From Croatia, we headed to Vienna, Austria, which was one of the most breathtaking cities in Europe. The architecture and sculptures were some of the most amazing I'd ever seen, which I think is a sad, but beautiful juxtaposition against Austria's morose history with the Nazis. Learning about Austria's history just broke my heart, but I also find it strangely fascinating.
We arrived mid-afternoon to Eventhotel Pyramide, which as you can guess, is a hotel shaped as a pyramid and one of the nicest we stayed in. We had the evening to ourselves, so April and I wandered the streets. We stocked up on cold and flu medicine before stumbling upon a pub for dinner. I remember a table of Austrian men (my fingers automatically go to type Australia!) looking at us laughing because April and I had no clue what the menu said!
The next day, we had a coach tour and then a walking tour with our Tour Manager before she took us to a massive discount Swarovski store (though there were a million of them in Vienna!). My lucky family scored some nice presents, while I bought some treble clef studs for myself. After that, we had the early afternoon to ourselves where we browsed around Forever 21 and H&M before ordering McDonalds for lunch through a touch screen machine. It was the coolest experience ever! I ordered curly fries (we don't have them in Australia), though they were actually waffle fries. It's always fun going into McDonald's in different countries and seeing how the menus differ. After lunch, we met back with the Contiki group to visit a Schnapps museum and we got to have three free shots to taste. I had strawberry, gold leaf and rocket fuel, which was supposed to cure coughs, but it definitely did not get rid of my Contiki cough!
When we returned to the hotel, we literally had ten minutes to get dressed for our night out! One of the things I learnt on Contiki was how to get ready with record speed. We went out to watch a lovely Viennese opera and ballet, then afterwards to dinner where we of course, ate schnitzel and apple strudel. Before going back to the hotel, we had some time to watch a free outdoor film, which we totally did not understand.
It was time to leave Vienna the next morning and after leaving the city before heading to Germany, we visited Mauthausen Concentration Camp, which definitely put us all in a sombre mood. We watched a really graphic documentary while there and four months after visiting, I can't bring myself to look at the photos I took there. I've always wanted to visit a World War II concentration camp, but I could never relive that experience. Fortunately, the day was brightened by an awesome lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the gorgeous Austrian mountains. My photos unfortunately, definitely did not do them any justice!
Vienna is definitely a city I'd love to travel to again and spend a little bit more time in. The only downside of my stay there was that I really wanted to see the statue of Maria Theresa (Marie Antoinette's mother), which was covered in scaffolding due to reconstruction. Oh well, just an excuse to go back!