Sixth Formers visit Vienna

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By Eleanor Winstanley (Year 13)
Day one, Thursday, we arrived in Vienna just before 11am. We got a coach from ‘Vienna International Airport’ and arrived at our hotel ‘Meininger Downtown Franz’ around midday. We put our luggage in the luggage rooms ready to embark onto our guided tour of Vienna (with Cara Flanagan). Our main stop on our guided tour of Vienna was the tour of St Stephen’s catacombs. This was a 30 minute tour where our guide talked us through the history of the catacombs and showed us a range of bodies, organs and bones. In my opinion the best part about the catacombs were the black plague bones and the stories behind them.
Day two, Friday. We had another guided tour of Vienna on our way to Narrenturm, also known as Fools Tower. It was here we learnt that mental illness wasn’t always treated psychologically but at one stage it was treated like a physical condition. One treatment that really stood out to me was that doctors used to combat aggression with the loss of blood. We walked round the hospital looking at the various preserved organs and wax moulds of many diseases from extinct to the existing. After we spent enough time being repulsed in Fools Tower we had lunch in Café Central. The café that Freud and his followers discussed Freudian psychological theories. After we had finished lunch we went to Museum Judenplatz. Museum Judenplatz showed us the Jewish history of Vienna and an archaeological excavation of a former synagogue. After the guided tour of Judenplatz, we had another guided tour but of the Jewish Museum Dorotheergasse, where we took part in a program called ‘Shalom Vienna’ this provided us with more information on Viennese Jews and Vienna. During the afternoon, after the tours we had an hour or two of free time so we could shop for souvenirs etc. Later the group headed back to the hotel to eat dinner. We finished dinner then headed off to the ice rink/food markets. Sadly, we weren’t allowed onto the ice rink but we did get to enjoy the food markets around the ice rink. The markets included a doughnut stand, hot chocolate stand, bars as well as a giant snow globe.
Day three, on Saturday we visited Mauthausen Concentration Camp where we walked around the camp on a self-guided tour around the ‘working’ camp. In the camp we saw lots of thought provoking things including; the gas chambers where many people died, the barracks where people barely survived, the ‘room of names’ of all the people who were in the camp, the many grave stones dotted around the camp, the football field where the Nazi soldiers provoked the prisoners with their freedom and the ‘stairs of death’ which were the stairs from the quarry to the camp where lots of prisoners died. Visiting the concentration camp had such a huge impact on everyone that went. In the evening after dinner we went to the large Ferris Wheel in Prater Park. The Vienna Ferris Wheel, in my opinion, was slightly off putting as it was so old but a worthwhile experience as the views were really pretty.
Day four, the last day, we went to the Sigmund Freud Museum. We got to look around Freud’s old flat in Vienna and learn about the famous Psychoanalyst and his family. We got to see many intimate letters between members of the Freud family, the original furnishings of the flat, a collection of Freud’s antiques, signed copies and first editions of his works. For me, this was the best part of the trip as I find anything related to Freud fascinating. When we finished in the Freud Museum it was time to go back to Manchester. With a flight of two hours we landed in Manchester just after 4pm and then it was home time!
Thanks to Miss Shad for giving me and others the chance to go Vienna, a place we probably wouldn’t visit without this opportunity.