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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!