The first day we were in Vienna, before we had left for Dorfgastein, one of our language instructors took us to a food market called Naschmarkt. After being in Vienna for about a week, we finally decided it was time to return to Naschmarkt for lunch.

Naschmarkt is almost like a farmers market. It has the usual stands full of fruit, fresh meat or bread, there are food carts where people can buy their food and then take it away, and there are also more perminent restaurants where people can sit down and enjoy their food right in the market. It’s a great place to get fresh and cheap food.

The most talked about food in Nashmarkt is the Turkish kabobs and dürüms. I ordered a chicken kabob, which was basically a really good sandwich, however, the best part about ordering these dishes is getting to see them prepared. Both the lamb and chicken are placed on vertical spits, which they then cut the meat off of to put in a sandwich. Somehow this makes the chicken extra delicious. They also add some sort of sauce, tomatoes, onions and the optional chile spices.

After lunch I had a lot of free time after my first lesson and before the next one started, so I decided to go exploring.

I feel like I’ve already been here a long time and yet its only been 14 days. I thought I had seen everything there was to see in the vicinity of the Institute. I know where Stephansdom is, where all the good places to eat and shop are, where the Opera is, where my house is. What else could I possibly need? My explorations today showed me just how wrong I was.

Just around the corner from the Institute there is not only a really great hotdog stand, but also the Albertina, an art museum. Below the museum is a fountain that’s a great place to sit and watch the tourists walk by.

If you head down the road on either side of the fountain you can climb the stairs up to the Albertina and also see the huge statue of one of Austria’s emperors Franz Joseph. From above he looks regally out over the bustling streets of Vienna as if he still commanded its people.

After climbing the steps to stand below Franz Joseph’s statue, I noticed that there was an entire park behind the Institute and two other huge buildings! How could I have missed this? From my vantage point I could only see the bright green rooftops and so I quickly headed down to explore a whole new area.

What I found was probably the largest library I’ve ever seen. In front of the library was a nice park where people were reading and sunbathing. I definitely want to return to this place and actually go inside when I have more time. It’s impossible for me to resist any place that holds so many books.

The entrance to the square is guarded by a double-headed eagle. It is the symbol of the Habsburgs and it is also associated with the Byzantine Empire. It’s a symbol that can be seen often around Vienna.

After wandering around the Institute, I decided to visit the resting place of the Habsburg family. The day before, our Professor had pointed it out to us, but we hadn’t had time to visit it. The Imperial Crypt is called Kaisergruft and is below the Capuchin church. It contains over 100 bodies of the royal family, some of the more well-known names being Franz Joseph and Maria Theresia.

Below is Franz Joseph’s tomb with his wife Elisabeth and his son Rudolf.

Many of the caskets were both simple and elegant. Others were huge, with human sized statues of angles, skeletons and cherubs. The artistry that went into making those tombs must have been amazing and awe-inspiring to say the least. I took a lot of pictures of the different tombs and quite frankly got a little lost on the names, even when there was a plaque explaining their relationship to one another.

There were multiple rooms that the caskets were set in. Some of the rooms were filled with up to ten or fifteen caskets, while others had only one or two. Some of the rooms were also hidden way back in the corner where only one or two caskets could be seen.

Many of the tombs were swimming in symbolism. The ones below were some of the most intricate tombs in the entire crypt.

Going through Kasiergruft was something I’ll always remember. The tombs made me feel small and insignificant. The Habsburg’s power was blatantly stated in the bronze crowns, the angels, the small floral flourishes. I was in the presence of royalty and even in death the Habsburgs did not want me to forget.


On a different note, after I returned to the Institute we took a trip to the Prater, which is a small amusement park with a grass park out front. It was one of those amusement parks that didn’t have the latest rides or even the fastest one, but there were no lines and it seemed to be a very nice place to simply hangout if you didn’t want to take a ride on anything. In September they also put on Oktoberfest out on the grass and we’ve been told it’s a must go.

The Prater also has a ferris wheel that goes around very slowly, but the cart is large enough that you can rent it and have a part inside with catering and everything.

We didn’t have time to actually try any of the rides, but most of us in the group have already chosen what we want to do when we return.