I spent two weeks in the city of Vienna for the last leg of my OE and I absolutely adored that city.
I arrived at the airport and took the CAT, a quick and easy metro that takes you directly into the city enter. When I arrived, my Airbnb host picked me up at the station. I was going to be staying in his apartment, but to my surprise, the listing wasn’t as described. Instead of the two bedrooms that was advertised, it was a one bedroom with an ensuite which we were both going to share while he slept on the couch in the lounge (?!). Throughout my stay, it was very uncomfortable having him walk in at 2am while I was sleeping to use the bathroom. But the worst part was one morning when I asked him how he was and he told me he was getting off a cocaine high. It was the weirdest Airbnb experience I have ever had and I could not have been happier to leave his apartment when the time came!
However, the rest of my experience in this city was lovely. Vienna is a historical, cultural and delightful city that makes you feel like you’re walking back in time. The reason I decided to come here was because of Before Sunrise, my favourite romance movie of all time, so it is indeed a city for lovers and dreamers and creatives. The architecture and buildings in Vienna are beautiful and brightly-coloured, but there are also big and green parks throughout the city to unwind in. I also found the people to be exceptionally friendly, especially compared to other European cities. And the metro! I loved it. It was clean, ridiculously easy to use and very comprehensive. It is a system I hope my own city will adapt one day (not keeping my hopes high though…)
I went to the Schoenbrunn Palace and Gardens which was stunning and huge – I almost got lost there. I recommend at least an hour to explore the gardens, fountains and the yellow-coloured palace itself. It was like walking through a dream.
I visited a few museums as well, which Vienna has plenty of, and found all of them to be wildly fascinating. The Kunsthistorisches museum is an art museum housed in an exquisite palatial building and at the time I went, they were doing an Egyptian and Greek artefact exhibit. They also had rooms and rooms of incredible paintings that kind of blew my mind. I highly recommend coming here if you are ever in Vienna and to leave at least two to three hours to fully explore all the rooms and floors available.
I also visited the Museum of Natural History (it wasn’t my kind of thing – it displayed a lot of rocks and information about space and evolution – but it was still very interesting nonetheless) and the Albertina, another palatial art museum which at the time was showing the works of Monet and Picasso amongst other artists. At the top floor of the Albertina, you are free to walk around the exquisitely beautiful rooms of the palace.
I rode the Riesenrad ferris wheel which gives you a good view of the city of Vienna and went to the Naschmarkt a couple of times, a cool market selling food and goods of all kinds. I loved the food in Vienna and ended up having the best burger I have ever had at I Love Veggie Burger, a small joint I found through Google. It was amazing. And the service was great! I also had a fantastic experience at Palmenhaus, a tropical-house-turned-restaurant set near a garden. The interior was beautiful, with natural light flooding the place and plants everywhere. The dining was upscale and pricey, but the food and service was worth every dollar.
Of course, I also tried an apple strudel, a popular dessert which originated in Vienna. All in all, I was impressed with the food and was relieved that though it wasn’t cheap, it was still very much affordable. By that point I was on a tighter budget and brought my dinner from supermarkets, anyway.
One of the highlights of my stay in Vienna was visiting the Ai Weiwei art installation at the Belvedere Palace. Weiwei is an artist and political activist whose art and values I greatly admire and respect. He is one of my inspirations, so to see his installations in the flesh was surreal. One of the installations was the twelve heads of the Chinese zodiac on poles, and the other were life jackets formed in the shapes of lotuses to shed light on the refugee crisis. The palace itself was also very lovely and I spent quite a time there sitting in the garden.
Vienna is such a fantastic city full of history, where people like Mozart and Freud spent time in, and where art and beauty reside. The people are so friendly and the metro is praiseworthy because it made getting around this huge city a breeze.
I had such a relaxing time browsing through the numerous art museums, palaces and restaurants and was sad to go when my time was up. I indeed left feeling much more cultured and knowledgeable of the world around me. I am planning to move overseas soon and spend one year in Bangkok teaching English and one year in Europe. Out of all the cities I have been to on this continent, I can very much see myself living in Vienna. It is such an easy place to live and seems to have everything I could ever want in a city.
And that concludes my travel series! I had a lot of fun writing about my adventures in each country that I went to and hope you enjoyed reading them. Please let me know what else you’d like to see on The Lilac Road or if you have any questions for me in regards to my travels, or anything else for that matter! I’d love to hear from you.