Last stop on the Euro adventure was Vienna. After our one day in Salzburg we took the night train to Vienna (only an hour!) and arrived just in time for dinner. Our stay in Vienna was super special because we stayed with my mom's best friend from junior high/ high school whom she hadn't seen in 26 YEARS! How crazy is that? I'm 26 right now so I can't imagine not having seen a friend for pretty much my entire lifespan. That's a long time. They had kept in touch of course, but this was such a special reunion for the both of them. Best of all, her friend had a daughter exactly my age so the four of us had the best time together. Highlights in Vienna included the amazing castles (and the stories behind them), the cheap hot dogs which were to die for, trying an original Sacher Torte, more tasty beer, and going to the opera together on our last night.

Fun travel tip if you're planning to go to Vienna: you can purchase standing-room only tickets to the opera, day-of, for only 4 euros. This was perfect for us since we weren't down to spend a whole 3 hours at the opera and we didn't want to pay an arm and a leg. I wish SF had something like this! It's so convenient for tourists. We got a good taste of the opera for 20-30 minutes and then spent the rest of the night exploring the enormous opera house.

Our final full day in Europe we drove out to Slovakia (only an hour drive) to explore another country. Why not?! We went to Bratislava which has so much character. The town is teeny, tiny! The restaurants are so hipster, it reminded me a lot of being in SF. We shopped, ate some bomb food, discovered some cute bakeries, and walked all day long. I loved it. I loved our whole trip and what was the best part was not only being able to do all this with my mom but to be able to mix that up with meeting some close family members who I personally had never had the opportunity to meet until now. It was such a blessing. These are people I can't imagine not knowing and I am SO excited for them to come here and tour CA with me guiding them ;)

Top 3 realizations culture shocks:

  • You can only get your ice cream in a cone if you get it to go. We tried sitting down after the opera in this ice cream parlor and I really was craving a cone but they wouldn't let me since apparently a cone is more prone to messes so they only give you cups when you're seated. Um... ok.
  • On the same note, no ice cream sampling allowed in Vienna. I told our friends about Salt & Straw in the US and how they pretty much beg you to sample everything and they were mind blown!
  • There isn't much variety when it comes to food. We stayed in Vienna the longest during our whole trip (about 5 days) and towards the end both my mom and I were really in the mood for some ethnic food. Back home, we both get Japanese or Chinese food at least once a week so going three weeks with nothing was killing us. I finally was able to locate a high rated ramen spot so we went. It was average at best which made us realize how lucky we are in the US for the diversity in food options. Not to mention some of the TOP ethnic cuisine in SF (burritos, ramen, sushi, the works).