The City of Music and Austria's capital, Vienna has a lot of things going for it. Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, among others, have composed and conducted there. It's home to Freud, opera houses, it has rich and checkered history, and it's famous for sausage, schnitzel, and strudel. Like the other cities on our trip, the Danube River runs through it and Vienna has some great Roman, Baroque, and modern architecture.
Coming from Prague, the Vienna seems much bigger and more modern. We arrived by train around midday on New Year's Eve and took a quick cab ride to our hotel. It was Diem's birthday and the one night we really splurged for tickets to a NYE party. Diem's birthday aside, I feel like NYE tends to be an overrated holiday. If you go to a bar or event, you have a pay a bunch of money for long lines and too many people jammed into the event. But hey, we were in Vienna so maybe the Austrians do it differently.
The event we decided on was a NYE gala on the top floor of the Danube Tower. The Danube Tower is Vienna's version of the Space Needle with a rotating restaurant on the top floor overlooking the Danube River and all of Vienna. This was a black tie event, so girls spent the day getting ready and everyone got dressed to the nines.
At the top of the tower there were some great views of the lights of Vienna. The event came with a seven-course dinner and unlimited drinks, which we took full advantage of. Throughout the night I noticed that Vienna apparently doesn't have any laws about who can light fireworks and what kind of fireworks you can shoot off. It seemed like the entire city was lighting Sea World quality fireworks at all times, but real show started at about 11:30 PM and lasted a good hour. It was the most amazingly beautiful visual I've every seen. 360 degrees of fireworks, an entire city celebrating and the entire restaurant cheering and drinking, it was truly memorable. I tried to capture it in a time-lapse video but it really doesn't do it justice.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur, but we definitely paid the price the next day. We got up and moving just before sunset, I think around 3 or 4 and took the metro to the Vienna Wintergarden which was basically just a fair, with some rides and food booths, nothing too special and really cold. We then went to the St. Stephens Cathedral in the center of town which was really beautiful.
We happened to be next to the oldest and most famous schnitzel place in Vienna, Figlmüller, so we decided to go there for dinner. There are actually 2 locations, one is the original, smaller location that was booked 2 weeks out and the second is the newer, larger location around the block. We had to wait 45 minutes out in the cold but we had heard so many good things about the schnitzel so we decided to wait. The place was huge and felt really authentically Austrian. However, the service was really slow and the schnitzel, while good, didn't blow me away. I would say that it wasn't worth the wait but if you can get in quickly, it's a good experience.
The next day, it was freezing and cloudy outside again. We weren't too excited about going outside but we didn't want to waste a day so we decided to go on a hop-on-hop-off bus around town. The bus was kind of a bust since the bus fogged up pretty bad and we couldn’t see much. There is a monument and museum square that I wished we had gone to but the city itself didn’t seem to picturesque compared to Prague and especially Budapest.
Vienna reminds me a lot of Berlin, except not quite as much history and sites. We did end up going to Schönbrunn Palace and the strudel show there. The strudel wasn’t that good though, but it was interesting to see them make it. We took a tour and the interior wasn’t that special except for one special ballroom. Cameras weren't allowed inside so I don't really have good documentation. The grounds were huge though and I’m sure when the weather is nicer they would be beautiful. There was a pool area up on a hill overlooking the palace and there were a good number of runners that were running around. I didn’t get a chance to run in Vienna which is something I regret since I really like seeing cities that way. I also wish that I got to stop at the museum quarter and holocaust memorial.
It seemed like a really quick trip in Vienna, so I don't think I can say all that much about it. Other than our NYE, the rest of the city didn't really stand out to me but to be fair, we didn't explore as much as we did in the other two cities. I would like to come back someday when the weather is better but there are a lot of other cities on my list ahead of it so I'm not sure when that would be. I will never forget that night though and how completely breathtaking the fireworks were from the Danube Tower. See the full Vienna gallery here.