Vienna: First Impressions

We arrived in Vienna International Airport after roughly 17 hours of sitting in airplanes and airports. I am very glad we planned this stopover in Vienna because I could not imagine having to board yet another plane to go the rest of the way to Kosovo.

We hopped on the suburban rail and rode a short ways into the city. When we got off, we immediately became lost , wandering down every street off of one of Vienna’s many circles with our backpacks and sleeplessness. It was at this point that the sun conveniently chose to interrupt the 60 degree cloudiness and drench us in sweat.

The Prater in Leopoldstadt

The Prater in Leopoldstadt, on our way to our apartment

One of my first impressions of the city was ‘wow I forgot how German-speakers make everything into massive unpronounceable words.’ And how their street signs aren’t big enough to be seen from a distance. But, sure enough, we made it to our Airbnb apartment and met our wonderful host and her adorable cat, which fixed everything.

After resting and venturing out under more pleasant circumstances, we were both struck by the elegance and beauty of the city. In every direction, we were overwhelmed by yellow and cream apartment blocks with classic red tiled roofs, and ornate masonry. Some were carved with intricate designs or decorated with golden flourishes across the top level. All around five stories, we could not see beyond them when walking down a cobbled lane–they enclosed us. Though there are palaces, eye-catching cathedrals, the Danube and Wien rivers, the infamous wieners, the beer, and the world-class coffee, I think these ornate block buildings are what most embody the city.

Never seen a grocery store quite like that before

Never seen a grocery store quite like that before

This is what I would call ‘a very fancy city.’ These buildings really demonstrate just how fancy we’re talking. Not only do most residents call them home, but they also house grocery chains, drug stores, and McDonalds. Just a tad different than the QFC I lived across from in Seattle. I know Vienna is an old city, but there is just something so fascinating about fading frescoes framing a McCafe’s sign on the side of a mansion from 1845. I don’t mean to give Vienna a hard time, but this is what I will think of when I reflect on my time in this city.

Anyway, we are enjoying our little vacation this far despite the inclement weather. Here are some photos from our first two days. We walked all around the city center, visited seven districts so far, had two coffees, saw two palaces and several cathedrals, happened on a busking festival and later a street jazz concert, and wandered through their mini-Disneyland (Prater) near our apartment. I am also on my second chocolate bar already.

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