Tagged: Vienna

How to Learn German in Vienna

I thought I’d learn German in about 12 months. I figured that seen as I lived in a German-speaking city and had decent motivation (desperate need to order coffee without stumbling on my words) it would simply come to me in good time. Presumably in the night, like a lightning strike, or a giant slap to the side of the head. One year seemed, to my naive ambitious self, a perfectly reasonable amount of time to pick up the intricacies of conversation.

I’ve since discovered 3 things;

1) I’m not a patient person

2) 12 months flies by when you move to a new country

3) Learning a language is not as easy as movie montages make it appear (damn you Colin Firth in Love, Actually!)

love-actually-colin-firth

I’m now two years into my Expat life in Vienna and still at a beginners level of German. I can follow conversation in a group of Deutsch speaking friends, thankfully coffee & brunch ordering is now possible too. But the true art of expressing myself fluently still eludes me.

Brunch at Freyung

Life priorities

I’ve tried intensive courses at IKI, which were challenging but got me the building blocks. I’ve experimented with reading children’s books with S to reach the language the same way I learned English – through a love of reading. Now I’m enrolled at the Deutschinsitut, a slightly slower paced course better suited to full-time work schedules.

The kicker in Vienna is – everybody speaks English. Including my entirely English-speaking workplace. With such a flood of tourists and International organisations in the city, you could actually get by without learning a scrap of Deutsch. But I’m pretty sure that makes you an Expat arsehole.

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Never, ever, be this guy

 So here are a few ways I’m trying to force myself to speak more Deutsch everyday –  if you have any language learning tips to add please let me know in the comments!

– Talk and talk and talk at home. I wuss out of talking Deutsch at home. All. The. Time. I’m like a 1950’s housewife avoiding sex, with my standard lines of ‘I’m just so tired today’ ‘Its been a really long week’ ‘Do you really want to? Right now?’. It’s the biggest challenge, but should be one of the easiest to overcome – it just takes discipline from you and your housemates.

– Text message auf Deutsch. This is an everyday activity that will sharpen your writing skills. I can follow conversation face to face, but my spelling and conjugation when writing Deutsch isn’t great. Texting gives you some everyday practice. Just make sure you only try this with your native German-speaking friends – group Whats App messages in German with the English-speaking family don’t go down so well.

– Read the free papers & familiar magazines. The U-bahn daily metro papers are filled with small, easy to follow articles with pictures. I can’t understand every word, but the gist of the article can be pieced together with regular reading to extend your vocab. I’ve also had a go at purchasing the Deutsch version of Cosmo. Even when written in another language the articles about ‘This seasons hottest Winter Coats’ & celebrity interviews are the same format as in English, making it easier to follow along.

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‘Dress Up’ & ‘Sex Appeal’ are apparently universal phrases 

– Ask for help. When you’re talking to a native speaker and they say a word you’ve never heard, ask what it is. Yes, it will be excruciating, yes it makes you feel about 10 feet tall, but if you don’t ask, your friends can’t help and you won’t learn. Suck it up and ask for help (still my biggest challenge!)

Lastly, there’s a few different language schools that offer courses at varying price levels to get you on your way to comfortably speaking. Courses aren’t for everyone – some friends have learnt German from reading comic books or spending time deep in the countryside where there is no other option – but for me, the structure of a school and deadlines keep me honest. A few of the better known ones are:

www.berlitz.com – One of the most expensive. Strictly only apply if your workplace can afford to cover the costs. They have 1 to 1 sessions, small groups and private office tutoring available.

www.IKI.com – My first Deutsch Kurs experience, it’s very thorough, moves at a decent pace and they offer intensive day time courses and 8 week evening courses. Your certificate from the OIF is included in the price, which is worth keeping in mind when you compare to other cheaper schools.

www.deutschinstitut.com The current option I’m trialling, these guys are reasonably priced, in the central 6th district and use the same workbooks as IKI. Their evening courses are particularly popular.

www.deutschakademie.at These guys are the budget conscious option in Vienna. When I first moved here and money was super tight we looked into courses here. To be honest, their offices and setup put me completely off when I went to enrol – everything felt cramped in, they were using old computers despite their location on the Ringstrasse it just seemed, well, cheap & nasty. Friends have studied there and liked the additional materials but I’m not sold on it myself.

