Wien is the right time to have Austrian chocolate cake?

Trick question, the answer is all the time. It should be paired with a cappuccino– which fun fact: was invented in Austria. Don’t worry I won’t tell the Italians.

Last week I had taken some time off to visit Tracy, who is studying abroad in Berlin. Since I visited last year while I was abroad and she wanted to get out of town we took it upon ourselves to pick a place to travel too. Coincidentally it was cheaper for me to fly to Berlin, and have us catch a later flight to Vienna, Austria.

IMG_3103.jpgSo, thats what happened. I left from JFK Friday night, had a layover in Iceland, arrived in Berlin Tegel at 2PM, and caught a flight to Vienna Flughafen at 9PM. In those seven hours I was able to put my luggage down at Tracy’s dorm and she was able to show me the neighborhood she lived in, Kreuzberg. It’s known to be the hipster part of Berlin, where the streets are buzzing with youngsters having a couple of drinks out in front of restaurants, local artisanal shops displaying their craftsmanship in the window, and the sidewalks are littered with dogs that obediently walk side by side with their owner. We grabbed food to go and hiked up through  Viktoriapark, where we sat against the Prussian National Monument overlooking the city before us.

Our flight to EasyJet was a breeze considering we had consolidated our belongings into one carry-on luggage and a backpack (they only allow one free check-in/personal bag per person). We took the airport bus into the city center and arrived at our hotel at 11:30PM. Our hotel was modern, edgy, and definitely had a sophisticated old school vibe.

We had both planned the next two days pretty early on. With back and forth Facetime calls and multiple spread sheets, we booked three tours that made sure we got the most and the best of Vienna.

Sunday was our first full day in Vienna and we weren’t even spending it in Vienna. We were going to the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO region that produces a majority of Austria’s famous white wine. We had booked a wine tour with Pedal Powers, a biking tour company based in Vienna. Yep, you got that right, we were about to embark on a wine tasting and biking *adventure.* Sounds dangerous right? It wasn’t too bad actually, considering the fact that you bike close to 15 miles that day I’m sure you’ll sober up in between. Our tour guide Grant was funny and accommodating, he stopped along the dirt roads next to the vineyards to give us brief history lessons on the Austrian wine industry.

We stopped twice for wine tastings, each providing 3-4 glasses of different classes of wine. The first stop was at Duesnstein, a town at the base of the Burguine Duernstein ruins; this is also where we had lunch. It’s a bit of a steep hike up to the ruins, but the view is worth it. The second wine tasting was at Heuriger Walter Denk, a family owned restaurant that also owns a vineyard. Grant had mentioned the family opens the house only a couple of days in the year and usually leaves the company a spare key. Luckily we were able to meet the family as they celebrating a relative’s 60th birthday at the house. Walter, the owner of the wine company had given us a full bottle to drink to celebrate with them. There was a sense of cheer and humbleness in the air as we sat with the family on their terrace that overlooked the valley. We had one more stop at a local beach, where Grant presented us with apricot schnapps that blissfully closed up the summer-like day.

The next morning we had made our way through the city of Vienna to meet our free walking tour with Prime Tours. The tour covered all the monumental sites and buildings within Vienna. Ultimately allowing us to see the most important spots in one go. The city is filled with rich history and beautiful architecture that takes your breathe away. The tour focused on the old city and its history. Some highlights are the opera house, the Albertina museum, and Mozart’s house.

Following our tour we made our way to Schönbrunn Palace for our 3PM ticket entry, also known as the Versailles of Vienna. The palace itself felt like a fun house with countless rooms, each with their own individual style and purpose. But the gardens behind it is what takes your breath away. The land stretches for acres, carved with sky rocketing hedges, and endless dirt paths. In the garden there is a zoo, labyrinth, and the Gloriette terrace view that looks over the city. A visit to the palace and its gardens is an easy day trip if you look to have a leisurely time away from the hustle and bustle.

Our flight back to Berlin was early in the morning to ensure Tracy was able to make it to her second class. With the free time we had before and after I was able to see parts of Berlin that I had missed out on my last visit. The Brandenburg Gate was a sight to see, considering Jay-Z had performed in front of it in 2009 with U2. Across the street, Hotel Adlon where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out the window made my little meme heart warm. Additionally we made our way to the Murdered Jews of Europe Memorial, Hitler’s parking lot (Fuhrerbunker), a local Turkish market, and the Mall of Berlin.

This adventure was too short, but filled with countless memories. Vienna is a city that definitely needs a week of its own if you’re one who enjoys visiting museums and moving at a leisurely pace. Their pastries and coffee is one of a kind, but don’t worry with the amount of walking you’ll be doing you won’t gain a pound. Traveling with my sister for the first time has made me even more excited for what the future holds. It was a wonderful getaway to bookmark in my last semester of college. With the stress of finals and job hunting, this trip with Tracy reassured me that all is swell.

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