Vienna, Austria

Vienna was not on our original travel itinerary. We had put it on our travel wish list, but when we had to start narrowing down to what we could fit in, unfortunately, it got cut. We were supposed to be elsewhere this week, but after a very thoughtful friend sent us a travel advisory for our destination, we decided we would rather be safe than sorry! Thus, we found ourselves heading to Vienna.

(We did travel to Edinburgh before Vienna. I am so behind on blog posts, I do not think I will write about our time there. However, we were there with Reed’s brother and his family. Our sister-in-law wrote a great post about our time there. You can read that on her travel blog here.)

It was quite the journey… delayed flights, lost luggage, not arriving to our room until after 1:00am.  As we ordered dinner, Reed found an NFL game on TV. It was in German, but needless to say, he was a happy camper after such a long day! img_9225

We allowed ourselves to sleep in the next morning, but quickly began exploring a city we knew nothing about! We had again relied on our SPG loyalty reward points to help us find the Hotel Bristol, conveniently located in the city center.  Being so centrally located, we took off on foot to explore museums, cathedrals and many of Vienna’s city parks, or “gartens.” We so enjoyed the friendliness of the city and the beauty of its architecture in every building.

Our first evening, we found tickets to a concert honoring Austrian born and raised composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I grew up playing the piano, so I spent many years learning and playing classical music. This concert was such a nostalgic event that took me back to my piano-playing days. The music was phenomenal and was so fun to show Reed the musical side of my youth! img_9298

One thing that has quickly become one of our favorite things to do is worshiping in, praying in, and touring churches and cathedrals in each city we visit.  Vienna was most definitely an amazing place to do so. We first visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Although first construction completion was in 1160 and major reconstruction and expansion was completed in 1511, time, wars, and pollution have caused ongoing construction and renovations to this day.

Street view


Here, you can see the Gothic and Romanesque architectural style coupled with the colorful tiled roof. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We opted for the full tour, which included a self-guided headphone tour of the cathedral and a guided tour of the catacombs.  These two tours taught us so much about the architecture, history and spirituality of the church. Over time, St. Stephen’s has experienced many governments, wars, uses, life and death, but it remains as a beautiful monument and, most importantly, a sacred place of worship.

From the side, you can see the effects of pollution. The lighter stone shows areas of the exterior that have been restored.
The intricate pulpit
The detailing on the handrail up to the pulpit shows the battle between good and evil, but the banister has 2 different types of wheels. The 3-prong wheels are shown to be rolling upwards, representing the Trinity going up with the priest. The 4-prong wheels are shown to be rolling down, representing the four seasons (representing mortal or worldly life) going away from the priest as he preaches. What a prayer to pray over our pastors as they teach and preach!
High Altar – The painting shows the stoning of the church’s patron, Stephen, but the altar itself was designed to draw the eyes upwards, towards heaven.
View from the North Tower
South Tower

We toured several art museums, but sadly were not allowed to take any photos. When looking at our tourism map, we saw there was an aquarium, Haus des Meeres! On a free afternoon, we decided to go! It had a great mixture of fresh water, salt water, land creatures and birds!

Nibble fish – the feed on dead skin, but its very ticklish!

Our time in Vienna also consisted of smaller stops, tours and exploring, but our last major stop was Schonbrunn Palace. The former summer residence of the imperial family was originally built in 1642 by Emperor Ferdinand II’s wife, but the extensive 1400 rooms were redesigned by Maria Theresia in 1743 after Turkish occupation. It continued on to be the home of the royal family, but is now a restored piece of history. The beautiful estate also has immense gardens, grounds and a zoo to be explored and enjoyed.


Vienna was unexpected, but an amazing stop! We hope to be able to return and explore more of Austria soon!

Coming soon… San Sebastian, Spain!



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