My Deutsch is still a work in progress, but I’d love to hear anyone else’s tricks to picking up a language – if only to give me hope that I will one day conquer the dreaded German Grammar!

Getting healthy & nude in Austria

I may joke about it often, but when it comes to healthy living, Austrians really do have their priorities straight. Getting up early on a Sunday to go for a hike in the woods was never, ever my idea of an ideal Sunday morning, but here it seems to be a regular family habit. There’s a few ways that the Austrian attitude to healthy living, traditional home-made meals and body image in general has started to impact my own attitude to fitness and, shockingly, shifted my Sunday focus to hiking instead of brunch. Well, at least to hiking a little bit BEFORE brunch. Here’s why:

1. Austrians think about exercise socially. Throughout my life (and maybe this is different for the dedicated fitness fanatics) I always thought of exercise as work. Not a fun pastime, but hard, time-consuming work and effort. You HAVE to go to the gym screamed TV, magazines and (loudest of all) the guilty voice in my head. Sports and P.E class in school were enforced – despite my very clear lack of skills in the ball-throwing department. Running was about the most tortuous thing I could imagine (still is). I tricked myself into exercise by doing fun things, like dance, ballet, calisthenics and running around in drama classes. But here, exercise is a means to a social end. Hiking is something done with a group of friends with beers to celebrate afterward in a local hut. Volleyball teams spring up at the drop of a hat in summertime. Skiing is about the most social sport I know – with the little breaks for schnapps making it a particularly appealing ‘sport’ – generally done in friendly groups. The point being, Austrians don’t see sport as work, it’s a natural extension of their interaction with their mates. Genius.**

DSC04737The views when hiking on a Sunday don’t hurt

2. Austrians accept their bodies. When I did join a gym my first year in Austria, the number one thing I noticed was the ease with which the women around me accepted their bodies. Not in a flaunting way, but in a very ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ nonchalant manner. It was incredible. They were of course in a gym to exercise, but there was none of the ‘I hate-my-x-body-part’ and ‘oh I wish I was a size ten like you’ negative type of conversation and behaviour that is so ingrained in Aussie women. Australian (and I think Western) female body culture is primarily about shaming yourself for being fat or not having a thigh gap, or not being ‘curvy’ in all the right places. Here, women of all shapes and sizes were comfortably wandering around the change rooms naked- young, old, fat, thin, hairy, freckled, you name it. This is a society completely at ease with its human form. Either that or I was deeply misunderstanding the old ladies’ german conversations. Why and how did they get so confident? Well, I think it’s because…

3. Austrians are around naked bodies from a young age.  I haven’t yet written about my first European sauna experience. That story deserves a post all of its own, but suffice to say, it was my third date with S and definitely more than I bargained for! What I’ve discovered since that shock introduction to nude-friendly folk, is that Austrians are much more comfortable with their bodies. Whether they are in the sauna, or sun baking at a nudist beach or even generally sitting by a lakeside, there is a 95% chance that someone nearby will be naked. Not gratuitously. Just straight up enjoying the sauna/beach/lake with their kit off. Austrian kids are surrounded by this attitude their whole lives. I’ve seen families swimming in a lake all completely naked, together with their young children. Rather than being creepy – which would be the classic reaction of my repressed inner-Englishwoman – it seemed natural and normal. In fact, thinking on it afterwards, I wondered if our ‘western’ repressive, overly-politically-correct attitude to nudity may contribute to the high rates of anorexia, bulimia, not to mention obesity in Australia and the US. If kids see realistic human bodies in their own backyards or beaches with their scars, flaws and rolls, instead of bodies that are photoshopped or distorted from plastic surgery, surely that can only be a good thing? I’d love to know what you guys think…

Non-gratuitious and most definitely non-sexy nudity by the lakeside (stock photo imagery used!!)

4. Have you seen older Austrians?? They are a hardy, hearty bunch. Whittled from years of hiking, being outdoors and I can only assume a super-human strength to digest and process metric tonnes of pork and potatoes over a lifetime, older Austrians are extremely healthy. It can’t hurt that the government helps support retirees by sending them on yearly ‘health and wellness’ retreats for 2 weeks, known as ‘Kur‘. This is part-funded by the government and from the look of Austrian retirees I’d say a worthy investment.

old arnie

 This is, uh, not quite what all older Austrians are like….but ridiculous Arnie photos are the best!

