The main shopping area in the city centre of Vienna

I needed to get to Krakow somehow from Budapest and instead of taking an 84 hour train or bus I decided to stop halfway-ish at the lovely Vienna. The Budapest to Vienna train is great because it is serviced by the wickedly awesome RailJet. Its also not that expensive. Inside tip, you can buy the 4 day excursion ticket, which is return train ticket and all public transport in Vienna, for 31 euros. You obviously just don’t use the return ticket to Budapest, unless you’re an idiot. Arrived in Vienna and shitttttttttt it was cold, and it was also raining. And like all main train hubs in Austria, it was under construction, so it was a nightmare to navigate. Although there was a lot of maps, it took me quite a while just to figure out what street I was standing on and what direction to walk. I eventually caught on, and arrived at the hostel. The hostel was another one of those little apartment style ones, but to the extreme this time. The reception person is only there from 8-2pm each day, and theres only 12 beds. It really was like staying in a shared house. Im a fan of this style of hostel, quieter and you tend to meet slightly older (read: 25ish) travellers.

I spent the first day walking around the city. It doesn’t take you long to realise why Vienna is always in the top 10 most liveable places in the world. Everywhere is spotlessly clean, everything runs on time, people look healthy, they all dress nice, and on a whole seem to be quite well off. They can also speak English really well. The metro system is unbelievable as well, quick, clean and runs frequently. One of the streets that leads to the city centre has all the expensive fashion shops on it. Dolce Cabana, Armani, Hugo Boss, Tiffany, Ferragamo, Versace, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc. You name it, its there. There was also multiple stores right near each other. For example there was two swatch swaps, pretty much across the street from each other, and 3 H&M stores within 200m of each other. So yeah, they love to shop. Like a lot of European city centres, its all car free, and cobbled. But not like old school original Bruges style cobbles, this is new school Austrian done cobbles, all perfect and flat. Walking down one of the streets I came across a lot of press photographers and a woman posing next to a bunch of plush little kids toys. I have NO IDEA what the hell this was all about, it was all kind of weird. The rest of the day was spent walking around everywhere, seeing things like the Town Hall, Parliament building, Opera, various parks that are scattered around, and the main cathedral.

Walking outside for my second day and damnnnn its still freezing. Seriously cold. Think the air was about 8 degrees and it was also windy. So it was undershirt, tshirt, fleece jumper and jacket, plus beanie and scarf. I was almost close to wearing gloves. I went out to Schonbrunn Palace with a few others from the hostel. This place is a wee bit out of the city centre but not far, and was a summer palace used by the fancy people. It is the most visited place in Vienna and likely all of Austria. To visit inside the palace you have to pay money and with it you get an audio guide. This is actually the first audio guide ive ever used, and as suspected, it was quite useless. The only thing I remember from the entire actual history of the place is that the main woman was called Maria Teresa, and thats only because everytime the guide said it I thought they said Mother Theresa and I laughed a little. It went on for ages as well, and I was with people so couldn’t just go ahead without it. However I do remember everything inside and thats what counts I guess. It was all quite lavish, but no where even close to what Neuschweinstein castle was inside. Outside is where the real show is, in the surrounding gardens. Being that its Autumn all of the trees were beautiful bright colours of yellow and orange. However the main open flower garden was in the process of being ripped out for winter so that was a little bit of a downer. In Australia you don’t really realise what potential Autumn has, you just end up with a shit tonne of liquid amber leaves in your gutters. Over in Europe the colours of the trees really come out and its very photogenic.

I decided on one of the days to go and do the ‘underground tour’ which I saw advertised on the wall of the hostel. Its only run once a week and it happened to be on the right day that I had free. Went to the meeting point and bought my ticket. The dude running the trip asked where I was from and then asked me a question ‘what war did Australia and Austria fight each other?’. I blankly stared at him. He then said that you commemorate the day every April. Obviously I had ANZAC day in my head but didn’t say that because surely thats too obvious. But yea that was the answer. Apparently. So yea anyway, the tour started in one of the smaller cathedrals in the city centre. Explained to us about the origin of the crypts underneath etc. I had no idea that the things on the cathedral floors were like trap doors down to that particular families crypt. Makes sense now. We went down in to the crypt and had a look at some of the bodies. Yeah. Actual bodies. Open casket styles. Was amazing to see how well kept they were. The dresses and shoes the women were in were still quite in tact. From there it was a walk down the road to a random normal looking building, and then down in to the cellar. It was an exclusive wine club, with racks and racks of wine and a huge open dining room with table. It was freaking awesome, like a secret society. The annual price of membership is something like 5000 euros, with an initial joining fee too. And thats where the tour ended. Not exactly what I thought it was going to be, but was still good.

After the tour I headed up to the theme park area which has the old ferris wheel. This theme park is kinda like a small Easter Show, but its there permanently. Was like walking around a creepy ghost town at stages because there was hardly anyone there and the majority of the rides weren’t running. The main draw card is the ferris wheel that is there, its super old, I may have read its the oldest ferris wheel in the world im not sure. Imagine the London Eye, but way smaller, a lot older and generally just not as good. So the complete opposite. It was supposed to give a great view over the city, but the thing is so far away from the city centre i don’t get why people say this. What it gives you a great view of is the baron theme park below you. So im still not sure if it was worth the money or not. What was cool about it though is some of the carriages have been converted to dining rooms, so if you want to give your girlfriend a cheesy dinner then you can hire one of those out.

Final thoughts on Vienna…I liked it and glad I went, like most places. If you were in to museums then you could spend months in the place. But apart from that then just a few days was definitely enough time. In the summer it would be a lot nicer, there are many parks scattered around the place that you could chill out at, but when the weather is 8 degrees thats not something you tend to do.