Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to Vienna International Airport. Local time is 17:30 and the temperature is 14 degrees celsius.
On behalf of captain and the entire crew, I’d like to thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again in the near future. Have a nice stay!
Phew, I said to myself as I heard this announcement. This Easyjet flight was far from anything easy. In fact, it was on the contrary. Ill mannered, impolite airport staff, fuel related issues and delayed flight were among some pleasantries on offer. Anyways, once off the plane, I and my friend Surbhi (Or Singhal as she might be referred further on here) took some moments to understand how to reach our hostel. And thus started our interactions with the nice people of Vienna.
Reaching the city from the airport
There are, apart from Taxi and personal transport, 3 ways of reaching the city from the airport which we identified.
- Airport bus (8 Euros)
- City Airport Train or CAT (10 Euros)
- Sub-Urban train or S-Bahn (3.9 Euros if you don’t have valid travel ticket, 1.7 Euros otherwise)
It was easy to understand which ticket we have taken. Since we took 3-day travel pass, we got the S-Bahn ticket for 1.7 Euros and the 3-day pass for 13.3 Euros.
Once onboard the train S-7, we received help from a gentleman who told us where we could get off before he calmly got off the train. We stopped at Landstraße station, from where we went to Kettenbrückengasse to finally reach Naschmarkt, the location of a fabulous street market by the same name and our hostel right opposite it, called the Wombats.
Wombats City Hostel -The Naschmarkt
I had previously stayed at Wombats in Munich and that had been the basis of choosing this hostel. Singhal had made the choice of this one over another from the franchise based in Vienna, and I am glad now that she did so.
The reception area was fabulous and that somehow meant for a good start to the evening. We had a 4 bedroom dorm and the room was very nice and cozy. We just settled in, changed into comfortable clothes and were out again exploring the streets of Vienna!
We went to see Michaeler-Platz and ended up at Maria-Theresien-Platz. How? Because one they are very near and second the Museum of natural history had some very interesting show going for us. We had arrived in Vienna on the last day of a 3-day festival called Wien leuchtet . As part of this festival, the museums were having a lights show going on on their facades. It was amazing to sit there and watch that. And guess what, it was free!
After a while, we went to see the beautiful Hofburg palace or the imperial palace from outside. It indeed was a beautiful sight. It so happened that at this place I heard a man place a particular instrument I don’t recognize. But I will remember the tears his music brought to my eyes. It was in a long time I had heard something so remarkably sweet and soothing. It merited the time we stood there, listening to it.
Meeting the people who made Vienna
Once we had had a little too much of the cold, we went back to our hostel and straight to its bar to grab some drinks. Sunday happened to be the happy hour day on cocktails and that was a joy! Also, we had a chance to spray the Jagerbombs and man, it was fun!
While at this bar, we met two beautiful young ladies named Hannah and Keerit. Was a pleasant surprise they both are currently studying in Paris and hence a chance to meet them is still on. The 4 of us chatted up for some time, before going to enjoy a game of 9 balls and eventually deciding to retire back to our rooms.
While in our rooms, we met two American gentlemen, Rob and Daniel. The first meeting was a brief one since it was quite late and the two of us were on our way to our bed. It was the next morning that we guys had a good chat before heading off for our walking tour.
Free walking tour
(Yes the italics typeface means something)
This was my first walking tour, explicitly mentioned free or otherwise. And it lived up to the expectations. The guide, an experienced and energetic lady really kept the history interesting, mixed with satire, humor, other emotions, happy and sad combined. Learning about Vienna from her side was a sweet, memorable experience.
We went about the streets, heard of hacks for travelers, learned about the Viennese coffee culture. Eventually, the tour culminated at St. Stephen’s cathedral. We did give a donation for such a wonderful tour. And that is why the italics typeface.
Surbhi, I and our American friends then decided to go up the stairs inside the south tower of the cathedral, an idea which always has pleased me for I have loved scaling these iconic towers (Seville, Florence, Vienna). Breathing breaks and pauses led to the culmination of the climb and a good view of the city. After getting back down, we parted ways for the afternoon.
Der Wiener Deewan
After parting ways, we made our way, via the U-Bahn to Schottentor tube station. There we had a delicious lunch at a lovely, unique restaurant called Der Wiener Deewan. The food was Indian, it had all the favorites on offer, including Sooji ka halwa, an absolute favorite. Why I say this restaurant to be unique is because of the way you pay there. It is a concept called ‘Pay as you please’. I wonder if we two Indians could have figure out the price of something so priceless.
I will remember Der Wiener Deewan for reasons beyond the food, though. We met two beautiful ladies while we had our food, Vesna and Alexia. I have, over the time spent in Europe, have a had softer spot for the people of Austria. I also am of the opinion that the Austrian women are the prettiest and the loveliest of the lot. The meetings were a further proof of that. We got to learn things about Vienna, where to go for the best traditional food, where to grab beautiful sights. Been able to stay in touch with someone does make me feel glad.
After we were done and full, we took another U-Bahn before taking a bus to go to the 19th district of Vienna, to a hill called Kahlenberg. We spent the next couple of hours there, enjoying the view of Vienna from far and the vineyards. Someday, I hope to return there and enjoy a coffee with no clouds and loads of light. It was beautiful.
We met our fellow Americans and enjoyed a private concert show. I won’t talk much about it here. While you are in Vienna, you should go and enjoy one of these shows. It moves your soul and makes you want to close your eyes and go somewhere, lost with someone, dancing under the starlights. I again fell in love, for the second time in the day, with the violinist named Paulina! Beautiful doesn’t even come close to defining her. I think I am still smitten a little.
Drinks, Spraying the Jager, and a lovely evening
We four got back to Wombats and hit the bar. The next rounds of drinks were fun, we played Uno and the French card game called President. Previous evening Surbhi had sprayed the Jagerbombs, tonight was my turn. It is one of the best ways to prepare your bombs! We slept late, wished Rob and Daniel goodbyes, and left for Krakow next day in the afternoon with hoards of memories and love for the lovely people of Austria and Vienna.
Long post, but a swift ending. Unfortunately, Vienna and the other cities we visited on this trip will be hard for a novice to capture in one blog. So I suggest you back your bags, book your tickets, and experience Vienna yourself. Bon voyage!