Fall Break | Vienna Pt. 2

Our first day in Vienna was not nearly the glorious day we anticipated. Though after spending a marvelous five days in the Czech Republic, I suppose Austria didn't stand much of a chance...

Our hostel was a mile from the center of the city, and being too cheap to buy tram tickets (they were twice the price that they are here in Italy) we walked. That was our first mistake. We'd arrived in Vienna the night before, on a Wednesday, and Thursday morning as we began our walk down the long streets headed in the direction of the metropolis, it rained. It rained all day Thursday, and huddled under one black and white umbrella, we sloshed through the streets till our socks were wet and our shoes dark with water.
We should have gritted out teeth and paid the money to take the tram.
I can see that now. 

The Belvedere Palace in the southern sector of Vienna once belonged to the empress Maria Theresa of Austria. After WWII it was transformed from a royal house and picture gallery into a National Museum. After learning that Klimt’s “The Kiss” as well as several paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Degas were on exhibit at this museum, I desperately wanted to visit it. The Thursday rain gave us the perfect opportunity.

Though our world was wet and we were cold, the palace and gardens at Belvedere were beautiful. White statues of ancient deities lined the gravel paths up to the marble building, and the hedges and trees were yellow with fall. The basins of the fountains were overflowing with the rain, and each wrought iron bench was covered in water droplets. Vines trailing red leaves reached their slim fingers out over the stone walls and clung to the rough surface as the rain tried to beat the frail vines to the ground. M and I hurried inside to gawk at amazing work of art.

Returning to our hostel later that afternoon, we dried off and dressed in the one nice pair of clothes we’d packed in our backpacks for the ten days abroad. (Backpacking, I have found, is much harder when the weather is cold—ones clothes take up so much more room). It had stopped raining by the time the sun had set and M and I set off from our hostel in the bitter cold, arm in arm and humming.

We were on our way to the Opera!

A small cafĂ© a few blocks from the Vienna Opera House provided schnitzel for our dinner and after filling ourselves past the point we should have (we had not eaten else anything all day—a choice we already regretted) The opera was sold out. Regardless of the signs, I walked up to the ticket counter. The man looked at me skeptically; apparently he seriously doubted that I could afford opera tickets. I handed him the online receipt I’d printed when I had purchased the tickets a months ago and he had no choice but to give me two tickets inside. Le Nozze di Figaro: The Marriage of Figaro. What better place to see an opera by Mozart then in the city where Mozart himself wrote it?

We entered the shining opera house with all the flair we could muster. Up two red carpeted flights of stair and down a long plush hallway, an attendant in a black and gold uniform led us to our box. We were not aware that our tickets were for an opera box! The ceiling and walls were papered in a deep dark red colour and we hug our coats on the hooks bedside the door, before sitting in our seats. Granted, since we had bought the cheap college-kid-affordable seats our view of the stage was slightly impeded, but I could have cared less. As the opening strains of music resounded from the orchestra pit below up, the curtain opened and our evening began. Neither M nor I could believe that we were in Austria at the opera in a plush red box and I couldn't stop smiling.

Our evening crescendoed with the music and as beautiful as the opera itself was, our ended on a sour note. After the curtain call and a full fifteen minutes of applauding, we turned towards the door and prepared to leave. My black coat hung exactly where I had placed it, but Melissa’s brown jacket was gone. Whether someone deliberately took it, or mistakenly pinched it, I don’t know. The Opera attendants were apologetic but told us that all we could do was file a report with the police and there was very little hope of finding it again. We walked back to the hostel in shivering silence and I prayed the whole way there that Melissa would be warm. My breath fogged in the air as we quickly walked the mile out of town to our apartment.

Regardless, God was very good to us throughout our travels. The jacket was the only thing stolen during our entire ten days outside of Rome. Our passports and wallets were kept in our possession and nothing else was ever taken from us. After being told a plethora of horror stories before we’d left, we felt very blessed at the end of all things. Our second day in Vienna was spend searching for a new coat for M. She bought a pretty purple one, and since it was so cold that day, we both bought hats and gloves and still froze. Finally, when we could take the chill no longer, we hurried below to the metro station and sat on a train with a woman who was very friendly.

And that was our stay in Vienna.


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