Seeing Vienna with New Eyes Again

Aiman Khan
March 28, 2017

Two weeks ago, a good friend from my home university visited me in Vienna during her spring break. She stayed with me for five days, and gave me an excuse to repeat all of the typical Vienna-touristy things that I loved, as well as do things that I hadn't yet gotten the chance to do. 

The first evening on the day that she arrived, we went to a wine cellar/restaurant in the Ottakringer area and had a very Austrian (and delicious) meal... It was so wonderful seeing a friend from home and introducing her to some of the friends I've made in Vienna.

The next day (Sunday) was a VERY Viennese day -- we started it off by walking around the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace and then had lunch at a creperie right by the Danube River. It was a beautiful day to be out, and it was my first time seeing the Danube! The creperie (literally called "La Creperie") was an adorable little place with amazing views.

Then, in the evening we went to the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) to get standing room tickets to Don Giovanni. The process of getting standing room tickets at the Wiener Staatsoper is a Viennese tradition... you get to the opera about 3 hours before the show time (or even earlier if the production or singer is particularly popular) and wait in line for standing room tickets until the Box Office opens. Usually there will be at least two dozen people already sitting in front of the box office by 4:30 PM for a 7:30 PM show, but there are many standing room spots. After finally being able to buy a ticket for 3 or 4 euros depending on which place you choose to stand in, you dash to the standing room spots and tie your scarf around the bar to mark your spot. Then, you're free to leave and get some food (probably Käsekrainer) or coffee until 15-20 minutes before the beginning of the opera. 

Luckily, the line wasn't too long on the night that we went, and we got amazing standing room spots in Parterre (the Standing Room that has a frontal view of the stage). However, before we even got to the Staatsoper we needed to get Shannon a scarf so she would be able to mark her spot; this also served as a cute souvenir she could take home from Vienna and wear all the time. After getting our tickets and securing our spots, we went to Cafe Gerstner, right across the street from the Staatsoper and one of my favorite cafes. Other activities throughout the week included eating streetfood on Mariahilferstrasse while listening to/watching street performers, and climbing up the steps of the tower in St. Stephans Cathedral to get an amazing view of the city (see pictures)

My favorite part about having a friend from home visit, other than finally interacting with someone that I've known for longer than two months, was seeing Vienna with new eyes again. Shannon pointed out things that I had either grown accustomed to or simply not noticed myself: like how the city center of Vienna, even when the streets are full of life, still somehow feels serene; and all of the amazing architecture all around; and how efficiently the U-Bahn works! Her visit definitely refreshed my view of this city and solidified my love for it even more.

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Aiman Khan

<p>Hello! I am currently in my second year at the University of Virginia, studying Economics and Music. I&rsquo;ve decided to take a semester to study music in what is quite possibly the best place in the world to do it &ndash; Vienna, Austria. I have been playing the French horn for ten years, but I can&rsquo;t wait for the new experiences Vienna will bring me, and to document and share all my adventures!</p>

2017 Spring
Home University:
University of Virginia
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