After spending a couple of days in Venice we hopped on a night train to Vienna. The sleeper bunks were all booked, so we ended up in second class seats for the eleven hour ride. It ended up being okay though, because we ended up in a train car that had separate little rooms for the second class seats, and we ended up being the only people in our room, with an entire row of seats for each of us, at least until we started to get close to Vienna.
As we reached the city outskirts the train began to fill up with people commuting to work. When we arrived at the train station in Vienna we hopped onto the crowded subway to get us to our AirBnb rental. The rental was owned by a nice Indian lady who worked as an IT consultant for the World Bank. It was pretty basic accommodations, and it smelled like curry, but it was fairly cheap and conveniently located near a subway station.
During our long train ride to Vienna I had messaged an Austrian friend who was from Vienna about where to get a good Wiener Schnitzel. I knew he wasn’t in town, since he was working on his PhD in the US. But his wife Eun-Young was in Vienna, so we met with her for schnitzels at Figlmüller, the famous restaurant in Vienna that’s been serving schnitzels for more than a century. The schnitzels there were huge and super filling, but surprisingly their mixed salad was pretty awesome too. I don’t think I’ve ever raved about a salad, but honestly I liked it so much I’d consider flying back for it.
Eun-Young showed us around town for a bit– she took us up to a coffee shop at the base of the Alps. There would’ve been a nice view of the city from there, except that it was pretty overcast that day.
She also took us to some sites that are missed by most tourists. There’s an interesting horizontal clock that I missed last time I was in Vienna. She also took us to Vienna University, which had many famous alumni including Erwin Schrodinger whose famous wave equation I’m sure I learned about in physics class in college but now I have utterly no clue what the equation means.
We went to the Christmas market at Rathaus park. The park was packed with people looking at all the decorations and the booths filled with ornaments and foods.
My favorite part of the Christmas market was the Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch) which was warm and fairly heavy with the alcohol, which made it go down even warmer and lifted the spirits. It was nice to walk around with a mug of the stuff admiring all the decorations.
December seems like a great time to visit Vienna. Not only the Christmas markets, but the entire town seemed like it was decked out in Christmas lights and decorations. And even pretty late at night there were tons of people out. That’s another thing that I love about Vienna, it’s probably one of the safest cities in the world to be out at night.
We visited Schonbrunn palace. There was a Christmas market there too, though by now we were kinda done with the Christmas market thing. The tour of the palace was nice, the palace retained most of its original furnishings, so you were able to see what life was like inside the palace.
So this was actually my second time in Vienna, and even though I’ve been here twice now, I can honestly say I wouldn’t mind returning again. By now I’ve seen most of the palaces and museums in the city, and I’ve seen more than my fair share of the Christmas markets. So I guess there’s not much more to see from a tourist perspective, except maybe visit the famous symphony. But there’s something about Vienna (and Austria as a whole) that seems inviting and comforting to me. I think out of all the places I’ve been to in Europe so far, it would be the place that I could most see myself living.