Believe it or not, the last time I had properly visited my home country’s capital was when I was in kindergarten. So, in late August of 2017 (yes, I am still catching up with bringing this blog up to date), I decided to head to Vienna for a weekend to have a look at what it had in store – and whether it was over-hyped by the hordes of tourists.
I made the mistake of going to Vienna by train. Berlin, about 600 kilometers north of the Austrian capital, has a night train connection. My cheap ass purchased a second class ticket, so I would be sitting all night – which was fine and actually quite enjoyable throughout the afternoon and evening; a relaxing train ride which allowed me to take in the landscape of eastern Germany, the train stations of Leipzig and Dresden, and then us crossing into Czechia. In the middle of the night, however, I got company in the form of a group of large Czech men to whom the concept of personal space was apparently rather abstract. The second half of the night was thus not quite as enjoyable, and I got only very little sleep. The silver lining was that I did get to see a very nice sunrise while we were waiting in a train yard not far from the Austrian border in Břeclav.
I arrive in Wien Favoriten on Saturday morning, where I met up with my friend. After a quick breakfast, the first stop on our walking tour was the Belevedere palace. Like the others scattered throughout Austria, this was owned by the former imperial Habsburg family. Today it houses an art museum.
Though I’m not typically an art museum type person, it was quite worth looking at, especially because of Gustav Klimt’s “Der Kuss” painting. I wasn’t the only one who came here to see it, though…
For the rest of the day, walking aimlessly throughout the inner city proved to be a good way to get to know Vienna. When visiting old European cities, always make sure to take some “shortcuts” or go down some back alleys; these are usually the nicest and most authentic parts of an otherwise often very touristy city.
One place which I highly recommend visiting while you are in Vienna is the Museum of Applied Arts (Museum der Angewandten Kunst, MAK). Without spoiling too much, this is a museum that displays various versions of everyday objects and looks at how “applied design” works to our advantage every day of our lives.
Staying on the topic of arts, Vienna is also blessed to be the home of several buildings designed by late artist Friendensreich Hundertwasser. The artist’s design philosophy was to use natural shapes and create art using the color “Dunkelbunt”, which roughly translates to “dark colorful”. Hundertwasser’s architecture in the city includes the Kunsthaus Wien but also the smokestack of a heating facility in Vienna’s outskirts. Perhaps best-known, however, is the Hundertwasserhaus:
Though I was only there for a weekend, I was able to get a good impression of Vienna. There remains a lot to be seen, however, and I will be sure to return in the future. (Spoiler alert, as I am writing this two years after the fact: I did return).