All I wanted for Christmas was…..a 6th and final travel adventure to finish off 2019!
The city is home to classical music and art, state of the art museums and most importantly for this time of the year: festive, larger than life Christmas markets. Vienna is known for being one of the places to be in during Christmas period, hence why I earmarked it as a destination towards the end of the year.
I spent roughly a day and a half over there, arriving Tuesday midday and leaving around Wednesday evening.
Before boarding my flight I had the pleasure of a complimentary stay in Escape Lounge at Stansted and really enjoyed their facilities and hospitality so a brief shoutout to them for hooking me up!
The Belvedere Palace is one of Vienna’s biggest city attractions outside of the Christmas themed stuff that they do during that particular period.
It is home to many classical and contemporary art work, including works from Gustav Klimt and his famous Kiss painting. The palace, stunning to look at from a distance at night, is divided into the Upper Belvedere and Lower Belvedere. The upper Upper Belvedere is more for art collections that are permanent while the Lower is for temporary exhibitions. A separate art museum Belvedere 21 is also accessible to visitors.
Around the area of the palace is the botanic garden complex, where I visited my first Christmas market. The stalls were so dope and well lit with a very sociable atmosphere. A lot of people standing around with their friends, smiling and looking happy and comfortable even though it was super doper cold. Little did I know this was only a small snippet of what was to come.
Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz
My next Christmas Market I saw was Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz, which I believe means The Christmas Market at Rathausplatz in English.
This may be exaggerating but you’ve got to think Winter Wonderland when it comes to this market. You’ve got park-sized ice skating rinks, merry go round and ferris wheel rides, endless rows of food, drink, accessories and crafts stalls, live bands performing Xmas songs, carriage rides to take you round the market itself.
Breathtaking is a word overused to describe attractions but for me it’s the perfect word to describe this Market.
I had never seen anything like it before. Overwhelmed with how full of life the place is. There’s virtually something for everyone – till Boxing day (December 26th) when the market closes to end the festivities
My one and only visit to a museum to Vienna (unfortunately due to time) and off to the Albertina Museum I went. This was the only attraction I visited on my 2nd and final day in Vienna. Museum houses collection and exhibitions of art from classic and contemporary artists. As well as relics, artefacts and state rooms used by people on power both past and present.
One thing that stood out for me is the Attention to detail in the exhibition rooms, how they make everything blend in with the museum itself. For example the wallpapers on the fire exit and restroom doors matches the wallpaper of the rest of the room. The state rooms are very bright in colour and gives the museum a sense of ambience and positive atmosphere.
Rating out of 10:
As for food and drink, I didn’t going to many restaurants cos of how much complimentary food I got for this trip + how spoiled I was by the food and treats at the markets. So instead I’ll review just the actual food and drink I ended up getting.
Having A space dog sounds a bit out of the ordinary doesnt it?
I went to a very innovative and Space Burger restaurant, 100% Plant-based restaurant. Everything is pretty much Vegan.
Ordered a Space Hot Dog with garden salad! Delicious! I expected the hot dog to be a long sausage and not in chopped pieces. Salad was just as good too, especially when I mixed it with the sauce (cant remember the name of it) that they gave me with it. Best part is that it’s all healthy so no guilt felt over having a hot dog.
The restaurant was small but vibrant looking knowing how everything was space-themed. The staff were super kind and welcoming to me. They were super curious about me and we eexchanged socials. And you know what – I’m gonna give a super shoutout to all the staff, Theresa included.
It’s so empowering seeing these healthy fast food joints popping up more and more around the world. As a huge fitness freak it makes me feel a bit better about having fast food, not to mention eating more ethically and sustainably.
En route to Space Burger restaurant I grabbed a Schnitzel sandwich at a food stand near the Natural History museum.
Schnitzel (or Wiener Schnitzel as its often referred to in Vienna) is among the most popular Viennese foods to have. Its origins stretch all the way back to the 19th century. Tastes like breaded chicken fillet and looks like a cross of chicken fillet and a cod fillet.
It was very filling given that it was just a sandwich, a fairly big sandwich however. It would’ve enough for it to be my lunch if I weren’t too keen on Space Burger. The sandwich was accompanied by some healthy salad, tomato and and paprika sauce. Hmmm healthy indeed! The sandwich cost me €4 from the food stand, comparable value with London.
Christmas punches are a must try if you’re ever in Vienna around the time of festivities. The market stalls are common places you’ll find them.
For my choice of punch I went with the Baileyspunsch, which had quite a strong taste to me for a creamy liquor like. Especially if you drank a lot in one go. I couldn’t even taste like the creamy part of the baileys either but still it was nice, hot delicacy to have, knowing how cold it was outside too. They topped up. Altogether it was €8.50. Initially I was confused by how pricey it was because it clearly stated €4.50 on the menu but you get to keep the mug as a souvenir which is where the extra €4 comes from.
