I was extremely excited to wake up in the hotel knowing I have another full day in Vienna. I feel like we only saw a glimpse of what the city has to offer yesterday.
The Prater is a famous fairground featuring the huge ferris wheel. I love both rides and heights so it ticked all the boxes for me. It was an absolutely baking hot day so after a ride on the wheel we headed to the log flume. The funfair was free to get in and all the rides were extremely affordable. And best of all unlike theme parks I’ve been too, the longest queuing time was 5 minutes!
View from the top of the wheel
After all this excitement we headed for the considerably calmer setting of St.Stephens Cathedral. Although not religious myself, the architecture of the huge building built back in 1160! Entry was free of charge and there was plenty of seats for visitors to sit and reflect although it was so busy it would’ve been hard to zone out.
As we were taking in the stunning interior of the church a huge thunderstorm hit. So we decided to take cover in the best place possible- the shops. After a few new outfits (and lunch) was bought we planned our next move- walking through the bustling streets back to the free film festival where the opera Carmen was being shown. With Ice cream in hand and the stars shining above we enjoyed our last night in the city.
Hiding from the rain in H&M
Locals and tourists mixing at the Music Film Festival
Overall I really enjoyed Vienna, two days is nowhere enough time to see everything with the sheer number of galleries and museums almost overwhelming. I really want to return to see more and experience the famous opera (currently on a summer break). The atmosphere of the city feels older than close cities such as Budapest which has a much younger feel. But if you want a mixture of culture, a good climate and kind locals then Vienna is well worth a visit.
Our second full day here in Lisbon started with a free walking tour I had booked. I had done them in Prague and Bratislava a few weeks ago and really enjoyed them. Learning about the history of the places we stood really helped me feel more connected to the city and understand the city in the context of Europe.
The meeting point was in the Chiado neighbourhood- named after Antonio Ribeiro, a 19th century continually drunk poet with a high-pitched voice (Chiado means squeaky).
Antonio Ribeiro Statue
The tour was led by Luis, a small but energetic 25-year old local who has lived in Mozambique and all around Europe before moving back to Lisbon to lead walking tours.
The tour was 3 hours long, but they really did fly by. Lisbon has enough interesting history to entertain for days from numerous invasions, revolutions and finding Brazil to how they stayed neutral in the Second World War by selling tungsten to the Nazi’s and lending land to the allies.
The tour also took us pass a bookshop, but not any old bookshop. The oldest bookshop in the world! (or universe as Luis put it).
On every travel website or book you look in the Santa Justa elevator is recommend as a much do. Yet both our tour guide and hotel receptionist said that it is overrated- yes it provides great views at the top but it’s not worth paying €5 to queue for half an hour to then go in a lift for a few seconds. So instead Luis led us to a staircase- after climbing for a few minutes we were right at the top of the elevator! No queues and no charge! The panoramic views gives you a real sense into how the streets of Lisbon were designed and you can pick out all the different, individual neighbourhoods.
After the tour ended at 2pm we grabbed some lunch and our first Portuguese custard tarts. As it was sunny we decided to catch a boat across the river to explore the city of Almada and walk up to Christ Rei (a 25m high statue of Christ which sits at the top of a hill). With my embarrassing seasickness in tow (it was a 5 minute river crossing) we started our walk. The Hill was deceptively huge and took a sweaty 45 minutes to reach the top. But boy was it worth it, although not religious myself it’s hard not to be impressed with the sheer size and architecture.
It costs €5 Euro’s to get a lift to the top, and if you’ve made it this far you might as well pay. Once you get to the top you are faced with a breathtaking 360 view.
After taking in the view at all angles and gawping at the ginormous statue ( which is based on Christ the Redeemer in Rio) we headed back down and started on the long walk home…