I made it to Graz! So here’s an update on my time in Austria so far.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week in Vienna. It was the tourist/sightseeing part of my trip, and I definitely feel I did it justice. I enjoyed exploring the various museums (Kunsthistorische, Neue Burg, Romermuseum, Jüdische Museum), I went to the peak of St Stephen’s Cathedral and the dome of Karlskirche, the Hofburg Palace and the Vienna Opera house. I delighted in exploring old bookstores and cafes and side streets and shops. I feel like I know Vienna (at least the city centre) as well as I know the CBD of Brisbane back home. I’ve learnt how to navigate the underground train system, and I even know where the best wifi and cheapest bread rolls are in Stephenplatz. Also, I have seen and patted so many dogs!
I’m adjusting to the temperature change and all the lifestyle habits that come with it. I am now used to layering up with jacket, beanie, scarf, gloves and boots before stepping outside, and the inevitable un-layering that happens when I enter somewhere warm and cosy. I’ve learnt how to wind my scarf so my neck, ears and nose if needed are all protected from the wind. Unfortunately wearing glasses doesn’t help – metal sits verycoldly on my face, and the lenses tend to fog up quite regularly! But I’m making the most out of being able to use all my winter gear, and even enjoying finding new ways to layer clothing for the warmest effect.
I still find it amazing to be in a place, a city, a country with history that stretches back through the ages. During the week I visited an underground chapel in Stephenplatz. It is the only underground chapel in Europe. Built in the 13th Century, the construction of the St Virgil’s chapel was most likely part of the redevelopment and expansion of Vienna funded by the ransom paid by England for Richard the Lionheart. Then chapel had vanished from view for hundreds of years, and was only rediscovered when the underground railway was built in Vienna in the 1970s! To be in a place that can trace the roots of it’s story back through our collective consciousness like that takes my breath away and makes the inner history geek in me just completely freak out with joy.
I’ve had some serious geek moments on this trip – the nice thing about travelling alone means doing the things you want to do and seeing the geeky nerd things you want to see. The not nice thing about travelling alone is that there’s no one to witness these geek out moments and laugh at my total state of excitement with me. But walking through the Imperial Apartments at Hofburg palace, seeing the violin owned by Mozart’s father, going to a museum that looks like a palace, spending hours browsing bookstores and shop windows and museums -seeing real Egyptian artefacts and statues from Rome and suits of armor from the Renaissance – my history and literature heart is pretty happy.
This morning, to end my week in Vienna spectacularly, it snowed! Not very heavily, but enough. Then my bus to Graz took me through snow laden mountains and past snow covered fields and frozen rivers and frost tipped trees and it felt like I’d been transported to a magical world of white. I understand now why people write poetry about snow.
Over the next three weeks I will be blogging over at AIM Overseas (the organisation I am doing my program through) as one of their official bloggers. As always, I’m posting photos on my instagram if you want to keep up with my travels.