My Kind-Of-Weekend in Vienna, Austria
January 1, 1970
Why did Glorie go there?
My current “do-good” work regularly involves travel. We went to the Vienna, Austria in time for a global convention. As much as I want to share what the whole meeting was all about, I will have to stop myself, and not digress.
Not that I am complaining, but after ten-day’s worth of meetings and chasing people around to discuss projects and collaborations, it wasn’t such a bad idea to have a weekend to enjoy the charming capital of Austria that is Vienna!
Vienna is roughly a full day’s worth of travel from Colombo, Sri Lanka, where I am currently based in. Our flight route was Colombo- Dubai- Vienna. It was a fairly comfortable flight, and good food was served on the plane— probably because the set menu was “inspired by regional flavors” of the destination.
We arrive in Vienna on a chilly day, at 3 degrees Celsius. A caveat here, it was my first trip ever to a four-season-destination— during winter. For an Asian born and raised in the tropics, this cold weather wasn’t a welcome treat! But, for some odd reason, the cold weather in Vienna made me fall in-love with it even more! Everything in the Austrian capital is picturesque and looks like it was taken out of a postcard or a movie scene!
Vienna has earned votes as the world’s second most livable city. It is a true-blue, down-to-the-core, cultural capital.
So, here goes a run-down of what transpired in my weekend going around Vienna.
Where did Glorie go?
St. Stephan’s Cathedral— In one word, “beautiful”! It is difficult to not be captivated by this church’s intricate architectural details. St. Stephan’s Cathedral (also Stephansdom) is one of Vienna’s main landmark, so expect that you will not be the only one trying their best to take a snap (“photobombing” alert!), especially of its spires.
Stephansplatz Square— You get shops and restaurants here. Not tempting? How about I say you get shops and restaurants— housed in classic architectural gems of old Vienna, on a cobble-stone path? The Square is a never-to-be-missed site for everyone! It is, arguably, the heart of Vienna. People would say, it gives you a glimpse of Viennese life and culture, and it all unfolds here! Nearby you will find some of Vienna’s oldest architectural landmarks such as the Staat Oper (State Opera House) and the Mozarthaus. Close to The Square is the Kaerntnerstrasse which is synonymous to Vienna’s “ultimate shopping district”!
Naschmarkt Flea Market— Name it, and for sure, this market has it! Nestled conveniently in Central Vienna at Kettenbrückengasse, 1060, this flea market offers everything from organic produce, meat, dairy, preserves, deserts, to antiques, kitsch, souvenirs and even products from as far as Asia and Africa! It has something for everyone. If you are a bargain-hunter, this is a must place for you to go to. If you are a foodie, rest assured you’ll be able to whet your appetite and savor everything that the market’s restaurants, pubs, and food carts/trucks have to offer. It is open from 6:30 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening, giving any traveler ample allowance to squeeze a visit in their travel itinerary!
Schoenbrunn Palace— This historic palace goes on and on for acres and acres! It is vast and there is so much to do while you are in here. If, however, you are sticking to a tight schedule, you best take a tour inside the main palace which housed the Hapsburgs during summer months. The palace is said to be where the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart debuted a musical performance with the Empress Maria Theresa as audience. Unfortunately, because we went there in winter, we missed out on the spectacular view of the gardens when it is in full bloom. Best time to visit, obviously, should have been in spring and summer. For me, Schoenbrunn’s gloriette, although a bit of an uphill climb, is its sweetest spot! Aside from the beautiful gloriette pavilion and its perfectly manicured lawn, you get an unparalleled view of Vienna.
Belvedere Palace— Another historic site, this palace houses priceless artworks; one of which is the world-renowned (and my personal favorite) painting of Gustav Klimt (who is an Austrian, by the way), The Kiss. I was awestruck! It has been a personal dream of mine to be able to see, up-close, my favorite painting that depicts transcendent love. Klimt’s work, Der Kuss in German, also portrays selflessness and oneness experienced only by lovers. This was a highlight of my visit, as I was able tick one item off my bucket list. No one is allowed to take photos of the paintings— with or without flash. Not to worry though, because the Museum has come up with a “selfie spot” for The Kiss fans where they can take a snap with a replica.
