My love Letter for Vienna’s Street Food

We need to talk about Vienna’s street food. It was amazing like if you ever get the chance you need to eat in Vienna. Everywhere I turned was another fabulous food to try and look at. I think we will start at the beginning of my day in Vienna. That’s right all this food in one day. Image if I was there for two. So anyway, we got to Vienna right for lunch time and that brought us the Kent Market. We entered at the flea market side and I remember thinking “how are we going to get lunch here.” We walked up and every food imaginable opened up to us. There was farfel and hummus and hot dogs and dessert products that I can’t pronounce. Then there was everything like a normal market from meats, cheese, vegetables. I was so hungry and I wanted to cry from how beautiful it was. I went with something our tour guides recommend which was this sausage stuffed in a hallowed out roll. That was not all folks it also had melted cheese, ketchup, and mustard. It was so good. I wish I remembered it’s official name but it was in German and that’s all I can remember. But hunt this food down if you are ever at the Kent Market you will not regret it.


Next, we move on to what my afternoon snack was. After out walking tour in the rain, we reached the Winter Festival at the Parliament building. Here we had our pick of the land on what food we wanted to get. I started out with a hot beverage because I was freezing. At this point, I was on day two without sunlight and the rain had me frozen. So I got a hot chocolate and that did the trick. I also got to keep the mug. I was then looking around and a pastry seemed to call my name. Again I don’t really know the official name of it because it was in German. In my defense, however, the person behind the counter told me I was good and it was a hard name to say anyway.  It was the cone of fried dough that was then filled with crème. The ratio of dough to crème was what it should always be: more crème because it’s the best part.


Finally for dinner, I went to this place that you could eat in or take it to go like street food. I got the best cheeseburger I have had since coming abroad. I was a burger stuffed into a pita bread with cheese, dressing (not sure about the type), a fried egg, and some lettuce. It was so good and I really want another one. It was filling and amazing. Vienna was really good to me in terms of food and was vastly different from what I have been eating on the daily in Italy. 10/10 would do it again.

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When your flight gets canceled…

So this coming weekend, well actually right now I was suppose to be in Paris, France. I had it all planned to my hostel and what I was going to do each day I was there. I brought my Louvre ticket for Friday where I was going to spend 12 hours inside looking at the art I have studied since starting college. On Saturday, I was going to give myself a huge walking tour and see things like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Then Sunday, I was going to take the train and see the beautiful Palace of Versailles. My over planning head had it all planned and I was ready. I looked up how to get to the airport and then what to do when  I got to Paris, like how to get to my hostel the cheapest and quickest. It was planned. I was excited. My friends were excited for me. It was going to be a trip for me. Then it came crashing down on Tuesday.

I get an email from the flight company I was using stating that my flight was canceled do to a strike. I read the email a few times to make sure I was reading in correctly. But sure enough it said cancelled. I immediately started to panic. And of course, I then call my Mom. I’m freaking out while my Mom is trying to help me figure out other ways to get to Paris. The flight that I had originally, I got a very good deal on, like a deal that I have not seen come again looking at flights here and there. Everything at this point was expensive or a long ride because it was last minute. My Mom talked me off the ledge and convinced me to call the help line to find out my options. Luckily, I did not have to wait for long and I got someone right away. My options was to wait and see if maybe the  strike will end and the flight would happen or to get a refund. They could not fly me out on another flight this weekend, so I choose to go for the refund. It kind of broke my heart because I have been looking forward to this weekend and it just ended so quickly. I calmed down for a few days and took my Mom’s advice to hunt down another weekend to go and to plan it. I am happy to say that I have it planned and I will be in Paris at the end of April instead of the end of February. From this I learned that sometimes things get cancelled that you can’t help and you can not help what life throws at you. I knew Italy was big for train strikes but I did not think flights would be affected by it. Maybe I was not meant to go to Paris this weekend, who knows. All I know is I will get there and at least it will be a lot warmer in April.

Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg Trip

I took my first bus tour of my study abroad experience. I, of course, pick the one with the most locations and travel time between them all. I took a trip that visited Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg. I did so many things this weekend that it seemed to make up for my lack of sleep or comfort. My journey began on an overnight bus from Florence to Budapest. It was great we were going to go to sleep and wake up in a new city. I took some motion sickness medicine and got ready. They showed us some movies and by 2 AM most people were passed out. The only stops we made were for snacks and bathrooms every three hours or so. I took us about 12 hours to get to Budapest and I was so happy to get off the bus. It was not the most comfortable sleep but it was something.

