My time in Vienna was full of cake, goulash soup, elegant historical buildings and frites & mayo. I spent four nights in Vienna, after arriving in the evening on the shuttle from Cesky Krumlov. Though 3 days in Vienna is definitely doable, if I’m ever back in Europe (fingers crossed) I’ll definitely be visiting again and spending more time in Vienna.
Vienna may not have the hype of say, Paris or Berlin, but it ended up being one of my favourite places (I even thought I could maybe live there!).
This is why I loved Vienna.
Every building seems to be elegant and historical! I know many European cities are like this, but I particularly noticed it in Vienna. Coming from New Zealand where the historical buildings are max 100 years old, the architecture really impressed me.
Hofburg Palace & Gardens
Disclaimer: I didn’t go inside the palace as I was kind of done with museums and castles at this point in my trip. This isn’t a snub to Hofburg Palace; I just realised after nearly five weeks of churches, castles and museums, that I enjoy more of a balance between cities and nature.
I also learned to listen to myself more. Guidebooks, well-intentioned advice and fellow hostellers can make you feel that you need to visit certain places, but if you’re not keen on something, why force yourself to go? A big part of why I love solo travel is that I can do whatever I want (a liberating, addictive feeling), so why let myself feel pressured? The random American guy in the hostel lounge, despite his enthusiasm, doesn’t actually care whether I go inside the palace or not!
My takeaway from all this is if I want to go inside a church, great. If I don’t, I’ll eat cake and look at it from the outside, like I did in Budapest. The main thing is whether I’m enjoying myself and did I enjoy reading in the gardens? Yes!
The queue at Schönbrunn was probably the longest I experienced during my trip (zero queues at the Louvre for me), so I felt like I was getting a typical Eurotrip experience.
At Schönbrunn you can really get a feel for the personalities of the monarchs and their staff. As a fan of historical fiction, this was probably the highlight of my visit – aside from the beautiful exhibits of course.
I did, however, feel the exhibition was a little short. I wandered through and felt disappointed when I reached the end, it was a “huh, over already?” moment. Something must have happened as well, because just as I entered the gift shop, everyone was herded out the door by frantic looking staff and made to leave the palace grounds!
My confidence eating alone grew in Vienna and I ate alone at many a cafe. I loved that I could read as long as I wanted and no one was there to judge if I felt like cake (not a huge fan of cake at home, but it became very important to me). Goulash soup also became a favourite of mine, I ordered it pretty much every day!
Table for one.
It was an absolute nightmare trying to pay the bill in some places though! It took forever to flag someone down, then forever for them to bring the bill and an eternity until they bought my change or card back. The whole bill concept is foreign to me anyway, at home we don’t do bills. Finished eating? You just walk up to the counter to pay with your card and no one grumbles or asks “do you have cash?” with a sneer.
It reminded me of home
Geographically, Auckland and Vienna are completely different. Vienna is inland and on a river, while Auckland, on an isthmus, is 100% coast. Vienna, however, reminded me of home.
Part of it was the people, all the Viennese people I met had a directness that reminded me of Kiwis – friendly, but no-nonsense. After travelling with many an American or Brit (this isn’t a dig I promise) I had missed that. People also seemed to be more laidback, which is definitely like New Zealand.
I also felt at ease in Vienna, which is probably a big part of why it felt like home. I really hit my solo-travel stride in Vienna; I went pretty much everywhere alone, was a U-Bahn pro and I really made an effort to meet people in my hostel and gained some fun friends because of it. I also got to meet up with friends from my hostels in Prague and Cesky Krumlov!
I stayed at Wombats Naschmarkt Hostel. It is a party hostel (and huge) but I stayed in a girls dorm and had a good sleep (despite someone in my dorm bringing a…friend back one night). The location is pretty decent, right by the market and it’s walkable to the historical sights.
The metro and trams in Vienna make it easy to get around and there are heaps of interesting alleys to pass through if you’re walking.
Money wise, Vienna isn’t a budget destination but it’s cheaper than say, Paris or Amsterdam.