Sigmund Freud Museum— Much less crowded than the other sites I went to, this museum used to be Freud’s old family home and office. You can avail of an audio guide that tells you each “story” that the rooms hold. Most interesting for me were the two rooms where Freud first held his “talk therapy” sessions which lead to the development of the field of psychoanalysis. You can get interesting Freudian souvenirs from the museum featuring Freudian quotes and photos that are in bags, fridge magnets, and mint holders. The museum also carry an assortment of Freud’s books and notes of what was then yet to be today’s “psychology”.
Where did Glorie eat?
Here is my list of gotta-go-to places to grab grub in Vienna:
1.) Ribs of Vienna— All-rib fares—Weihburggasse 22, 1010
2.) The White Chimney Sweep (Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer)— Austrian Cuisine, reservations only— Weihburggasse 4, 1010 Vienna, Austria
3.) Plachutta Wollzeile— Classic Viennese cuisine, reservations only especially for dinner— Wollzeile 38, 1010
4.) SKY Café Bar and Restaurant— Global variety of cuisines, reservations only— Kärntner Str. 19, 1010
Where did Glorie stay?
I stayed at Austria Trend Hotel Europa Wien at Kärntner Str. 18/ Eingang Neuer Markt 3, 1010. It is a proper hotel with a very central location. The St. Stephan’s Cathedral was a mere five-minute walk, and we were basically nestled in Kärntnerstrasse with a string of restaurants and a grocery shop nearby. This is as convenient as it can get!
What are Glorie’s travel tips for Vienna, Austria?
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize— Do not neglect your skin! Far from mere vanity, moisturizing while going around Vienna in the colder months is necessary for your own comfort. No one should be keen to have dry skin! Not only is it unsightly, but dry skin can be very uncomfortable to downright painful!
Taking the Hop-On- Hop-Off Bus Tour is a good investment— If you are in a rush to go around Vienna and without a local friend or guide, this is the best option for you. You can work around your itiner
ary and note the bus tour schedules. The bus lines cover almost all of Vienna’s must-go sites, making it very convenient for all tourists. Just a caveat, you will have to queue up for the buses, and sometimes, the schedule gets delayed especially if there is a large influx of passengers.
Walk, walk, walk— Vienna is a “walking city”! You get proper pavements, well-lit roads, and courteous motorists, so it is very convenient to be a pedestrian. Not only are you able to save, but you are also able to savor living like a Viennese!
Grab a map, yes, grab the printed one— Despite the advent of reliable online navigation apps (hello, Google Maps),it’s still not bad to grab a printed map. Most shops and restaurants in Vienna have maps ready and free for anyone, so go ahead and have one. It makes asking for directions easy plus you do not have to rely on internet connection and fear battery drain!
Have comfy and appropriate apparel— This is a no-brainer, yes, but still often easily neglected by most travelers. A week before your scheduled flight, check the weather forecasts so you can pack and dress appropriately for the weather! Vienna got really cold when we were there, with temperatures ranging from 3 to 6 degrees Celsius. Aside from layering sweaters, jackets, and coats, do not forget to have a scarf, and a bonnet or a cap to keep you completely warm, especially at night! Also, a good pair of walking boots helped me go around Vienna without getting my feet sore and cold.
Secure your belongings— I would say this, time and again, even if I were in any other place in the world: keep an eye on your valuables. I lost a “significant” amount of money while traveling in Vienna because I was not paying enough attention and care. So there, Vienna may boast of a low crime rate and should be relatively safe, but nothing beats old-school caution. Do not go around with large amounts of money, cash cards, or precious jewelry, unless you really -really need to.
I loved my kind-of-weekend in Vienna! It was a great experience and I wouldn’t mind coming back and seeing the rest of the city, and Austria, even.
‘Til next time!