We skipped school on Thursday and made a 4 day weekend into a 5 day weekend/break. Wed. night Laura and I went into Paris to stay for the night so that we could catch our flight to Vienna the next morning. Our hotel was a little shady-Laura thought it was haunted, but it was cheap (relative to the rest of Paris) and it was located 5 min from the train station that we arrived at and needed to get on in the morning.
That night we went to Sacre Coer (church atop a big hill that overlooks Paris-a good place to watch street performers and hang out with the people sitting on the steps at night) and walked through the red light district to check out Moulin Rouge since Laura hadn't seen either, and they were relatively close to our hotel. I actually ended up seeing Meaghan, another GTL student, on top of the Sacre Coer hill.
Getting to the airport the next morning was a lot easier than we thought it would be and took only 1 hour from our hotel. We had no problems checking in our oversized carry-ons and got to Vienna with no problems on the airport bus that left every 30 mins and took 30 mins to get to the train station near our hostel-another Wombats chain. We were able to check our bags in and then go out and sight see.
We took the underground to Stephenplatz-the main square with the famous St. Stephen's Cathedral. We found a small "Wiener" stand and had the best Bratwurst ever, along with some really cheap gelato...I'm really liking this city. We checked out St. Stephen's, which had a really cool lit up interior, and climbed the 343 spiraling steps to the top.
Then we headed to the Hapsburg palace and took an audio-guided tour of the imperial apartments, learning all about Emperor Franz Josef, who ruled for 68 years (1848-1916). He had a separate bedroom from his wife, Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, Princess of Bavaria. Franz's room was simple as he liked to live a humble life, but his wife obviously didn't feel the same as she had a very decorated room. Another interesting part was the dining room that had 7 different glasses, each for a different wine that was served during the 45 minute, 9 course meal, in which Franz did not put his fork down until the last person was done.
After the palace we walked around in the garden area in front of the palace (Volksgarten, I think). The edges of the garden were fenced off marking the edge of the EuroCup Fan Zone. The fan zone extended around a huge section in front of the National Library, Parliament, and City Hall-right smack in the middle of the city.
After getting a pretzel and some wine we headed to the "Woods" as described by Rick Steve's to check out whatever the heck this Heuriger area that he refers to. After a couple of tram and bus connections we made our way to the top of a vineyard filled mountain that overlooked the city. On the way down we stopped in the "center of the Heuriger" area and grabbed a bite at a local restaurant. We had probably the best food yet: Laura got Wiener Schnitzel and I got something called Grostel-a bunch of chopped up boiled potatoes, beef, sausage, and some other meat).After eating it's getting kind of late so we head back to the city and take the metro out to the oldest amusement park in Europe, and it was awesome.You don't pay an admission to the park only for each ride.There was a giant soccer player on the big famous Ferris wheel there that has these closed-in gondola karts for like 10 people.We went on the smaller ferris wheel (only 3 euros) that changed colors and the kart had a wheel in the center that you could use make yourself spin.Then we went on the spinning, circular ride (another 3 euro ride) that was a lot of fun, especially since it's midnight and we're about the only ones at the park, we are the only ones on this ride so we go for like 5 minutes.Then we went on a superman-like roller coaster that was also a lot of fun.The park was a much needed break from all of the sight seeing.