In April, after I'd celebrated my last day at my previous job, D and I booked a cool trip from Zurich to Vienna with a train trip to Budapest in the middle (next post). We stayed in a cute and convenient AirBnB apartment near the main train station (which is not really near the city center but that's okay).
Now, before I begin, I need to describe to you the difference in sightseeing styles that D and I have. I'm the kind of traveler who likes to take it easy - I don't mind sleeping in a little longer than a usual weekday; I prefer long breakfasts filled with people watching; I take many breaks throughout my day of wandering; I eat a lot; I make stops to buy postcards and stamps and I look for the perfect cafe to write said postcards to my beloved friends and family around the world. D is a serious traveler - he would rather not sleep in; he knows exactly what he wants to see before he arrives in a city; breakfast and lunch are optional but dinner is very important; I am convinced that he has battery-powered legs and feet because, boy, can that guy walk forever; if he sees all the sites and then some before noon of his first day in a new city, it would be considered normal.
Together we are the perfect travel team, but it is natural for one of our styles to sort of over-power the other. Vienna was a serious travel trip and Budapest was a little more laid-back.
Okay, back to Vienna, classy, stylish Vienna. If I had to describe Austria's capital and what is has to offer in just a few words, I would say: artsy architecture, dreamy castles and delicious wiener schnitzel.
The weather in Vienna was perfect while we were there and so we spent three days exploring the city and the areas around the city center in springtime sunshine. The tulips were in full bloom and they made Vienna that much more beautiful! Austrians and Swiss sort of have this automatic connection - we love each other - and I think it has something to do with the fact that the people in each country speak their own version of German. We chatted with people sitting next to us at restaurants and we found the shopkeepers and restaurant wait staff to be generous and not annoyed at our touristness, which always gives a country good marks in my book.
We didn't have enough time to see any plays, operas or symphonies while we were in Vienna, which is sort of a shame because those are some of the things that the city is known for, but we did see some Belvedere Palace and Schönbrunn Palace, where we did a neat inside tour and walked through some of the rooms with the original furniture. I am always a big fan of doing things that make me feel like I'm time traveling.
My favorite site was hands-down the Hundertwasser Haus - an apartment building whose exterior is truly unique. It's façade was painted by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser in the mid-1980s. I don't know why this was such a highlight for me - it's a major site, but still off the beaten track in a way. I love that people live in the building; I imagine that it must be surreal to live somewhere, call it your home, and at the same time have your living room window photographed on a daily basis. It's sort of a magical place - the atmosphere around the building, the design, the colors. Something about it was just supernatural.
And then there was wiener schnitzel which is a piece of veal that has been breaded and fried. And it is so delicious. If you're vegetarian or vegan or some other sort of special diet person who doesn't eat meat, you MUST make an exception for this traditional meal if you are in Vienna. I insist!!
Coffee culture + dessert also seemed to be a big deal in Vienna - people, tourists and locals alike, would fill up the patios of coffeeshops/restaurants in the city and chat while drinking special drinks with varying amounts of coffee and cream and alcohol, and munch on little cakes, tarts, pies and/or ice cream. You know what they say: the best way to a tourist's heart is through his or her stomach!
D and I chose an AirBnB located near the train station because we had an early train to Budapest. Get this - the train ride is about 2.5 hours and it cost 19 euros per person. If you're unfamiliar with prices in Europe or Switzerland, then listen to me when I say that this is a total steal! It's super easy and I most definitely recommend that you make some time for a trip from Vienna to Budapest, or vice versa, if you're lucky enough to go on a Eurotrip.
As our time in Vienna was coming to an end, D and I talked about how we could imagine living there. Sure, there are tourists that might take pictures of your apartment, but the city has this sort of attraction. Is it the architecture, the trendy people, the luscious, inviting parks, the beat and movement of the main streets that are flanked by creamy, classic apartments with elegant mini-balconies? I don't know, but I liked all of it. And if the opportunity came up, and the time was right, I'd definitely be down to live a life of wiener schnitzel and palaces. Honestly, who wouldn't?