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Theme Week – Vienna Days

In March, EISB and AA held another Theme Week.  This time, students were given the option to participate in trips.  Some went skiing, some went to the USA, and some spent the week touring Bratislava and Vienna.

The theme was History and the Arts in Bratislava and Vienna, and our aim was to show students how these two capitals are connected.  As a German-speaker who used to live in Vienna and loves the city, I volunteered to lead the tours there.

Two days are simply not enough, especially with museum visits included, but I think students got at least a taste of what it’s like.  We started with a drive around the famous Ringstrasse (Ring Road), where many of the buildings reflect their purpose through their architectural style.  The Rathaus (City Hall) is Neo-gothic, the Parlament (Parliament) is neo-Classical, and the Uni-Hauptgebäude (University Headquarters) is neo-Renaissance.

Then we walked through the Hofburg (Imperial Palace) toward the city center.  Students got a look at the famous Lipizzaner stallions, viewed some Roman ruins, and even watched through the window as the pastry chefs at the famous Demel café prepared traditional Kaiserschmarrn, a sort of “scrambled pancake” made with eggs and raisins and covered in powdered sugar.  In the days after the first COVID lockdown, none of the cafés were open, but Demel created “Schmarrn To Go” and people lined up to buy it in a box and walk away.

We had lunch near Stephansplatz (St. Stephen’s Square).  Students had the option to get a traditional Wienerwürstl (hot dog) at an Imbissbude (snack stand), but most opted for more modern choices.  After lunch, we had a reservation at Schloß Belvedere (Belvedere Palace), a former imperial residence that is now an art gallery.  Its collection includes Gustav Klimt’s famous painting, “Der Kuss” (“The Kiss”).

On the second day, we started with a walk around the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House) and then spent the rest of the day in the two Albertina museums.  The original is part of the Hofburg and houses both art and Prunkräume (State Rooms).  The second specializes in modern art.

Over the two days, students learned about the Habsburgs, Ottoman invasions, and coffee culture.  They discovered similarities between Vienna and Bratislava in age, traditions, and even language.  They heard  funny stories about everything from Maria Theresia to some mismatched statues, and what happens when horses are left alone in the Volksgarten (People’s Garden). (For the record, they eat the roses.) 

Hopefully, they came away with a better understanding of both the capital city they live in and its closest neighbor.

For more stories from the week, click on the links below.

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