Why Vienna’s Not the Place for Me

I’ll just start by saying this: sorry, Vienna, but I’m entirely unimpressed by you. Returning to my recap of my June 2012 Central Europe trip, we left fairytale-like Prague and headed to city and country number four of the trip: Vienna, Austria.

First impressions were high, arriving at a nice hostel (albeit far more expensive than our other hostels of the trip, at a bank-breaking €17.80 per person per night), where we were greeted by friendly staff with a glass of welcome wine and we settled into our quiet room. But soon we were back on the road to explore the city. We stopped in the train station for a sandwich and then headed toward the city center without any true agenda, passing by plazas, fancy schmancy buildings, and tourist shops.

Hey, this was kind of nice, at least.

Our tour had its pretty moments, and I’m sure if Vienna had been the first place I’d ever been in Europe, the elegant buildings would have had me in awe, but, as it was, nothing stood out. So be it. More interesting was returning to our hotel that night, where we socialized with other hostel guests and watched the Eurocup.

Hey, I found some humor in Sophesticatedbourgeoisland!

On day two, we started at the Schönbrunn Palace, a Hapsburg summer home with expansive gardens. Like most of Vienna, this may have been highly impressive to a Europe novice, but, to us, it seemed like any other palace on the continent, and the gloomy weather and construction work throughout the gardens didn’t help our impressions.

Hooray, another palace.

We wandered back through town, strolling through an outdoor, overpriced market, and then making our way toward one sight that we thought would actually be unique: the modern, eccentric Hundertwasserhaus, an artsy apartment building. Phew, finally something that stood out in this boringly bourgeois city.

All right, I can dig you, Hundertwasser.

Inside the Hundertwasserhaus

From there, my friend and I split up, as she visited an expensive art museum and I slowly meandered back to the hostel, seeing more fancy schmancy buildings and wealthy tourists. The modern shopping street on the way back to the hostel held a bit more appeal to me, especially when I passed an eclectic protest against ACTA.

ACTA protest. My apologies for the profanity, family members.

And that was it for Vienna. If you’re interested in the fine arts, classical music, and opera, and you have money to spend on overpriced food and tickets, perhaps Vienna is the place for you. I don’t mean to hate on it, but it really is a city for wealthy, middle-aged people rather than 20-something post-grads on a budget. I’ve talked to people who have loved the city, and I can see some of the appeal, but if you’re young and on a budget and have no special penchant for bourgeois arts? Skip it, and see other parts of Austria, which I’ve heard are way better.

But, hey, you can’t love every city, and the other five cities on this trip? Fabulous. 5 for 6 — not a bad score.

Next up: Budapest!

11 Responses

  1. Manu says:

    Uptight, annoying AND cheap. I can no longer read this blog.

    • Kirstie says:

      Hahaha, I take it you take your affection for Vienna very seriously? If this is a serious comment, I’m happy to explain why I’m “cheap” (though, sadly, I have no explanation for being “annoying,” and I don’t understand how having slightly negative feelings about one city of the hundreds of been to makes me “uptight”). Thanks for reading my blog! Have a great day!

  2. Gammy says:

    I’m so glad to see it through your eyes! My long ago friend, Franz was from there and was so anxious to get back. He was a war orphen and adopted by a family in Ohio. I hope he gpt back. I’m sure it was very different durimg the WW2 years. An interesting read. Thank you! Love you!

    • Kirstie says:

      I hope he got back too! Yes, I’m sure it was very different back then, when it was less touristy (and very different politically), and I’m sure it would also be different if you were a local or had a local to show you around! Love you very much!

  3. amelie88 says:

    While I enjoyed Schonbrunn Palace and the cathedral, Vienna left me indifferent. I was there in April. It was cold and rained pretty much the entire two days I was there. It was the tail end of my Semana Santa trip and I was tired of traveling and spending so much time with my two friends I had been traveling with. Our hostel was the worst we stayed in during the entire trip. People had raved about its beauty and its culture. I didn’t think the architecture was that great though I have no doubt the museums are amazing. Maybe I need to go back to give it a chance again. I didn’t like Berlin at all the only time I’ve visited but everyone keeps telling me I’m wrong. But I’d rather go back to Berlin first then back to Vienna.

    • Kirstie says:

      Sounds like we have similar thoughts on Vienna, although I did have a great time in Berlin! So much depends on the timing, weather, your mood, etc.

  4. Also underwhelmed by Vienna in 2013. Really need honest bloggers who’ll say what the guidebooks would never tell you. Agree – if you’ve already seen lots of Europe, Vienna doesn’t surprise or dazzle.

  5. Intereting! I love vienna and have been here 5 times in the past few years. I am also a budget traveler and I tend to skip all the touristy expensive stuff. But I.guess it helps I have good friends in this city. It’s always different with a local perspective 🙂

  1. June 4, 2014

    […] As the sun set, we returned to the city’s old town to see the city’s nighttime glow, and the old buildings’ lights and the striated clouds at dusk made Prague a city absolutely worth falling in love with. We took in the night, stopped for Czech Budweisers (completely unrelated to American Budweiser!), and bid farewell to delightful Prague the next morning, headed to our next destination, Vienna, Austria. […]

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