The Foundry

A trip to Vienna, the centre of European culture.

So we went to Vienna this weekend, a place I always wanted to visit ever since learning about the Hapsburg family and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

It was a birthday present from my girlfriend, Ali. She is absolutely amazing, having booked this city break months ago. She has known I have always wanted to visit Vienna, and now she has made it a reality. It has always been a place of wonder for me, from the pictures of humongous imperial buildings to the iconic river of the Danube.

Again thank you very much Ali, love you!

Below is my experience of the holiday.

Waking up at 6 am is something I am used to, but there was a different sensation in having to wake up this early on a day off. But we had a plane to catch in only a few hours, so we woke up, got dressed as quickly as we could and head to the airport via a bus.

Travelling through Surrey I always feel invigorated, mostly because of how green it is, trees everywhere and large parks in almost every town.

We arrive at the airport long before we need to and immediately come across a problem, Ali has perfume and other stuff over 100 ml, we panic for a moment before finding a left luggage place. Crisis averted we go through the scanners and eat breakfast.

Afterwards Ali buys a new Stieg Larsson book, and I get a Sudoku book for our journey. Now onto boarding and the flight.

Now anyone that knows me well also knows that I do not like heights, I can sort of immerse myself by rock climbing and doing Zip wires but air planes are a whole other beast entirely. Before takeoff I was feeling nervous, as the plane was in the air it dipped and turned a lot. My stomach was rolling, and I really didn’t enjoy it. But after getting past this section the rest of the journey was good, I played Sudoku and we landed in Vienna a short time later.

Now then Vienna international airport is something, very futuristic. Filled with gleaming surfaces, and boasting computer screen on the wall. Suffice to say that we didn’t spend long here, bought some drinks from Spar that was very different and the same to what we have in the UK.

vienna-airport-01

Then we bought the CAT tickets into Vienna.

cat-ticket

16 minutes later we were in central Vienna, we found people lounging around outside, reading books and drinking.

books wien-mitte

Ali and I were already in love, everything we had seen so far looked fabulous. After getting information from some helpful police officers – who looked bored out of their minds before bumbled our way to them we arrived at our hotel.

Hotel Imlauer looked nondescript from the outside, but inside it was grand.

hotel-03 hotel-02 hotel-01

We checked in and found our room.

Looks fabulous right, we thought the same. 🙂

room

In total we spent around an hour at the hotel before heading out again, found a few cool shops in the local area and done nice statues. We are situated very well in Vienna, a 20 minute walk from our hotel and we were back in the city centre.

We saw many book shops, horses and other assortment of random things.

centre church-02  horses-02

Best of all was the opera. OK maybe we didn’t go to a proper posh operas, but what we went to was amazing.

At Palais Schonborn in central Vienna, we saw our first opera. Now I listen to classical music sometimes, I have a playlist of random songs that I have heard and liked over the years. But let me tell you, hearing it live was utterly amazing.

opera

As soon as it started I had a cacophony of emotions flowing through me, from pure amazement at these five individual skills to wonder at what they were trying to express. We had two singers as well, very talented duo who took turns singing.

If anyone is ever going Vienna I wholeheartedly recommend going to the opera and experiencing it for yourself.

opera-03

Anyway our first day was winding down, we walked back through the square, it is a sight to behold. St Stephan church is very gothic, surrounded by the more modern shops of H&M, Rolex and others.

We returned to our hotel, excited what our next day would bring.

In the morning we had breakfast in a quaint little bookshop by our hotel, had a different type of tea while planning our next thing. I have to state for any future travellers that white tea here is different to the white tea we have in England, if you want to have English breakfast tea state to the attendant that you want black tea with milk instead of white tea. While the white tea they have here is different to our version it is still delicious. 

We usually arrive in a city and do a bus to towards the end, realising at that moment that we miss out on a lot of things. This time we planned to do the bus tour straight away, which would give us time to visit each place of interest. Our aim was to catch the Yellow line bus tour, it would take us to Belvedere Palace, Schonbrunn Palace and others.

