeshift beach strand. We discovered that one of the rooftop bars I had bookmarked was right across the street, so we went up to Le Loft and had a drink and enjoyed the stunning 360 degree nighttime views
Before we headed home, we stopped by a historic and picturesque alleyway called Griechengasse to snap some photos.
We finally concluded our extremely long day with the longest walk across what seemed like the entire city of Vienna back to our Airbnb.
July 12th- Bratislava, Slovakia
Next day, we hopped on a train to Bratislava because why not? Bratislava is only an hour train ride away from Vienna, so we opted for a day trip.
When we arrived, we got dropped off in the outskirts of Old Town Bratislava and walked over the Danube River to get to it (seriously mind blowing to me every time we got to walk over the Danube).
We explored charming Old Town and then decided to make our trek uphill to Bratislava Castle. The castle grounds were newly renovated including the beautiful gardens. As the temperatures rose, so did our hunger pangs. We walked back down to the center of Old Town in search of a place to have lunch. My hanger (hungry-anger) led us into a restaurant pub with a name I cannot recall to partake in some authentic Slovakian food. The only thing I can remember about the restaurant is that the cheese was delicious and I ate way too many pickles, which later came back to haunt me in the form of nausea and yeah…
For dessert, we paid a visit to an adorable hand made ice cream shop called Koun that was tucked away in an alley. I remember the ice cream being very refreshing with the best combination of flavors.
We caught the bus to the train station and headed back to a rainy and thunderstorming Vienna. After drying off a bit, a short nap, and getting over my nausea, my stomach was ready for food consumption again. It was already past 10, so we went on a desperate hunt for an open grocery store for some snacks. We spent the rest of the night in snacking and watching movies on my trusty iPad. By the way, the Netflix movie selection (and some television) is SO much better in Europe!
July 13th- Final morning in Vienna
After a somewhat restful evening, we packed our bags and stopped by Cafe Goldegg for a delicious breakfast. Then headed to Wien Hauptbahnhof one last time to catch a train ride to the Vienna airport.
It’s been real, Wien. Next stop: Dubrovnik, Croatia!
Melissa, a 3rd grade teacher, was a Groomswoman in our wedding and has been one of our closest friends for over 12 years. In fact, she temporarily considers Richard her best friend while the previous BF is popping out babies left and right. Mel is a frequent traveler within the States, and is one of the few friends Richard has been able to convince to join in the Miles & Points Game. After using miles (earned from a single credit card sign up bonus) to join us in Central Europe this summer, she recently cashed some points in for a ticket to Thailand and Indonesia (her Mother’s homeland) where we will be ringing in the New Year 🙂