My boyfriend and I spent the last weekend travelling around the beautiful and captivating city of Vienna!
He has been incredibly awesome over the last year, supporting me though some fairly trying times with regards to my mental health, and I wanted to spoil him and thank him for dealing with my all my craziness.
He has always wanted to travel to Vienna, as he has an interest in the Habsburg dynasty, so I managed to get us a really good deal on lastminute.com for flights and accommodation.
So we spent two nights in the Hotel Nestroy Wien, in central/northern Vienna, and got to experience the culture and the majesty that Vienna is famous for. And it is definitely worth a visit.
My impression of the city was of a cultured, chilled out metropolis; confident in its impressive history, as well as in it’s more modern, post empire, post royalty identity.
I won’t write too much here, Ru has written a comprehensive account of everything we did over the weekend, and I won’t replicate it. All I wanted to do was wax slightly lyrical about all things Viennese.
I fall in love with every city we visit, and this was no different.
Vienna seemed to me to be the most elegant, civilised city we have visited so far; in comparison with Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam. The people seemed upbeat and quietly self-assured, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the pedestrianised centre to the city was elegant and understated despite the opulent palaces, cathedrals and museums which dotted the area, and the big name shops which offered labels such as Dior, Rolex and Louis Vuitton.
It didn’t feel ostentatious; walking around the Museumsquartier and Heldenplatz, past the Hofburg Palace, the scene was essentially a showcase to The Habsberg imperial prowess and might. Yet it didn’t feel extravagant in a showy sense, it felt impressive in an understated way: restraint tempering past massive power with grace and dignity.
I learnt a lot about the Habsburg Empire, and the family themselves. It seems incredible that they can trace their family line back to the twelfth century, and yet the family is still going strong!
Although members are now restricted somewhat in who they can marry by the “Habsburg Family Statute” of 1839, which states that Habsburgs can only marry members of Catholic dynasties which have at some point reigned over a sovereign country.
This is to preserve the dynasties existence “for now and forever,” but is obviously becoming increasingly tricky as time goes by. There are apparently only 42 families left that Habsburg family members can choose their partners from. Hard times.
The Schonbrunn palace is as imposing and impressive as I imagined it would be.
Originally a recreational hunting lodge for the royals, it was redesigned in the 1740’s and 50’s into the palace which exists today under the instruction of Maria Theresa, who reigned during this period. We explored the palace and the gardens, and marvelled at the majesty of this dynasties summer palace.
And it was hot! Both Ru and I had dressed for mild autumnal temperatures, but were left wishing we had thought to pack shorts and tee-shirts. It made everything look bright and beautiful, and the whole weekend had a real ‘summer holiday’ vibe for me; but we did have to lay down in the park between the Museum of Natural History Vienna and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien on the Sunday to recharge for half an hour, and carry water bottles with us everywhere we went.
On the first night we got to experience a classical concert, in the heart of the city that produced musical prodigies such as Mozart and Beethoven! It was a special experience; and although neither Ru or I are particularly knowledgeable on classical music or opera, we were both left moved and impressed.
I particularly enjoyed Vivaldi’s Sommer, and plan to dedicate some time to listening to it some more. I think this may have been the first time I really understood the appeal of classical music; the intensity of the sound that is created, and the seriously powerful affect it can have on you when you close your eyes and let it crash over you.
On the Saturday night we switched high culture for pop culture, and travelled into the southern part of the city to visit Cafe Carina which apparently hosts live music 300 nights of the year. I love watching bands, and was intrigued to see what Viennese rock would sound like. It turns out, really good; not too different from any band I could see in London, but still a really good night out.
I had a few beers, and we stood at the front of the crowd for the last few songs, and watched a couple dance together in a ball-room dancing meets rock music style; I cannot think of any other way to describe it. It was great, and something which I don’t think you’d ever see at a rock gig in England.
There was also a pissed older dude dancing on his own in a fairly self-orientated erratic way.. but you can see that anywhere that serves alcohol on a Saturday night 🙂
I got a hot-dog afterwards, and Ru got a kebab from a pavement vender just outside the club, and then we got a taxi back to the hotel, arriving back at about 12:30pm. It was a great night, Ru really enjoyed it as well, and he said that he thought the club was much more chilled than anywhere he’s been in London, and that the atmosphere was more relaxed and laid back.
I agree, but then again I have a serious love affair with everything to do with modern European culture. I think there’s just something about Europe which screams classy, cultured and cool; all the good C words. I’m not sure exactly what it is that gives me this impression, I will have to examine my reasoning more closely at some point!
On Sunday we explored the Museumsquartier, and generally ambled around the areas of the centre that we hadn’t seen yet, enjoying the sun, the many different styles of impressive architecture and the general laid back atmosphere.
As I said previously, the impression I was left with of Vienna is reserved, civilised and impressive in a classy sense. The city was beautiful and appealing, and definitely another place that I would love to live one day.
Ru said that he had had a great time as well, and it was actually the first city break that we have done on our own, just the two of us. Previously we have always been with various different friends. I enjoyed lying in the park between two major museums, watching clouds scud across the blue sky with our heads touching, and chatting about the surroundings and our different impressions of the city.
We agreed that once we have both had books published, and have some spare time and money we will return to Vienna and explore it more; maybe even live there for a while.
It was a really magical weekend, and I am glad that Ru wrote down notes as we went round, meaning that his blog has captured every moment. It means that I can go back to that and read it when I need to recall some good memories.
Here’s to the next holiday!
6 thoughts on “A weekend spent in Vienna”
I love your evocation of the city, your observations are so different from my own and enhance my memories very nicely. The second time I visited the city was as a penniless student, who camped in the bushes of the Donauinsel, and have visited regularly ever since – only in my later years, that camping is in official camping places.
Did you go to the opera? If, like me, you don’t have much money, there’s always the cheap seats “up in the Gods” as they call it at the Albert Hall in London.
I love the Naturhistorisch museum for its old world dignity, its unchangedness. The Kunsthistorisches museum with its Raphaels that are as enchanting as they were when the paint had just dried.
And the coffee! Where would you be in Vienna without coffee? And a Kaiserkrainer in the market… I discovered the Austrians like adding cheese to their sausages, it sounds odd, but they really are tasty!
Here’s to the next visit!!
Ha thank you! I actually I have to confess that when I wrote this I didn’t know as much about Austrian history, and this history of the Habsburgs as I do now. I read up some stuff yesterday, and am not sure if what I read would have changed my impression, if I had known it prior to exploring, or not. The understated sense of calm confidence that I seemed to sense so much of may have shifted into hubris in my mind… I’m not sure. It was a beautiful city though, I would very much like to return one day and spend more time ambling about, soaking up the atmosphere, writing, and yes- drinking lots of coffee! 🙂
You should also visit the former DDR; it is utterly different to the grandeur of Vienna, but has a charm that is hard to find anywhere else on earth. The header on my blog is the marketplace in a little town that nobody has ever heard of… the place is utterly magical! The people are lovely too, albeit that few speak English.
For the English speaker, German and Austrian society can seem a little odd. It is so similar – yet there are areas that are utterly absurd. I lived in Germany as a young adult and went through this culture shock at an age where I could just let it slip over me, as it were. That gave me real insights into how the British live – I am British, by the way.
Aah I had assumed you were German or European! Are you living in Britain now? And which areas of Austrain/German culture are so different? This fascinates me… ! Do you mean, former GDR? I want to visit everywhere! Hopefully one day… 🙂
Was a awesome weekend, we shall go back! 🙂
We will 🙂