*Warning: trip updates may come intermittently.  While I’d hoped to get all my Slovakia stuff done BEFORE my next trip, it is the eve of another two week adventure and I’m just getting started on adventure #1.  No promises. 

Thanks to Mom’s decision to upgrade us to business class, I actually managed to eat and sleep surprisingly well on our “overnight” flight (we left the U.S. at 5:30pm East Coast time and arrived in Vienna at 8:30am Vienna time).  I felt awake and alert as soon as we were off the plane, which I definitely did not expect.  After passing through the most lax Customs & Immigration counters I’ve ever experienced, we hopped in a cab and headed to our hotel.

With only one full day to explore Vienna, we checked into our rooms and got out into the city.  Our first stop, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, was humongous and gorgeous.  

We arrived right as the noon bells began to ring, which I really enjoyed.  Mass was going on when we walked in, despite some heavy traffic and LOTS of camera flashes.  I guess the place is big enough that the Mass attendees didn’t even notice too much.

We took an elevator to the top of one of the towers, giving us sweeping views of the city.  I’m always amazed by how old everything is in Europe.  Despite being a cloudy day, visibility wasn’t an issue.  The detail in the tile roof of the cathedral was also pretty impressive; we don’t take nearly as much time to construct anything like these old buildings anymore.

From there, we strolled to the Vienna Opera House and ate lunch at a nearby restaurant.  All four of us were ready for a break by this point, so we went back to the hotel and took a power nap.

Cindy, Mom, and I went for a late afternoon stroll in the park across the street from our hotel, then I continued on to see several gardens, the National Library, Congress, and a few other buildings.

Looking into Stadtpark

View of the back of Hofburg Palace from the Burggarten

Standing in the Heldenplatz looking at Hofburg Palace

Museum of Fine Arts

Austrian Parliament

 City Hall

Overall, a fantastic first day of the trip.  I fought jet lag and feel that I really got to explore Vienna and see some of its sights.  It was impossible to do it all, but I definitely worked within our time and energy constraints to hit some highlights before beginning the Treasures of Slovakia tour!