We were up before 7 (Justin) and right at 7 (Crystal).  We caught up on the trip log, and checked the news/sports a bit.  We heard the loud noise again, and realized the humming/shaking was from the mini fridge.  The motor would cause all of the stuff inside the mini fridge to shake, and since the mini fridge was attached to a big hutch, the whole hutch would shake.  In addition to that, there was a weird buzzing/shaking right next to the bed.  We surmised it was from the water pipes in the wall between the bedroom and the bathroom, and that someone above/below us was likely taking a shower.  When Crystal took a shower, Justin heard same noise, so that was probably it. 

Ironically, some of the "worst" hotels we've been in have been the fanciest.  All we care about in our room is that it is quiet, clean, and has a functioning bathroom - none of the other crap matters (thread count, chandeliers, etc.).  We used points for this, and it was in a prime location, couldn't care less about the upholstery or the automatic window shades or whatever.  Crystal mentioned that 1/3 of guests who frequently stay at 5-star hotels have cried because of a hotel experience. [For the record, we don't frequently stay at 5-star hotels, nor have we ever cried because of a hotel experience.]

Lots of stuff was set to close early today, so we tried to sneak in as much as possible early.  We were also cognizant of making sure to eat big lunch, figuring dinner might be tough.  Basically, we were expecting it to be like Buenos Aires on New Years’ Eve in 2016.  It was still raining – we hoped that would go away.  We went into St Stevens Cathedral first thing, hoping we’d get there before it got too busy.  Fortunately there were not too many people there.  Inside they were messing around with the lighting, presumably to check on things for mass. It was gargantuan, maybe the same size as St Vitus in Prague.

We decided to give Cafe Sacher another chance, figuring people wouldn’t be eating dessert early in the morning.  We got seated fairly quickly, and went upstairs where there were red walls and a ton of old photos.  We decided to share a Sacher Torte and an Apple Strudel (which was not too sweet).  Justin got a Hot Chocolate with rum to drink, and Crystal got a double espresso with rum.  Everything was pretty good, and it almost – almost – made up for how they wanted us to wait in the rain the night before.  One other thing they had going for them was a couple paintings of French bulldogs from back in the day.

Our next stop was St Charles church, right near our hotel.  We realized this was the building we’d been right next to the day before, the one with the kids Christmas Market and the farm animals.  St. Charles is going through retouching and restoration of the frescoes on the interior, and it is unique in that there is an elevator that takes people up to the ceiling where the restoration is going on.  Sadly, today the elevator was out of order.  The church was really well decorated, and it prompted a conversation about the most decorated church we'd been in – we both immediately named the Armenian church (Vank Cathedral) in Isfahan.  There were some two large reflective spheres hanging from the ceiling.  We weren’t sure if they were related to the restoration or if there was some other purpose.  This was the first time we’ve seen something like this.

We then went back inside the ring, to another church, St. Peters.  When we went inside, however, there was a mass going on, so we quickly headed out and planned to come back later.  On a good note, it stopped raining finally.  We were near the Albertina, so we checked its hours for tomorrow (Christmas) to see whether it would be open and if so, at what time.  An employee told us it would be open its normal hours, so we took a mental note.  We walked up the Augustinerstrasse and finally saw the “front” of the Hofburg Palace.  We’d actually been right there yesterday, but hadn't realized it since we were at the base of the wall as we walked into the ticket office for the Lipizzaners.

We tried to find the National Library, resulting in us walking basically around the entire building (or at least the whole wing).  First we walked through the courtyard with a big statue of Kaiser Franz I.  Then we walked through some hallways near the Treasury.  Then we walked through more hallways over by the Spanish Riding Horse area, then we circumvented whatever the southwest wing is that is closest to the Burggarten.  We were getting conflicting directions from Google Maps and the signs all around the palace complex, which wasn’t helping.  When we finally found the Library entrance, there was a sign saying it was closed, so that was a bummer.  But at least it was worth seeing everything around the complex, which otherwise we might not have seen.

Not sure what to do next, we saw some majestic buildings across the street, had no idea what they were, so decided to go check them out.  We walked past a couple of statues of guys on horses, past the Volksgarten (which was closed today), and then across the Ringstrasse.  Looking at Google Maps, we were apparently in front of the Austrian Parliament building, which was under a lot of construction – there were cranes everywhere.  Next door was the Rathaus, which was the equivalent of Vienna’s City Hall.  We had no idea that this even existed.  If we’d seen or read about it in our planning, we did not remember.  There was a big market in front, and we wandered around for awhile, getting some snacks and some punches (strawberry for Crystal, raspberry for Justin, the strawberry was better).  There was a French Bulldog strutting around in a nice sweater with some booties, and we made sure to get a photo of him.

