On my flight into Vienna, Austria I mentally prepared myself for another tourist filled city, just in case. Of course I was seriously hoping Vienna would feel a lot more like Zurich than Zermatt but I figured if I kept my expectations in check I’d be able to avoid the crushing frustration that came with my arrival at Zermatt. In the end, all that preparation was for naught…I almost immediately fell in love with Vienna. Yea, love. My infatuation for Vienna even put Zurich in second place.
My first day was spent bouncing from trains to planes to AirBnB rooms…and eating out! My credit card had felt the misery of expensive Switzerland food for months so I was a little too excited about eating out in Austria. I did not cook a single thing while I was “playing my tourist card” at the end of my trip to Europe. It was glorious…
I had big plans for a few morning runs around the city but they never happened, instead I indulged in long hot showers and headed out for a few long days of walking around the city. I easily hit 7-10 miles of walking each day…without getting bored or running out of things to look at. The city was amazing.
I decided to jump right in with my tourist card and headed directly to the Schonbrunn Palace for an audio tour followed by aimlessly wandering through the gardens surrounding the park. The masses of people inside the castle was a little much for me [and it was the “off season”…] but the gardens were nearly empty thanks to the chill of fall settling in. I considered a stop by the zoo and arboretum but didn’t have any euros to pony up [no one wanted to take a credit card!] so I opted for a self guided tour of the gardens before I headed downtown.
Once I arrived in the center of the city I sought out the first of many coffee shops/cafes I’d stop by while visiting Vienna. Of course I walked around to see the main sights of the city but when my phone needed a recharge and my fingers got cold I snuggled up with a hot latte and random pastry based upon the baristas recommendation. After all, I was on vacation and all the food was cheaper here than in Switzerland!
In all honesty my days and Vienna seemed to blend together. Looking back I can’t say on Day 1 I did this, then on Day 2 I did that…because I spent three days doing essentially the same thing: roaming the city without a specific goal in mind but with an open mind and wandering eyes. I found so many cool things throughout the city. Long, empty cobblestone alleys leading to river overlooks and beautiful streets lined with stone buildings. I didn’t realize I could actually love a city for being a city until I spent a few days in Vienna. It’s a touristy city, for sure, but it’s also a functional capital of a country so it’s not completely overrun with selfie sticks.
I actually ended up adding an extra day to my stay in Vienna simply because I wasn’t ready to leave and the strangers + AirBnB hosts that I did chat with told me Prague was even better than Vienna so I made some trip adjustments. I opted to forgo my trip up to Cesky Raj and add an extra night in Prague. Partly because I was loving Vienna and partly because the chilly, overcast days did not make dreary mountain hiking sound appealing. There’s a reason November is considered the “off season” in Eastern Europe, it gets cold…a lot like November in the Midwestern US. Beautiful when the sun decides to come out but worthy of four jackets when the sun is hiding!
At the end of my three days in Vienna one thing really stuck with me — the entire city is filled with ancient, beautiful stone buildings. Everywhere I went [within the city center area] was cobblestone streets and buildings made up of massive stone blocks. Or at least that’s how it looked, there’s a chance a lot of it was restored to look that way but I’m sticking in my fantasy land of “it’s all stone!” because it makes me happy and ignorance is bliss.
Will I go back? In a heartbeat, twice. My next trip will probably only involve one day of city wandering before I head outside to city limits to see more of the country but I would go back without hesitation. Heck, I’d go out of my way to fly into Vienna just for chance to wander the streets again. I’ve never had this feeling about a city before…it’s weird and I feel like I’m cheating on my mountain love but go to Vienna and experience it for yourself, it’s real!