Two cities down, two to go! For those of you that haven’t already been following my 2014 Eurotrip let me catch you up! I was traveling to Salzburg (Austria) for romance, spending a weekend away in a stunning city with my favourite German.
However I had a bit of annual leave to use at work and figured I’d make the most of being in Europe, so extended my trip by a week to give me a chance to explore a little further.
I began my trip in Budapest, traveled onwards to Bratislava and here we are at part three of four. To get from Budapest to Salzburg I knew I’d have to travel through most of Austria so a stop in Vienna seemed rather inevitable.
I didn’t have high hopes for Vienna, that’s nothing against Vienna but it was more of a time issue. I had 24 hours in Vienna and I just didn’t feel like it was going to be long enough to enjoy it fully. I was right, I barely scratched the surface in Vienna. To emphasise my point, if I’d wanted to, I could have traveled from Bratislava to Vienna by boat rather than train. The river Danube flows through both cities (and Budapest) and yet I didn’t even see a river in Vienna – numerous puddles but no river.
So if you’re looking here for numerous tips and recommendations on Vienna you’re wasting your time. Nevertheless I wanted to make the most of the 24 hours I had in the city. If I could go home with some memories and a taste of life in Vienna I’d consider it a success.
I’d wanted to maximise my time in Vienna so it was rather unfortunate that I hit my first stumbling block pretty quickly. The first task of the day was to find my hostel for the night and that was easier said than done, my directions had only led me so far, I knew I was close but the hostel was nowhere in sight!
I was walking around back and forth in the rain and it must have been pretty noticeable that I was lost, an old woman approached me and asked if I needed any help.
That’s when I hit stumbling block number two – the language! I did need help but I didn’t speak any German. “No German at all?” she said with a wry smile. It didn’t take a mind-reader to know what she was thinking. She was helpful though and she’d soon put me on the right track. Luckily my room was ready early so I could quickly check in, drop my things off and start exploring the city.
I’d sadly missed the walking tour so I set off on a day of self-exploration and hoped for the best. Vienna’s public transportation makes it really easy to get around but it probably helps in knowing where you’re going. I had no plans whatsoever and as I walked in to the nearest U-Bahn (underground) station I realised I had to work out where I wanted to go. I hadn’t really done any prior research so I didn’t know where anything was!
St Stephen’s Cathedral is perhaps one of Vienna’s best known landmarks so I took an educated guess to visit a station called “Stephansplatz” in the hope that I’d wind up somewhere central, a guess that paid off! It was a good place to start exploring and my early impressions of Vienna were good. The only downside was the miserable weather so I opted to go and grab lunch somewhere in the hope the rain might stop.
I found a traditional Austrian restaurant, particularly keen to have my first proper Wiener Schnitzel – it’s a dish I’ve grown up eating at home but it felt a little more authentic eating it in Wien (Vienna) rather than anywhere else. I’m not sure why it isn’t more popular in the UK though, escalopes are pretty close I suppose but not quite as good!
Whilst I’d heard how expensive Austria is, what you don’t hear people say is that it’s balanced out a little with their portion sizes. It was delicious but I struggled finishing it, it did set me up nicely for a few hours of exploring at least.
Sadly there was no sign of the rain stopping but coming from England it wasn’t enough to deter me from exploring. I wandered the city by foot and I was left in awe of the city’s architecture, it is a stunning city. I couldn’t tell you what half of the buildings were but they were impressive nonetheless – every street you walk down has something to catch your eye.
One of the more interesting discoveries was what I can only assume were preparations for a film of some sort. There were tanks, army vehicles and helicopters just casually sat on a lawn in the heart of the city. It caught me by surprise a little and had me pondering what they might be filming.
My afternoon seemed to fly by as I wandered aimlessly for a few hours before eventually admitting defeat to the weather. I knew I’d have to return to Vienna one day, 24 hours was never going to be enough so why wander just for the sake of it? I grabbed some food and then ducked in to a bar in hope of catching the Spurs game back home.
No luck! For some reason they weren’t showing this particular game and I had to wait until the next morning to discover our fate – switching on the Wi-Fi to find a message from a friend along the lines of “Harry Kane in goal – LOL”. A disastrous message to wake up to without any context. Spurs had actually won comfortably courtesy of a Harry Kane hat-trick and the infamous Erik Lamela rabona goal – a real “I was there” moment (I wasn’t!).
Back to the bar.. I’m not a “pick up a girl at a bar” type of person but the upshot to not being able to watch Spurs was that I found myself stuck at the bar chatting to some local woman for the next hour. We talked about Vienna, travel, work and a number of other things. It was a nice way to end my evening and provided me with a memorable moment to take home with me.
We went our separate ways and I wound up going to bed via the hostel bar, I’d been given a free drink voucher when I checked in so it would have been rude not to. Perhaps surprisingly I did just have the one though as I was keen to head for Salzburg at a reasonable time the next day.
It would be easy to have considered Vienna a waste of time, I didn’t really see much and I can’t offer any genuine reasons for you to visit. I wish I’d had longer in Vienna and I wish the weather had been better too but let’s focus on the positives!
I knew beforehand my time was restricted so all I wanted from my day in Vienna was to leave with some good memories. I left having had a taste of the local cuisine, spent my evening with a local and got to see a small glimpse of what Vienna had to offer. Everything considered I’d call that a successful first visit, albeit a brief one.
It was a little bittersweet to be leaving Vienna so soon but Salzburg beckoned. I left on the Friday morning excited (and nervous) for the final part of this story.
The goodbye was made easier in the knowledge that I’d return someday.
If you’re planning on going to Vienna, go for longer than a day! I still feel like I have unfinished business with Vienna so it’s somewhere I have to go back to, fortunately I’ll do so with much more knowledge of the German language. On that note there’s only one thing left to say..
Bis bald Wien!