Rating out of 10:
I found myself stayed roomz hotel in the Prater district of the city. Prater being a 20 minute train journey from the centre of Vienna and thus most attractions.
I discovered roomz at WTM last month. I met the PR/marketing staff, got in touch with them about services they could offer me to meet my requirements. Next thing I know I’m being offered 50% discount on accommodation. The first thing I did was cancel my Airbnb reservation and jumped on the roomz wave!
For the switcharoo I got myself a Twin room with two beds, semi auto blinders and en suite facilities. It took me a while getting used to the switches and lights, which only worked if I inserted my key card into a card holder. Plus a gym and sauna was available. The gym wasnt that impressive with only handful of weights and machines. Then again its budget hotel so I can’t expect a lot lool. An all you can eat breakfast buffet was included in my morning stay, with a lot of continental food options as you’d expect in Central Europe.
All of this was for €70, with the original price being €150. With free breakfast, access to a gym and sauna, en suite and 5 minute walk from the nearest train and bus station, I’d say it is very decent discounted value for me and is closest thing to bougie this year.
Rating out of 10: 8 out of 10
As for the quality of the Viennese transport, they were easy to come by and is reliable as you would expect from European capitals.
There’s a good variety of transport available to get to Vienna and around the city. City Airport train (CAT), OBB train and Vienna Airport Lines were the main city shuttles. All will get you to the city fairly quickly.
I opted to get a return ticket via OBB trains as it was the quickest on paper. It was a €20 return including unlimited travel around the city for 2 days/48 hours. The majority of OBB trains were double deckers so had two floors as opposed to traditional modern trains with the one floor.
A lot of the train stations have Live timing boards regularly updating how far each train from the station and also which station the train is approaching when onboard the latter.
At times however, the boards were a bit confusing. This is with regards to telling me whether it was taking me to my destination or not and which platform the train was scheduled to arrive at.
What was a bummer about transport is that I could’ve got free transport around with the Vienna Pass or Vienna City Card. Oh well you live and you learn! Worry noting for when I visit again.
Rating out of 10: 8 out of 10
My people watching was an easy one to do for a few reasons. Tge 1st reason was that I didn’t have enough time to get my in-depth psych analysis on the people of Vienna. 2nd reason – the time I had was made easier by the people themselves 😉
I noticed that they and internationals were always smiley towards me. I can’t for the life of me remember going to a city and seeing a good number of people randomly looking and smiling at me. Even in the freezing cold at markets they stood in their social groups and enjoyed themselves without a sign of frostbites. This was a far cry from the awkward stares and glances I got when I went to Naples.
What was fascinating and lifiting was how bright and intelligent the kids were for their age. I was even playing with a toddler who was 2 and a half years ago and was asking me loads of questions (why do you have a phone? Wheres your mummy and daddy?) It was like having a conversation with an adult almost. Also I was making my way to my hotel via train the day I arrived and one kid asked me in German and English to move my bag off a table so their friend can use the table to have their food. The kid’s friend who was a couple seats away used sign language to gesture in case I didn’t understand.
On language barrier – there was barely one. Yes Austrians speak German as their main language but many of them speak English very fluently too and have a great comprehension of the language in general.
I made a few new friends too and were both Italians. One of them was Flavia, whom I met at the Christmas markets and helped me get a gift for my nephew. We spoke for a bit about ourselves and offered to get dinner after her shift cos she said she loved meeting new people too. Boy do I love meeting like-minded people, it puts you at so much easy trust me! She brought along her friend Victoria and got to know each other, sharing stories about our lives and our travels. Big shoutout to them for being great company when they didnt have to. It takes a lot for someone to be inviting to a stranger they had just met the way they were with me.
Rating out of 10: 9 out of 10
All in all despite Vienna being a small and cute city, it has a lot more to do than you think it does. Had less time than I initially expected which was a shame. If only I knew how much I could see within the city and how close other cities in other countries. I mean Bratislava in Slovakia is only over an hour and a half away via train and Budapest is a couple hours away via bus. BUDAPEST! Linz, Brno and Prague are not too far away either.
With the new year around the corner, this wraps up my travels for 2019 and wrapped it up on a high. I may not have gotten a complete experience of Vienna but it given me more of an impetus to do more Christmas-themed trips and to also repay the city a visit whenever I’m near any of the aforementioned cities.
What do you think of Vienna as a whole? Have you visited Vienna or Austria before? If you’re new to this blog and want more content please subscribe or follow!
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures