Being Touristy in Vienna (With my Parents No Less!)

Selina Donahue
April 29, 2016
In Front of the Shönbrunn with My Parents!

In the beginning of the month of March, I was blessed with a visit from Tom and Mary Donahue, my eccentric and amiable parents. They took the long flight from little old Maryland, USA, all the way to Vienna, Austria. As their week long visit commenced, I quickly realized that during that short time period I would become more of a tourist than I had ever been before. I hopped off my plane after getting right back from Venice, dropped my things at home, and immediately ran to my parents’ side.

I think that when you become this independent in a new country, you sometimes forget how nice it is to fall back into the role of the ‘kid.’ Having my parent’s love and support first hand for the first time in some months made me emotional, but in a good way.

Of course, my time as the child (at least in the way that you typically sit back and let Mom and Dad take control), was short-lived. The brakes were quickly slammed on, and I became a tour guide, a Vienna Extraordinaire. Upon finally getting to my parents, they let me know that any and all planning could be left to my trustful hands.

Now, that was quite stressful for someone who can barely plan out the next two days of her usual daily life without getting overwhelmed. After some compromise, we made a schedule for the week, and my time as a tourist abroad in Vienna began. We hit quite a few spots, so for clarity I will list my top 5 places we visit that I definitely think you should go with your own friends a family when the time comes.

Something you should watch out for, that I didn’t consider; walking your parents all over the city can be tiring. A bit physically, sure, but mentally as well. During a typical week of classes, I am able to carefully plan my busy/fun time to balance my “chilling” time. Being an introvert, I need time to recharge in order to be more, uh, mentally stable? Luckily my parents are just as introverted as me, so we had some lovely nap breaks throughout the week to recharge.

When your parents come to visit, you want to impress them. There’s a good chance you’ve fallen in love with the country you’ve chosen to study abroad in, and as a result you want everyone to see it through your rose tinted glasses. But sometimes it won’t click as well for them as it does for you. My parents, being the Americans that they are, were often unhappy with the service we got at a lot of restaurants and cafés. You see, in Vienna, grumpiness is common. The Viennese aren’t going to force cheeriness or politeness when serving you like they do in the US. It might be an older generation thing, but I think my parents were much more affected by the lack of attention from our servers than I was. Although, I’ve certainly adapted to this culture, so who knows perhaps they just needed more time.

My parents also apparently looked like tourists so I had to get used to caped men trying to make them buy concert tickets at every corner. My friends and I perfected the Viennese brisk walk + don’t mess with me stare so we never get stopped, but my parent’s leisurely stroll made them ripe for the picking.

Also something I didn’t account for? Ordering for my parents at these restaurants. In America, I get so nervous about ordering I have to rehearse what I want in my head in the hopes I don’t mess up when the waiter finally gets to me. So trying to order for other people, in German, was pretty nerve-wracking for me. The pressure messed with me sometimes and my accent suffered, but after a while we all decided it would be easier for me to simply say, “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” to settle the whole ordeal.

I feel as though I did more in that one week with Mary and Tom than I did in my first three weeks in Vienna. Despite some adjustments and hiccups here and there, I had so much fun with my parents. I talked to some friends whose parents/families also came to visit, and we all had similar experiences. You’re so used to briskly walking through Vienna, speeding along to the hectic beat of the city, that it takes some adjustment to just slow down and see the city through fresh eyes. It can be stressful, sure, when you are two seconds away from holding your parents hands to get them through the busy streets safely, but sometimes you really do need a second to calm down, slow down, and just take things in like it is the first time all over again.

Selina’s Top Five “Touristy” Recommendations

Saint Stephens - Of COURSE we went here. You can’t go to Vienna and not hit this beautiful, and huge, cathedral immediately.

Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunn Zoo, and the Schönbrunn Easter Market – You can’t come to Vienna without visiting this Palace, and if you’re there you might as well take advantage of the various gardens, Zoo, and current markets as well.

Princess Sisi Museum, The Imperial Silver Collection, and The Imperial Apartments – These came all together in one ticket. Princess Sisi was the fascinating Empress of Austria who happens to be one of the most famous figures connected to Austria.  

The Imperial Riding School – My parents and I went to the morning exercise which was very cool to watch, and cheap!

Vienna State Opera – You have to go to the Opera if you’re in Vienna. You can buy tickets for 3 to 4 euros in the standing room which is phenomenal considering you’re seeing such a entertaining and high quality show for the same price as, uh, coffee.

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Selina Donahue

<p>Selina is a Junior Studio Art Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She enjoys long walks in the halls of art museums, eating too many cupcakes, and absorbing the world around her to feed as inspiration for all her creative endeavors. Her specialties lie in taking too many pictures and expressing joy over the little things. Selina is excited to share the beauty she sees all over Vienna during her stay with all who hop on over to her little blog!</p>

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