As this wasn’t my first encounter with the Austrian capital, I knew exactly the places I’d like to view again. Rest assured, they were exactly the ones any tourist would expect to see on a short visit.

As it happens, Vienna’s essential attractions are relatively close to each other so checking them all is not a monumental task. Two days in the former imperial capital should be more than enough. You know, if you don’t plan to enter any of those tempting museums you encounter at every other step.

 

Landing in Vienna

 

Before delving into the Viennese trip, I’ll share a couple of thoughts on city-breaks.

I’ve dedicated this summer to the institution that is the city-break. One city, one weekend, one resulting article.

Why?

That’s because, in my book, city-breaks are the best way to find places you’d like to revisit at a later date. Call it scouting, if you will.

  • A weekend is usually enough to open the appetite for a longer visit.
  • You’ll also get a good idea of the things you’d like to do next time.
  • You’re saving your vacation days for that proper, lengthy vacation.
  • Lastly but not least, with a bit of timing and planning, they are the best and cheapest way of exploring a new place.

Keep reading to see how I checked all the major Viennese attractions during this amazing city-break.

 

 

After the first (and only) visit almost six and a half years ago, I dreamt of coming back. Considering it was January the first time, I really wanted to return during the summer. Sunny weather instead of slush and biting cold? Yes, please!

I’ve also been wanting to meet with my Austria-relocated-friends for a while now. We haven’t hanged out in over two years. When I’ve heard they recently moved from Linz to Vienna, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine these two wishes.

I was quite fortunate as my friends offered to host me for two nights, which bought my total costs for this escapade at about 160 pounds. They were even nice enough to come to pick me up from the airport, with baby Anja in tow. I am so in debt to them for their kindness that I probably will have to donate them my first born or something.

As is picking me up wasn’t enough, Alex, my ex-colleague at Gameloft, also cooked for us when we got home. In case you’re wondering, he prepared some great pasta carbonara.

After lunch, baby Anja was due her afternoon nap so I took the cue and did the same, as I was awake from 5 AM. Which was a decent waking hour compared to other flights that require the abominable waking time of 3 in the morning.

 

Landing in Vienna
The Danube is that silver ribbon. Vienna can be seen in the distance on the right, as the white area

 

When everybody (I mean Anja and me) woke up, we headed out to town. Apparently, this takes longer than you’d expect when having to prep a baby for the trip. But since I was in no hurry and still quite sleepy, that pace was actually suitable.

Of course, ample entertainment has to be provided along the way. Obviously, not for the adults. The little one needed stuff like a wallet to rummage through or a bottle of water to fiddle with. In case you wondered, that fiddling eventually resulted in flooding the pram.

Enjoying this free spectacle was, in fact, entertaining and we got to the city centre in no time. Well, more like an hour, but you don’t feel the time passing when in good company, on a sunny day.

Along the way, I noticed again something that I had forgotten by now about Vienna. Every other light post or pole has a plastic newspaper holder. You are supposed to drop the right amount in the money box and then retrieve your paper. I know a bunch of countries, mine included, where this wouldn’t fly. Nobody would pay for something they can get seemingly for free. My Malay girlfriend informed me over Whatsapp that most likely it wouldn’t work in Asia either.

 

Vienna street
Leisurely strolling towards the central area

 

Vienna CBD shop
CBD shop on Mariahilfer Strasse

 

Mariahilfer Strasse
Mariahilfer Strasse, the local Oxford Street

 

Kunsthistoriches Museum
Art history museum

 

Pride parade
Empty Pride parade trucks

 

Besides the newspaper plastic bags, I noticed a couple of other things along the way.

 

One, they take Pride week very seriously here. For example, every tram or bus was donning a rainbow flag, no exception. This was besides the multitude of rainbow flags displayed all over the city. I clearly haven’t seen such a widespread flag usage in London.

The other thing was the multitude of shops that were openly selling what looked very much like weed. As I had no idea marijuana was legal in Austria, the image of a weed shop at every street corner took me by surprise.

Guess what?

Turns out it was really weed, but the type that does not contain THC but rather CBD. Cannabidiol or CBD is a non-psychoactive substance of the hemp plant. Which means this weed does not provide a high, making it perfect for medicinal usage.

 

A funny coincidence happened during this trip. Friends from back home just happened to visit Vienna at the same time I did. We really didn’t plan to meet halfway between London and Bucharest, but there we were. To make things even more interesting, Bogdan, the visiting friend, knew my host Alex. Go figure, from work as well. Some quick math using fingers showed they haven’t seen each other in maybe 6 years.

We obviously had to meet. And so we did, in front of Figlmüller, a famous restaurant. Think over 8000 reviews on Google Maps famous. They’re serving classic Viennese cuisine, in an old school ambience: exposed bricks, wood panelling, wrought iron, the lot. We ordered a bunch of schnitzels since the restaurant is famous for them. I swear mom makes them as good as they did here, but surely not as big.

Keeping little Anja appeased for the whole duration of the dinner was a bit of a challenge.

 

Somehow, the heroic mother managed to keep her entertained by taking turns, while we were catching up. Dinner done, we strolled for a bit, enjoying the pleasantly cool night air. It has to be mentioned, there were over 30 degrees during the day.

After we parted ways with the visiting friends, we passed the State Opera on the way home. In a very nice touch, a giant screen installed on the side of the Opera was broadcasting the live performance to a large audience gathered outside. Not a bad way of spending a night out, if you’re not looking to spend 80-100 euros on an opera ticket.

 

Kaertner strasse
The always busy Kärntner Strasse

 

Philarmoniker Strasse
Just behind the State Opera

 

Kaertner strasse
This is the other big shopping street: Kärntner Strasse

 

Giant Snitzel
Tasty schnitzel at Figlmuller. It almost didn’t matter they overcharged me by mistake

 

Palais Coburg
That’s how a 5-star hotel should look like

 

Traditional clothing
Wouldn’t mind trying this on if it weren’t for those lederhosen

 

Night Opera
People relaxing next to the State Opera building

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