We’re at the half-way point in our study abroad adventure. The streets of Salzburg no longer look like intimidating labyrinths, but familiar walking paths. In my spare time, I’ve alternated between finding hidden gems scattered throughout Salzburg, such as the Salzachsee Lake, and living the tourist dream by visiting iconic landmarks, such as the Salzburg Fortress. This weekend however, has already begun to challenge the comfortable Salzburg paradigm that I’ve been living in, as our group has embarked on our three-and-a-half day excursion to Austria’s capital city: Vienna.
At least in the English language, I don’t think there’s one singular word that can accurately describe Vienna. As soon as I stepped off the train, I was struck with the bustling atmosphere of a big city, but was also baffled by the historical gravitas that surrounded me. The ostentatious architecture that towers above never allows you to forget that Vienna was, once, the capital city of the most powerful empire in Europe. However, beneath the flying buttresses and baroque gold engravings now lies a teeming progressive society that has its focus on the social problems of today, and not the sovereign problems of its royal past.
After our group settled in, we briefly explored the heart of Vienna. Here, we got to see the outside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the jaw-dropping inside of St. Peter’s Church, and more! The pictures below attest to it better than I ever could, but the architectural and historical beauty of Vienna is astounding!
Later in the day though, we traveled to the Prater: Vienna’s amusement park. Visiting this colorfully kitsch and quirky park felt like we had been transported to another dimension after visiting the Hofburg imperial palace, but that isn’t to say that our group didn’t enjoy every eccentric moment of the Prater! We got to see the gorgeous Vienna skyline from the Ferris wheel, and many of us went on a few of the park’s most intimidating rides. My favorite ride was the Olympic rings roller coaster that, you guessed it, had 5 multi-colored loops in a row. It was definitely worth the 8 Euro ticket for roller coaster enthusiasts like me!
Our group also has the opportunity to experience some of the Vienna Pride celebrations. As I’m writing this, the Rainbow Parade is currently happening on the main street of Vienna. Pride flags and attire, have been impossible to miss while touring the city; even the trolley cars are flying the Pride Flag next to the Austrian flag!
It’s truly remarkable to see the Viennese community, regardless of differing genders and sexual orientations, come together and profess their support of the LGBTQ+ community.
But, our group has three more days in Austria’s capital city, which gives me plenty of time to dive into contradictory Viennese culture further. Check out my blog post on Monday for Adventures in Vienna part 2 to read about what else I encounter over the next couple of days. But until then, wish me luck as I continue to explore this bewitching contradiction of a city!
Also, keep up with my #townietuesday Instagram posts on @msmutravels!