Easter “Break” and Weekend in Vienna
April 17, 2014 § 8 Comments
The weeks are speeding by and I’m really starting to wonder where the semester has gone. The end goal is the end of exam period and the only days we notice up until then are the ones where we have tests/midterms. There is such a clash of anxiety and security inside of me. I feel so, so insecure about how these next two and a half months are going to go, but at the same time, there is part of me that feels that I should be confident with the amount of time I spend studying. If studying is your number 1 priority, things are supposed to go your way, right? But it doesn’t feel like that. I feel like I could study 1000 more hours and still not feel any better than I do right now. Even if I perfectly memorized my notes and could repeat them verbatim, I would still probably find some reason to feel inadequate in my knowledge. I know that I just need to have faith in myself and believe that everything is going to be ok, but it’s not always so easy. Skjalg knows me so well, possibly even better than I know myself. Sometimes when I am studying, he’ll come up behind me, give me a hug and assure me that I am doing a good job, even if I don’t believe it myself. He has his anxious moments as well, but his aren’t as lasting as mine.
This week is Easter break, or as our teachers call it, Eastern break (???), so we have an amazing 10 days off from school. Well, off from classes to be more precise. Skjalg and I did manage to sneak away this past weekend. We haven’t really had much time together (some Friday night date nights were trumped by Monday morning exams), so we figured we could forego studying for a couple days (bad med students!). Where did we end up? VIENNA!
I don’t know that I would have ever taken the time to visit Vienna had I not made the life-changing decision to move to Norway. I’d never heard much about it and when visiting Europe from the US, I feel like there are more popular cities that would knock it out of the running. Boy am I so glad we went! Vienna is quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. Almost every single corner, side street or hidden alley was picturesque and loaded with charm.
We arrived Friday night by train, with enough of the day left to check into the hotel and find a restaurant for dinner. The train ride from Budapest takes about 3 hours and runs through countryside for the majority of the trip. Skjalg picked a perfectly located hotel, the Mercure Wien Zentrum. My friend Amir was kind enough to send us a list of things we have to do/try while in Vienna. He is a seasoned Vienna-enthusiast and wanted to make sure we experienced a few key things that every visitor to Vienna should experience. On our way out of the subway, we spotted the first of his tips – Cafe-Konditorei Aida! Even though we were tired from the trip and ready to get to the hotel, we stopped in and picked up two small cakes to share after dinner.
For dinner, the concierge recommended Griechenbeisl for some authentic Austrian food. We expected that it would be a bit more on the expensive side (and that it was!) since it was recommended by the hotel, but we thought we would give it a shot. The restaurant is actually a converted historic Viennese Inn. We went for two of the specials – beef with asparagus risotto, skewered scallop and prawns and veal with mashed eggplant and something, something fancy – and they were two of the best dishes we’ve ever tasted. Totally worth having to eat cheaply for the rest of the trip. During dinner, I mused about my life that day: morning physiology lecture in Budapest and late night dinner at a 567 year-old inn in Vienna. Quite the life we live 🙂
Saturday was one of the most perfect days Skjalg and I have spent together. We didn’t make any official plans and just set out to explore the city. We walked down random streets and when we saw a beautiful building – even just the tips of its towers in the distance – we walked towards it.
We stumbled across the Spanish riding school, the set-up for the Vienna Marathon, numerous parks and sites of interest and best of all – the Steiermark Festival. We perused through the festival, tasting and drinking our way through the best Steiermark has to offer, with intermittent periods of sun-worshipping in the park.
After leaving the festival and exploring a little more, we stopped at the Mozart café across from the Albertine museum to have first coffee and an apple strudel…and then champagne and strawberries.
Loaded up on caffeine, sugar and bubbles, we headed down a street Skjalg just “felt” we had to go down. It led us around what turned out to be the Vienna State Opera and as we came around, we were met with a live showing of the opera going on inside. We sat down with the small crowd and enjoyed the amazing experience of watching an opera in the middle of the bustling city. At one point, a server with a food and drink cart appeared. His cart buckled and squealed as it made its way across the cobblestones toward us. Skjalg and I decided to indulge in the moment (the theme of the day was quite clearly indulgence) and split a mini bottle of champagne. After 45 minutes, the cold of the evening drew us out of our seats and in the direction of our hotel.
On Sunday morning, we headed out to the Schönbrunn Palace. It was a bit overcast so we didn’t really get to see it in its full glory, but that might have been a good thing, since its beauty was already too overwhelming. Before we made our way through the gardens, we stopped in the Easter Market for some hot wine and Easter treats. The property was huge and would have taken at least a day to explore. We walked through the main grounds and then spent an hour running through the playground and labyrinths before grabbing lunch at the restaurant next to the zoo.
After a weekend of wine, walking and wonder, we jumped on the 17:40 train back to Budapest. We’ll see you soon Vienna! You beautiful little city you!
On Tuesday I met with Amir to give him a little “thank you” surprise we picked up for him in Vienna – a box of cakes from Aida! Apparently, he can’t get a present without giving a present, so in return, we got two pieces of the most amazing Middle Eastern bread I’ve ever tried. His parents were visiting this past weekend and brought with them loads of the delicacy handmade by his grandmother. He told me that it was his childhood in food form, so I couldn’t wait to try it. I have no idea how to describe it or what it’s called, but it was amazing. I was instructed to heat it up and serve it with fresh vegetables and greek yogurt.
The days following have been filled with studying, chores and bipolar weather. Stian arrives today and I’m really hoping the weather clears up during his visit. Budapest just isn’t in its prime in the shadows!