Vienna’s rich history shines through in every aspect of daily life, but never clearer than in the cafes, gardens and palaces. These sites give an insight into how Vienna was and how history stays through the modern. Even through all the tourists and city bustle, the smell of Viennese coffe, feeling the breeze off the gardens, and the refracting of the sun through the old windows in the palaces all make it seem like time could be stopped, if even just for a moment.
Cafes and coffee are viewed very differently in Vienna than back state-side. There are no t0-go cups here. The cafe is a place where anyone can go to get out of reality. I had to ask my friend and roommate, Elaine, if she thought we had enough time to stop by Cafe Schwarzenberg the other day to get drinks and cake before class. We had 45 minutes. In the early 1900′s, many writers had their registered address at their local coffee house because one was more likely to find them there than in their bedroom. This type of attitude, though not as extreme, still prevails in the traditional cafe. It is almost difficult to get the attention of your waiter (Herr Ober) to get the check or add anything else to your order because no one is in any rush, except those tourists in the corner who overpaid for their opera tickets. The coffee that is served is of a much higher quality and strength than in America. And free refills are not a thing, unless it’s of your tap-water glass that comes with your drink. There are free newspapers on antique-looking holders that keep the pages propped up as you sip on your Melange. May cafes have an assortment of sweet desserts and other drink options. I’m one of those strange people who doesn’t drink caffeine, so I opt for a Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate) or, now that it is warmer, Apfelsaftnaturtürb gespritzt (natural, unfiltered apple juice with soda water).
One of the pretty remnants of imperial decadence is the gardens surrounding all the palaces. This expands outside of Vienna as well. When we took a day trip to Salzburg, we spend a couple hours exploring and smelling the flowers in the Mirabell Gardens, where the end of the “Do, a Deer” scene in The Sound of Music was filmed. Within the city, two of the more major gardens are the Belvedere Gardens connecting the Upper and Lower Belvedere palaces and the expansive gardens at the Schönbrunn. They are absolutely lovely to wander through and relax in when it’s nice outside and also have free admittance.
The Hapsburgs, as well as other wealthy families, left behind many beautiful palaces scattered around modern day Vienna. When constructed, the summer homes of the Hapsburgs and Prince Eugene of Savoy were outside the city, illustrating the changes in the city since the mid 1500′s and late 1600′s respectively. The Hofburg Palace is still used as the seat of government, as it has been since the 1200′s, but as with other palaces around the city, parts of it have been repurposed into museums and event rooms. I haven’t ventured into the old Hapsburg residences, but the art collection in the Belvedere is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, photography is strictly forbidden, but the collection of 19th and 20th Century Austrian art is absolutely breath taking.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Emily is a rising senior studying psychology with a focus in development at the University of Rochester. Her dream job is to be a family therapist somewhere sunny. When she's not studying psychology, she enjoys dancing with the Ballet Performance Group, swimming on the Master's team, running along the Genesee, and studying Russian. She is excited to learn about psychology in its birth place, brush up on her German and live in the beautiful city of Vienna.</span></p>