When we arrived in Vienna it was hard to judge the city from what we had seen from the airport to the hotel and then from the hotel to the AirBnB apartment. It was obviously beautiful but it hadn’t yet given my any real feeling (unlike Berlin and other places). After two weeks I can safely say, this is a beautiful city, there is lots going on and I just love that you can see the hills in the distance, I cannot wait to get up them and look down on the city!
The first week was spent wandering around, happening upon St Peters, a beautiful church and definitely a tourist spot. To the left of the church is a row of horse and carriages waiting to take people on informative tours and to the right is two streets filled with some world class shopping possibilities, from a fancy H&M (and a normal one), Zara, Thomas Sabo, Peek & Cloppenberg to Prada, Tiffany & Co, Hermes, Chanel and more high end stores than you can shake all your maxed out credit cards at. If you have the money for these sorts of places (or balls) you can wander in and out of these shops for two weeks solid. Inbetween the shops are beautiful buildings, the odd fountain, and many, many cafes. The tables and chairs extend out of the cafes to large areas in the middle of the street where when it’s busy you stand and wait to fight Austrians and fellow tourists to get a table first. The coffee is excellent, the service is fast (until it comes pay then its pretty slow, not sure why) and the people watching opportunities abundant.
Our AirBnB apartment is lovely, it is in the 2nd district, a 15 minute lazy stroll into the centre. We haven’t trammed it anywhere yet, but it probably only takes 5 minutes. The owner has decorated it beautifully, the kitchen is well equipped (our last place didn’t even have a kettle) and it looks out over a quiet courtyard. It can be pretty quiet but I am glad we are not on the main street as the trams and buses go down there and they can be quite noisey. Apart form a bit of shopping we haven’t done anything touristy yet, we like to take our time, apart from a trek to see the Danube. It was….. a big river. To be honest it was pretty impressive, but we had walked a long way in very hot and humid weather, with hay fever affecting us both we just wanted to get home. I am sure we will go back there tough (via public transport) as it looks like an awesome place to spend an afternoon and I have seen online that there are public swimming areas on Danube island.
The second week included my 29th (one year ’til 30) birthday. Plans for shopping for non-black summer-suitable clothes were scuppered by a national holiday, Chorpus Christi, so all the shops were shut! Cafes and restaurants were live’n kicking though so we ate a lot instead! We started off at home with runny eggs and soldiers (ridiculously healthy bread). On the way into town we stopped at Griechenbeisl, the oldest restaurant in Vienna which dates all the way back to 1447, and indulged in some Sachertorte each. We hadn’t yet tried it, honestly, it was a bit disappointing, the cake seemed a little dry and it wasn’t what either of us had imagined. The rest of the day was spend enjoying the weather, lots of coffee stops, frozen yoghurt, music, and discovering parts of Vienna we hadn’t seen.
Friday (continuation of birthday celebrations) we had planned to go the SKY bar at the stop of Steffl department store, once up there though we didn’t really dig the vibe so ended up eating at DO&CO restaurant on top of the DO&CO hotel opposite St Peters. It is very elegant inside and looks like the perfect place for a romantic evening dinner for two. However it was lunch time and beautifully sunny so we headed outside to sit on the rooftop balcony which has views of the surrounding streets and rooftops. The food was expensive but good quality, the service was great, it was definitely a proper birthday treat!
The thing that has hit us most about being here in Vienna is that we really enjoy being outside, normally we are quite the hermits and love being at home, but here we feel just at ease outside sitting in cafes or strolling along the streets and river. We have happened on quite a few things by just wandering around, we watched football with 3000 other people in an outdoor beach/bar area next to the river, sunbathed with a couple of hundred others whilst listening to dj play music and people race barbie crates around a giant fountain, listened to classical music in the street, great coffee (the melange is the one to choose here, half coffee and half hot milk), and I’m pretty certain we are yet to stumble across many more cool things.
So here’s to two weeks in Vienna and eight more! Woo hoo!