5. Incidental exercise is easy. In Vienna safe bike lanes are plentiful. Elevators in old-buildings are slow, or non-existent, so you take the stairs. The city is flat and well-designed enough to walk around it without excessive exertion. You can get by without owning a car at all, which removes the temptation to sit in it for ten minutes instead of walking for twenty minutes to get to your destination.

All in all, Austria makes enjoying exercise feel easy, rather than like hard work. This weekend they even had an entire festival in Heldenplatz to celebrate and encourage people to play more sports, the ‘Tag der Sports’, full of different sports clubs promoting their specialties:

 

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 Where Judo suits were accepted and cool

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 Simulated skiing on grass

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I have no idea what sport this is, but it looks totally badass and ninja related

In short, the Austrian attitude to sport is teaching me the simplest of lessons – to finally enjoy it, and embrace the body I have. To find the form of exercise that works. For me that’s a mix of cycling to work, early-morning Blogilates sessions and yes – hiking on a weekend with S. And if you need the lure of a delicious brunch at the end to keep you going, that’s ok too.

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Home-made brunch is the best brunch!

**NB perhaps this is true of any country, but as I am, ahem, a slow developer in the ‘enjoying sports’ realm I’ve only noted the Austrian penchant for it!!

Summers Day in Schönbrunn

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.

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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:

Schonbrunn Gates

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.

Schonbrunn Walk

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…

Stairs to Schonbrunner Bad

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.

Monument View

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.

Strolling to the Bad

 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.

Heavenly Pool

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…

Beach Volleyball Court

 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.

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A secret royal pool including drinks and summery vibes? I’ll take that option any day of the week!

Eurovision & Austrian Pride

I shouldn’t enjoy Eurovision as much as I do. Us Aussies can’t even enter into the contest – the best we can hope for is a guest spot appearance during the semi-finals (see this cringe inducing intro – the song is not too bad). Somehow though, the spectacle of trashy euro-pop and over-the-top theatricals has always been a part of my life and understanding of Europe.

Straya

We were a bit overly enthusiastic with our cliche’s. Here you can see a surfboard, footy players, akubra hats and a giant kangaroo bobble head. Maybe a touch too keen!

Being a theater student in Melbourne, watching Eurovision every year was a cult-like event among our group of friends. We would stay up to ridiculous hours, host Eurovision themed parties and enjoy the drama and outrageous performances, while passing expert commentary and awarding our own votes and points to each finalist.

When I first travelled through Europe in 2008 I vividly remember watching Eurovision in a trendy hostel in Lisbon, being so thrilled to have actual Europeans watching it with me – Turkish, French, Belgian and British backpackers crammed into the one television room. This was where I learnt about the political ‘alliances’ and underlying meaning of the way countries voted. Of course the free sangria supplied during viewing meant we were especially enthusiastic about the performances.

So when Eurovision rolled around this year, I had already been primed in the history of the competition and knew the gleeful joy of watching singers perform with acrobats and fake flames in the background. I knew that winning performances were those that had an equal balance of musical talent, over the top costumes and outrageous stage antics. And I love every ridiculous thing about Eurovision.

Romanian Dracula

Just a Romanian Opera singer dressed as Dracula – nothing ridiculous to see here. This was my favourite entrant in 2013!

Not at all ridiculous entry from Poland this year.  All about the music.

Eurovision

Circular piano. Wonderfully ridiculous.

I was invited to a fellow Aussie expats place to watch the contest with Margarita’s in hand and fellow Eurovision-enthusiasts. We’d of course seen the Austrian entrant Conchita Wurst in the papers all week in the lead-up to the competition and lots of positive press was hinting she may perform well, but no one was game enough to claim that she would definitely win.

A funny thing happened when the results were being finally being revealed – for what I can safely say is the first time, I was sincerely cheering and screaming for Austria, each time Conchita was awarded a point.  It became vital that my adopted country performed well – I had my first real spark of Austrian pride!

 Equivalent level of my pride

Of course I’ve seen Austria win medals in the winter olympics and perform well in world skiing championships – but none of those ‘world stage’ events meant anything to me. Eurovision however, was a game I knew. I understood the high-stakes, the glory and the impact that a winning Eurovision contestant meant. So, that night, if you were in the 2nd district you probably heard a mad bunch of Aussies and Expats squealing every time another 12 points was awarded to ‘the Queen of Austria’, Conchita Wurst. We laughed, we held our breath, we may have even teared up a little bit when she was announced as the winner – and my god did we cheer for her!

