The second day in Vienna began at Schönbrunn Palace where we were told by our professor that we would be receiving an “Imperial Surprise”. Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, is one of Europe’s most impressive Baroque palace complexes. I think the most impressive part of the palace are the summer gardens.
The class arrived at the Schönbrunn Palace and eargly awaited the great reveal of our surprise. While we were waiting we were guessing what the surprise could be – from horse drawn carraige rides, to special showings of rooms… my guess was that we would get free apple strudel (which I would have been so happy with), since the palace is famous for creating a traditional recipe for apple strudel that was loved by the Habsburg family.
Several minutes later we were greeted by a man who welcomed us to Schönbrunn Palace and asked our group to follow him. What surprise was he going to show us?! We walked along a corridor and he stopped and opened the doors to a large room. The walls and ceiling of the room had beautiful decorative in gold but the actual room was empty. We looked around we were all wondering what was going to happen.
Then the man walks up to the speakers and plays the classical waltz music. We were all going to be taking a dance class! That is why the room was empty… it was a ballroom hall. He annouces to us that we would be learning the basic waltz steps and get a feel for Viennese waltz which is slightlty different than regular waltz.
After almost an hour and a half of waltzing we were all laughing and tired. It was fun when we had the opportunity to pair up and dance the waltz with a partner. It felt like we were really ballroom dancing!
The afternoon was spent exploring the city with a friend who is from Vienna. We had a wonderful Austrian lunch together and it was special having him show me around his home city. I think there is always value having someone showing you their home citty or country. There is so much you learn and see that a guidebook can never tell you about. We were leisurely enjoying lunch and I had planned to arrive at the train station early to find a good seat. I was going to meet my friend, Alaire, who I would be traveling to Prague (Praha) with.
After eating we went to the metro station and realized there was a delay or some kind of problem with the underground. Although there was a slight set back, I was still doing okay for time, and when I arried at the train station there was still about a half hour before the departure time.
I messaged my friend Alaire and asked her when she would be arriving. She was exploring the city centre herself and was planning to meet me in front of our train. She called me confused, asking me whether the train was departing out of Westbahnof (West Station) or Hauffbanhof (Main Station). I was standing in Westbanhof and had a moment of panic… was I at the right station?! I dug through my bag and looked at my ticket and realized I was in the wrong station. 20 minutes departure.
The two train stations are about 15 minutes apart by metro and I had no spare time. I was forced to take a taxi because I couldn’t risk the delay with the metro. I knew that even with a taxi I was going to be cutting it really close. I arrived at the main train station. 4 minutes. The first thing I did was look at the mointoring screen and figure out which platform the train was leaving from. Platform 12. And of course I was at platform 1… I started to run again, this time to the finish line. I made it to Platform 12 with 2 minutes remaining. Alaire came second later, also sweaty and tired from running. We were so happy to see each other and find out we didn’t miss the train. We walked on and the train left 1 minute later. What a feeling of joy and relief when we were sitting on the moving train to Prague.
It felt like I was in a movie, running around the city and knowning I only had minutes before missing a train. Thankfully it was a happy ending and I made it onto my train with Alaire. The last moments of my time in Vienna were an adventure (to say the least).
Goodbye Vienna, off to Prague!