After our week in Prague, it was a short train ride to Vienna, where we’d organised another Airbnb out by Vorgenstrasse. We got out there and the first thing we saw were these awesome little domed balconies, sticking out into the street like plexiglass trees!
Rather than going chapter and verse, here’s some highlights from our few days in Vienna.
Whether it’s St Stephen’s massive and famous church, or the plethora of white, domed official buildings, or even the thoroughly modern and severe Mumok modern art museum, there’s a lot of interesting sights to Vienna’s architecture. There are the obvious standouts (as featured in the photos above) but the sheer scale and general consistency of the buildings makes it a very comfortable place to walk around. The ultra-modern (for its time) Postparkasse must have been a very bold statement in the midst of such consistency when it was built, more than 100 years ago.
The palaces were particularly pleasant. Belvedere Palace, which is near the city, has the feeling of a glorious summer townhouse, including a long downward-sloping garden terrace and water features. It’s close enough to the city centre to walk to easily, and a pleasant place to take a turn around the grounds. While it’s grand, it is dwarfed by the famous (and rightly so) Schoenbrunn, an expansive and exquisite Baroque masterpiece south of the city proper.
Schoenbrunn is huge in scale, from the maze-filled and meandering gardens, to the oldest zoo in Europe, which sits on the grounds, to the long walk up the hill to the gloriette, which perches on the hill and looks over the complicated fountains, sculpted gardens and Schonbrunn itself.
There are two foods that Vienna’s globally famous for – the Sacher Torte, and Vienna schnitzel. I’m a big fan of Sacher Torte, but having had it before (and being conscious of the tourist hype around it at its home, the Hotel Sacher) we opted instead to have an ice-cream version, which was sacher-torte flavoured and infused! It was delicious, and far less hassle than getting a slice from the source.
We looked up a local schnitzel place in town, near St Stephen’s, and headed in one evening for the authentic experience, complete with a bottle of local gruner veltliner. The schnitzel was delicious – not massive, but breaded and fried to perfection, and served with a sensational potato salad on the side. It was incredible – the lack of photos of this glorious schnitzel is totally attributable to how quickly it was put out of its misery (and into my belly!)
Other Fun Stuff
The Imperial Treasury is definitely worth a visit. Seeing the crown jewels and all the costumery, armaments and relics from Austria’s long history was pretty interesting, including the crown and sceptre that were absolutely encrusted with jewels.
We went to Prater Park, which cinema buffs will associate with Orson Welles’ The Third Man, and everyone else will just go ‘Oh, a fun park’. It was great fun, and we went on a splash ride, which perfectly suited the hot day! Didn’t brave the Olympic Rings rollercoaster, which I hyperlapsed.
We also found a (man-made) surf beach in the middle of town, where local surfers were riding an infinity wave for a few (100) euros a go. It was a little weird to see surfers in the middle of Vienna, and even weirder to see the crowd’s astonished reaction to surfing in general, but then again, when you have Bondi as close as we do, I guess you get used to it.
We visited the big market south of town, which was a fun combination of restaurants, food stalls and other knick-knack type things. It wasn’t quite what we expected but it was still a nice way to find somewhere for lunch and have a sit and people-watch.
So that was Vienna. Next, the rain-soaked grandeur of Salzburg!