We had an easy flight into Vienna, and got to catch a glimpse of the snowcapped mountains that surround the city. I was very excited when the first thing I saw upon departing the plane was a Starbucks! Kendra and the kids moved along to baggage claim while I grabbed a quick mocha. After picking up our bags, we made our way into the airport lobby and met up with Bonnie, our tour guide. We boarded the bus, made a quick stop to pick up the folks on the flight before us, and set out to explore Vienna.
Stopping in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we had the opportunity to explore the inside of this gothic masterpiece. Upon exiting, Bonnie pointed out an odd marking on the exterior stone wall. He explained that historically, bakers would create round loaves of bread, occasionally making them a bit smaller than standard size in order to cut costs and increase profits. The circle etched into the stone on St. Stephen’s was used by patrons to measure their bread and ensure they had not been shortchanged. Baker’s became fearful of accusations of cheating their customers, so they began adding an extra serving to everything they sold – hence the term, “Baker’s Dozen.”
Bonnie next led us into the Stephanplatz subway station. In the back corner, behind a pane of glass, was an old underground chapel built in the early 13th century. The above ground portion was destroyed in 1781, and it wasn’t until 1973, when workers were excavating the site in order to build the subway station, that the underground St. Virgil’s Chapel was rediscovered.
We also explored other parts of the old city, including the old Imperial Palace. Bonnie took us to the square where, after Germany’s successful annexation of Austria during WWII, Adolf Hitler first spoke to the citizens of Austria. Not far from there, we saw the archeological remains of the ancient sewer system first constructed by the Romans.
After our tour, we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a wonderful dinner of salad, fried fish, German-style potatoes and kraut, with warm cake and whipped cream for dessert. Though it’s only 9pm here, everyone is tuckered out and in bed for the night. Tomorrow morning we’ll be up early and off to the Schönbrunn Palace, home of the Hapsburgs, the rulers of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire!