I did a horrible job of writing down what we did in Vienna, but I think I remember the gist of it...
We arrived in Vienna early afternoon, took the U-Bahn (Metro) to our hotel and then set off in search of some coffee and a pastry.
John spent 3 months in Vienna in college doing a study abroad, so was familiar with the city (very helpful) and speaks a little bit of German (also helpful).
We started our search for dinner with some Gluhwein (well, John did)...
We started our day by searching for a place to have breakfast. Apparently it was "some random public holiday" and everything was closed. We ended up finding a bakery that had coffee and delicious pastries (I say delicious, but I don't know that it was any more delicious than any of the other pastries I ate while I was in Vienna, they know how to do pastries).
Then we headed to the Imperial Treasury (aka the Schatzkammer aka the Secular and Ecclesiastical Treasures). There we saw all the Hapsburgs jewels, crowns, etc. The best was probably the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor.
After making attempts to see several other things (which were closed because of whatever holiday it was) we ate lunch and then went to the Haus der Musik which is a museum about sound and music and has an exhibit about all the famous composers from Vienna. It was interesting and fun, but kind of frustrating because there were so many kids there. We skipped right through a couple of things because of crowds, but it wasn't too bad.
Friday we went to the Spanish Riding School to watch their morning practice. It was nothing like the actual performance that they do (which I saw in Anchorage when I was a little kid), but it was still pretty neat. Apparently you weren't supposed to take photos...but I snuck a few for all the horse lovers in my family!
After the Spanish Riding School we went to the Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt) where something like 150 members of the Hapsburg royalty are buried. Then we headed to the Imperial Apartments at Hofburg Palace.
Friday night we had dinner at a place called 1516 that John used to go to when he was in Vienna in college. It's a brewhouse and I guess it's actually been there as a pub since 1516. They had pretty good food and beer (according to John).
We started out our morning by going to the Pathological/Anatomical Museum at the University of Vienna. It was kind of a random collection of stuff, and most of it was labeled in German with no translation so I'm sure we did not get as much out of it as we could have...but it was interesting anyway. I mean, who doesn't like looking at jars of preserved organs from the early 20th century?
Then we headed to Schonbrunn Palace (the summer palace), which was gigantic. They have the palace, a zoo, and a whole bunch of gardens.
On our way back from the palace we stopped at the Nachtsmarkt (snack market) and had some kebab...it was giant...and delicious...
After we were full of snacks we did the crypt tour at Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Church). It was pretty interesting. My favorite part was all the bones we got to see! They had several rooms full of bones from when they had to bury a lot of people quickly during the plague.
Saturday night we went out for a nice dinner at a restaurant called Entler. If you are ever in Vienna, I suggest you look it up and go there. They don't take credit cards, so get some Euros and eat well. It was probably one of the best meals I have ever eaten, and one of the best deals too. It cost slightly over 50 euros for both of us to eat a main dish and share a dessert, plus drinks. Totally worth every penny!
We were both pretty tired by this point. It was our last day in Vienna before we headed back to Prague and then home. We went to the Belvedere (the winter palace), which was not as impressive as the summer palace, but still huge and over the top (especially considering it all belonged to and was used by one family).
Then we decided to go to the Haus des Meeres (essentially the aquarium) for a leisurely afternoon. It was a pretty cool place, built into a WWII flak tower. They had a lot of stuff there, more than just the average aquarium. They had a tropical room which had monkeys and birds (it was kind of like the bird house at a lot of zoos where you walk in and everything is just free roaming) in addition to lots of sea life.
The trip home
We got up early on Monday morning, packed up our things and headed to the train station to get our train back to Prague. When we got to Prague we ate a snack, had a rest, and then headed out for dinner.
Tuesday morning we had to be out of our apartment by 10am so we headed down the street with our backpacks to a cafe, and sat around for a couple of hours drinking coffee before making our way to the airport to catch our flight.
The flight from Prague to Paris was uneventful (as they should be). Paris is a ridiculous place (well, the city not so much, but the airport was nothing but trouble). We arrived at a gate that was obviously attached to a terminal, but instead of just going into the terminal we had to get on a bus and be driven 3/4 of the way around the airport to another terminal. Then John and I had to find where our next flight was leaving from. Turns out it was gate K51...in terminal 2E. How does that make any sense?? I have been in a lot of airports in my lifetime and I can not think of a single one where the letter of the terminal does not match the letter of the gates.
After we found our way to our terminal we had to go through passport control. The two guys running the regular people line (i.e. not elite members of whatever mileage program) obviously did not care about anything other than themselves. They managed to spend about 3 minutes looking at everyones passports. Thankfully when we got into the line there were only about 30 people. When we finally got to the front of the line there were probably 200 people in the line and they had not picked up their pace at all. They were more interested in chatting amongst themselves than doing their job. When I got to the window the guy took my passport, punched a few things into the computer, and then was gesturing to his coworker enthusiastically with my passport in his hand. He never looked at me (to make sure I was the person in the photo), and never asked me any questions. Finally he stamped it and gave it back to me. The guy that looked at John's passport took his little magnifying glass and inspected the photo for about 2 minutes like he was going to find a mistake and bust John for having a fake passport. Seriously? Who is dumb enough to forge a US passport and then try and leave Europe through Paris with it? Not likely.
Anyway, after we made it through that insanity, we had just enough time to grab a bite to eat and get on our plane.
Thankfully our 12 hour flight to LA was not as bad as it could have been. I watched two movies and slept most of the way.
We spent a few hours in a hotel in LA because our flight out of LA didn't leave until 6am. It was only 5 hours of sleep, but I'm glad it happened in a real bed and not on a plane or in the airport. Our flight to Seattle was great, a short 2 hours and our flight to Anchorage was fine too. We flew in one of the brand new 737s. They are pretty nice. We also had exit rows on both of our Alaska Airlines flights, which helped us not feel like we were trapped after 20 hours on a plane.
Now it's back to normal life! I worked the first three days we were home, which was probably the best thing for helping get my body back in the right time zone, although it was quite difficult at the time.
I'm currently working on getting all of my photos from my camera uploaded and edited and I will share those when they are ready (600+ to go through...so give me a few days).