By now, I don't mind when I set off solo traveling. It’s not for everyone but I quite enjoy that idea of having to rely on anyone but yourself. I always have the need to reconnect with myself. It’s cliche, but it’s true. And Vienna is a perfect place to do just that!
Air China offers a cheap direct flight from Barcelona to Vienna so that makes it even a better choice. I've already been to Vienna but merely just a couple of hours inside the Vienna Airport International Terminal. That was during my trip to Dubrovnik. Just missing one more thing and I’m all set — accommodation. This time, I tried to contact a local host from an accommodation-sharing site and it’s surprisingly cheap!
Considering Vienna is usually ranked high on the "expensive city list”, I got my own private room at the city center priced for 35 EUR per night. That’s a nice warm, single-bedroom close to the main shopping street called Mariahilferstraße and just two minutes walk to Westbahnhof or West station.
Vienna is Wien in the local language — Wien in German and Wean in Austro-Bavarian. There's always something different about Viena. I can still recall that elegant vibe with Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube" waltz playing in my ears. That’s the feeling I had when I first set foot in the city.
Although the famed Danube river is not clearly seen from the city center, it is, for a fact, most celebrated in Vienna than any other city in Europe. I did get my first glance of the Danube on my way to the Schönbrunn Palace (U4, Schönbrunn Station) — the former imperial summer residence of the Hapsburg and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
It felt walking like a royal at Schönbrunn. Right past the iron gates, the golden yellow Schönbrunn Palace is a standout panning from a humongous courtyard and garden complex. I heard the tour inside the palace is sensationally good but I chose to be cheap and just cheerfully climbed the front balcony to marvel its elegance up close, albeit exterior. It has that nice contrast between baroque magnificence and the beauty of nature.
At the back of the palace, I continued my walking tour along the symmetrical garden of the Great Parterre with a distant view of the Neptune Fountain and the backdrop of a green hill upon which stands the Gloriette building. The view of the city from the top makes that winding uphill climb worth it.
Time to discover the city! There's nothing like a walking tour where you get a real feel of the city and the locals. Just by the Westbahnhof (West station), I started walking down the longest shopping mile in Vienna called Mariahilferstraße or as the locals call it, Mahü.
Between fine shops, historical cafés and luxury hotels, I’ve got my eyes stuck on the buildings, museums, and churches with the prominent emerald green-tiled roofs. Starting from the Baroque parish church of Mariahilf to the 19th-century Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches) facing the architecturally mirrored Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches) at the Prominent square of Maria-Theresien-Platz.
Just a few more walks and there’s the majestic Habsburg Imperial palace complex (my personal favorite) and Vienna's Ringstrasse with some of the most important sights in the city — Vienna State Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Can't get enough walking so I ended up at the St. Stephen's Cathedral with its beautiful large cupola and finally got lost in the streets of Flea Market at Naschmarkt with all sorts of rarities from antiques, oil paintings, coins to porcelain.
And to top it all — Vienna's finest Wiener Schnitzel! Perfectly crisp on the outside and inside, you get that moist and tender meat, so tasty. Need I say more? Oh, and the pretzels, too. Can't get enough of them!
Don't forget to check out my side trip to Salzburg.