It took me an excruciatingly long time to write this because I forgot to save it as draft the first time. Sigh.
Travelled to Vienna as part of my Christmas Central Europe adventure !
Vienna, as the city of music, was voted one of the best cities to live in. Upon arriving in Vienna, we couldn't help but agree with the rankings.
The streets were clean, the buildings were mostly cream coloured and there was just this really comfortable, neat and refreshing touch to the city.
Everything just looked in order, and extremely in place. Although, it does remind me a little of Melbourne. Which isn't much of a surprise since Melbourne is voted one of the best cities to live in too.
We were there after Christmas so there were still quite some decorations and post-Christmas sales going on.
Our first stop was to have a late lunch at the renowned Cafe Central.
A step into the cafe and we were greeted by rows and rows of delicate pastries, waiting to be indulged by hungry tourists. The cafe was crowded and a little squeezy, but we didn't have to wait long for a seat (though the line looked long outside)
We ordered mains and desserts, trying to block out the fact that the prices were in Euros.
Beef liver, which really wasn't much to my liking.
After being served by a not-so-friendly waiter and tasting the food, we concluded that there is only one reason why this place is popular.
Tourist flock this cafe because of the historical events that happened here, and the beautiful interior of the building. The food wasn't too bad, but it wasn't good either. The service was horrible. The waiter was extremely rude and rolled his eyes at us multiple times. Due to that, we didn't want to tip him much, but when he saw the amount of our tip, he walked away with a huff without even taking our tip ! Another waiter later came along and told us to be more generous. What.
Personally found Cafe Central very overrated.
Imperial Palace (Hofburg) which was the Habsburg's preferred winter residence back in the day. The whole palace was massive. There were parts of it where I wasn't sure if I was in it, or out of it.
More amazing architecture.
Everything was just beautiful.
Didn't manage to get into the buildings but there is a museum in one of the buildings where they display Empress Elisabeth (Sisi)'s possessions. More on the Empress later !
Jumpshots on the lawn.
Most European cities have Christmas markets that go on all the way till New Years Eve and Vienna wasn't any different. According to the locals, they mainly have markets at the Imperial Palace during winter (winter residence), and main markets at the Schonbrunn Palace during summer. Apparently there is a large scale market at Schonbrunn every year around Easter. Oh how I wish I can be there !
Potatoes with cheese, corn, ham, drizzled with sour cream.
It was cold when we were there so this was dabombdiggiditz.
For the first time, I witnessed someone trying to pickpocket at the night market. I happen to be in line queuing for the potatoes when I looked straight at a dodgy looking man with a hand in a woman's bag. Seeing that I noticed him, he immediately pulled his hand out and walked off like nothing happened. Its not like I haven't been warned about this before either, I have met many people who lost their belongings. So its important to pay extra attention to your belongings, or take extra effort to hide it !
Imperial Palace at night was as beautiful as it is in the day.
Street performers here play the harp !
I know Austria is a wealthy country but wow, this is my first time seeing someone play a harp. It made the whole place a really European and dreamy atmosphere. What a beautiful city this is.
If you are walking on the streets of Vienna in the day, you will definitely be approached by men in long robes, advertising about their Viennese orchestra performances. Personally, as someone who has learnt music, I think their orchestra performances is a MUST-GO in Vienna. It may a little bit pricey but it will be worth it. You're in the city of music after all !
There are always two venues where they have the performances. One in the Hofburg Imperial Palace, and another in Schonbrunn Palace. Since we have been to the Imperial Palace, we chose the one at Schonbrunn, which wasn't in the city centre, but easily accessible by underground.
Ochestra at the orangery.
This venue was originally an indoor garden for one of the royalties. We bought average seats, around the middle, and it costed us 60Euros, but it was so worth it ! Before the concert started, we managed to squeeze some time to walk around the Christmas market in Schonbrunn. It was evidently much smaller than the one at Imperial. Originally, we planned to leave for Budapest the very next morning, but because we haven't had time to cover Schonbrunn, we changed our train schedule to the evening instead.
Some advice for tourists thinking of going to the Schonbrunn Palace, the garden surrounding it is free and I really suggest either a whole day at the garden, or at least half a day. There is also one of the world's oldest zoo located in the premises of the Palace. Apart from that, if you are looking to enter the Schonbrunn Palace, it would be beneficial to pre-book your tickets online. We didn't know that and thought we could purchase it on the spot. Bad idea.
I want to say that the line is long, but the fact is, there was no line. There was so many people, that everyone just squeezed to the front of the electronic ticket machine. After you successfully squeeze through hundreds of tourists, you would think you can enter the palace ? No. Waiting time to enter the palace can take up to 2 hours. We didn't know that beforehand, and almost missed our train to Budapest. Thankfully, the staff at hand were kind enough to schedule our visit a little earlier.
Regretfully we didn't manage to roam around the garden for too long but it was really the kind of beautiful maze you want to get lost in.
One of Empress Sisi's fountains.
The Schonbrunn Palace itself looked magnificent. The amazing weather that day was a bonus too.
The best part of Vienna I would definitely say.
View from the fountain.
Problem with jump shots.
Fun facts about the Schonbrunn Palace and Empress Sisi :
- Some room took millions of dollars just to restore.
- Flickering candles in one of the main rooms are actually Swarovski lights that turns off and on for a millisecond.
- Empress Sisi gambles, smokes and has tattoos.
- She was 172cm but weighed no more than 50kgs.
- She has such long hair that it takes a whole day to dry it. She has to dry it lying down because the weight of her long hair would break her neck.
- She was extremely vain and suffered under the pressure of being beautiful. Every castle she lived in has a gym (We're talking about early 19th century here). She would literally do everything, or not eat anything just to maintain her weight.
Vienna is really worth the visit albeit expensive. Ignoring the fact that everything is priced in Euros, the things are not too expensive. The light coloured buildings and Schonbrunn Palace are one of my favourite things about Vienna. My least favourite ? Viennese service. Apparently, it wasn't just Cafe Central. I found out later, that Viennese customer service does not include being nice to the customers.
My friends and I stayed at Meininger Hotel Wien Downtown Franz and we only did so as it wasn't very expensive and near the underground station. Nevertheless, it was far from the city centre, and the service we experienced there was the worst. The staff were rude and unhelpful at times, leaving us dumbfounded. Due to the bad service, we couldn't even get internet access the whole time we stayed there. One of the worst accommodations we stayed at during our whole Central Europe trip.
Apart from that, everything else in Vienna was just phenomenal. I can totally picture myself living there. Now all I need to do is learn some German. Danke !