Vienna in January

Two weeks ago, I traveled with 25 high school sophomores and two teachers to Vienna, Austria. I learned so much about the Austrian Empire, Opera, and why Vienna is best saved for the Summer.


Sunday morning, long before the sun rose in the sky, we had traveled by bus from Ourense to Vigo. After two flights from Vigo to Madrid and Madrid to Vienna, we arrived at the youth hostel.

I settled into my room, a single with a shower thank goodness, and then the group went out to the city center to explore and find some dinner. We walked around to some monuments, had sausage in a baguette with mustard for dinner, and had a coffee at the State Opera while the students ran to McDonald’s for dinner.


Monday morning was the first chance to see stunning Vienna in the daylight. After breakfast at the hostel, the group set out on the tram to the National Treasury. Following the treasury, we went to the main cathedral, one of Mozart’s apartments, and a colorful building known for its architecture.

Imperial Treasury Vienna

The Imperial Treasury at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria contains a valuable collection of treasures covering over a thousand years of European history.

After about an hour at this museum, I started to pick up some knowledge of Vienna and the Austrian empire.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

This cathedral is located in the heart of Vienna with tourists and shops in every direction. It was freezing inside so I left to grab a coffee while some of the students went to climb the tower!

Wein Museum Mozart Apartment

The Mozarthaus Vienna was Mozart’s residence from 1784 to 1787. This building in Vienna’s Old Town, not far from St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is his only surviving Viennese residence and is now a museum.

Hundertwasser House

The Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment house in Vienna, Austria, built after the idea and concept of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser with architect Joseph Krawina as a co-author. It is known for the strange shape and the colors of the building.


After freezing all day long on Monday, I started Tuesday with layers of pants and sweaters. We were inside most of the day which made everything a lot more bearable. Tuesday included the main Palace of the Habsburg dynasty, the national library, the main art museum, and an amusement park.

The Hofburg Palace

The first stop on Tuesday morning was the Hofburg Place. The Hofburg is the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and today serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. It is located in the center of Vienna and was built in the 13th century and expanded several times afterwards.

During this visit, I began to learn about Empress Sisi, who was obsessed with her weight and beauty. I highly suggest reading more about Empress Sisi, she was quite the character!

Elisabeth of Austria was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, and many other titles by marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I. Elisabeth was born into the royal Bavarian house of Wittelsbach. Nicknamed “Sisi”, she enjoyed an informal upbringing before marrying Emperor Franz Joseph I at the age of sixteen.

The empress developed extremely rigorous and disciplined exercise habits. Every castle she lived in was equipped with a gym, the Knights’ Hall of the Hofburg was converted into one, mats and balance beams were installed in her bedchamber so that she could practice on them each morning, and the imperial villa at Ischl was fitted with gigantic mirrors so that she could correct every movement and position. In the last years of her life, Elisabeth became even more restless and obsessive, weighing herself up to three times a day. She regularly took steam baths to prevent weight gain. In addition to her rigorous exercise regimen, Elisabeth practiced demanding beauty routines. Daily care of her abundant and extremely long hair, which in time turned from the dark blonde of her youth to chestnut brunette, took at least three hours.

Austrian National Library

The Austrian National Library is the largest library in Austria, with more than 12 million items in its various collections. The library is located in the Neue Burg Wing of the Hofburg in center of Vienna.

The First Teddy Bear

Founded in Germany in the late 19th century, Steiff is widely regarded as the original creator of the teddy bear, which it presented at the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903: an American businessman bought 3000 and sold them under the name ‘teddy bear’ after US president Theodore Roosevelt. 

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wein

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building. It is the largest art museum in the country.


The Wiener Riesenrad, or Riesenrad, is a 64.75-metre tall Ferris wheel at the entrance of the Prater amusement park in Leopoldstadt, the 2nd district of Austria’s capital Vienna. It is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions, and symbolises the district as well as the city for many people. 


On Wednesday morning we traveled far across the city to take the students to the technology museum first thing in the morning, followed by the UN in the afternoon. In the evening we attended an Opera as a whole group. It was in German, yet still fantastic!

