Our first full day in Vienna started bright and early at 5am because someone set the fire alarm off. Needless to say, no one was happy about being up two hours before our alarms were set to go off. The first stop of the day was at the Hundertwasserhaus house in Vienna’s third district. It was unlike any other house we’ve seen on the trip. The walls were a mix of blues, grays, and reds, with mosaic tiles speckled throughout. Tree branches and foliage spilled out of windows and terrace gardens. It was a wonderful break from the typical facades we’ve seen these past two weeks. We headed from there to explore the Ring Road, which is filled with museums, parks, and ornate buildings. Statues and churches stand on almost every corner. The banks of the Danube River are decorated with layers of graffiti. Unlike most American cities, Vienna encourages artists to contribute to an ever-changing cityscape. Our last stop of the day was at Schoenbrunn Palace. The palace is without a doubt the most beautiful building in the city. The grounds are spectacular. Flowers create a beautiful embroidered pattern across the grass and decorate archways. The focal point of the garden is the Neptune fountain located at the back of the grounds. Your eye immediately goes to it and you just have to walk back to take a closer look. The inside of the palace was just as beautiful. The rooms are richly decorated in artistic styles ranging from baroque to rococo. You can almost imagine what life would have been like during the reign of Maria Theresia. The rooms look untouched, despite being damaged and occupied during the wars. The palace also served as a meeting place for President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev during the Vienna summit. The rest of the day was spent wandering around the city, taking in all the sights and sounds. The city is patchwork of traditional food stands, local stores, and historical buildings. All of it comes together to create a beautiful and welcoming atmosphere. Vienna, you have my heart.