[travel] Highlights from Vienna

I have so many fantasies about Vienna, or may I call it, Wien. Listening to The Blue Danube played by Vienna Philharmonic every New Year’s Eve has become a ritual. In my heart, Wien is all about the classical, classic, and classy; Wien for me is elegant, resplendent, and dignified. Wien for me is Lacrimosa’s Nachtschatten–calm, imposing, and beautiful..

Und so treffe ich Dich in Cannes
Und vielleicht auch schon in Rom
Vielleicht bin ich der Mann
Der Dich anruft wenn Du einsam bist
Im Grandhotel in Wien

I had so many expectations before coming to Wien that somehow the whole trip, in the end, felt flat. I am so sorry to say this. I wanted to love Wien so badly, but it turned out that for me, Wien was fine and nice, but hardly left on me a lasting impression.

After studying all kinds of itinerary examples, such as here or here it seemed to me that the only thing that seems sufficiently interesting to me is to visit all the castles and some other museums? A few things went wrong during the trip, and I was very tired the whole time, so I couldn’t visit some places I’d like to (such as Klimt Museum at Belvedere Palace; or the uber cool Kunsthaus). Our 3-day visit was a simple, borderline boring itinerary of Kunsthistorisches Museum-Hofburg Palace-Schönbrunn Palace-St. Stephen’s Cathedral-Naschmark, plus a few other places we passed by.

(St. Stephen’s Cathedral)

Did I like Wien? The answer is, I don’t know. Perhaps I harbored such a heavily romanticized version of Vienna for so long, that anything in real life would eventually fall short of expectations. Perhaps the horrible weather, the dead trees, the dull grass, the grey sky and my state of exhaustion all contributed to my gloomy mood. Perhaps the beautiful architecture was just standardly beautiful, a Western European beauty I am so used to that I didn’t find anything exciting anymore. Perhaps the coffee we had at the iconic Cafe Landtmann was nothing extraordinary, and there was no live music playing either. Perhaps I was very, very annoyed with the city’s obsession with Empress Sisi–a beautiful woman I must say, but a bit too pathetic for my taste.

(Sisi photo at Hofmobiliendepot)

Qualms aside, I enjoyed some of my highlights in Vienna, and they are:

1. Being able to see with my own eyes 4 of Giuseppe Arcimboldo‘s masterpieces at Kunsthistorisches Museum: Water, Fire, Summer, and Winter. I have been a fan of him since forever. So incredibly imaginative and talented.

2. In fact, the same Kunsthistorisches Museum building was a major highlight in itself. It is just so.. Viennese. Hard to describe its grandiose beauty in words:

3. The >2200 crazily wonderous, fascinating, fabulous artworks at Kunstkammer at Kunsthistorisches Museum. I honestly had never ever seen anything like this exhibition. Everything screamed art, intricacy, exquisiteness, elegance, sumptuosity, splendour, opulence, sometimes even downright exoticism.

4. Apfelstrudel at Cafe Landtmann. Expensive, but oh so good.

5. Insane royal chambers at Schönbrunn Palace. Well… what am I talking about? These residents of this big house once ruled that mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire after all (photo taken by my friend).

6. Groovy vintage toilets.

7. Huge schnitzels at Naschmark–Wien’s most popular market.

8. Relaxing tea time.

9. First time seeing real crowns.

(the excitement!)

10. And… well, Empress Sisi. We both still think that she is quite an annoying character, even more so her commercialized image pervasive in the whole city. But boy, she is just gorgeous!


2 thoughts on “[travel] Highlights from Vienna

  1. Sorry to hear that you could not enjoy the trip here as much as you imagined you would! The weather does play a huge factor I think and yes the Kunsthistorisches Museum is very impressive, and yes also Sissi is overrated and not such a good person people like to portray her today but she is an iconic figure so yeah *shrug*

    • I was so disappointed when I was at the Garden at Schoebrunn x( both the Neptune Fountain and Gloriette look gorgeous in photos with green grass and blue sky, but the wintry reality was so disappointing. Granted, though, the Austrian palaces are absolutely fab. And it’s hard to beat those objects in Kunstkammer.

      Yeah the Sisi hype is ridiculous. I’m much more interested in Maria Theresa …

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