I really enjoyed Budapest and I want to go back in the worst way. The tour I went with had a walking tour that you could go on, so I did it. It was about four hours but it took you to every main site that Budapest housed from the Parliament building to one of the highest points that you were able to see everything. We saw the different monuments that were created for World War Two and the Cold War, one including a Ronald Raegan statue. After the tour, the guide brought us to this food court/cafeteria place, where I tried chicken giblets for the first time and they were really good. It was stew like and warmed you up from the cold outside.  That afternoon, we headed to the baths which was amazing. We did the baths outside. The temperature outside was freezing but the water was toasty warm. It was relaxing and just the thing I needed from the bus ride and running all day. The only downside to Budapest was that it was cold and foggy, more foggy than anything.


The next day we headed to Vienna to see what it had to show us. We checked into our hostel and headed to the Kent Market to get lunch. The market was so beautiful even through it was cloudy and drizzling. The produce had the most amazing colors to them and they went all throughout the market. My lunch here was so good but I’ll go more into in my blog post about Vienna’s street food. We then took the metro to meet our hour long walking tour that ended us at the Parliament building which was housing a Winter Festival. The festival was amazing and I wish it was not raining so I would have been able to explore it more. There was a huge ice skating rink that wove in and out of the area and all the different food stands that had everything you could possibly want to eat.


Our final destination was Salzburg, Austria, where I took the Sound of Music tour. If you ever get to Salzburg, you have to go on this tour, They bring you to where they film and it was some of the most amazing view I have seen since coming abroad. We saw the gazebo, the house, and the lake that was used as the Von Trapp’s estate. Then we went into the mountains slightly and saw all the places they filmed in the beginning during the credits. We saw the church that housed the wedding and got to explore the inside of it. Its amazing how after so many years things still look the same. Apparently, the people of Austria really have never seen the movie and do not watch it as religious as we do. The tour was amazing and next time I go on it I want it to be spring or summer so all the plants are in bloom but other than that the tour was perfect, and it even had a sing along. After the tour, we boarded the bus for our long drive back to Florence.


Valentine’s Day Weekend in Verona

Italy’s City of Love and on Valentine’s weekend no less. Verona, Italy was a quaint little city with a lot of history behind it and is home to the one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. As a Literature major, I had to take the journey to see the place that was the main location for Romeo and Juliet, even if they were never real and the locations were fake. I had to do it anyway and I enjoyed being the tourist then. Whenever I travel or go to major cities, I try to blend in as much as possible and not do the generic tourist things. But here I embraced being the tourist and did it to no end. If I was going to do this I was going to do it right. I went to the Arena, which was like Verona’s own smaller Coliseum, and during the time we were there the marathon was going on and the runners got to run into the Arena and to the finish line. After that I went to Juliet’s house and did everything possible there from going in the museum to see the balcony to writing my own letter to Juliet to posing with Juliet’s statue. The place was mobbed  but I was happy to experience it. After that I went through all that the Valentine’s Festival had to offer. From the stands, one which I got my lunch of a cone of cheese, excellent choice I may say, to getting my fresh pressed silver coin I brought. The city felt alive with this festival and I can see why this week is on of their biggest.


Toward the end of the day, before we had to get the bus back to Florence, my roommate, Erica and I decided to take a run and see Juliet’s tomb super fast. It was almost 4:30 and the walk was ten minutes there and back from our meeting spot. We booked it to the tomb. It was almost hidden from the city center and you would have to be looking for it to get to it. We got to the museum and swiped our passes in and ran to find the tomb. It was underground and did not have a lid on it. I was an empty tomb with just the cemented bottom with nothing one top of it. It didn’t look like it ever had a body in it. I wanted to ask the one guide what the story was but we didn’t have time so we ran out. The building and gardens surrounding the tomb was beautiful and I wish I had more time to discover it and see the art work but we were closing in on 5’oclock. Erica and I made it to the meeting spot with minutes to spare and we were prod of seeing everything we did that day. Verona was a beautiful city filled with love. I will go back one day maybe my next trip here, to discover the other things I missed like the museums and churches but I’m very happy with what I saw in the few hours I had to discover it.


Climbing the Dome at the Vatican!

On the second full day of my travel week, we went to Vatican City for a tour. We go to see all the inside of St. Peter’s and found out all different facts about it. My Art History heart was exploding seeing everything inside. It was things I have studied and learned the stories about from a PowerPoint in New Jersey and I was seeing it live. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. After the tour we had free time to either do the Sistine Chapel, which we were told we wouldn’t have enough time to do it justice, or we could climb the dome. My group of friends never took going back to the hotel as an opinion because we were there we had to do something. So the dome was the thing.

