This past week I have been in Austria with my class for an Educational Field Trip. The “educational” title is optional. I had been to Vienna once before but never left the train station so I was unsure of what to expect. Basically, I was not looking forward to being surrounded by the same people and herded like cattle from one scheduled activity to the next. I was still trying to catch up on sleep from my weekend in Amsterdam, so everything was an excruciating struggle.
Our class left bright and early Tuesday morning at 6:40. We took a bus to the Frankfurt airport and I attempted to doze on the way there. I think the only thing I managed to do was drool on my sleeve. Oh well. We ate at the airport and boarded an Airbus 321 for our flight. I managed to get stuck in the middle seat but it was only a one-hour flight so it could have been much worse.
Our hotel was pleasant I was fortunate enough to share a room with Laura. Once we arrived in our room, Laura and I dropped our stuff off and went out to explore the city like Herr D had recommended. The street that he had mentioned was not as wonderful as he described but at least we were able to get out and moving.
The first item on the agenda was to go visit Mozart’s house. Our whole group of 60 went together to the museum. Although the house was relatively small, the amount of information to read was astounding. We had been given audio guides to take at our own pace but there was no way you could read it all in the short amount of time we were given. I tried to focus but I was on a time crunch and knew it, so there was no way I could focus. Also, pictures weren’t allowed, so I had to make sure that I took several.
I did figure out that Mozart was a fan of the ladies. A few exhibits at the museum were some form of caricature drawings that… illustrated some of his activities with women. It was very weird, but I suppose you can get away with almost anything when you’re Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
We ate dinner as a whole group at a very nice restaurant. The schnitzel was amazing and I even got a free coke! There wasn’t any ice in it, but I was still happy and couldn’t complain.
That next morning all 60 of us headed to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. From there, we split into two groups. The groups had been pre-assigned which meant that Laura and I had to be separated. I think they did it on purpose. The museum was interesting but nearly everything was written in German without any English so it was very difficult to appreciate the artifacts past their aesthetics. Oh well Pepperdine, at least you tried to culture us.
A group of us including myself, Laura, Ava, Margaux, and Blake ate lunch at an Italian restaurant across the street from our hotel. Trying to order was an absolute nightmare. We tried to speak in German but then he spoke some in Italian and English, as well as German. Despite our best efforts, we left even more confused than we had arrived, but at least we had some food in our bodies. For now…
By the time my tour group arrived at Schloβ Belvedere, I was not feeling very well. It turns out that I got food poisoning from lunch and I was fortunate enough to spend an hour of my time at the palace throwing up in the bathroom. I’m pretty sure the bathroom attendant hated me, but oh well. I eventually managed to make it out alive and tour some of the palace. It was actually an art museum and held famous paintings such as The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. I didn’t get what all the hype was but I’m not cultured enough to appreciate art. Either that or I was just too sick. However, there was a large dancing hall that had velvet covered exercise balls. I don’t know how else to describe them. Our group had a blast bouncing everywhere on them, as well as falling off of them. I am still not entirely sure why the palace had them but I’m not complaining. Some of my friends and I wandered around the palace gardens for a while until we froze to death and went back to the hotel.
Thursday morning was absolutely beautiful – only slightly raining! Pepperdine took us to Stift Klosterneuburg, an Augustinian monastery from the 12th century. Despite the chilly weather, it was a nice walk to the monastery and it made us appreciate the inside even more! The chapel was very ornate in the typical Baroque style of the era. And if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it! (Okay, I’ll stop with the puns.)
By this point in the day we were all starving and one of my friends had heard of a delicious rib place in the Altstadt. We hopped on a train and were able to find the rib joint fairly quickly. It was in the basement and had a very chic and hip vibe. There was only about an hour before its mid-day closing so we hurried and scarfed down what were possibly the most delicious ribs I’ve ever eaten. I would go back in a heartbeat.
That night our entire Pepperdine group went to watch a Tchaikovsky symphony. Had I been well rested and full of caffeine, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. As it was, I think I dozed off several times due to my intense sleep-deprivation. What I was awake for, I enjoyed.
I was fortunate enough to go to the Sigmund Freud museum with my English class the next morning, Friday. I find his theories fascinating (albeit far-fetched) and being able to see where he practiced his theories was such an incredible experience. Then I went and stuffed my face full of Asian food at a buffet. It was a glorious moment.
Our next attraction was at the Schloβ Schönbrunn, a massive palace that is one of Austria’s main tourist attractions. We were split up into our groups again but by this point, Margaux and Laura just stuck with our group. It was a smart decision. The tour guide was so soft-spoken and we couldn’t hear or understand him, despite his voice being broadcast into our ears with headphones. Laura, Ava-Marie, Margaux and I had to go pee so badly, so as soon as we found a bathroom, we made a run for it. The bathroom excursion was an experience all in itself. To start with, the bathroom stalls had hedges painted on them. That’s right, hedges. I don’t know what the purpose was but I found it slightly terrifying. The four of us squeezed into one stall to avoid the painfully long line and somehow made it work amongst the hedge stalls. When we exited the stall, the ladies behind us in line looked at us like we were crazy. Which we are.
We were able to somehow catch back up to our tour group, after accidentally running into Herr D’s tour group and having him look at us disapprovingly. The rest of the tour went by so quickly that I hardly remember it. Most likely because the tour guide was confusing and we couldn’t hear him. Once the tour finally ended, we headed out to the gardens to explore and capture some Instagram-worthy pictures. We were able to take some, only after I risked my life and climbed on the balcony railing. I didn’t fall off and die, so I consider it a success.
Our Friday night was pretty tame; we had some pasta and went back to our rooms because we were so unbelievably exhausted. Studying abroad is hard work!
The next morning we woke up and had to quickly pack all of our things so we could make it out of the room on time. In typical Pepperdine fashion, we were running late but somehow made it to the cathedral for our tour. As luck would have it, our tour guide was the same tour guide from the day before. This time we didn’t have audio guides to hear him with and he spoke so softly I gave up. There was no way to hear him with a group of 30 people. Instead, I admired the cathedral from a purely aesthetic point of view.
Our plane flight home was a very quick one; we landed 25 minutes ahead of schedule! In all 19 years of living, I have never had that happen. It’s like I had entered the Twilight Zone. Even though I was more tired than when I left, I wouldn’t do a thing differently. Vienna was so much fun and there were so many wonderful memories made. I would definitely go back, but not as a group of 60 people. That’s a surefire way to not get the most out of your trip. I learned what was amazing about Vienna, but I also learned how NOT to see Vienna.