Since we had over a week free with the ballet premiere cancellation, we decided to head up to Vienna. It's about a thirteen hour bus ride from Sarajevo, and the price was reasonable considering how far we went. Our friend Alice lives in Vienna, so we're able to stay in her living room on her (extremely comfortable) couches. She lives just outside the Ringstraße, so it's very easy to get to the city center on foot. On our first full day in the city, we were still a little dazed and confused from the long bus ride the day before. We left Sarajevo at 8am and arrived in Vienna at 9pm, we had to go through at least three border controls and had more than one cigarette/bathroom stop. When you're traveling by bus through a border control, they have everyone get off the bus, stand outside to have their passports stamped while the bus actually crosses the border, and then you walk across the border and board the bus again. We had to cross through Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, and then there was no border control into Austria since Slovenia is part of the EU, so there was a lot of unloading and loading all 50 of us.
We went grocery shopping in the morning (since we're staying in one of the most expensive cities ever, we're doing as much home cooking as possible!) and I found some DELICIOUS gluten free bread. It's edible without toasting it, which for the gluten free among us is a seriously amazing find. I also got Liptauer spread and "Wellness" ham, so I felt quite healthy.
We spent the day walking around the area of the ring nearest Alice's apartment. We explored the Stadtpark, and there were statues of all sorts of famous Viennese residents. Our favorite was Johann Strauss, of course. He's very golden and majestic.
Vienna has an amazing system called CityBike, with stations all over the city. You can rent a bike for an hour for FREE. We had to sign up with the service and pay a one Euro registration fee, and then with the same credit card we can hire a bike for an hour at a time for no charge, and then the second hour is 1 Euro. You don't have to bring the bike back to the same station, so we get bikes near Alice's apartment and can ride wherever. There are lots of stations along the ring, and in other parts of Wien. The bike paths in Vienna are extensive, and extremely well marked and easy to follow. Pedestrians are used to bikers, there are a lot of local people who use bikes as their main mode of transportation. Between the U-Bahn (underground metro), S-Bahn (streetcar metro) and the bike paths, I don't understand how anyone could need a car here!
It was really cool to see all these buildings in real life after taking my Fin-de-siècle Vienna class at UNLV last spring. We spent a whole class with an architecture professor talking about the different buildings along the Ringstraße.