A lot of people ask if I do any studying over here since it always seems that we are on a break from school, and I can assure you that we do work (midterms were a couple of weeks ago), but it doesn’t seem so bad when with all of these school vacations thrown in the mix. The latest break was a whopping two weeks long, but it flew by!
The first stop was Vienna, and it was magnificent. The weather was gorgeous, and the city is beautiful. Things didn’t exactly go according to plan, as I got an email first thing in the morning with an opportunity to put together a proposal for a research grant. Thing was that it had to be done that day! It wasn’t my plan to spend the day in Starbucks trying to convince the U of I that they should give me money to do a cool research project, BUT I find working with a deadline to be rather thrilling, so it wasn’t so bad. It also gave me the opportunity to find the best Starbucks that I have ever been to (I’ve been to a lot). There were huge windows to let all of the glorious, natural light in, there was a plug in for my laptop, they had the best playlist of any coffee shop, and there I had a spot at the table that was close to the heater, but got a little breeze sometimes when the door opened. It was marvelous.
So the travel fun started the next day when I stumbled upon the most beautiful patch of tulips that I’ve ever seen. It looks like a sunset, doesn’t it? Spring time is the best.
After sufficiently gawking over the flowers, I went to the Belvedere Palace. Built as a summer home (casual) for Prince Eugene of Savoy in the 18th century, it now houses some beautiful pieces of art. Gustav Klimt fans – this is the place for you.
Before coming to Europe, I never really saw myself as an “art person.” I didn’t get it. All I saw were some pictures that captured my attention for a couple of minutes, then I was ready for something different. Though still not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have really grown to love my time at art museums. A large part of this is most definitely due to the language barrier that I encounter in most places that I visit. Audioguides are great, but they don’t always serve a museum justice. The neat thing about art museums is that the language barrier disappears. I find these trips to be very introspective, so while at the Belvedere for a few hours, my extent of the German language *nein Deutsche* sufficed.
For the last day, I booked a walking tour on TripAdvisor. I would highly recommend those by the way. In every place that I’ve visited, the walking tours have been the most informative, and often most enjoyable, parts of the trip. We walked around Michaelerplatz, which is home to the big entrance gate to the Hofburg Palace (picture below).
We also saw…the Viennese Parliament
…Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II
…St. Augustine’s Cathedral
… St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
…and a few other things that I did not manage to get decent pictures of, like the Lipizzaner Stallions, the Viennese Opera House, and the Museum Quarter.