Austria, Europe, Travel

Being a Culture Vulture in Vienna

Vienna is the most intellectual city I have ever been to. It sounds strange I know, but I felt that the vast wisdom,  arts, and culture that encapsulates the city, seemed to rub off on me. This atmosphere melts into every crevice of you , even if you try to ignore it. Strolling through the city you feel as if you are in a walking museum, with extravagant architecture that stands supreme and with each turn, you are welcomed with the sight of majestic palaces and intricate churches. Innovative museums are a plenty and Vienna is also of the most musical cities in the world. Being the birth place of so many fantastic composers and musicians, sipping your aromatic coffee in a cosy coffee house you’d expect to make eye contact with the next Mozart or Beethoven, whilst tucking into your creamy cake.

As well as it being a monumental and fine city filled with historical grandeur, it is also a very liveable one. Filled with bistro pubs that dish out humongous portions of warm hearty meals and boasting a night life that combines the past with new cutting edge music, Vienna is not what you would expect on first sight. I came here for a few days on a short trip with my mum. I remember it well because we had recently gone to Budapest and I was extremely excited to see more from this area of Europe- Vienna was also the first place I started ordering wine with my dinner (which tasted so much better than standard soft drinks!)

The most memorable religious sight in Vienna is the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece which is as of high importance and value to Vienna- like the Dom is to Cologne, or the Sacre Coeur is to Paris. It’s intricate design is breathtaking, but so is Vienna’s stunning palaces- so expect to be blown away the entire time you are here! Another church to marvel at is The Votivkirche, but a must see is the Schloss Schonbrunn Palace and the Hofburg, a symbol of Austria’s heritage and culture like no other. Many of  Vienna’s prestigious palaces are home to world famous exhibitions on artists work, such as the Albertina- which once was used as imperial guest apartments and now hosts paintings from the likes of Monet and Picasso. Belverdere Palace, with its impressive architectural design (as well its perfectly manicured gardens) hosts the world’s largest Klimt collection, with famous paintings like “The Kiss” to be seen. (Sneaky pictures when the guard wasn’t looking to be posted soon). Some other great art Museums are the Leopold Museum– which hosts the world’s largest collection of Efon Schiele paintings, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum which is filled with art from centuries long ago.

Vienna

As I said before, another aspect of culture that is inherent to the city of Vienna, is the art medium of music. Visitors can learn about various forms and styles of music in places like Haus De Musik, or if you would like to pay tribute to Mozart, pop into his old residence, the Mozarthaus Vienna, where he once lived. To experience the classical music Vienna prides themselves on so well, there is no better way than attending a concert or event that illustrates this. Visiting Vienna in Ball Season is an obvious bonus as one can see the dainty ladies and suited men ascend onto spectacular venues to be spellbound by the power of music, however attending a show at the Staatsoper or the Spanish Riding School is equally as wonderful.

As I said before, portions in Vienna are wholesome and plentiful. During our stay we were recommended restaurants by our hotel which epitomised Vienna’s heritage and locality through food. Trying delicacies like Schnitzel and roast pork, we dined in candle lit restaurants filled with ageing oak and dusty bottles of wine. Reinthaler is cheap, Margareten Beisl serves lunch in a wonderful atmosphere and Brezl Gwolb is my firm favourite because its a real local’s choice with no English menu,  accompanied with a magical atmosphere that sets the tone as if to say you were in Vienna’s best kept secret. Vienna is the world’s largest wine growing capital city and it flows (and tastes) deliciously flavoursome, so if you are an avid fan of exploring rustic wine taverns in a tranquil elegant setting, then head to the Vienna Woods where a number of breathtaking views and great tasting wines go hand in hand.

Coffee houses are very popular in Vienna (much to my mum’s delight and my disappointment), I did feel it to be as popular as when we visited Milan. Rather than drinking on street corners people watching, here, most coffee is drunk inside stylish coffee houses that are wonderful pieces of art themselves (its a running theme in Vienna- I tell you!). Head to Grand Cafe Central to get your caffeine fix under arched ceilings, glittering chandeliers and glossy marble stone pillars. Sperl is another firm favourite because of its equally ostentatious interior and its rich tasting sweet delights.

As this was a trip with my mum (and also me being under age) I did not experience the after dark scene of Vienna. What I have heard about the nightlife is that it manges to combine the grandeur of its archteiture with swanky bars and modern fresh music. Like for example- with the Palffy Club, a two floored venue in a traditional music hall, Porgy and Bess, one of Europe’s best jazz clubs and set in the heart of thriving Vienna, or Le Loft for a view which will make Vienna seem as if a in a snow globe.

Vienna is the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the worlds of art; architecture, and music, as well as sample local cuisine (and wine!) well. What’s not to like?