We made it to the city famous for the sweet sounds of Mozart’s music, orchestras and perhaps Arnold Schwarzenegger accents. This is a stunningly beautiful place, rich in history, music and grand architecture. There are countless museums and landmarks that prove why it is a world-class city. Here you’ll find many extravagant buildings, constructed in tribute to God, the rulers, or simply to the very rich. In Vienna there’s always something eye catching around the next corner!
We hopped off the bus and checked into our funky hostel. I’ve heard a lot about Wombats, and was glad I finally got to stay in one! We had 4 nights here, and it was the perfect place to enjoy a little extra down time. This hostel had surfing stations, a communal chill out area and a bar with live music and different entertainment every night. After settling in we set off on our first excursion, an introductory guided Walk & Fork tour. Discover Vienna walked us through the streets of the Austrian capital, delving into its history as we passed one ornate palace and baroque building after another. This was a great way to orientate ourselves in the city, and we finished off our first night in a traditional Austrian restaurant eating a delectable pork schnitzel and apple strudel.
Right outside our hostel was the Naschmarkt, a daily outdoor market hall with colourful food stands and stalls of various delicacies. They had an assortment of weird and wonderful favoured nuts and dried fruits, and the best falafel wraps for only €3. On Saturdays this place turns into one of the best flea markets in all of Europe. The area is transformed into a parking lot of hundreds of old antiques, knick-knacks and records.
The concept of vintage is on a whole new level when in a country with such a rich history. I found myself gazing through hundreds of antique family photos, love letters and old memorabilia. My most notable souvenir yet was found at this market; a 109-year-old post card addressed to Marietta from the town of Innsbruck. The image of the postcard was taken of Vienna State Theatre in 1908, written in the most beautiful longhand. I couldn’t understand any of it as it was written in German, so took it to the guys at Wombat’s reception to see if they could translate any of it. Unfortunately it included a lot of olden time colloquial language they didn’t recognise, and the cursive was impossible to decipher. So instead I created an elaborate story in my head about the woman Marietta who never received her letter.
Our experience of attending the Opera was a definite highlight of this city. If you appreciate music or any live performance, you can’t pass up a show while you’re here. Unfortunately, some tickets may sell out months before the world class shows, and they can set you back anywhere between €40-€150. But if you’re not too fussed with seats, then you can bag a bargain with some extremely cheap standing spots, which the Opera sells 90 minutes before the show. Hop in the queue at the special ticket office on Operngasse and be prepared to wait a while. You can grab a spot inside on the balcony, gallery or parterre for only €3! Now, this place is not for the scruffy looking backpacker, so leave your ripped jeans at home or you will be sent back. Bring a scarf to tie on the rail and reserve your space once you’re up.
We headed up to the balcony and settled in to our nosebleed standing position to overlook the extravagant theatre. The orchestra was as skillful as you can imagine, a truly world class performance. I felt like an extra in an old Bond movie standing high above the gallery. Watching the show transcended me a journey of love, lust and treachery with magical Nymphs and Giants at Das Rheingold. Each standing spot had it’s own screen to translate the story in English in front of you. Unfortunately, the show was short lived as Jake went to the toilet and never came back. I got a text halfway through Act 1 reading that he couldn’t get back inside after leaving, ha! That said, the 45 minutes we did get to see was enjoyable. The regulated rules here can be intimidating, but I respect the uptight nature of it all and understand this is a place well steeped in its formal tradition. It all adds to the travelling experience!
I love the feeling of being immersed in a culture somewhere that’s so different from home. I had a blast getting to know a little more about this city other than its grand architecture. On the surface Vienna is traditional and elegant; but digging a little deeper you’ll find it’s bursting with imperial history, the people are trendy and bohemian, and it’s an offbeat and absolutely epic place to travel!