The Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
This couldn’t be more true when I talk about Vienna to anyone I meet. An architectural masterpiece in literal terms. Every nook and corner has a sight to see, all one has to do is to take out the time to actually see it.
I had arrived in Vienna by 11 am from Prague and since the train journey was just 4 hours long, I was very fresh when I landed in the city. The hostel was just few lanes away from the metro which I had been directed to take from the train station.
I was staying put in Hostel Ruthensteiner since I had read great reviews about this place and the best part of the hostel was that they had given very clear instructions on how to reach their hostel from anywhere you might be. There was an app which I had pre-downloaded for the hostel which had maps, places to visit, places to eat etc clearly mentioned thus making a tourist’s life very easy in a new city.
I found myself checking into the hostel at around 12 pm and soon was planning out my day. The hostel was very cosy and had two buildings as residences for the guests. The room allotted to me was a cute, comfy one and I was lucky enough to get the lower bunk again (had been lucky in Berlin and Prague as well). There was no one in the room when I checked in and so decided to enjoy the peace for a bit.
Lucky for me that I knew a family friend who was a resident of Vienna and he had offered to show me around the city. I decided to meet him today at the Old Town Square from where he would take me around.
The Old Town Square is the most famous part of the town and it took me just around 15 minutes by the metro to reach there. Once out of the station I met up with my acquaintance who suggested that we first go have a look at the lovely vineyards on the outskirts of the city and then could come back to the main town.
Sounded like a plan to me and so we head to his car which was parked a few blocks away, and drove towards Kahlenberg.
Kahlenberg is a hill situated in the 19th district of Vienna and is around 30 minutes drive away from the Old Town. The foothills of Kahlenberg have beautiful vineyards and the drive is so fresh and breath taking.
Once we had arrived, we headed to the viewpoint which gives a scenic look of the Vienna city. It would be a great spot for a romantic dinner.
There is a restaurant cum café where we decided to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and some snacks while taking in the beautiful sight.
We were there for around half an hour after which we decided to head back to the town. I was especially keen to walk around the Opera House, the Winter Palace, the National museum and the riding school. Had researched online for must visit places and all these featured in almost every article I read.
Once back in the town, we straight away headed to the Winter Palace and walked around the huge grounds. I had booked a walking tour for myself the next morning and, so I knew I would get the history tomorrow. Today was all about just looking and admiring.
The streets in Old Town Square are so lit up and energetic at any point of the day that one will for sure be infected with the excitement. We must have walked around for almost 1 hr before which I started feeling very hungry. It was almost 6.30 PM and we decided to have an early dinner. I found out that there was an Opera show at 8 PM and immediately decided to go and see that right after my dinner.
Thankfully I managed to get a ticket to the Opera before heading for the dinner and so could now eat my food at peace.
While everyone at the Opera usually come dressed up, I didn’t have much choice. I was already in my travel clothes and was not going to go back to the hostel to change and come back. So if I got weird looks, then so be it. I am a foreigner and foreigners are always excused of everything :/….lol
The Vienna State Opera House is a beauty. It has around 3 floors and the stage and the orchestra stand is a master piece. Today there was a ballet performance lined up and it was going to be my first experience and thus I was super excited.
The whole performance was around 2 hours long with a break in the middle. While I did not understand all of the performance, I was happy that I had come to watch it.
By the time the show ended, I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get back to my hostel room and crash. That’s exactly what I did and 30 minutes later I was fast asleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..
Next day I woke up early and had a hot cup of tea in the hostel garden. The garden was well maintained, green, fresh and beautiful and it was a pleasure just sitting and taking in the calmness of the day.
My agenda for today was to go visit the Naschmarket which was a famous local market in Vienna and then head for the walking tour of the city. Since Vienna is a small city, the number of free walking tours are very limited and hence I would suggest that you must book the same online at least a day in advance.
My dorm mate who was Irish had become friends with me and asked if she could join me as well. I was more than happy to have company and we both left for the Naschmarket around 10 am. The idea was to walk up till the market which was just 15 minutes from the hostel and after looking around a bit; I wanted to have brunch at the local market shops to eat some Viennese food.
Local markets are my favourite places to visit when in a new country. The closeness one can feel to authentic local cuisine is beyond comparison.
We could easily locate the market as we could see a huge crowd walking towards the area and we just followed the crowd. Every Sunday the market also hosts a flea market and one can find almost any and everything in this market. All the stuff on sale is second hand but you will be amazed to find some exceptional pieces at cheap prices. We saw people carrying empty suitcases as they seemed to have serious shopping plans in their agenda. Good for them. I on the other hand had no such plans because of the overpacked backpack that I already was chugging along city to city. More luggage? No thank you.
