Since Andreea wrote about her one week trip to Vienna a few weeks ago, I decided to write a few words myself about the three-day trip we took in the same time with her and Petru.
I must admit that we are not the tourist type, going to a new city and starting exploring all the monuments and visiting all the museums, but this time we said we should give it a try. We decided to take this trip because we found a nice party on Saturday and since we haven’t been to Vienna before, we said ‘Oh, well, why not?’.
The trip started early on Friday with a visit to the Schönbrunn Palace where we stayed for about 3 hours. It was the first contact with the Viennese architecture and my first thought was : ‘This is a really megalomaniac people’. The palace is huge, we didn’t visit the inside, but the gardens were more than enough to make a picture of the way this empire was built. Everything is absolutely HUUUUGE! We got tired only by walking around this palace and we still had a lot to visit for the day.
Our next stop was the Vienna Zoo, right near the Schönbrunn Palace, one of the oldest and biggest Zoos in Europe. It took us about 4 hours to visit all the Zoo and we had to hurry in the end as it was closing time. The place is really amassing and huge again. Each animal is in its own natural habitat, there are so many species of animals, some of them I have never seen before, some of them I have never heard of before. I found it a really interactive place, where you could understand how the animals live, what they eat, how they adapt to their environment.
And this was practically day one of our trip. We were really exhausted after a full day of walking around, that in the evening we just decided to meet with Andreea and Petru for dinner and then go to sleep. Finding a place to dine in Vienna was quite a challenge at about 10 in the evening. You can’t find any restaurant still open, sometimes even the pubs and bars are closed. We walked around the city center for about half an hour until we found one place that was still open and was serving the famous Viennese schnitzel. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it looked like a classical communist Romanian restaurant. After this we went home and we walked a little around the city center and the Museum Quartier, where it seemed that all the fun was. Young people were drinking inside the Museum Quartier. Actually had been drinking, because at midnight, when we passed by, you could only see empty bottles thrown around and some few lost youngsters trying to find their way home.
Second day started quite early again and we visited the city center. Vienna’s city center is really good organized and you can go by foot and see all the buildings, or take the tram. There is a big boulevard where all the palaces and museums are, called Ring Boulevard. Here you can find the State Opera House, Imperial Palace, Parliament and Vienna City Hall.
In the afternoon we decided to visit the art gallery inside the Belvedere Palace, where there is a Gustav Klimt exhibition this year. The Belvedere Palace is again a huge palace, with a huge garden. The exhibition was quite impressive, with paintings and sculptures from all major Austrian artists, but you really need to have some knowledge in this domain to really understand all the currents and the eras in Austrian painting.
On Sunday we were a bit tired after the party the night before so we finished with the visiting. We just went in the city center and had a loooong breakfast until we had to go to the airport.
To give you some practical information about Vienna, we found the website http://www.wien.info a very good website to plan a trip. There you can find all the info regarding the city, what to visit, where to eat, where to go shopping, public transportation etc. For accommodation we chose the Labyrinth hostel right in the city center and close to the main shopping boulevard, Mariahilfer Strasse.
At the airport, on our arrival we bought the Vienna Card, very useful as it gets you a discount for the train from the airport to the city (arriving in just 16 minutes), free public transportation for 72 hours and discounts to most of the museums, palaces, to some restaurants and even shopping.
As a conclusion, I saw Vienna rather like a place to go if you are older, when you’re retired and are not in the mood anymore for a city full of energy, with a wild night life. It’s a city full of history, with an Empire behind from which Austria had inherited all these enormous palaces, but in the same time it’s a modern city, a very artistic and cultural one.