If you happen to find yourself in Vienna during a summer heat wave, let me share a little insiders secret trail to heavenly relaxation.
First, take yourself to the famous Schönbrunn Palace and marvel at the resilience of tourists who insist on sightseeing in 36°C and beating desert heat.
Its basically a desert wasteland – with a palace in the middle
Take a left away from the palace, away from the famous rose gardens and meander past the Marionette theatre until you reach these picturesque gates on the right hand side:
Habsburg gardens don’t do understatement
Pass through the gates and don’t be disheartened by the long, dry and dusty path ahead of you. The trees to the left and right will offer some slight relief from the heat.
The snazzy Austrian man in green pants will definitely outpace you
If you stroll at a relaxed and steady pace for ten minutes, you’ll soon reach the following staircase, which may look insurmountable to your heat addled brain, but quite ordinary afterwards…
Your trek up the stairs will be rewarded with this magnificent view over the Egyptian Obelisk monument, the back of the palace and the simmering city skyline.
Take your breather here and admire the view
At this point you will start to see children skipping and locals carrying what looks suspiciously like beach and bathing gear.
Ignore the overly dedicated runner on the right, and follow the family with the swimming bag!
Suddenly, like a mirage (because who could imagine a swimming pool inside the palace grounds??) the Schönbrunner Bad will appear on your right hand side, and it will be a revelation.
A rolling hillside of green, a bright, clean and cooling pool, big enough for lap swimming, the occassional divebomb and lots of poolside lounging. Most importantly, it is cold and wet and so so soothing after your trek to get here.
Simply pick your spot, splay your towel, and kick back for an afternoon of sunshine and relaxation. Of course because this is Austria, there’s options for activity available…
This particular round got very intense – volleyball is not for the faint of heart
…but more exciting is the fact that you can order a drink from the on-site cafe and enjoy it while kicking back on the grass.
A secret royal pool including drinks and summery vibes? I’ll take that option any day of the week!
Some friends of mine were asking me about the best way to see Vienna as a tourist. How to find something ‘other than classical music and Schnitzel’. Slightly outraged on my adopted city’s behalf, I replied that there is a huge variety to Vienna, you just need to know where to look! So, to prove the many wonders of this incredible city, I devised a plan for a Weekend in Wien….
Right, it’s summer, you’ve had a long overnight journey and the last remaining days of sunshine are calling you to the water – but you’re traveling, you need see the city too! The perfect solution to this dilemma? Krapfenwaldbad:
Beautiful people guaranteed to be in attendance
Krapfenwaldbad has incredible views over the city of Vienna, being perfectly placed near the top of the Kahlenberg Mountain. There are multiple swimming pools, the main one being nicely deep & cold for swimming . Don’t expect anyone to be doing laps though, this is serious ‘see and be seen’ territory for the young trendy locals. It’s also relaxed enough that you can while away the day in relative peace. There’s an on-site cafe & bar too, so any and all your chill out needs are attended to. Plus, did I mention the crazy awesome views?
That’s all of Vienna at your feet!
Ok, now that you’re relaxed after a day spent poolside, let the tourist activities begin! First, there’s some really excellent gardens to spend a morning roaming around….
That little building up top is a Gloriette, where Emperor’s have breakfast – ‘cos being an Emperor is kickarse!
…which are conveniently attached to the glorious Schönbrunn Palace. Schönbrunn was the Habsburg’s Summer Palace, which, when you see the size of it, tells you just how awesome it was to be Royalty in the Golden Age. The best Apple Strudel & Iced coffee in Vienna can be had in the cafe to the left of the entrance – trust me I have done thorough research on this.
Once Schönbrunn has been conquered, you may find yourself in need of a drink, or just a change of location for further drinks- based activities. The über cool Donaukanal is the perfect location. Wander down the canal steps from the city centre and you’ll find brilliant street art, a huge choice of bars, pop-up shacks selling different food & drink, all nestled beside the gorgeous Danube Canal.
‘Beach’ Bars – bit different to beaches back home!!
Wicked street art along the Kanal paths
Once you’ve satisfied your inner hipster with a few riverside drinks, I’d round out the day at the the historic Prater Park. Prater is a huge nature reserve and set amongst this leafy gloriousness is Vienna’s famous amusement park, home to the worlds oldest Ferris Wheel, built in 1897:
With some slightly younger specimens in front of it.