We spent a good one and a half hour exploring the small shops and the goodies and tried on some fun stuff like funky glares, caps etc. Soon enough I could smell the lovely aroma of the food rising from the local shops ahead of us and we decided to go explore the food.
The local food market had many vendors calling out to visitors to come taste their food. There were sellers selling fruits, vegetables, dry fruits, hummus, juices, breads etc. We stopped and did food tastings of lots of these Knick knacks. At the end of the food market, there were some tented restaurants serving fresh food and I decided to sit and have some fresh scallops with grilled vegetables. My friend wasn’t hungry but decided to have a drink instead.
The sun was shining nice and bright in this slightly chilly evening and it was the perfect weather to sit out and have a good healthy yet delicious meal.
After filling our tummies, we decided to walk up till the old square where we would take some time to explore the neighbourhood before heading for the walking tour.
The Old Square as I mentioned earlier has a unique charm to it with its eye-catching architecture and beautifully designed buildings. My friend and I went to several sculptures and clicked pictures in funny poses mimicking the poses of those sculptures. We quickly got ourselves a cup of coffee before rushing towards the direction of the starting point of the walking tour.
Since Good Vienna Tours (name of our walking tour company) is one of the only 2 free walking tours in Vienna, the number of people looking to join the group was the biggest I had seen till date. We were so glad we had booked in advance, because when we reached the spot, we heard the guide saying that no one apart from those who had booked in advance could be adjusted and taken along. A lot of people tried to plead their way in, but the tour guide was a headstrong man who refused to make any exceptions.
The starting point of the tour was in front of the Albertina museum and while one group starts in the morning at 10 am, we had opted for the afternoon tour of 2 PM. The start of tour was about the history of Vienna, information on the emperor – Franz Joseph, his wife Elizabeth(popularly referred to as Sisi) and also a bit on the influence of the sculptures found in various parts of the city. Later our guide took us to see the winter palace, explained briefly about the twin museums, then took us to the riding school and then we walked around the Old Square hearing a bit about the ancient history, about the symbolism of the double headed eagle etc.
Overall the tour lasted for 1 and a half hour and by the end of it we were glad it was over. It wasn’t as good as the ones I had been to and partly this was because of the tour guides arrogance.
Since tomorrow morning I was going to catch a train to Salzburg, I was very keen to finish seeing all the major attractions and that obviously included the Schonbrunn Palace. The palace closes off at around 5.30 PM and though I knew I was cutting it too short, but yet I decided to try going and seeing if I could manage getting a ticket. My friend decided to skip this and headed back to the hostel to rest.
I quickly rushed to the underground metros and took one for Schonbrunn metro station. It took me about 20 minutes to reach from where I literally ran all the way up to the ticket machines.
The machines give out the estimate waiting time for entry as the number of people allowed inside the palace was restricted. For the 22 room tour, the waiting was 30 minutes, however lucky for me the 40 room full palace tour waiting was only 5 minutes. So I paid the Euro 17.50 and got my ticket and headed straight inside.
Once inside, you will be handed over an audio guide which is all that you really need to understand anything and everything about the palace, the king and queens’ relation, information on their kids, wars, love for art etc.
This by far is the most interesting and beautiful palace that I have ever visited, and I am so glad I managed to squeeze this in before I leave this amazing city. Not only the interiors, but even the surrounding gardens, landscape of the palace and the nearby zoo is worth a visit. DO NOT FORGET to visit this palace when in Vienna as this is definitely worth a visit.
After my 1 hour stay in the palace, I headed back to the metro station and decided to head back to the hostel. It was already getting dark and I had plans to catch up for a nice dinner with my hostel friend near our hostel itself.
I was to leave in the afternoon the next day, but I had already decided what I needed to see before I said my goodbyes to Vienna.
My plan was to visit the Museum of Anthropology which is one of the twin museums(because of the exact similar structure with the art museum which is right opposite to this) also called as the Naturhistorisches Museum.
I was one of the first ones to enter the museum when it opened and I had just about an hour to see the 39 exhibit halls which includes the largest and the oldest collection of meteorites as well as the anthropological exhibits on the origins and developments of humans and other species.
My one hour spent in this museum was the most knowledgeable hour I had spent in Vienna and I was glad I had decided to visit it.
Now with the clock ticking, it was time for me to leave to catch my train.
Overall my stay in Vienna was really amazing and I cannot wait to come back and explore more. But for now, it was time to head to the next city and that was Salzburg.
Keep hooked on to hear about my experiences in the charming Salzburg city ?