After a week of little towns, and villages with only one road running through them, Vienna was almost intimidatingly large. And cycling into a city is so different from arriving by car. The outskirts seem to go on much longer; it was not the immediate transition from one place to the next that I am used to.
Although I worried about the roads, and finding my way, Viennese cycle routes are the best I have ever seen (no, I haven’t visited Copenhagen yet).
There is a cycle ring road, that follows a main road around the center, allowing easy access to all the historical and cultural landmarks, parks and museums. The cycle lanes are filled with people using them, families and workers as if it is simply a natural part of the city. Having a bike to get around, instead of working out and paying for another metro system, or tiring yourself out walking everywhere, was fantastic.
It’s the best way to see the city – I took a cycle tour, which I would definitely recommend.
Once inside the city proper, the architecture is sublime. Tall and elegant blocks, with curled decorative embellishments that reminded me most of The Aristocats. Apparently, the city residents have famously opposed each and every new architectural style, with protest and criticism.
The apartments of Hundert Wasser Haus demonstrate this – a flash of Spain in the middle of restrained Vienna. Bright colours and irrational angles, they were definitely not what I expected.
The amusement park on the edge of the city, Prater, was also condemned for it’s garishness, before being accepted by the people.
Things to do in Vienna;
Taste the original Sachertorte at the Sacher Hotel
Visit Freud’s office
Admire statues of Beethoven and Mozart
See the graffiti along the Danube canal
Get cheap standing tickets to the opera
Hang out in the middle of the Museumquartier in the evenings
Ride around the large man-made island in the Danube; a beautiful park for a picnic
Walk around, pretending you are in a Richard Linklater film (just me?)
I loved my time in Vienna, and would certainly go back. There’s a lot to see, and it is very beautiful. The people are friendly and interesting, and summer is the perfect time to go.
But would I want to live there?
It’s a question I thought about a lot while I was there. In many ways it seems like a great place to live; everything works, I like the transport system, the multitude of parks, cafes, and bars. It is incredibly clean, and, I have been assured, incredibly safe. There is significantly less advertising than I have seen in England.
If I was to write a list of things I want from a city, Vienna would fit this pretty closely.
Can a place be too clean, though? A little too pristine, too well-behaved? It seems like a stupid question, and perhaps one I’m asking only because I’ve always lived in places which were a little less smooth. I suppose the risk is when smooth becomes ‘boring’. I don’t think this of Vienna at all. But if I lived there? Maybe.