Winter trip to Vienna with CZU Welcome Centre

The Welcome Centre for International Scholars initially planned to visit Vienna on Saturday December 2nd, but due to the uncooperative weather and the bad condition of the roads the trip was postponed to the following week. Unfortunately, it was not possible for some of the participants to join us the week after and the seats on the bus were then quickly “taken” by people on the long waiting list. 

On Saturday December 9th we met at 5:45 in the morning at the campus and shortly after 6 o’clock we were already on our way. There were 29 participants and together with Mirka Perst and Alena Gentile from the Welcome Center, the bus was completely full. With only a couple of coffee stops on the road, we managed to get to Vienna perfectly on time. As planned, at 11:30 A.M. we met with our Viennese tourist guide Mr. Edi, who joined us on the bus for a short, guided bus tour of the city. This way we had the opportunity to see all the major historical sights and monuments (including the UN building and the Prater), museums and churches and get a general sense of the size of the city centre. One hour later, we got off the bus in front of the Museum of Natural History, where we started our walking tour of the city.  

On the way, we passed all the central Christmas markets and with the light snow falling, the atmosphere was truly magical. Our guide showed us all the most important cultural and architectural points, such as the Museum of Art History, the monument of the Empress Mary Theresa and the Hofburg Imperial Palace, which is the formal residence of the imperial family and one of the biggest palace complexes in the world. He pointed to us the collection of the Imperial Treasury, a museum dedicated to the beautiful and celebrated Empress Elisabeth, know to the world as Sissi, and the Austrian National Library. We saw the location of the Spanish Riding School, a unique and renowned baroque riding school, and the stables of the famous Lipizzan stallions. Since the Habsburgs wanted the best for their beloved horses, they built them a palace and up to this day, the gorgeous Lipizzans are housed in the Stallburg, one of Vienna’s most prominent Renaissance buildings. 

Our guide Mr. Edi accompanied his presentation of the city and its history with many interesting facts about the present living conditions in Vienna and thanks to the humorous manner in which he explained his points and talked about some historical personalities, the tour turned out to be even more enjoyable than expected. Our guided tour ended at the impressive St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) and after this, our tour participants had the afternoon free. Everybody was looking to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this beautiful city in a different way: somebody was interested in visiting one of the many museums, others preferred to search for some authentic souvenirs and all of us enjoyed the culinary specialties and the hot wine and fruit punches offered at the markets. 

When the darkness settled over the city, the atmosphere became even more magical with all the fairy lights and other Christmas decorations. Vienna is usually very crowded during the Advent weekends and this Saturday was certainly no exception. Long lines of people stood in front of every coffee and pastries shop, the most crowded being the most famous ones, such as Café Central, Café Demel and Café Sacher. Thankfully, we were very lucky with the weather, as the temperature was quite mild even in the evening, thus allowing us to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere of the city without freezing. All the trip participants had a wonderful time in Vienna and when we left the city at 7 o’clock in the evening, most of them immediately fell asleep on the bus. We reached the University campus shortly before midnight. This will be a trip to remember and we are already looking forward to a new adventure in the coming year. 

Author: Alena Gentile

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