Conchita winning as a bearded, cross-dressing sultry diva (with a killer tune) was the icing on the cake. Watching her genuine shock and honest acceptance speech made me miss all my LGBT, cross-dressing and theatrical friends from home – I wanted to run out to the nearest gay bar in Vienna and immediately join the wild celebrations!

The best part? Her win means that in 2015, Eurovision is coming to Austria. Whether its in Vienna or the countryside, you can bet your arse I’ll be fighting for tickets to make a lifelong dream of going to Eurovision finally come true!!

shock

The shock and excitement of seeing Eurovision in Austria got to Conchita too…

 

P.S Not only are we looking forward to Eurovision next year – but I’m now a shameless Conchita fan, we saw her live in Vienna last week and she is, indeed UNSTOPPABLE!! Some home-made videos to give you an idea of just how beloved she is now to Austrians…

 

 This is the crowd of Austrians singing along faithfully to their new Queen

The Queen herself showing us how its done!

 

 

 

 

 

6 steps to Survive an Austrian Winter

We don’t do snowy winters in Melbourne. Its more like, windy, grey and maybe a low of 7 degrees celsius. Nothing so serious as a snowy Austrian winter. Although Vienna has been remarkably warm this year, its still a lot bloody colder than Australia. So, when my family came across for their first Austrian winter, I offered them the following survival tips:

1. Invest in a decent jacket

Critical decision at the start of winter – what will be your jacket of choice through these long, dark, icy months? My heart always wants to get something fashionable but my thin cold skin needs the most effective gear in the business. Last year S got me an unbeatable Dynafit jacket and I haven’t been cold since. Seriously I can ski in this thing, walk to work, wear only a t-shirt underneath and it still keeps me warm. I love it – but its not exactly high fashion. My family took the same approach – warmth was #1 priority over look!

Snowy Schönbrunn

I’m so cosy, I can frolic at the Gloriette!

2. Shoes will save you

A decent pair of warm boots will make or break your winter. You spend so much time trudging through slush, trying not to slip on ice or simply standing outside in the cold when you’re drinking Glüwein at the Christmas Markets, that a decent pair of shoes is essential. Ideally a warm, comfy, fur lined pair of knee-high boots will do the trick. Otherwise you’ll be wearing thick socks a lot, paired with soggy runners and probably be in a really really bad mood the whole winter!

3. Protect yourself

In the snow you need to protect your skin from the sun on those beautiful clear days. Sounds unlikely but trust me on this – sunburn from snow can be a surprise horror as the reflected glare from the white snowy ground hits your unprotected skin as much as the rays from above. Save yourself from the panda-eyes effect by using sunscreen on those gorgeous blue bird days.

4. Accessorize darling…

In Australia I thought winter was all about wearing lots of cozy layers and big thick jumpers and coats. Here, I’ve learnt that its the little things that make a huuuuge difference. Winter accessories are a must – you 100% cannot leave the house without a scarf, hat and gloves or you will freeze. The icy winter wind will sneak down your neck, your fingertips may turn purple and without a hat you can forget about ever feeling your earlobes again. The most shocking thing I saw over our Christmas break was an Irish lad skiing without gloves….I don’t know how his hands survived. Accessorize every day!

First night in Vienna

Mum and Dad luvin’ their hat investments…

5. Use the right products

S managed to terrify my mum into thinking her lips were going to freeze and fall off completely when he shared this particular tip, but it is an important one. In winter you need to use different moisturizers and lip balms than you would in summer. A lot of beauty products have water based ingredients, so if you use them in winter weather you will only dry out your skin/lips, causing more pain than you had in the first place. Apothekes here in Austria sell winter lip balm for about €4 so treat yourself to the right products. I promise your lips won’t fall off!

6. Get into the Spirit

Winter can be cold, grey and wet. Or, if you have the right attitude it can also be beautifully white, magical and the perfect time to develop new skills. This is my third winter in Austria and there’s at least 3 new skills I’ve developed in that time. My skiing has improved massively – only possible in winter. I’ve gained an excellent ability for choosing delicious Glüwein – only possible in winter. I’ve ice-skated outside a hilltop palace – only possible winter.

Ice skating at Wilhelmenberg

Ice-skating very carefully at Schloss Wilhemenberg

Overall a cold winter is what you make it – so embrace the many wonderful opportunities winter brings and enjoy it- no one ever had fun spending 3 months inside whining!

