I've been in Vienna for two weeks already and I can't believe how fast time has flown! In six weeks I'll be traveling to Marburg for my actual semester to begin. I'm hoping to do a little bit of traveling before I leave while I'm so close to so many places. At the top of my list of places to visit are Prague and Budapest. I'm also close to Salzburg and Venice so I'll hopefully be able to visit them too sometime.
Along with my German course here, I'm also taking a class on the history of Vienna. Our teacher is historian so she took us around the center of the city and showed us some of the best places to eat or to visit. Apparently the first chocolate cake in the world was served at a hotel in Vienna! You can still order the original cake from the hotel so I will definitely be making a stop there sometime soon. I also didn't know that Vienna also has a world-renowned riding school known as the Spanish Riding School. Apparently they put on a lot of amazing shows so I'm hoping I'll see that too.
For my history class I am also required to visit 8 different museums in the city. There are dozens of museums throughout the city so this requirement is really easy (and fun!) to fill. This week I went to the Art History Museum and the Natural History Museum. These are two of the biggest and most famous museums in the city. The Art History Museum is filled with paintings from the Renaissance, has a display of coins from throughout time, and also has a large collection of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities. It was amazing because I got to see paintings by Rembrandt, Pieter Bruegel, and even one by Raphael. I loved the Greek, Roman, and Egyptians collections too. I also thought the Natural History Museum was amazing too. This museum had a collection of rocks, minerals, and precious stones that literally filled up around 5 rooms! They also had a special exhibit on early hominids and humans so I was in heaven! My favorite part was their program that turns people into early hominids. Here's what I would look like as an Australopithecus africanus:
Anyways, I've been doing a lot of shopping this week too. This past weekend I went to a mall just outside of the city called G3. It was a pretty big mall with a lot of shops (most of which I didn't recognize) and places to eat. The malls main store was called Primark. It sells pretty cheap clothing that's fashionable so it's extremely popular. I didn't realize how popular it was until I got into the store. It was literally like Black Friday inside without the sales!! It was crowded with tons of people who were shoving and pushing to get what they wanted. The line for the fitting rooms looked like it would take a half hour to get through. This was the only crazy store though...the rest were pretty much like the stores in America.
My other favorite experience of the week was going to McDonalds for lunch. McDonalds in Europe is 100x's better than the McDonalds in the states! First of all, in Austria, most of the food is entirely organic. You can definitely taste the difference too. The stores are all updated and clean too. One of the stores I saw even had three floors of tables you could sit and eat at. All of the McDonalds also have a McCafe inside too. This isn't just an option of buying a latte or other coffee house drink though...they literally have an entire bakery and coffee area you can go too! I definitely want to see those in American McDonalds someday. There are some small drawbacks to the McDonalds though. The first is that you have to pay extra if you want ketchup. I LOVE ketchup so this was extremely sad for me. The other drawback is that you can't get free refills for soft drinks. If you want more, you have to pay for another cup.
This weekend is probably going to be a pretty relaxing weekend for me. I don't have many plans so I'm going to spend some time researching Budapest and Prague. One of the members of my program, David, and I are probably going to go to one of the two cities next weekend so we've got some planning to do! Thank you for reading my blog! I'm going to make an effort to post more often so keep checking in to see what I'm up to =)