The park itself has been set up with adults in mind as much as children. Along with loads of awesome rides, there’s gigantic Beer Gardens to meet all your Beer & Pork Knuckle desires. There’s also adult games like Bowling, Mini-Golf, Clubs if you’re very keen and terrifying rides for thrill seekers:
Fear. Pure and simple.
That up there is the Prater Turm, which I absolutely refused to go on, right up until I was strapped in. It was at once terrifying and beautiful – at 117m, this is the world’s highest flying swing. The pay-off you get for braving it is stunning views over all of Vienna. It only gets nauseating on the way down, when, near the bottom, they speed up the pace of the chairs swinging in circles. But if you can stand that for 2 minutes, the view is well worth it!
Super cute old fashioned token to ride!
After all that adrenelin, rounding out the day with a sugar hit is highly reccommended.
Fairy floss and chocolate fruit on a stick = heaven.
Exhausted yet?? Well stay tuned…part two of your awesome Weekend in Wien will be posted next!
Its been a glorious few days here in Wien and I am loving the sense that the city is awakening, stretching its limbs for summer and preparing to thrive and hum in the coming months. I wanted to quickly share with you all the last few days’ exciting and inspiring moments. Defintely falling in love with the city right now….
1. This mini palace (Schloss? Palais?) I found en route to a lovely little wine and cheese bar after Deutsch class on Tuesday. I loved it because even though I see the grand architecture of the city every day, little corners of the city like this can still take me by surprise with how stunning they are, completely out of nowehere, and still useful in the modern city. Absoloutely gorgeous.
2. Walking towards the Hofburg last night down the back of the Ringstrasse…you can’t see it in this photo but I was looking at the sunset behind the Rathaus (pictured), to my right was the Burgtheatre and to my left was the Volksgarten. I was literally surrounded by history, gardens and managed to be there at the perfect time of day. A little moment but its these moments that still make me pinch myself for being here!
3. This was sitting on Heldenplatz, out the front of the Hofburg waiting for the free Symphonic Orchestra concert to start. They were holding it in celebrative memorial of 68 years freedom from the Nazi’s. It’s actually the first time the Austrian’s have ‘claimed back’ the day. It used to be an excuse for modern day Neo-Nazi’s to gather here and ‘celebrate’ but to combat that kind of negativity the city of Vienna in association with the Mathausen Trust organised a free concert in the park, and as you can see it was glorious. Happiness, beers, frankfurter stands, smiles and celebration of a ‘new’ Austria, one that is no longer a victim of Nazism, but a survivor. We lounged on the grass, a beautiful collection of Austrian, Swedish, German, Australian and Dutch expats and locals all enjoying the sunshine and stunning surrounds. Couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate freedom. The weather really turned it on as well!!
Just look at that picturesque sunset!! Unreal!!
4. Lastly our own little corner of heaven. We had a bit of an Ikea splurge recently but the results have been well worth it. This is our new setup on the back porch – cushioned corner seat, little bench for food/games/glasses of wine and a new plant setup. It gets the sun in the morning and is cosy and protected from the wind in the evening. This was our Sunday brunch, and I can’t think of a better brunch spot in all Austria!! Am I getting a bit domestic in my old age?? Surely not! But I sure as hell love a sunny Sunday brunch….
In short, this week I am absoloutely loving my Viennese life!!
Like clockwork of course, the minute I pledge to write weekly, our internet up and dies for a good few weeks. Part of our personal financial crisis but also mostly part of ridiculous service by our internet provide. Thus, we were thrust into a home of no wifi. Only when its gone do you realise your dependancy.
I tried to deny it for the first two days, pretending I was enjoying “being disconnected” and really soaking up the joys of having “more time to ourselves”. Truth? Once the weekend was done, it just got annoying and I became a surreptitious internet rat at work, feeding on morsels I could sneak while no-one was standing behind my desk. I’ll admit it, I’m a Facebook dependant – I won”t say addict, because I survive with just a morning and evening fix, but realistically its my main source of news, gossip and connection with home. Being overseas gives me a good excuse anyway! So this is just a quick update to apologise for breaking a pledge to write more and to let you know the next few days we’ll be playing catch up with photo’s, stories and more thoughts on life in Wien as an expat. The good news is, the sun is here, FINALLY and I cannot wait to get cracking with summer fun!!
Meanwhile a few old summer photo’s to build the anticipation of the glory of a European Summer!! This is what it means to me….cannot wait!!
View over Mondsee Lake – our favourite stop en route to Tirol
Sunset in Crete
Cliff bars in Croatia