After our wonderful trip to charming Cesky Krumlov, it was time to leave Czechia and head to Austria for a few days in Vienna. Getting to Vienna was our most complicated train journey yet, as we had to make two transfers along the way. First we took a small train to Ceske Budejovice. This journey was actually not covered in our Eurail Global Pass, so we had to buy tickets on board. Luckily they were cheap and only cost about 2 USD/person. At Ceske Budejovice station we had fifteen minutes to catch a connecting train to Ceske Velenice, which was more than enough time. However, we worried about the connection in Ceske Velenice because we only had about five minutes there to board the train to Vienna. Fortunately, the train departing to Vienna was directly adjacent to the platform we arrived on, so it took us no time at all to find the train and board it.
We arrived at Vienna’s main station in the mid afternoon and had to take a street car to get to the AirBnB. We were able to land another private apartment for Vienna for our four nights there. Our host was present to help us check in. While chatting with our host she mentioned that she used to be a professional basketball player who played for Belgrade and Barcelona and got to meet many NBA players along the way! After getting checked in we walked a bit down the street to grab an early dinner consisting of Thai food and then returned back to the AirBnB for the rest of the night.
The next day we continued our tradition of attending free walking tours on our first full day in a city. Although our apartment was not in a very central location, we opted to walk into the main part of Vienna to save money on transportation tickets. Aside from the cold, the walk wasn’t bad and even took us over the Danube River. Our tour wasn’t until the afternoon so we had time to grab a fantastic lunch consisting of salad and pesto pasta from a nearby vegan restaurant called “Veggiezz”. We then headed to the tour area a bit early and got some (extremely overpriced) espresso to sip on while we waited for the tour to begin. Right before the tour started we found a food stand which sold vegan currywurst. This was an amazing find as we had been craving currywurst ever since leaving Berlin.
The tour started not long after and we spent the first 30 minutes or so of the tour trying to eat currywurst while also following and listening to the guide. The tour lasted about three hours with a small break in the middle and took us all around the center of Vienna. All in all this was one of our least favorite walking tours. It was difficult to hear the guide and the information was just not that interesting. I don’t blame the guide necessarily, I just don’t think Vienna as a city interested me very much (especially for the prices). I’m sure if you love classical music and upscale shopping it would be an amazing place to visit, but these are not things I go on vacation for.
After the tour it was almost time for dinner, so we took a metro ride to the south of the city to “Swing Kitchen”, a vegan “junk food” restaurant. There we split a burger, chicken nuggets, fries with spicy pepper sauce, and a lemonade. The meal was spectacularly indulgent, and the best part was we didn’t feel terrible afterwards like we would have if we had eaten “normal” fast food! At this point we were pretty far from home but decided that we would make the hour walk to get back to the AirBnB instead of taking the metro. I am very glad we decided to do this as seeing Vienna at night was beautiful and really improved my opinion of the city.
The next day we got a late start on the day but still decided to venture into the city. We opted to walk again and went across the Danube for breakfast. We settled in at a raw vegan cafe. Now, neither of us are “raw” vegan (raw obviously means that none of the food is cooked at high temperatures), but we were both willing to give this place a chance, even if we were skeptical about it. Abbey got a chai latte with rice milk while I got a cappuccino with house-made cashew milk and we split one of their breakfast platter options. The breakfast platter consisted of one slice raw banana bread with chocolate spread, a berry cup topped with vegan yogurt, one slice of avocado “toast” with lettuce and tomato, and a shot of green juice. The drinks and the food were all delicious and surprised both of us. However, we payed almost 30 EUR for this “meal” that left both of us still hungry. I am glad to have tried a raw vegan restaurant, but I have no plans to return to one based off of the ridiculous prices for essentially raw fruits and vegetables.
After our experimental breakfast we headed over to an outdoor market to wander for a bit. At the market we found a noodle station selling veggie noodles to satisfy our hunger. We didn’t buy anything else at the market but we had a great time wandering the stalls and seeing the various items being sold. We then headed over to the famous Vienna library. There was a small entrance fee to get in, but it was well worth it. The library was amazing to look at and it was covered in beautiful artwork and old maps and globes. Abbey spent most of her time admiring the art and old books while I took a particular interest in examining the maps to see how accurate they were from centuries ago. This was by far my favorite attractions in Vienna and I would recommend that everyone who visits the city to go there.
That evening we returned back to the AirBnB where Abbey prepared a great dinner. We headed back out after dinner to grab a few drinks and went to a great bar on the top floor of a huge hotel. From the top of the hotel you could see the entire city from across the Danube. The ceiling of the bar had a vibrant orange, yellow, and red ceiling that reflected out into the sky when you looked out the windows. While Vienna was not my favorite city, it was great to experience its beauty at night from such a high vantage point.
The next day was Valentine’s Day. We started the day off by going to Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. This is a massive church that sticks out in Vienna’s sky line. We went into the bottom floor of the church where mass was happening due to it being Ash Wednesday. I then decided to climb the 343 stairs to the top of the steeple to get a look at Vienna from above during daylight hours. Abbey wasn’t interested in the climb (she’s discovered a fear of heights while on this trip) and waited for me in a cafe across the street.
Following the Saint Stephens we decided to return to “Swing Kitchen” to grab some lunch. We had enjoyed our first meal from there so much that we essentially ordered the same thing (with a different style of vegan burger) and left just as satisfied. After our late lunch we headed over to the Vienna concert hall. We figured that while in Vienna we should hear Mozart, and what better day to go than Valentine’s Day? We picked up our pre-ordered tickets and went to a nearby cafe to kill some time until the doors opened for the concert.
We did not have very good seats for the concert, but at only 6 EUR per ticket, neither of us were complaining about it. We sat in the balcony and listened to the beautiful performance which lasted just under two hours. The concert was fine, but again, classical music isn’t really my thing. However, I am glad that we went to the concert because I feel it is one of the “must do’s” while in Vienna. We had enjoyed “Veggiezz” restaurant so much that we decided to get dinner there after the concert. We figured that steaks were a good Valentine’s Day meal, so we ordered delicious pepper steaks (made of seitan) to enjoy over red wine.
After our wonderful dinner we returned to the AirBnB and began packing as this concluded our last full day in Vienna. We had a train to catch the next day that would take us to our next destination. Overall, Vienna was one of my least favorite cities to date. It was overpriced and underwhelming. Perhaps I just didn’t “do” Vienna correctly, but I feel as though the city doesn’t offer many things that interest me. Although, the vegan restaurant selection was fantastic. I am fine paying more to visit certain cities, but Vienna didn’t offer as much as other expensive destinations such as Copenhagen. This would not be a place I have any interest in returning to.
If you couldn’t tell by now, neither of us really enjoyed Vienna. The food was absolutely the highlight of the trip and while that’s always a good thing (especially when you’re eating plant-based), it’s disappointing when you didn’t feel like the rest of the city was as interesting. On the other hand, the Austrian National Library was truly a sight to behold. I kept imaging what it would be like to have full access to the library and flip through each and every book. We spent at least an hour and half in there, but I could have spent triple the time just staring at everything. I am also glad that we saw a classical concert – it just seems like one of those things that you have to do while in Vienna, you know?
Our other two cities in Austria interested us much more…