Setting, in a story, is made up of many different parts and the part that I love so very much is geographic location. Some of my favorite reads have included places that I hated (Prague) and places that I loved (the lesser talked about Vienna). Travel is a passion of mine and because I love to travel, I’ve been to lots of (really) fun places, and when those places are mentioned in a book I’m reading – well, you can imagine how it stirs my emotions!
In Angie Stanton’s Royally Lost, one of the stops on the main character Becca’s family trip up the Danube River is Vienna, Austria – known in German as Wien. And even though the entire book didn’t stay in this location, it was my favorite part of the book and my favorite thing about the book.
Vienna is where I did study abroad in 2008, when I was a junior in college and I loved it so much. The city is beautiful and the people are so kind – seriously, they will stop whatever they’re doing to help you out. Many of the places mentioned in Royally Lost I have actually been to and as mentioned in my review yesterday, I love how the author was able to evoke the feeling of Vienna and of those, sometimes, magical places.
Schoenbrunn, the Vienna Riding School, the Hofburg Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Naschmarkt. These are all places mentioned in Royally Lost and they are all really great tourist spots! So, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and snapshots of these places – yes, I took all these pictures!
As you can tell from the greenery, Schoenbrunn Palace isn’t exactly in the central part of the city. If you want to get there, you’ll need to take the U4 (the green metro line) and get off at the Schoenbrunn stop (how easy is that!). And if you think that touring a palace is boring (I totally don’t!) there’s a Zoo that’s also on the grounds. Yes, an actual zoo with pandas and elephants and all other kinds of animals. There’s also a greenhouse, a desert botanical exhibit, and a museum. All about 6 stops from Stephensplatz, where St. Stephen’s Cathedral is.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, is not only right smack in the middle of the city, but it’s also the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. And it has the most unique roof I’ve ever seen. You can’t really tell from my photo, but the roof is patterned, with some parts having a chevron pattern! And it’s made from glazed tiles, which really gives it a feeling all its own. And there are tombs, catacombs, and crypts here as well (creepy!).
Hofburg Palace has so much history – it’s actually INSANE how much history there is. I won’t even try to go through it. But if you’re here as a tourist and want some activities, there are lots of things to do. They have tons of Museums, the Imperial Treasury is here, and if you love horses, you can check out the Spanish Riding School.
The Naschmarkt is super popular in Vienna and has been going on since the 16th century! They have everything from items you might find at a yard sale (I picked up a hand painted wine goblet for 3 euros) to a sushi restaurant. It has fruits and vegetables for sale in an open market style, which makes for a fun atmosphere!
And then there’s this little gem that wasn’t mentioned in Royally Lost, but is just too cool to not mention. The Hundertwasserhaus is colorful and yes, people actually live here – it’s an apartment building. If you want to get here, take the U3 (the orange metro line) or the U4 (the green metro line) to the Landstrasse-Wien Mitte stop. The Hundertwasserhaus is a little bit of a walk from the metro stop, but totally worth it.
Throughout Royally Lost, Becca’s stepmom talks about how study abroad was one of her favorite things in college and I have to say that I agree. I met some of my very closest friends on that trip and will never forget the time that I spent there. Plus I got to be in Vienna during the Euro Cup! And yes, it also helps that I already spoke German, but I feel like that’s just a footnote.
Bottom Line: this city is absolutely wonderful and I’m so glad that it was featured in a YA novel.