Thursday, 12 September 2019

Solo Trip To Vienna. Part 2

cycling tour across vienna and castle schoenbrunn

After two awesome days, my solo trip in Vienna continued with another two jam-packed days.

Day: 3 Watching Life Go By


My first stop of the day was the Hundertwasser House in the northeast of the city. I spend a great amount of time here, mainly admiring the architecture from the outside and wandering through the several themed cafes and souvenir shops. The shops were all different and competitive in pricing, but I found the best one to be inside the Hundertwasser Village where I got a few postcards and a replica print.

The Hundertwasser House itself is a residential building so you won’t be able to go inside and have a look around. I've completely forgotten that there’s an actual museum just down the road. Bummer! But I guess that one will be on the list for another time. After that, I walked back into town to see the Astronomical Clock at Hoher Markt which is a bit unnoticeable at first and you could easily miss it. It reminded me of the clock in Prague and there’s another one in Bern which is similar.

Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna
Astrological clock Hoher Markt Vienna

Next on my sightseeing list was a a visit to the Prunksaal at the National Library, one of the most inspiring and elaborate librarys in the world. It is located next to the Spanish Riding School, so I was also able to pick up my ticket for tomorrow’s performance. Luckily it was early in the day and I nearly had the Prunksaal all to myself. There’s something magical about a room full of books and the marbled floor was insane!

After my visit, I was mysteriously drawn into a bookshop and bought myself a book and a fashion magazine. With both under my arm, I spend the rest of the sunny afternoon at Café Hofburg, which is located past the Spanish Riding School. I must have sat there for like 2h, enjoying the sun, a nice slice of classic German strawberry cake and a hot chocolate topped with cream and pistachio sauce. I would flick through my magazine, but to be honest, I had a prime spot for people watching and I just couldn’t resist observing the tourists. In the late afternoon I strolled over to the Volksgarten, took more pictures and got back to the hotel. It was one of those early warm summer evenings with no care in the world and I spend a bit of time at the hotel to relax and charge my phone.

Prunksaal National Library Vienna
cake and hot chocolate served at cafe hofburg in vienna
opera house and volksgarten vienna
solo trip to vienna prunksaal

Later that evening, I was back on the road towards the Prater and I let out my inner child and passion for playgrounds. I had the best time ever, because I haven’t felt that happy in a very long time and I felt all the stress and worries from London were suddenly lifted off my shoulders. I ate candy floss and marshmallow waffles, went on the chain merry-go-around twice until I got sick, I found a Langos stand hidden away inbetween the car dodgems and watched other people enjoying the rides whilst it got slowly dark. All in all a perfect end to a wonderful day.

Day 4: Freestyle Cycling Tour


I can’t stress enough how uber cool my hotel in Vienna was. It was not only a converted office house with hammocks and walk-in showers, its own bakery and a laidback hipster atmosphere, it also offered hotel guests the opportunity to rent either a vespa or a bike to explore the city. How cool is that?

Unfortunately, it had cooled down a lot that day, so taking a vespa was out of the question. Nevertheless, I wanted to get some exercise done anyway after eating all the apple strudel the previous day, so reception gave me the keys for one of their cream bikes. It was easy to maneuver and it had a small basket at the front to hold my bag. Excellent!

I started the day as early as possible as I wanted to make the most out of it. My first stop was the Spanish Riding School as I had prebooked tickets for the 11am performance. My seat was very high up on the second ranks, so to see the performance I had to stand up and lean over the balustrade.The performance itself was on for one hour and, to be honest, it was slightly underwhelming. I didn’t expect much, but at least to see a few riding techniques. It’s weird because I’m aware it’s not a circus. It’s Austrian tradition but then I kept questioning the whole procedure, as well as costs involved for breeding the horses and their “education” and what greater good it is meant to serve. It didn’t make much sense to me to dressage horses like that with war jumps and training them those unnatural movements. They do stress over and over again it’s not done for show or for profit but I’m sure they do all of this purely for the entertainment of tourists as the performances are pricey. I spend too much time overthinking all of this and the more I saw, the more bizarre I found it.