Technisches Museum Wein

The Vienna Technical Museum is located in the Penzing district. The decision to establish a technical museum was made in 1908, and construction of the building started in 1909. On June 20, 1909, Emperor Franz Josef laid the foundation stone. The museum was opened in 1918.

“Rauch” my grandparents’ last name is everywhere in Vienna. Rauch means smoke, so it is on all no smoking signs but also there is a famous brand of sodas called Rauch, as you can see on this vending machine.

In passing…

United Nations – Vienna International Centre

The Vienna International Centre is the campus and building complex hosting the United Nations Office at Vienna. It is colloquially also known as UNO City. Home of atomic energy division of UN.

Volksoper Opera House

The Vienna Volksoper is one of three major opera houses in Vienna, Austria. It puts on around three hundred performances of twenty-five German language productions during an annual season which runs from September through June. 

The opera we saw: The Jacket and Gianni Schicchi are two of three parts of the comic opera by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, composed in 1917–18. The libretto is based on an incident mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The opera was performed in German.


Thursday morning began with a visit to a Baroque church. Following the church, we went to the Belvedere Palace to see The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, the single most famous piece of art in Vienna (and potentially Austria). Following lunch at a cafe of sausage in a croissant, we headed to Vienna’s largest palace. In the evening, we took the students to the museum of sound where they ran around for hours making lots of noise before finding the hot chocolate machine in the lobby.


The Rektoratskirche St. Karl Borromäus, commonly called the Karlskirche, is a baroque church located on the south side of Karlsplatz in Vienna, Austria.

Belvedere Palace

The Belvedere is a historic building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the third district of the city, on the south-eastern edge of its center. It houses the Belvedere museum.

Home of The Kiss: The Kiss is an oil painting, with added silver and gold leaf by the Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, and was painted between 1907 and 1908 during the height of Klimt’s “Golden Period”.

Lunch break at Anker

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, it is located in Hietzing, Vienna. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. 

Schönbrunn Zoo

Tiergarten Schönbrunn, or “Vienna Zoo”, is a zoo located on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. Founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752, it is the oldest continuously operating zoo in the world. Also there are pandas!

House of Music

The Haus der Musik in Vienna opened in 2000, and is the first museum of sound and music in Austria, with a range of hi-tech interactive and multimedia presentations introduce the world of music, from the earliest human use of instruments to the music of the present day.


Friday was the last full day in Vienna. The morning began at city hall, Rathaus. Following lunch at the hostel, the students had free time to explore. I used this time to try the famous Sacher torte. I either had a horrible slice, or the cafe I went to, Hawelka, only makes dry bitter chocolate torte. In the late afternoon, we toured the state opera house before heading back to the hostel to pack and eat dinner.


Vienna City Hall is the seat of local government of Vienna, located on Rathausplatz in the Innere Stadt district.

Pastries at Café Hawelka & K.u.k. Café Konditorei L. Heiner

Sachertorte is a specific type of chocolate cake, or torte, invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna, Austria. It is one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties.

Vienna Operahouse

The Vienna State Opera is an Austrian opera house and opera company based in Vienna, Austria. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera. In 1920, with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Austrian Republic, it was renamed the Vienna State Opera. Eighty percent of the opera was destroyed during the second world war. The reconstructed part is in a modern style because the city did not have the funds to restore the building to its past grandeur.


On Saturday we traveled all day back from Vienna to Madrid to Vigo to Ourense. After a week of the students barely sleeping, they still found energy to scream, clap, and yell on every plane and bus.


The students were a blast yet also pretty exhausting to travel with. They move at a slower pace when sightseeing yet want to stay up all night and spend all their energy talking. Regardless, they kept me laughing all week long.


We ate nearly all meals at the hostel, which was actually a really interesting opportunity to eat traditional food of Vienna every single day. Here are some photos of my plates from the week.

Thats a wrap Vienna. Thank you for reading (and looking at my photos) from my week in Vienna. My next trip is to Valencia, and I am looking forward to sunshine and warm weather!

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