Also Ali found a Austrian charity shop, but we will swiftly be moving past this point.

charity

We were on our way again, making our way through the town centre and quickly getting on the tour bus, we got off at our first stop.

Schonbrunn Palace.

palace

We had a walk around the privy gardens, we commented that this was where the royals would have their conversations and make deals.

palace-01

The designs of all the plants were amazing, from the flowers to the trees.

palace-05

After a brief break we headed in on our audio tour.

The price was 17 euros pp, which was good. We saw most of the history of the Hapsburg family, from its very insignificant a routes in the Swiss Alps to the empire they control and then it’s death at the end of World War 1.

The paintings were beautiful, the records outstanding. Altogether I saw some of the best artwork I have ever seen, maybe even beating out the Louvre.

Ali and I liked it a lot, we spent the hour enjoying the sites, there wasn’t really an outstanding painting here like in the Louvre like the Mona Lisa but it was still good.

We made our way back and found Naschmarkt , this market puts every other market I have been to to shape. Maybe not the biggest in the world but it sure did have everything and everyone trying to desperately trying to sell their wares.

market

Ali bought a very nice necklace, we had some lunch.

We made our way back to our hotel, freshened up and then headed back out, to Cafe Carina. A bustling club with live music and cheap drinks. A Coke and beer was 6.50 which is great value.

The two bands we listened to sang a mixture of English and Austrian songs, while we didn’t understand the Austrian songs the vibe was good.

bar

That’s another thing I want to talk about, in this club the vibe was totally different to the UK. A more relaxed mood, while people were enjoying the music, drinking lots and being merry. It was different, combined with the band it made for a very enjoyable experience.

Our night finished, can ride back involved desperately trying to find the address to our hotel for the driver.

The next day we woke up late, needing to be out of the hotel by midday. We scrambled around, gathering our stuff before heading out.

We had the perfect breakfast, the crepes here are the best I have ever tasted. 7.50 euros for the largest plate of crepes you have ever seen, unfortunately no picture as we ate it immediately, but it was very good. Together with tea, coffee and sandwiches which was 31 euros altogether.

We were definitely full, our next aim was to have a nice slow walk around the centre. To see the sites but also to walk off all the food we had just eaten, we went into a few churches and something struck me.

It may be because I don’t know to much about Christianity or what the purpose is behind all the intricate designs. However I have been to a few churches in the UK and Europe and I have found the Europeans use more intricate and more meaning designs on their walls.

Is that a culturally significant decision or something else entirely, again it may be because I don’t know much of the inner workings of Christianity. Perhaps it is because of the divide between Protestants and Catholics or something else.

church-04church-03

We left the area and walked into a huge open area, flanked by the national library to the left and the natural history museums in front. We checked out the visitor of Papyrus from Egyptian times to the Italian and Austrian renascence.

The entry was free however we didn’t spend too much time as we were feeling hot, we left and head out to the front of the natural history museum where there is a huge open park. We stay and relax in the sun, enjoying the rays and just generally recharging our batteries from the long walk.

We talked about Austrian history and their rise to a world power before their decline in World War 1 and then their reinvention into their current modern day stylish culture.

We walked further down to Leopold museum, the plaza before it was large, open and very polished. Several large buildings dominated the area, from a opera house to Leopold museum.

museum

We found a museum to the best pictures of 2015, lots of powerful images here. From the Syria crises to sports, many beautiful and poignant images here. We were provided with books on all the images chosen for 2015, which was for free.

At this point we walked back down to the centre of town, via a very lovely park. Walked past a fashion shoot, a man posing with a cigarette, trying to appear cool. Ali and I had a laugh at it before moving on and back to the centre.

park-92

We left, and ate out last full meal in Vienna, having not eaten anything proper since the breakfast we were starving, a cake, and tea was the order which we consumed quickly!

We took our last look of central Vienna before heading on the train back to the airport, a sad moment as we were leaving however we had amazing time in the centre of European opera.

Thank you so much for the wonderful birthday present Ali! 🙂

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