Spanish Riding School performance hall vienna
spanish riding school vienna stables horse equipment
vienna spanish riding school stable

After the performance, I went on a guided tour around The Stables which was equally disappointing. The tour guide spoke rudimental English, barely provided any useful information and it felt like a big show off. Would I recommend it? It is certainly part of Austrian tradition and advertised as THE top attraction to see and do whilst you’re in Vienna but personally, I felt it was a huge tourist trap and time can certainly be spend better in the city.

Anyway, it was time for the obligatory cake. The ideal place for today turned out to be Café Mozart opposite the Albertina. The traditional Austrian coffee house served mushroom risotto for lunch and nice cakes. NOW, I uncovered a little cake scandal here. Nearly all cafes in Vienna are served by the same cake provider. The menu is exactly the same in style in layout, as are the cakes. Café Hofburg, Café Mozart the Café at Schönbrunn all serve cake from Landtmann Pattiserie. The only place that offered their own cakes during my time in Vienna, seemed to be Café Central.

To digest this little scandal I roamed the souvenir shops by the National Library and wasted a good amount of time looking at cheap Klimt replicas and porcelaine Lippizaner sculptures. I then had the idea to freestyle cycle around and just see where my intuition would lead me. The Mariahilfer Strasse looked intriguing so I cycled it up with its leafy pedestrian, shops and very nice restaurants. The street is pretty long and I made a note to myself to check it out properly on my way back. I further ended up cycling past the West Station, some dodgy residential area and the technical school for applied science and just like that ended up at Castle Schönbrunn.

vienna city of horses

When I got there, it was already late afternoon so I was aware I wouldn’t be able to do a full tour and see the entire castle. I got myself a ticket for the Imperial Tour which covered half of the place and to be honest, it was enough. The rooms were very bland and underwhelming and my digital tour guide died a few times so it made no difference walking around from one room to another as they all looked the same. Bleak rooms with boring wallpaper and little furniture, there wasn’t much to see and there were hoards of tourists. The castle closed around 6pm, so I spend the rest of my time wandering around the huge garden area and walked up the hill to the Orangerie Gloria. From there you have fantastic views over the castle and Greater Vienna.

As planned, on my way back into town, I stopped at a super nice Burger place on Mariahilfer Strasse. I loved that street as it was a very long shopping street with interesting architecture, leafy trees along the way and an easy to cycle smooth road (mostly pedestrian). The burger place called Le Burger is a small chain with two restaurants across Vienna. The inside was an Instagrammer's dream full of swings and green lush plants. The burgers itself were delicious and the menu offered a wide range of flavour combinations. One quirky highlight was certainly their sauce bar which offered unusual flavours such as blueberry ketchup. It was a very laidback and interesting place and the barman even started a conversation with me and insisted to make me a bespoke mocktail.

le burger in vienna
le burger restaurant in vienna
le burger sauces stand in vienna

After dinner I decided to end the day as I had ended the others: at the Prater. As on my first evening I got a bit carried away so I found a path along the Danube river and really got the cycling bug. I must have ridden a good while when I lost sight of the fairground towers from the Prater and I was actually miles away from it. Once I arrived at its station I went a few rounds on the chain carrousel before the fairground closed for the day.

At 11pm, I cycled back through the warm summer night. Could have taken the route around the centre but decided to go straight through it and past all the attractions and sights and familiar streets for one last time. To end the day I enjoyed a homemade coconut and lavender lemonade at the hotel.

coconut lemonade served at hotel daniel in vienna

My first solo trip to Vienna was incredible and I would have never imagined I would have such a great time by myself. I had no restrictions and was completely free in doing whatever I wanted without anyone moaning or complaining. I was not tied to a schedule and found a great balance of relaxing and sightseeing. My personal highlights of my Vienna city break are:
  • Traditional Apple Strudel at Café Central
  • Fairground Prater
  • Art Collections, such as Castle Belvedere or Albertina
  • Central Vienna with its stunning buildings and architecture
  • Discovering the city by bike 
  • Prunksaal at the National Library
  • My meal at Le Burger
  • My stay at Hotel Daniel & its lovely staff
  • Enjoying seeing so many horses in one place

apple strudel served at cafe central in vienna

There you go, this was pretty much everything I got up to on my little trip to Vienna from last summer. Vienna has deeply impressed me with its laidback charm, sophisticated cultural flair and delicious cakes. Looking forward to returing one day and exploring more sides of this diverse city.

Thanks so much for reading,
Carolin
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