We purchased our tickets, opting for the elevator that went part of the way up, and we began the journey. Before the climb, you get the option so go on the inside of the dome by the mosaics and look down inside of St. Peter’s. This part was so cool and you don’t realize how high it was until you were up there looking down at everything. We were able to touch the mosaics we saw from the ground. I could have stayed there and been happy. But the climb was calling.

Climbing upside a dome is very interesting. At one minute up are climbing a normal stair case, then all of sudden the walls start to cave in on you. That is when you realize you’re in a dome and you can’t go down so you keep going up. Going up it felt like we were doing the outside of the dome, while when we headed back the inside because it was steady staircase that spiraled. It was trippy but worth it. Anyway, at this point I reached the top and it was gorgeous. It was a clear cool day in Rome that day and we got to the top of the doom right before noon. We were able to walk the whole 360 and see all of the city. There was the aerial shot of St. Peter’s Square, the Pope’s garden, and in the distance the mountains. I remember my friend, Spence trying to figure out which hotel it was the Pope stays at when we were up there. I took a ton of pictures of the views and myself to prove that I made the hike up. I told myself that this was a once in a lifetime thing and that I was never climbing it again. I don’t think my feet or legs have forgiven me yet for it but the view was amazing.


My First Week in Italy

As I look back at my first week in Italy, the one word I remember is: pain. From walking for hours straight to lack of sleep at night to climbing more stairs/hills than I care to admit. I swear at points I think the group bonded because of the pain and jet lag we all experienced together. We all arrived in Rome and hit the ground running. But the blisters and sore legs had a positive. I saw so much in that small week, more than some see in a month. We started in Rome and traveled to Florence making all different stops in the Umbria region along the way. We went to places that I would have never know of or how to get there without the tour. We went to Villas with amazing gardens while also see all the traditional tourist attractions with it. The class was called “Cultural Introduction to Italy” and we were all well acquainted with it at the end, even before we got to Florence where we would spend the rest of the semester. Now on to some of the things I saw during the trip.

In Rome, we did most of the big sights in one day. We did the Colosseum and Roman Fourm, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps on a full day walking tour. In the afternoon, we received free time and a group of us decided to go to the Castle of St. Angelo. It was a fort that the Pope lived in and used back in the day. We got there at sunset and it was beautiful. The sky was all different shades of pink and yellow and since we were at the top we had an amazing view of the city of Rome.  We all just stood there and stared in awe. I’ve never seen a sunset so beautiful before, we were lucky with how pretty it was. The next day we went to Vatican City for a tour and I ended up climbing the dome, but that’s a story for another time.


We then went on the garden and villa part of the trip. We visited two villa with gardens, Palazzo Farnese and Villa Lante. Both of these locations had hidden buildings on the top of their gardens. They were meant to have their guests be in awe when they saw the fountains, shrubbery, and buildings the higher they went. The best garden we visited, in my opinion, was the garden of The Sacred Grove. It was a garden of sculptures that were built on the land and are larger than life while also being odd. There was one of a fish, elephant, side ways house and even a gateway to hell. The gardens purpose was to have the visitors go through a range of emotions  from fear to love to curiosity. It was amazing and I got some great pictures.fountion-going-up

Now at this point of the trip we moved on to the small cities we were able to explore. The first one being Orvieto. Orvieto was a beautiful little city that we had to take an elevator up to get to the city because only small cars could go through the streets. The streets were small but each had their own personality. We also got to see the Duomo di Orvieto, which was incredible. The art work in both chapels took my breath away as did all the ceiling work. After Orvieto, we moved onto Perugia. Since this was also a hill top city the view were amazing. We saw the Cathedral in the middle of the town and took a day trip to . We also got to try some of Perugia’s famous chocolate. And let me tell you hot chocolate in Italy is very different. I have one to describe it: mud, but really good mud.


At the end of the trip, we were all excited to be in Florence and get our apartments, but it felt bittersweet. Yes we were all tired and exhausted but our reality was setting in. We were no longer on the vacation we felt that we were on. In the next days, we had orientations and tours and getting to know our new environment to worry about. We all survived our first weekend on our own and this city is now second nature to us. While my first week in Italy was crazy and hurt at some points, I would not trade it for the world. I saw and did so many things, things I would have never done or thought I wanted to do before. But that’s part of study abroad. You have to get out of your comfort zones and for me doing that,  I have some of my most favorite memories from it. I have my friends here to thank for that because without them I would not have  done most of it without them. This first week was amazing and I would not trade it for the world, even the blisters.