Vienna has become a blur in my mind. I visited it some two months ago as part of my week-long (mostly) solo trip to the “east” and Vienna itself took about two and a half days. I had the impression that like Paris, I would need more time than that in order to capture the full essence of the city. Yet, I didn’t feel like I’d need to enter every museum and visit every landmark in Vienna. In these two days, I just wanted to breathe. Breathe, take the new path, eat whatever I wanted, hop on and off the tram and metro whenever I felt like, at any unknown stop – that was how I wanted to explore Vienna.
Vienna’s delicate historic streets and neighbourhoods take you on a voyage through time as you immerse yourself in its grace and charm. Violins, cafés, pastry, schnitzel, Swarovski – these may be some of the words that come to mind when Vienna is mentioned. A city of art, music, architecture, history, gastronomy…
So I found out after arriving at the hostel I was staying at, that it was situated right next to Vienna’s Chinatown. Chinese supermarkets and restaurants filling up entire streets, ha, what a familiar sight 😉 I passed by a Chinese restaurant one night and a Chinese guy asked in Chinese, “Would you like some Chinese food?” I smiled, didn’t say a word, and continued walking. In hindsight, I should have at least stopped and said, “No thanks.” I felt a little bad for just walking off without even acknowledging him… 😦
The hostel was also right next to the huge Naschmarkt, a market with a variety of bars, restaurants, and stalls selling fruits, vegetables, spices, meat, and flowers. Not in the mood for a meal at a sit-down restaurant? Head to the Naschmarkt for a gigantic lamb kebab just for 3 Euros with a numbing spicy powder to excite your taste buds and you will definitely feel like it’s one of the most satisfying meals you can get in the city 😛
The “Secession” exhibition hall has a globe on top covered with golden foliage patterns.
Ah, Café Central. There is an abundance of quality cafés in Vienna and I believe they take their coffee culture quite seriously. There are also quite a few famous cafés scattered around the city, each with a story behind its doors. I feel like the cafés are tourist attractions themselves, as they are not necessarily known for the coffee but rather the famous historical figures that used to spend their time in the particular cafés. Café Central, shown here, is famously known for being frequented by many important literary and political figures in history, Vladimir Lenin being one of them.
YES, VIENNESE DESSERTS. So much variety, so colourful, so tempting. Vienna’s pastries and desserts are not to be underestimated nor enjoyed in a haste. Even for a person who avoids overly sweet foods, Viennese desserts were an irresistible and indispensable part of the experience. Take a simple apple strudel, for example – it is rather inconceivable how delicious the one at Café Central was. OK, I guess I will save the details for part two of the Vienna posts, the food edition…
The Vienna State Opera glows in the night, while an opera was probably taking place inside. I probably should have looked earlier into attending an opera or classical concert, but the timing unfortunately didn’t match.
On a slightly chilly and gloomy morning, I visited the St.Marx cemetery….perfect atmosphere for a perfect setting, huh. St.Marx is the final resting place of a number of notable figures, including people with accomplishments in literature, music, politics, medicine, among other fields. Not a single visit, aside from me, was seen in the cemetery. The silence, occasionally disturbed by the cracking of dying branches, may have been a little eerie…
I was there to visit the grave of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, erected in the centre of the cemetery. The expression of the guardian angel was full of melancholy as it mourns in the somber air, but as I stood quietly in front of the grave, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik began to play in my head, its jolly notes jumping and dancing cheerfully. Even the gloom was lit up by the sound of the bows on the strings…
…and speaking of music, there’s “The Blue Danube”. Of course, the Danube is the river that flows through Vienna, and its name always gave me the feeling of gentleness and mellowness, perhaps due to the mood of the orchestral piece.
My friend Mengmeng arrived in Vienna right before the day I was set to leave, as we found out during a casual conversation in Bordeaux. Not willing to let go of this sudden coincidence, we planned to meet for a few hours in Vienna. She was an enthusiastic classical lover, being able to tell me every story of Mozart and Johann Strauss II, Austrian composer of “The Blue Danube”. I thought that Vienna would be the perfect place for her, and indeed she fell in love instantly. Before I left, we wouldn’t miss the chance to take a photo with Johann Strauss II…’s monument in the city park 😛
Children play with each other in the city’s central park, Stadtpark. I could imagine the park being an ideal place for a spring afternoon, when leaves sprout and flowers bloom to add some colour and chase away the gray winter air.
An accidental sight at the Hofburg Palace left us both quite stunned. If that warrior on the horse was aiming to shoot down the sun…it might need to adjust its angle a little bit. The silhouette of the rider himself was quite spectacular though.
Through the eyes of my friend who has a fervor for opera, classical music, and arts in general, Vienna probably has much more to offer and would be like a paradise. For me, Vienna is so down-to-earth for such a famous city, without too much glitter for embellishment. To put it in a nutshell, I enjoyed Vienna. It may seem like I have neglected to mention food in this entry but as I had briefly hinted before, there will be a part two focused on the food…be hungry!