We walked back into the ring, headed towards St Peters, figuring mass was now over.  Along the way Crystal stopped in at the Starbucks right near the stables for a Vienna cup.  At St Peters, sure enough there was no mass this time.  It was quite ornate, and there were several lit Christmas trees.  It was now actually sunny outside, so we decided to go to St Stevens and climb up the south tower since it might not be sunny again any time soon.  We went inside to where Crystal had seen signs earlier for a tower, but this was actually the north tower.  There were about 5x the amount of people inside as when we were here in the morning.  Justin asked at the ticket booth where to go for the south tower, and the woman informed him to go outside and around.

Perhaps because the entrance was outside the church, there were way less people than at the other tower, but it was still cramped conditions going up the spiral staircase.  Crystal sat this one out again, and it was probably a wise choice.  It was a long walk up the stairs, but all the days at OrangeTheory paid off, as Justin passed a lot of people huffing and puffing.  The views were amazing at the top, but it was difficult to get any pictures out to the west because of the sun.  Meanwhile, Crystal got some punch at the little market in the square next to St Stevens. 

When Justin came back down, we headed over to Figlmuller for lunch, since we knew it closed at 3.  But when we got there at 2:20, we saw the kitchen had closed at 2.  This was a big fail on our part, we should’ve checked into that.  Now our plan for a big late lunch needed to be tweaked.  But first, we went to Onyx bar, up on the 6th or 7th street across from St Stevens, since it was still nice weather.  The kitchen there was not open either, but this was not a surprise (and we didn’t even know they had a kitchen in the first place).  The bar was closing at 4, and we had to stand, but that was fine.  We stood for awhile, took a couple photos when tables close to the window vacated. 

After a bit, two seats opened at the bar, so we could at least sit down.  We were seated next to dad and son from Chattanooga.  The son looked less than 21, but the drinking age here is 16.  They’d been to Prague, Bratislava and Budapest already.  They recommended Oswald & Kalb as a place for dinner, saying it was the best meal they'd had their whole trip.  We got some interesting drinks at the bar.  For the first round, Justin got a spicy daquiri and Crystal got something with sparkling wine and berries.  For the second round Justin  got a hot zombie that was literally on fire, and Crystal got a Taittinger Brut Rose.  We left at 4 when they closed, and walked back to the hotel where we dropped off the Starbucks mug. 

On the way there we noticed that one of the sausage stands across from the Opera House was open, so when we left the room we walked back over there and each got a sausage to tide us over.  By now everything was closed, so we just wandered around inside the ring.  We went through this design area in the north that had lighting, furniture, home interiors, etc.  We recognized a lot of stuff, and realized that our interests must be more European than anything else.  We got over near the river, but it was quite windy there (and it was already windy anyway), so we quickly came in a block or two.  We happened upon some random clock [The Anchor Clock] that people were lined up in front of, and waited 3-4 minutes for it to hit 6 o’clock.  When it actually did, it was underwhelming, but whatever, it was no large investment.  There were still lots of people around St Stephens, but not much open.  The few things that were open looked packed.  We’d passed by the Starbucks a little earlier and it was basically standing room only.  Now we passed a McDonalds and it was similarly nuts. 

We ended up settling on a piano bar at a hotel across the street from our hotel.  They were performing Christmas songs, which was nice enough, but we would’ve preferred something else.  [Then again, it was Christmas Eve.]  The “entertainment” was watching this multi-generational family that was not paying attention to their kids.  The boy and girl were running around and making noise, which wasn’t too bad only because of it being a busy hotel lobby that was loud anyway.  But the kids were playing something equivalent to tag, and trying to squeeze between tables and couches and whatnot.  At one point the kids almost knocked over a giant vase.  The parents went and grabbed them, talked to them, and then went back to ignoring them.  In a surprise to no one, 15 minutes later, they succeeded in knocking the vase over, crushing the stems of many of the flowers and spilling water everywhere.  We remarked that after the initial close call, both of our moms would have hauled us off immediately, told our dads to pay, and then berated us in the hotel room or elevator (or both).  And we never would have done anything like that again.  We ended up leaving a little after 8.  It seemed way later, but that was probably because of the sun going down early and everything closing so early.  We were both tired, and ended up going to sleep just a bit after 9.

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