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Escape to Vienna

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Why not swing by Vienna for the weekend? A mere four to five hours by bus or train, and that'll only cost you about 700 crowns or forty American dollars. If you take Student Agency buses, expect old episodes of Friends or relatively new Blockbuster releases like Harry Potter or Dark Knight Rises. Also, a bus attendant will provide you with yellow 90's headphones and a steaming beverage. But the best part--the view of the Czech countryside passing by just outside your window. Sit comfortably in your large, reclining black leather seat and watch as you cross an untainted section of Europe.

When you arrive in Vienna or Wien as the Austrians call it, you will get dropped off in Praterstern just beside Prater Park and an old amusement park. The Vienna transportation system is more straight forward than that in Prague, and once you arrive in the city, you can immediately jump over to popular Viennese tourist destinations like St. Stephen's Cathedral, the grand Opera House, the Albertina art museum, and famous summer palaces and gardens like Belvedere and Schönbrunn Palace.

For my 36 hours in Vienna, I trekked southward from Praternstern to West Banhof, from Volks Theater to Karlsplatz and then up to Schwedensplatz and biked along the Danube Canal. The beauty of Prague lies in the extraordinary Baroque buildings that line all the streets, but there are several key distinctions beween the city and Prague like Vienna's abundance of art museums, larger tourist population, increased modernity, and the use of the Euro.

I despise the Euro. I am very spoiled by the cheap eats and wines of Prague. But in Vienna, you can still get by without spending much by utilizing your student ID, visiting the multiple parks, and eatings lots of gelato.

So head to Vienna for a cultural experience and do not fall prey to the "Mozarts" lining the sidewalks attempting to sell you Opera or symphony tickets. Instead, visit Schönbrunn Palace (pictured above), promenade throughout the parks and past the Gloriette, and pretend you are royalty. Or spend 8 Euros at the Albertina and get lost in the works of Rembrandt, Reuben, Van Eyck, several Monet and Picasso works, and finally a large, provoking exhibit of the works of Helnwein.

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