“Slow down you crazy child”, I listen to this song in 13 Going on 30 while tearing up because Matt will marry and Jenna couldn’t do anything about it. After the movie is over it doesn’t only leave me the strong believe that at 30 I will be flirting and thriving and a happy ending that adds up to my hopeless romanticism but also an obsession with a new song.
It seems written directly for me; mentioning my anxiousness and fear for the future “If you’re so smart tell me why are you still so afraid”, and also pointing out my tendency of wanting to do everything today, now: “You’ve got so much to do and only so many hours in a day“. Of course, it also gives me a solution to everything, the answer to the big question:
“When will you realize Vienna waits for you?”
That’s all it took for me to become fixated that someday, somehow I had to visit that city in Europe, a continent that seem like a platonic love back then at 12.
I would love to say that my love for Vienna was ignited by it’s history, it’s music and artists… but no. I learned about all those months and years later and even though they were great points I must be honest with all of you. Vienna was stuck in my head long before I became a fan of Gustav Klimt’s mastering of the gold foil.
And well, Vienna waited for me and contrary to what’s expected of a love based on ideas, pictures and others’ opinions when the encounter became reality there was no disappointment but the affirmation that dream cities do exist and Vienna is one of them.
Day 1 begins after a long long flight all the way from Hong Kong where I said “see ya” to Paul and a long 11 hour layover in Taoyuan airport which was better than expected. I landed safely and even before landing I was already impressed by Vienna
because of the sight outside my window. After a confusing start at the airport I get to my AirBnB; in the way I bought my (savior) local chip with internet and discovered a kebab place just in front of my temporary home for the following 4 days. I showered, felt renewed and ran back outside to buy a falafel sandwich and mineral water at the supermarket, headed to the park close by the U-banh station and had my first meal while enjoying the sunshine and the view. (First meal price: 4€)
After this I took the U4 line to Schönbrunn and bought the complete tour at student price after explaining why my student ID was all in Mandarin and my birth year 85 (Chinese year). While waiting for my turn to enter to the palace I walked around the gardens and understood why Paul insisted so much on me going for a run through them: they are massive and impressive. Just going around the gardens could take you a couple of hours. After going around the palace with the (very useful) audioguide I headed down to the city center and started the exploration.
I started at Stadtpark and then planned on heading to Austria’s Opera but all of a sudden I bumped into the huge Stephansplatz and forgot wherever I was going. Let me try to explain… You’re walking through Vienna’s street appreciating the architecture when BOOM! a massive church is blocking your whole sight. I entered and walked around for a bit recognizing the smell that represented God during all my childhood (incense and burning candles). Around Stephansplatz I find myself surrounded by guys dressed in fancy “concert” costumes and before I understand what’s going on I’m approached by one. They’re selling concert tickets and without much effort he gets me to buy one for tomorrow’s function. How to say no to a classic concert in Vienna?
I walked more and more and ended up in a nice restaurant eating a traditional Viennese dinner (or so the person in front of me recommended): unfiltered beer, liver schnitzel and potato salad (with no mayonnaise and a bit of vinegar).
Walking walking walking… Beautiful sunset at 9:30pm and headed back home. Even though I have already experienced the long summer days in Germany two years ago, I can’t stop being amazed when it’s 8pm and the sun is still out.
Day 2 begins really early (thanks to jetlag) and by 7:30am I’m going out for a run to Schönnbrun’s gardens. The slowest 5km I’ve ever ran since I stop here and there for some pictures, in addition to a hill that gave me a great view of Vienna’s center.
So, after yesterday’s dinner being almost three times as expensive as my normal Taipei (nice) dinner I know Vienna is no place to always eat out… Supermarket becomes a saviour and I go to do some grocery shopping for the breakfasts and snacks of the next days. I pack myself with cheese, eggs, bread, hummus, etc and make my breakfast which I devour after having run with no early snack in my tummy.
Today’s plan is based in the city center. I start with the Leopold Museum which has a good collection of Klimt’s (including Life and Death) and a bigger one of Schiele’s work and history. This museum has five floors from which the first one has temporary exhibitions, the second and third are a coffee shop and souvenir shop and the fourth and fifth are Leopold’s personal collecion. I visit three other art galleries displaying mostly modern art and then walk around the Austrian library and end up in Rauthaus.
