Just after visiting Salzburg, this quaint snow-capped mountain town where the all-time favourite movie Sound of Music was partially shot, where the city still gets hoards of tourist just to step into the romance between Maria and Capt Vonn Trapp and sing “the hills are alive….” I enter into Vienna.I did not really have any pre-conceived notions, I now perhaps realize how under-researched I was when I entered the city.
Austria being well-known for Mozart and other forms of cultural activates, it made sense to catch a performance either in the form of an orchestra or opera in Vienna. With my debacle in the past, while viewing a ballet performance in London, I was a bit tentative on spending so much money for such an event, while Caro was a bit keen to catching one.
In one of my research moments, I chanced upon a note that the Opera House Theatre’s ticket counter will open a window an hour before the performance to issue tickets for standing viewers. Tickets that were more than 50 times cheaper than normal. After Caro confirmed this with her friend Janet, who calls Vienna her home we decided to take a chance on this rule and not book anything exorbitant beforehand. We did not have the luxury of time, so we had to anyways watch what was playing on that particular day.
My “things to do” in Vienna was 6 pages long, and I knew with the time I had I would have to carefully pick and choose what I wanted to do but as I started the day I felt my enthusiasm in the city waning. It was not exciting me!
First-stop the UNESCO heritage site Schonbrunn Palace before we meet the rest of the group in Naschmarket. The history and development of Vienna all happened within the walls of this famous and stunning baroque-styled palace. The outside was quite not impressive, but the inside was as regal and definitely fit for the king.
It was in Naschmarket where we tried the authentic food of Vienna – everything from pork Schnitzel Weiner to the King’s favourite Tafelspitz almost boiled beef served with loads of fried potatoes!
It was time to try for the standing tickets for the Opera House show! As Caro and I asked around and walked into the back-entry ticket booth only to realize, we were definitely the lucky ones to have met with no queue for a show titled LOHENGRIN. With no idea what to expect in a standing corner, we were not complaining as we got the tickets for 4Euro instead of the usual 40 that it sells for!
A cup of Viennese coffee and a series of pho
to sessions later, we walk into the door eligible for our tickets, fight our way in for good spots in the corner and wait for the traditional Opera to begin.
I was excited, my first Opera… the movie Dil Chaahata Hai’s scene came into my mind;
And then it began; the high pitched notes, the funny looking pillow holding actress running around the stage and somewhere while trying to figure out what the two men were fighting about I gave up and dozed. During the break, I looked at Caro to see if she was enraptured and we both decided to quit Opera when we could!
It was also almost time to meet Janet, who very sweetly took time off her busy schedule to meet Caro after 15 years, and show us around her home country.
First stop Sacher Torte! I really did not know why this place is so famous, but I was aware that I could not leave Vienna without at least tasting this chocolate cake. While Janet and Caro discussed mutual friends, old times and what to pick as the next day’s itinerary, I sat there sipping champagne letting the conversation flow over me.
As we left Sacher Torte, began my true love story with Vienna. Nope not because of the champagne, but because I had the privilege of having a local showing me the city through her eyes.
As the sun went down we walked through the Hofburg Palace Complex, the churches wth so much history, the plazas with beautiful fountains, the parliament when lit, the galleries and other theatre buildings making Vienna the art center during pre and post-medieval periods.
While this city was talked about with great respect, and more sights being pointed out on our walk, I clicked the city by night!
Thank you, Janet for this and for giving me the Vienna I will always remember!
As we were closer to saying goodbye we entered a Viennese Coffee House, which was tucked away from the centre of Stephenplatz, where I the lilting piano music, the lullaby of the many conversations floating around me and the visual joy of the food that arrived will always remain in my memory.
With just one day left in Vienna, a few of us went to see the Belvedere Palace, whose stunning gardens and even more stunning art collection made it worthwhile and the rest went to Prater, an amusement park that has been open since 1766.
My reason for choosing the Belvedere was just the fact they had Klimt’s original art pieces and it did not disappoint!
Could not resist putting the time-line of Vienna which fascinated the history buff in me!
1st-millennium BCE – Vindobona settled.
881 – The Bavarians had their first clash at Wenia with the Hungarians (first mention of Vienna).
1030 – The Hungarians besiege Vienna.
1155 – Henry II, Duke of Austria appoints Vienna as capital city
1160 – St. Stephen’s Cathedral built.
1280 – Jans der Enikel writes the Fürstenbuch, a first history of the city.
1421 – Jews expelled.
1556 – Vienna becomes seat of Holy Roman Empire under Ferdinand I.
1643 – Schönbrunn Palace built.
1684 – Kollschitzky coffeehouse in business
1766 – Prater opens.
1786 – Demel confectionery and Gesellschaft der Associierten founded.
1832 – Sachertorte invented.
1858 – Ringstraße constructed.
1869 – Vienna State Opera house built.
1876 – Hotel Sacher established.
1891 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (art museum) opens
1962 – Vienna S-Bahn begins.
1976 – Vienna U-Bahn opens.
1992 – The biggest AIDS charity event in Europe, the Life Ball begins.
2016 – I visited Vienna