I have to admit it… not all my travel is work related. I do also travel for leisure… and absolutely love weekends away.
For a good two years I had regular trips to Austria (for work) and absolutely fell in love with Vienna. Before that I have only ever been to Vienna (and Austria for this matter) once, which was a good 15 years ago, maybe even longer.
But since my regular Austria trips have seized recently, every excuse will do to come back.
So when it came to choosing a location for a girly catch up with my friend, we very quickly opted for Vienna.
After all, what’s not to love about Vienna if you are a pair of coffee loving shopping addicts?
So here we are, a lovely sunny weekend, husbands (and kid) abandoned at home, high heels packed, ready to enjoy ourselves.
As I live in London and my friend in Germany, we picked similar flight times and met directly at Vienna airport.
Getting from the airport into town is quick and easy. Even though the airport is not directly linked by tube, it has the CAT (City Airport train), a fast train which takes you to the station ‘Wien Mitte’ in as little as 16 minutes. You will have to buy a separate ticket for it, as it is not included in the normal 24 / 48 / 72 hour travel card that most tourists will buy to get around Vienna conveniently. But with 11 Euro single or 19 Euro return it does not cost the world and certainly is a stress free, easy means of transport.
This time we had a hotel just behind the Rathaus (town hall), so it was still nice and central. This is the good thing about Vienna, you can walk pretty much everywhere (or take the tram instead).
So once we’ve checked in and left our luggage, we headed off to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and explore the town.
Being used to the hustle and bustle of London, I am always amazed just how different Vienna feels. Everything is a bit more relaxed, a little slower and served with a smile…. and a very charming dialect.
If you ever find yourself in Vienna, go to a Kaffeehaus, order a Wiener Melange and breath in the atmosphere. You can spend hours doing so…. just don’t be surprised if strangers start talking to you (how totally unthinkable for a Londoner).
For the evening we booked tickets to go and see ‘Swan Lake’ at the opera house. I have never been to the Vienna opera house before, so I was absolutely looking forward to that. Girls being girls, we spent an hour getting ready, dressing up and putting on our high heels, then we were off to hail a cab (it might only be a 15 minute walk, but these shoes were clearly not made for walking).
As this was the first time for me to see Swan Lake, I can’t compare it to other performances… but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it … both the ballet itself and the venue.
And since we were all dressed up, we finished the night with some cocktails before heading back to the hotel.
What else on a Saturday morning than a trip to the Naschmarkt and its adjacent flee market. I just love the array of things on offer… looking at all the fruits and spices on offer, having a browse through the antiques and bric-a-bracs and getting my chocolate fix rummaging through the variety of chocolate flavours at Zotter.
After hours of fun we left the market and headed for our next destination… a spot of shopping.
One thing I always have to bear in mind when in Vienna are the (for a Londoner) fairly restricted shopping hours… not only are shops closed on a Sunday (a problem I also regularly face in Germany), but closing time is quite early as well … so if you want to shop, ensure you head there before 6pm, 6.30 tops…
There are two big shopping areas in Vienna… Mariahilfer Strasse, where you will find the usual high street brands and Kärnter Strasse / Graben, where you will find the designer brands (and also some high street brands).
My absolute favourite is browsing through the Steffl, a department store several floors high, where I always seem to be able to find some amazing bargains (who doesn’t need a pair of Jimmy Choo’s as a ‘souvenir’ from a business trip).
Half a day left before heading back to the airport. Just enough time for one more stroll through town, a quick trip to the Prater and more coffee.
We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and I can’t wait to come back
… maybe next time for the Christmas market again?