Because I have two dear friends and batch mates in Vienna, it was but natural that I came back just six months after my first visit. I was touched by the wonderful preparation and the great itinerary they planned for me. I wasn’t expecting it’d be so special, but I received a bouquet of pink roses at the airport and they strew pink rose petals on the walkway leading to the apartment, even feigning hurt that I didn’t notice the petals at once and that I doubted it was they who exerted effort to scatter the petals on the concrete floor. Haha!
The first day was eventful. We went to a Mexican restaurant, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore where I bought two books (Celestial Bodies and a book about an Asian Ambassador), the Dr. Jose P. Rizal historical marker unveiled in 1995, this marker is installed at the Leopold Hof Bldg., Franz Josefs Kai 31-33, corner Morzinplatz 4, First District), a FilCom event where talented Filipino children played the piano, the Aida Café in the city center, the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and an Italian restaurant.
We rode a train to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on the second day and spent the entire time there. This is a charming city, yet unaffected by huge crowds. We sampled the great cuisine of The Farmhouse, walked around the Bratislava old town, feeling awed of every corner and stopping every now and then to take photos, and stopped by a shop offering the delectable Bratislava rolls. We went to the Grassalkovich Palace, also known as Slovakia’s White House, and chatted as we rested on one of the benches in front, looking at the Palace’s facade. We climbed up the Bratislava Castle and looked on with great delight at the lovely view from the top. In the afternoon, we walked to the Church of St. Elizabeth or commonly known as Blue Church; it was closed, however. Towards the end of the day, we went back to the train station, with tired feet yet beaming faces.
On the third day, we went to Melk and visited the World Heritage Wachau Cultural Landscape. For lunch, we sampled the national Austrian dish Wiener Schnitzel at Rathauskeller, a restaurant housed in a historic 300 year old building. We then went to Melk Abbey, the focal point of the place. It is a Baroque structure named as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. We were awed by what we learned that its history stretches as far back as 1809, when it was founded by Leopold II and gifted to the Benedictine monks, who live by the principle Ora et Labora et Lege (Pray, work and read). To end our visit, we went to a cozy café when we got tired walking and because it started to rain too.
Kahlenberg was another place my friends brought me to. This place is a hill located in the 19th district of Vienna. We went to the top of the hill, where we were rewarded by a magnificent view of the entire city. We visited St. Joseph’s Church on Kahlenberg, a church that was constructed in 1683 in the place where the Camaldolite Order founded their settlement. From Kahlenberg, we hurried back to central Vienna on time to watch a movie at English Cinema Haydn, housed in a building erected in 1914. We learned that this building was named after the famous composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), who lived near the location. After the movie, our last stop for the day was the Italian restaurant Fiorino, where we ordered our favorite Pescatore pasta!
On the last day of my visit, we decided that it’d be a relaxing day. So we just walked around the Prater park (the third time we did so), dropped by a convenience store for a quick breakfast, and went back to our apartments to rest. We then had lunch in an eat-all-you-can Asian restaurant in the area. After, we went to the Prater amusement park to ride the Ferris wheel before going to the airport.
My friends then accompanied me to the airport and stayed with me until boarding time. I was reluctant to go but knowing that we all needed to go back to work for the latter half of the week, I had to, plus of course, I already booked my flight. 😉
I cannot really put into words how thankful I am to Allen and Tricia for such a wonderful and memorable trip!