What’s your best survival tip for winter? I’m sure I’ve missed a few crucial ones so let me know your strategies in the comments.

Autumn Arrives

It may be fleeting, but Autumn is here and it is spectacular. We spent the last two weekends wandering around the city centre, re-acquainting ourselves with Viennese life and enjoying the slightly less crowded tourist hot spots. This is just a short photo post for you, to get a feel of Vienna right now, we’ll get on to the juicy stuff later this week!

Autumn at Hofburg

Behind Hofburg Palace

Families relaxing in Burggarten

Am Hof

Apartments that look like castles in Am Hof square

Austro-Hungarian Eagle

The Austro-Hungarian two headed Eagle – seen above entrance gates at Palmenhaus

Autumn means one delicious thing – Pumpkin time! Americans may hangout for their Pumpkin Spice lattes from Starbucks, but here in Austria its a little more traditional. Kürbis festivals (pumpkin festivals) are everywhere, celebrating that mighty vegetable the pumpkin. Most importantly, the festivals provide an excuse to sit, talk with friends and drink good wine while enjoying local products.

Kürbis Festival

Herbsfest at Freyung Platz

Kürbis Festival stand

It’s not a festival unless wine is involved!

Of course it wouldn’t be a Viennese weekend without coffee and cake. We went to the historic Cafe Leopold Hawelka to indulge my coffee addiction. Apparently it used to be a hot spot for artists and intellectuals, with big names of post-war Austria like Hundertwasser, Enest Fuchs & Oskar Werner. visting often. The place even lured English speaking legends like Arthur Miller and Andy Warhol into its smoke-filled writers corners. Once the famous song about the Cafe was released in 1975, it became a known tourist spot and the appeal for ‘real’ artists diminished.  They still serve damn fine coffee though, just beware the very Viennese waiters who will ignore you for a while!

Cafe Hawelka
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Modern day visitors soaking up the atmosphere

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The main attraction -Kaffee & Kuchen

All round, I have to say Autumn is close to becoming my favourite season in Vienna, if only for the amazing colours everywhere in the city. I hope you’re enjoying your Autumn just as much!!

Autumn Leaves

Weekend in Wien…pt 2

So, you’ve had a taste of Schönbrunn Palace, a swim on top of the city and enjoyed the heights of Prater Park. If you missed it, check here.

Now for the seriously cultured side of Vienna.

Head first to the Museums Quartier, or MQ as it’s known to the locals. A hub of Museums surround an enclave of cafes and comfy hang out spots within a gorgeous courtyard. This place is always energetic and inspiring.

Official photography from MQ site http://www.mqw.at/de/presse/pressefotos/das-mq/

To fuel the next few hours of looking at art, its imperative to indulge in good coffee. I’m sure that’s why MQ has so many funky cafes, the better to fortify yourself for artistic discoveries!

Graceful Art Excitement

Artistic Prep time in the Leopold Cafe…good to go!!

The Leopold Museum is currently housing a magnificent exhibition of Schiele & Klimt, two big names of the Vienna Secession art movement. An artist friend of mine (http://sarahmasson.com.au/) was in town recently so it was the perfect excuse to finally check out the famous works.

Klimts art is pretty unavoidable in Vienna – he’s a hometown sensation, born and raised in the 14th District of Vienna. Consequently, all souvenir shops are plastered with cheap reproductions of his most famous paintings. 

Pretty sure he never envisioned his work on Tins of Tea

The exhibition in the Leopold is a fascinating exploration of Klimt & Schiele’s lives, well worth spending a few hours exploring. Personally,  the Schiele piece ‘Couple Embracing’ was my favourite, with Klimts  ‘Life and Death’ a close second.  If paintings aren’t your thing , MQ also has museums dedicated to Dance, Architecture, Musical Theatre, Modern Art and even a KinderMuseum for children.

After such a stretch of time inside, you’ll be in need of some sunshine & fresh air – head to the skies my friends. There is a wonderful rooftop cafe about 5 minutes walk from MQ where you can see across the entire Ringstrasse of Vienna. Dachboden comes with views over some of Vienna’s most famous monuments: the Natural & Art History Museums, the Rathaus, the spire of St Stephans, Hundertwassers’ Heating Tower, the WWII era Flak Towers

Dachboden

Stunning blue skies not guaranteed daily!

