Falling In Love With Vienna (Part I)

Last weekend I headed to Vienna with a group of interns that I met here. Between the 6 of us, we represented 4 nations: Hungary, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada. The first time I went to Vienna, I fell in love with the city, its history and its musical past and present. It had everything I wanted in a European city with its broad tree lined sidewalks, palaces of past monarchies, a musical presence  filling every corner and plenty of beautiful gardens to wander through and get lost in.

Vienna Overview

L-R: Hundertwasserhaus; Rathaus; Gardens of Schonbrunn

In many ways, this visit was to see whether or not I am just as enamoured by this European capital, and I most definitely am. I was looking forward to wandering the streets, getting lost and soaking in the Viennese culture at a slower pace. Despite it being a couple of years since I was here, I surprisingly remembered a lot of details about the city and where things were located in relation to other things.

We travelled to Vienna via bus from Budapest, leaving early Saturday morning. The bus we took, in many ways, was like a plane. It came complete with a bus hostess, drink orders, a welcome safety video and WIFI. We went with a company called Orangeways, and they have bus routes all across Central and Eastern Europe from Budapest (recommended if you are traveling here!). It was quite a comfortable journey. It took a little over 3 hours and then we were in Vienna!

After dropping off our bags, we made our way to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburg family from the 1700s until the monarchy’s downfall in 1918. Upon walking into the palace grounds, I was struck by how big the palace was, especially as its bright yellow facade stood in stark contrast to the blue sky.

We wandered around the gardens, eating lunch in the park, before heading up to the Gloriette which stood 60 meters higher than the Schönbrunn, for a view of the palace and the city. The grounds are quite impressive and include a maze, the Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the world’s oldest zoo, and an orangerie. Not to mention the fountains and sculptures everyone on the grounds!

Schonnbrunn-Palace-Vienna-Austria

Top: The Gloriette; Bottom: Schonbrunn from the gardens; Right: Fountain in the gardens

With 1400 rooms, the palace is huge! We decided to take the 40 room tour, and even that seemed like an impossible maze of doors and rooms. It would be an amazing place for a game of hide and seek (as would the gardens come to think of it!).

After spending what seemed like hours lost in the gardens and room of Schönbrunn, we made our way to the centre. The day that we were in Vienna just so happened to be the day of the funeral for the eldest son of the last Emperor of Austria. The procession started from St. Stephen’s Cathedral where we were headed. The crowds were just starting to dwindle, but there were still plenty of people dressed in traditional wear which was really cool to see.

Austria-Traditional-Wear

StStephensdom-Wien

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is the most important religious building in Vienna, and is where many important events, such as the funeral we saw the end of, takes place. Its multi-coloured tiled roof has become one if Vienna’s most recognizable symbols.  

I didn’t get a chance to go inside the church, but I’ve been inside before and I’m sure I will return to Vienna at some point.

That night for dinner, I tried a Naturschnitzel, which is an unbreaded veal cutlet served with gravy. It was delicious. The gravy was the best part. I used the rice to soak up all the extra gravy. There was no a drop of it left. Yummy!

After dinner, we wandered more around the city and visited the old city hall (Altes Rathaus) and the Jewish quarter of Vienna (Judenplaz).

Judenplatz-Vienna

Old City Hall

For an area so rich in history and significance, I didn’t get a chance to fully explore and appreciate my surroundings. I would definitely want to come back here and see more of this district.

Read about my 2nd day in Vienna here.