A Sacher Sweet Brexit

Vienna, Austria   June 2016IMG_7452 While strolling the Karlsplatz with Opera in the air and eating sacher torte, we learned of Britain’s exit from the EU. It felt so apropos to be in Vienna, the place of conferences and conventions and convening, when we first heard this big news. We checked into the Grand Hotel Wein at Karntner Ring 9 and strategized what Viennese sight to see first.

As we began to sightsee, we found this pedestrian-happy city of Vienna to be prim and proper. It’s imposing atmosphere of formality reminded me of how Singapore felt when I spent time there in my 20’s.

This city boasts Mozart and tap water from the alps (the only Austrian province that does) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (we can’t forget about him!) It feels like a sense of humor is not appropriate to have here in Vienna. Ask a local for directions and he or she gives a brief pointed look and rushes on.
Partly due to that,  I got lost while running, then got caught in a rainstorm, and ended up at the canal instead of Karntner ring. I’d gotten turned around somewhere near St. Stephen’s church.

It wasn’t my proudest moment, and I do know that if the locals were less intimidating I may never have gotten so lost, felt so foolish, and gotten so wet. Vienna felt impervious to free spirits. I found other European haunts, such as Salzburg and Budapest, to be way more welcoming.

We did find some poetic elements to this city such as the Opera House, where we could stand outside in the warm summer evening air and witness incredible ballet and listen to riveting opera. IMG_7246IMG_7302
This soft summer evening experience made us fall in love with Vienna while strolling the Karntner Strasse with all the other pedestrians. St. Peter’s church and Stephansplatz were fantastic. And the horse and carriage (a Fiaker) ride at night was historical and intimate.

As we clip clopped past pretty churches through narrow streets we relaxed and felt peaceful. It was expensive, but we felt it was worth it. IMG_7288Vienna was most enjoyed eating Viennese cooking, which we did with fancy dinners of wiener schnitzel and apple strudel,

then finding sachertorte at Hotel Sacher (where it was invented) to enjoy it in the shadow of the opera house.

I strongly advise walking places or taking the public transport instead of taking taxis. The attractive red trams are even better while eating marzipan 🙂

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Some advice for making the most of your time in Vienna: 1) make sure to book tickets for museums and attractions in advance; 2) take advantage of walking tours; 3) travel with like minded travelers so that you can cover a lot of ground on foot with time for photo stops, souvenir stops, and occasional Viennese coffee and bratwurst from vending carts. We loved that! We never biked, but should have! 🙂

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For the most part (other than when I got lost in rainstorms) I enjoyed my morning runs on the rings to beat the summer heat. We had a great time exploring Schonbrunn Palace and the Imperial Gardens.
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Spending time touring around with our former au pair, Zaneta, who had come from Bruno, CR by bus to visit with us, was especially wonderful. Oh how I love her beautiful spirit and energy.

Zaneta and I watched the England versus Iceland Eurocup Football match on a big TV outdoors together at Stadtboden on Krugerstrauss and caught up on each others lives. It was a great summer evening and our last one in Vienna.

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