Vienna: First Look

Vienna is an epicenter of culture. World class opera, ballet, symphonies, art, museums, castles, gardens – it’s got them all. Its history – both artistic and regular – is rich. Mozart was here. Johann Strauss (dude who wrote all those waltzes and Die Fledermaus) was here, Freud was here, Klimt was here – the list goes on and on. If they had all graffiteid their names on a who’s who wall of Vienna… that would have been cool. (But they have stars of fame on the sidewalk instead.)

IMG_3352 At first, I had only planned to come for a couple days, but I’m glad I decided to stay longer. Five days still wasn’t enough time. I was blown away by everything there is to see in Vienna.

Notice I said see. The food… it wasn’t bad. Goulash and boiled beef reminded us that Vienna is geographically in Eastern Europe, but the prices were closer to Western Europe (and I mean France, not Portugal). Many nicer restaurants had a cover charge of 2-3 euros per person – not the end of the world, but a little annoying.

My favorite food came from the outdoor market Naschmarkt, DO & CO at the Albertina, and Gasthaus zur opera, where I tried traditional Tapelspitz.

This is Tapelspitz
This is Tapelspitz

Tapelspitz, goulash, and Wiener schnitzel are traditional meat dishes typical of Vienna. I had always vaguely imagined that Wiener schnitzel was a kind of sausage for some reason, but it’s actually breaded and fried veal garnished with lemon wedges. Surprise!

Wiener Schnitzel, Vienna, La Vie En C Rose
Wiener is not a goofy word in Vienna – it means Viennese. Somehow it sounds less elegant in German.

“Schnitzel” is more fun to say (I ❤ funny words) than it is to actually eat. I was underwhelmed by the food I tried in Vienna, on the whole.

Even the desserts. Vienna is known for its cakes and pastries. The French word for pastries is “viennoiserie” for crying out loud. But in my opinion, France effortlessly surpasses the city that inspired their croissants and pain au chocolat in terms of dessert.

Demel’s rhubarb apple strudel kicked their Annatorte’s ass. I guess you could say it… took the cake.                        ( ……no? )

Anyway, disappointing desserts couldn’t ruin Vienna. I loved the Schönbrunn palace gardens, the art collection at the Albertina, the quirky and colorful Hundertwasserhaus, and above all, the opera.

IMG_3451 Even so, I couldn’t quite fall in love with Vienna. It was like an eligible bachelor/ette who’s sweet and smart and successful and suave and your head tells you that they’re perfect and you should marry them, but the crazy love drug that makes you want to be with them all the time is missing, so you leave them for your friend that everyone else knew was right for you all along. (That’s how it seems to go down on sitcoms, anyway.)

But friend-zoning aside, I really did have a nice time in Vienna.

Vienna, La Vie En C Rose

Mozart was never much appreciated by Vienna in his lifetime, but boy have they plastered him everywhere since.
View from Sofitel


Maybe you read about these traffic lights? They are real and awesome.

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Is this not the classiest T.G.I. Friday’s you’ve ever seen? And has anyone else noticed that the red and white stripes look suspiciously like the Austrian flag?
Free opera screenings outside the opera house. This one is Wagner. Serious stuff.

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Street art along the river


Maybe there was a little love, after all.

Up next: What to see and what to skip in Vienna.

Have you been to Vienna? What were your impressions of the city?

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