After contacting our family friend Ingrid, who lived in Vienna, I was excited to have a local place to stay in the city and a possible guide. I got both and more. Ingrid is a natural history buff and was an excellent host for my three-night stay in Vienna. Right off the bat she started feeding me incredible Viennese/Austrian specialties, starting with delicious homemade apple strudel (this being the English spelling). Ingrid’s history knowledge may have only been surpassed by her cooking abilities. Even with her perhaps diminutive kitchen (something she pointed out many times and used as an excuse for me not being allowed in to help, which, by the way, is probably for the best because I usually mess food up anyway…) her final product was sinfully scrumptious.
When not being fed Austrian delights, Ingrid whisked me to numerous must do’s in Vienna. I went to the Belvedere Palace/Museum and saw The Kiss, sipped on coffee in a spectacular Viennese coffeehouse, gawked at the Viennese crown jewels, visited the incredible Natural History Museum (more on this later), took a tour through the Hapsburg’s (the first family of Vienna/Austria/the family a little lass named Marie Antoinette came from) exquisite summer palace, meandered through the overflowing fresh food marketplace and caught a view overlooking the whole city just before sunset. We also did a lot of walking that allowed me to see many of the architecturally stunning official buildings of Vienna. We packed a lot into 2 days and I got a fair amount of context with it all with Ingrid explaining the in’s and out’s of Viennese history. When Ingrid and I started talking, we sometimes had a hard time stopping. I think we basically hit every topic of conversation possible and it was great hearing and trying to understand different points of view on various topics from wars to today’s America. Seeing as she was one of my Mom’s good friends, it was fun to hear some of the stories they shared as well, including a certain mother of mine breaking her arm after crashing a bicycle… Hah! Thanks again Ingrid for being such a brilliant host!
Now, getting back to that Natural History Museum (NHM), a funny thing happened during my trip there. I decided to take the English tour and ended up being the only person in Vienna who made that choice. My tour guide, Eva, was fantastic and showed me all the in’s and out’s of the museum while I tried to explain to her the surreal sight of seeing Ralphie the buffalo, the University of Colorado’s mascot, running onto a football field in front of fifty-five thousand cheering fans (I think the [stuffed] buffalo they had on display brought about the topic). I think if all tours were one-on-one I’d do them a lot more often. Not only do you get to learn about all the incredible things in the museum but also you get to learn about another incredible person in the process. So, thanks again for the fantastic tour Eva!