One of the classes I’m taking as an elective is called “Vienna in the 1900’s”. This time period in Austria, but Vienna in particualr, is incredibly interesting time period to study because of it was the “fin-de-siècle”, end of the century as it is described. Where on one hand there is the fall of the Habsburg Empire, there is also the rise, or beginning, of new ideas, thinkers, artists and architects. Vienna was a fascinating place where culture, art and music flourished. The society and values were shaped by minds like Sigmund Freud. As part of this history class, there was scheduled trip to Vienna. Field trip!
Our class met at the train station at 6:00 am in the morning catch a direct train to the city. It’s about a 4 hour train ride and since it was still early in the morning most people just took a nap and when we woke up we were in Vienna (Wien).
We checked into our hostel, IBIS Budget Hotel and then met after lunch at Stephanplatz at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where our guided tour began. This is my second trip to Vienna. I was here exactly one year ago exploring the city and in awe of the Schonbrunn Palace.
It was a very different experience coming here with a group of students. I felt a lot like an outsider, I felt more rushed this time and felt bored at some parts of our guided tour. But being with other students was always enteraining and enjoyable! I still think there is a lot of value in taking your own pace and being exploring a place on your own.
When I was in Vienna last year I was alone and looking at the object that was on top of the building. As I was admiring this interesting crown object an older Austrian (very Viennese looking man) stops me and asks me if I know what I’m looking at.
I had no idea and I said no, I had just been admiring the art and architecture. He explains what it is I was staring at and shares with me the history of Austria for about an hour! An hour!! I didn’t really have an opportunity to leave and since I had time, it was interesting to hear the passion in the stories he was sharing. At the end of our conversation he asked me how many days I would be in Vienna. I said two days. He paused and said, what a pity, I hope you return soon. Then he walked on and I stood there in shock at what happened. It was a very interesting experience.
And as I walked the streets of Veinna one year later I wish I could tell this old man that I had returned and I had even taken a class in Austrian history. I think he would be happy for me… maybe, who knows. But I really have learned a lot about Austria and it is fascinating. If I knew even more, I’m sure I would also share this yearning to share it with others.
The historic centre of Vienna is rich with beautiful achitectural ensembles and scattered throughout the city are momuments and parks. The evening of strolling around the Ringstrasse with a couple of friends. We mused about life and travel and it’s always so special to share in conversations with new friends who you know will be lifelong friends. Afterwards we met the rest of the students to attend an opera at the Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper). While I wish I could say I enjoyed the opera, it was quite long… even our teacher said she accidentally dozed off. It was an experience in anycase and if you don’t do a guided tour, attending an opera show may be a good way to experience the Opera House.