I go back home since I had forgotten my ticket for the concert and even though the plan was picking the ticket and going straight back for a dessert and coffee I somehow ended up trapped in my bed (oh, poor me) and taking a 30 minute nap that lasted 2 hours. I wake up and see the hour 7:48pm, the concert starts at 8:00pm. I run around the house washing my teeth, brushing my hair, grabbing my things and race to the metro. I run inside the surprisingly quiet and empty venue just to find out no concert is held in there tonight. I check my Google Maps expecting the worse and… Oh, I messed up the address but the correct venue is just 5 minutes walking away. I make it on time… For the second song.
I can’t really put into words what is to presence a camera classical orchestra playing Strauss, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Haydn, add to that ballet and opera. I felt like in a dream and the whole concert was surreal. The musicians interacted with the public and the acoustics were perfect. I couldn’t ask for more.
It’s 10:30pm by the time I go back outside, I walked a bit around before deciding to go back home. Even though Vienna feels quite safe I prefer not walking on my own on the streets at night (well, Taipei is an exception). Regardless the 2 hour nap by midnight I’m already asleep.
Day 3 begins again at 6:30am but I refuse to leave my bed until it’s already 8:00am. I skip today’s run and jump directly to breakfast. Somehow time flies and by the time I’m out it’s already 10:30am.
Hofburg Palace is the first in today’s schedule and I’m impressed with Sisi’s history. She’s the proof that we can have everything, richness, power, an unconditional love, children, and still be completely unhappy. She married her cousin Franz Joseph, who loved her and devoted to her completely, and became empress of Austria, responsibility from which she ran away and hated the rest of her days until she was assassinated in Italy. Tragic, right?
A couple of sandwiches and art galleries later I end up in Cafe Aida in accross Viena’s Opera and order a cappuccino and Sachertorte. Best. Chocolate. Cake. Ever. I sat there for an hour, read El Amor en Tiempos del Cólera and enjoyed life. There’s some moments in life when time seems to flow smoothly and everything seems brighter and just perfect, this was one of those moments. I continue my reading in a park near by thrown in the grass. I take a selfie to send to my family and then notice some guys staring at me catching me in-fraganti in the act of taking a selfie… I throw my cellphone and cover my tomato red face with the book and pretend nothing happenned. When I check again, it’s 7:00pm and the guys are gone.
I go to Rauthausplatz where a film festival is held every summer. There’s a huge screen in the plaza and people gather around to watch (for free) the film of the night. Tonight is a Rolling Stones concert. I sit down and doodle in a white page while waiting. When the “concert” starts the whole plaza is packed.
Day 4 starts with another jog around Schönnbrun as a goodbye to my royal runs surrounded by a palace, kilometers of bushes, trees and flowers and of course some pretty luxurious fountains. Who wouldn’t like running everyday with such scenery? I eat all I have left of my groceries and pack my bags leaving my Viennese apartment and heading to Wien Hbf to store my luggage.
After this I walk to the Belvedere Museum which is famous for having inside the famous Kiss. It also has many other Gustav Klimt’s works including Judith which is one of my favorites. I stroll down the halls full of art, recognize the also famous Napoleon painting and some Monets. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but I’m not an art intellectual but more of an art passionate. I do know some of the technicisms and some of the history but I don’t have a style or a favorite classic artist… I actually like Klimt sooo much because gold foil art is so hard for me and he’s a master so I greatly admire him. Also, because it was the first artist I studied about in the art studio so it made him special. Anyways… Let’s continue with Vienna.
After Belvedere I ended up starving and decided to walk until I found somejing appealing. The first thing I found though was not food but some art galleries I had not visited and I ended up meeting one of the artists who nicely explained to me his pieces and gave me a personal insight. We exchanged pictures but to my bad luck I don’t recall his name (if you happen to know him, leave me his name on the comments please). I ended up again in Stephansplatz having a bradwurst and an chocolate icecream (beautiful healthy diet). I sat down with my icecream cone and enjoyed the last moments in Vienna, watching the people in the cafes and others walking by under the shade of the cathedral.
I take the train that will take me to the next destination as I cross Vienna from the list with the hope of coming back again someday.
Next destination: Budapest