If lashings of culture and delicious food are what you’re after, then Vienna is certainly the place for you. Located in Austria – and not Australia as some befuddled tourists may be wont to think – it was once the capital of a formidable empire that stretched far across the lands. Today, the city remains steeped in history with museums, churches and castles as far as the eye can see.
The city itself is most pleasant to walk around, although it does tend to have a somewhat equine smell due to all the horse-drawn carriages for tourists whizzing about the place. That aside, I highly recommend strolling about Vienna to soak up the sights and burn off some of the food you’ll no doubt be consuming. We did our very best to combat all the calorie-laden goodies on offer, but still I fear the strudel may have won.
Speaking of the food it was interesting to see the extensive labelling of everything edible, with every restaurant menu proclaiming what was for suitable for those with allergies, vegans, the gluten intolerant and the like. It was almost as if the whole city had become hipster. That being said, this practice is also found in the supermarkets, so one imagines it is a legal requirement rather than everyone just being extra annoying about their dietary needs.
Heading back to the culture now, and what wealth of it there is in this cosy city. Honestly, you would have to be actively trying to avoid partaking in anything cultural whatsoever to escape what Vienna has to offer. Not only does it have a vibrant arts scene, there are also an abundance of places to go and explore history. Indeed, we had a great deal of fun traipsing through the homes of long-dead royals while perusing the relics of bygone eras – Marie Antoinette’s childhood home of Schönbrunn is a must-see. Interestingly, some of the décor in the museums was as eye-catching as the exhibits themselves, with grandly painted ceilings and exquisitely decorated walls and floors seemingly everywhere.
Despite its historical roots, it still has touches of modernity about it. Take the gay friendly traffic lights, for instance, which show all types of couples lovingly beaming about the city – originally installed to show support during Eurovision they then became a permanent fixture. Plus it’s also the home of the Life Ball, a glamorous annual event that raises money towards fight AIDS.
Last, but not least, you have the Empress Elisabeth of Austria – ‘Sisi’ to her many adoring fans – who I hadn’t heard of prior to the trip but apparently is quite the popular historical figure, as her image has been plastered on all manner of things available for purchase. She was known as a great beauty and led quite the dramatic life – swanning about the playing the part of romantic heroine/mysterious recluse with a large dose of family tragedy thrown into the mix. Sisi has inspired many a film and books, not to mention having had some thoroughly modern ideas for her time – a woman who exercises…who ever heard of such a thing?
All in all, it makes for a rather enjoyable sojourn. So, what are you waiting for? Waltz your way over to Vienna today…the schnitzel is cooking as we speak!