Two more great cities down! Having received a TON of recommendations to visit Prague and Vienna, this was one of my must-do trips from the start of the semester, and I went for the first part of spring break with some friends!
First up was Prague--->we arrived Friday morning and had just about two days to soak up the Czech culture! I stayed with a friend of mine who is studying in Prague, which was really great because she ended up being our own personal tour guide! First thing first, we headed to Old Town Square! What a cute area! It kind of looked like the land of Hansel & Gretel meets ski town heaven---super cute Tudor-like buildings with such personality! Since it was the week before Easter, there were all sorts of Easter egg stands, beer stands, sausage stands, mulled wine stands, fried dough stands…yum!! So of course we had to try the Czech pastry, ‘trdelnik’, a delicious mix between a croissant and fried-dough, made and cooked over hot coals in the shape of a hollow cylinder! So good!
We climbed the Clock Tower and caught some amazing views of the city and the Prague Castle in the distance…
…..We wandered a while, through Bohemia, through the Jewish Quarter, popped into a few Bohemian shops, saw parts of the Prague Marathon, and then of course the next piece of foodie heaven (for some)-------fried cheese! Topped with mayo, served in patty form on a hamburger bun. Heart attack on a bun, but I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t hate it! Hahaha!
The Prague Castle was beautiful, but I liked the walk there even more than the castle itself! We crossed the Charles River Bridge, full of artists and street vendors, and climbed the steep, but beautiful cobblestone roads to reach the castle. We couldn’t go inside, but the whole surrounding area was very cool—also some great views of the city!
The Lennon Wall was one of my favorite things in Prague. Super cool and colorful graffiti dedicated to John Lennon covers a big random wall in the city. A lot of the images have been spray painted over, but there is still some really cool artwork remaining! Makes me want to be a hippie
Right near the Lennon Wall, my Prague friend showed us this thing called “The Locks of Love.”… It’s a bunch of padlocks locked onto a metal-bar railing over the river. I guess the story is that people in love bring a lock to that railing, lock it on the railing, and throw the keys into the river to signify that their love is forever. How romantic!
I also learned that Budweiser is Czech, so of course I tried my first, original Budvar! It tastes much better than in the States-and I like the dark Budvar even more!
So my overall impression of Prague--> really beautiful and cute, love the cobblestones (even though they are so hard to walk on!), impressive buildings, yummy pastrys, mulled wine, and beer, the Czech people weren’t the nicest. (But it wasn’t the sunniest day either so maybe they were just grumpy! haha) I’d say I give it a 7 out of 10, taking food, nightlife, people, walkability, prettiness, and some other things into account!
……So on to Vienna (aka Wien )!!!! After a long train ride, Kristina, Arielle, and I were ready to take on Vienna. Arriving on a Sunday, we first did the Schonbrunn Gardens and Gloriette. On the way there, we were super hungry, but were having some language barrier issues at every café and restaurant we popped into…..so….….I did it…….>went to my first McDonalds in Europe! But it’s okay because I got Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee! So back to sightseeing, the Schonbrunn Gardens was having a delicious Easter festival market type of thing going on with all sorts of stands selling delicious food! Too bad we had just eaten at McDonalds! Haha But the gardens themselves were really big and scattered with fountains, ruins, statues, etc. They were beautiful, but I bet they’ll be ten times more beautiful with everything in bloom! We got lost in the labyrinth park and climbed the green grassy path up to the Gloriette building- a high point in the city with a great view. Gotta love those good city views!
Vienna is laid out in the way that there is a Ring Road around the most central part of the city. So we headed to the city center and took the tram around the ‘Ring’ as a way to give ourselves a little orientation to the city…..BUT since we were all so tired from travelling, we all fell asleep on the tram! Oops! No worries, because we then walked around some beautiful important places, saw some important buildings, and marveled at the grandiosity of Vienna.
The central area of Vienna was just great---there are a few super wide promenades with stores and restaurants on either side, where the posh Viennese people (and of course the tourists) just stroll and eat and shop and enjoy the day The streets were very clean, and the buildings were very beautiful! And I loved how just beyond these big wide streets were many smaller narrower streets throughout the center. Walking through one of these streets, we just happened to stumble upon Mozart’s house! No big deal!
Monday morning we headed to Vienna’s best known fresh food market, Naushmarket, for some breakfast. The pick of the day? Of course, apple strudel!
The Belvedere Gardens and the Royal Palace were fantastic to see in the great weather that we had. The sun was shining as we wandered through the garden’s paths, with pretty fountains and cone shaped bushes! Beautiful!
The Viennese Opera house was yet another beautiful elaborate sight to see! Great from the outside, and for some reason we had to sneak past the guards to get a peek inside! It was very pretty and opera-house-ish. It kind of reminded me of the Wang Theater in Boston, but like twice the size.
But the best thing of all in Vienna…..the gelato!! Who knew!? Zanoni & Zanoni is where it’s at, and it is goooooood. Super creamy, great consistency, rich flavor, best lunch ever!
My overall impression of Vienna ----> Beautiful, clean, full of grandiose elaborate buildings, with some great spots for enjoying nice weather (like the many gardens scattered through the city) but even though I really wanted to be inclined to yodel-a-hee-hoooo, I felt like the atmosphere of Prague made me want to yodel more that of Vienna. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t in the rolling hills! But both were fantastic, very different from each other, and very great to see!
More to come (very soon!) about my family visit and time with the Pilkingtons!