Exploring Vienna

This Thursday marks the third month since my move to Vienna, and I still feel I’m just brushing the surface of things to see in this city! This week, we visited the artsy, bohemian Hundertwasserhaus Village and walked around the amusement park at the Prater.

The Hundertwasserhaus neighborhood is a beautiful gem for those who love modern art — and even for those who don’t. Hundertwasser designed each sloping building with such intricate detail; even the stones are cut in a way that seems “shattered” yet perfectly put-together at the same time. Complete with a shopping center and charming cafes, the Hundertwasser Village made for a lovely afternoon.

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The Wiener Riesenrad, Vienna’s famous, giant Ferris Wheel, stands as the focal point in the Prater amusement park area. The park itself is open year-round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… so there is NO excuse to miss this gorgeous attraction!

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I’m in the process of compiling a “Vienna Bucket List” — things I absolutely must do or see before the year is over. Though I’ve seen quite a bit, there’s still a lot left to do! Now that work has settled in a bit more, I’m really looking forward to experiencing all this city has to offer.

Life is short but sweet for certain

Yesterday, I visited the palace and gardens at Schloss Schönbrunn, the “Austrian Versailles,” or the 300-year-old summer home (the fact that this was not just someone’s residence, but someone’s “just for fun” residence… there are no words) to many years of emperors and empresses.

Though the sun shone all day, the trip felt extremely solemn, as I had just found out about the passing of one of my best childhood friends. The friend I lost was a lover of life and an infectiously upbeat personality. As I looked around the lush, green gardens and gazed over Vienna at the hilltop view, I felt an even greater appreciation for the beautiful sights than I normally would have. I knew my friend would have loved visiting the palace. I hoped that through my visit, I could expand my experience of the world in his honor.

So, my friend, I took some pictures in hopes of capturing the day I spent reflecting on our friendship and our priceless memories. Your loss is a reminder to me to always enjoy life and to experience as much as I can during my time on Earth. You are truly missed.

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Vacation, all I ever wanted

We’re back in Vienna after 12 amazing days in the Netherlands and Belgium. After a year and a half of being together, I finally got to really spend time in Jacco’s home country (Holland), so this was a meaningful and special trip for the both of us.

We visited Amsterdam, the Hague, and Amersfoort before heading south and seeing Bruges.

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Shameless selfie stick usage in Amsterdam

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The most amazing tulips of my life in Keukenhof

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Keukenhof

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The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer, The Hague

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Brugge, Belgium

I think I’ve experienced more history, art, and culture in the past few days than I have in my previous 24 years combined.

We visited the Anne Frank house and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, walked through Mauritshuis in the Hague, and said a prayer over the cloth stained with Christ’s blood (yes, really) in Bruges.

If you love old things as much as I do, you might understand why the past week and a half has been so exciting for me. The architecture from the Middle Ages, the paintings preserved for almost a thousand years, the streets that Van Gogh himself walked had every history-nerd bone in my body tingling.

The cities are also filled with stuff for the younger crowd, of course. I’m pretty sure no one parties like Amsterdam. I think the coffee shops, restaurants, and bars may be worth the trip just by themselves, but I’m glad we got to experience at least a little bit of a lot of different attractions.

And now we’re back! Returning to Vienna really felt like coming back home… it’s great to be here again.

Consider Me Visa’d

In exactly a week, I will have been here for two months. To celebrate my upcoming second monthaversary, I got my visa today! I am so pumped, I’m not even mad about my terrible mugshot on the front of the Residence Permit card!

After about a year of planning to move to Europe (Germany initially, but saying I’m fine with having landed in Austria is a huge understatement), I’m finally here, *officially* a working expat. I gotta say — it feels great!

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Ostermarkt

ostermarkt

The Viennese certainly know how to Easter.

Yesterday, we visited Karlskirche at Karlsplatz for their afternoon Good Friday Mass. The church, though smaller than the Stephansdom, is no less incredible in terms of sheer gorgeousness.

We stopped at this super cute, hole-in-the-wall cafe called Charly Fresh for some delicious wraps and hot chocolate, then headed over to Stephansplatz for the Ostermarkt (Easter Market) am Hof. Here, several streets are taken over by vendors selling hot drinks, food, and handmade gifts. At least the length of a block (streets aren’t laid out in blocks here like they are in the U.S., but I don’t know what else to compare it to) is absolutely covered in crates holding the most beautifully hand-decorated Easter eggs I’ve ever seen. We tried to resist spending money and totally failed — we brought home 5 eggs. I’m still not sorry about it!

The weather is still really cold, but it doesn’t make the Easter season any less charming here in Vienna. I’m in love!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Vienna

Grüßie!

I’m finally beginning to settle a bit more here in Vienna, where I’ve been living for about a month. Things have been hectic, crazy, and wonderful. I’m falling in love with this city — I’m a 20 minute metro ride to Stephansplatz, where you step off the train to the sight of massive Stephansdom, where Mozart and Constanze got married, and the bustle of life in the city center. All the shops and restaurants in this area are in buildings of 1700’s-era architecture… even the McDonald’s (no joke!). There are music shops galore and tourist shops that feature items from shot glasses to wall clocks, all with Mozart’s face plastered on them. Around the corner, you can buy real sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel, or if tasty gelato is more your style, you can get that, too.

I think I’ve found my heaven.

Last week, we opened our run of Die Hochzeit des Figaro (aka Le Nozze di Figaro, aka The Marriage of Figaro… in Austria and Germany, I’m learning everything should be performed auf Deutsch). I’m working with fantastic singers and orchestra musicians. I’m also in the unique situation of living with several of my coworkers! It feels very home-y here, and it’s nice to work and live with such talented musicians who also happen to be great people.

I plan to post updates much more frequently than I have over the past couple months; now that the dust has settled a bit (and my visa application has been approved!), I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing about my experience here.

One of the things that strikes me most about Vienna is that the people are extremely friendly and willing to help (I made this observation to a Viennese coworker who said, “Really?!” and laughed, but it has truly been my experience!)

Even applying for my visa was pretty pain-free. Granted, I had taken the time to make sure all my documents were present and organized, plus I took my German-fluent boyfriend with me to help translate things I couldn’t say, but still— it’s nice to know what’s involved with this expat process, because there’s really a ton!

Anyway, here’s a pic of me in my costume from last night’s performance. The audience was fun and responsive! It helped that Mozart really slayed comic opera during his time…

Susanna costume

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo… had to take it with an iPhone because I didn’t have my camera!

Til next time…