Rathaus ViewViews over the civilised intersections also included.

The bar itself is very comfy, lots of cosy couches, big communal benches, the terrace is glorious (if you can get a seat) and they serve excellent local cocktails – try the Kaiser Spritz or a Hugo!

Dachboden Terrace

The first of many family rooftop reunions – even Dad is stoked!

From here you can round out the cultural day with a wander into the city centre, known as the 1st District. Stop by the historical Hofburg Palace en route for the must-have photo opportunity. The Hofburg was the winter palace and seat of power for the Habsburg dynasty, and the modern day President of Austria still has his residence here. Its grand, imposing and still as stunning today as when the Kaiser was in power

Hofburg

Spot the symbol of Imperial Austria up top – the double headed Eagle holding a crown 

Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa – mother of modern Austria & Marie Antoinette – will give you her benediction on the way by

Then get up close with some statues, fountains and spectacular architecture in the 1st District

Chilled TritonTriton is looking a bit weary…

Hofburg Palace

...looking at this view all day must be exhausting for him… 

The 1st district is full of historical buildings, cobbled streets and ‘Fiaker’, the traditional horse & carriages of Vienna . Wandering up little alleys is the best way to find hidden treasure bookshops, cafe’s and artisan stores.  More about my favourite stops to come in a future post! Wrapping up your short weekend in Vienna with a leisurely stroll through the historical centre is the best way to soak up the spirit of a city hundreds of years in the making.

Staying longer in Wien? Then check out these suggested activities: Wachau Day Trip or Schloss Belvedere

Wiener Weekender

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:

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?

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Pool 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….

Gloriette & Gardens

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.

Donaukanal

‘Beach’ Bars – bit different to beaches back home!!

Pineapple Street Art

Danube Street Art

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:

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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:

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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!

Prater Turm

Super cute old fashioned token to ride!

After all that adrenelin, rounding out the day with a sugar hit is highly reccommended.

sugarrr

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!

Schloss Belvedere

This is one of my favourite little spots to drop by on a weekend. A princely little Palace smack in the middle of all the new construction underway for Vienna’s new – and surely gigantic – Bahnhof. They reckon it is currently one of the largest construction sites in Europe, but in pure Austrian style, its extremely efficiently run, as every time we come back there seems to be a new building. But enough of Bahnhof construction sites, lets see the Palace!!!

I am a sucker for a Palace and as far as they go, I think I like this a liiittle bit more than Schonbrunn. That may be sacriliege to say to a Viennese as Schonbrunn Palace is their number 1 tourist site, UNESCO World Heritage listed etc etc, but for me, something about the Belvedere feels more simple. Well, in terms of Baroque architecture ‘simple’:

The very ‘simple’ main gates!!!

Its a gorgeous little spot just for a stroll or picnic in the sunshine. The Palace itself also holds art exhibitions and has a long long association with artists and the Vienna Secessionist movement (modern art radicals in the early 1900’s).

This was also the Palace where Franz Ferdinand (yes, THE Franz Ferdinand, not the 4 british lads who write catchy tunes) lived before he was assasinated and got the ball rolling for WWI. If its good enough for a Prince and heir to the Habsburg Empire….

Not a bad place to drop by of an afternoon. But if I’m honest with you guys, I maaayy use the palace as an excuse to visit my absolute favourite cafe and brunch spot in Vienna – Hotel Daniel

Its basically a hipster kids paradise – funky design, Instagram worthy seating and magazines, indie but not overwhelming soundtrack and cute-but-cool menu’s. I love it sooo much, feels like a little slice of Melbourne in the middle of Vienna!! Right down to the fixie bikes attached to the wall, functional use of wooden pallet’s and inappropriate seating hanging from the roof

They do the best brunch I’ve had in Vienna – which as a brunch aficiando is saying something. I cannot reccommend this highly enough and find any excuse when visitor’s are in town to go and visit it!! They use local ingredients where possible and get their cakes and cookie related treats from a local lady who bakes. Adorable.

I have to give entire credit and many many thanks to the amazing  Sushi and Strudel blog for leading me here – http://sushiandstrudel.com/2012/05/10/hotel-daniel/

My advice? Go to see the Palace, but stay to enjoy this little gem of a Bakery!

Spring Awakening!

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….

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 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.

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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!

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 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!!

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 Just look at that picturesque sunset!! Unreal!!

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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!!