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A Rainy Summer Weekend in Vienna

I have already talked about my trip and stay in Germany extensively, which you can read  about by clicking here to follow the link. My next stop was Vienna in Austria. I found a discounted train trip on Google for just under 13 Euros (one of the few trains Google resells in Europe). Good thing too because Google ensured I could book in English and not German, which is spoken in both countries.

The train was a high-speed Deutsche Bahn train that took just over four hours to reach its destination and on top of that, I found the economy class seats to be quite comfortable. This being Germany and Europe, you can bring food and drink on the train, including beers. I had bought some Belgium beers at Biervarna in Munich and took the opportunity to enjoy some of them on this trip. It was a rainy Saturday morning and I connected to the Munich main train station (Ostbahnhof) through the U Bahn.

The D Bahn to Vienna takes you through rural Germany, giving you a view of the country’s agricultural side, including cattle farms and expansive maize and tomato farms. There’s also small towns and a few big cities on the way, including Salzburg at the Austrian border, which by the way, you can visit from Munich within a day. I never got to visit Salzburg and its infamous castles as my attempt at a last minute trip encountered prices which I felt were a little bit too high. However, booking the night before would have been pretty much affordable on GoEuro or even on Flixbus and the DBahn.
The St. Anthony of Padua Church in Vienna
The train trip is shorter on the Austrian side, and we were soon at the Vienna Ostbahnhof. While the weather here was equally rainy, I came to learn that Vienna tends to have more extreme weather. Munich has fairly cool rainy days in summer, but here in Vienna, it was rainy and chilly-windy. I had to find a shop where I could buy a jacket, which I luckily found at 15 Euros at a shop along this boulevard near the main train station.

I also misread my Google Maps app and ended up walking in the wrong direction away from the city centre for about 5 kilometres, which took me to the Balkan side of Vienna. This really was not the glitzier part of the city and it was also a bit boring save for a couple of brick Catholic churches. The area was also characterised by a lot of road construction.

Now, one thing you immediately notice about Vienna is that it’s not Munich. There are remarkably fewer BMWs and Audis. Here, they come off more like luxury cars rather than the everyday cars in Munich.

In the next hour, I was able to find my way back to the more touristy side of Vienna, which still had some road construction near the CBD. Vienna’s CBD is entirely a tourist zone and spots aged and magnificent buildings that attract thousands of human beings every day who come to gawk and stare at them. The streets here have cobblestone and there are even old-school horse-drawn carriages to take you around.

Even more magnificent than the buildings are the churches, which do have quite a lot of details. A number of these churches were surrounded by scaffolding and were undergoing renovation having been standing for hundreds of years.
A section of Vienna’s CBD
One of the things that stands out about Vienna is the glitz and glamour of the shops that line the city centre. These include most of the popular fashion houses, with well lit and large window displays. The shopping experience here stands out from the rest of Western Europe’s cities - note that I have not been to Paris and London. Decked in gold and playing shelf to finely crafted leather shoes that create this emotional connection with you, this is definitely someplace that you would like to come and worship the religion of shopping.

And just like Munich, Vienna is similarly characterised by lots of public parks. It also has a rich variety of restaurants, including some new additions - Balkan restaurants. The city is also very safe to walk around including late at night, and the residents reminded me that Vienna had just been selected as the most livable city in the world, even ahead of Munich, in case I had any doubts.

When night struck, I tried a few clubs here. Just like the rest of Europe, club life kicks off at midnight and clubs tend to require reservations or have cover charges. However, I did find a gay bar and club known as “Why Not”, which I found livelier than the typical Vienna club scene. The music here had more variety than the typical European drab and the lighting at the disco was out of this world.
Vienna’s shopping district by night - also within the CBD
It is important to note that the city centre is quite small and very crowded due to the number of tourists. For that reason, it is easier to walk around Vienna at night, and you do not lose much as it is well lit, though, well, different from daylight.

My other Vienna highlight was getting to visit the Danube (which a kind lady I later met pointed out is pronounced more as da-newb rather than da-nu-beh). The Danube is Europe’s second largest river, and coming from a country where large rivers are just a dozen or so metres wide, I really wanted to see this river that comes complete with its own sizeable islands.

The Danube is a reminder of Europe’s age, old Vienna was based around the river and this can still be seen from the prominence that the river plays to the city. The river begins somewhere in Germany and makes its way to the Black Sea which borders Romania, Ukraine, Russia and most of Eastern Europe. This makes the river an important waterway as it allows water vessels to move between Rotterdam on the other end of Europe all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, touching all countries in between.

The river does split severally as it makes its way through the city. I chose the Reichsbrucke Bridge as my viewing point as it allowed me to cross The Danube twice. This river splits thrice with a narrower stream passing close by the city centre and the main river passing by a few kilometres down the road with a large island by its middle.
Part of the Danube in Vienna as viewed from the Reichsbrücke
The smaller stream is a large river by African standards, while the Reichsbrucke Bridge is quite high and even wider, complete with a train station inside it! At this point, the Danube includes a few artificial beaches and even docks for a few passenger boats.

I was lucky to catch a few barges making their way both upstream and downstream and I was similarly lucky to catch a wind-sailing event which I spent two hours watching.

Somewhere along the way to the Danube, there was also a large cannabis farm and weed shop, complete with a display exhibiting the growing plants and the high-wattage lights that keep them warm in winter and provide artificial sunlight to keep them going.

I did not get to see much else of the historic attractions spread across the city, though I caught a glimpse of some of it on a bus to Vienna’s main train station. You can take a bus/train ride around the city for a single unlimited fee, which may be faster than trying to walk around, though not much as fun.

The Vienna central train station feels modern and is quite expansive with more than 16 boarding platforms. I caught my overnight train to Italy here. The first thing that stood out was that the train was not as comfortable as the Duestchebahn from Germany. Interesting enough, I came to find out that the Austrian overnight trains were purchased from the Dbahn who had discontinued their use, and from their discomfort, it is not hard to tell why they might not have been so popular.

The train carriages are further divided into small cabin of 6 seats, with three facing each other on opposite sides. Thus, it may be awkward if a cabin is occupied by strangers and especially if it is full. The Dbahn’s front-facing seats are more private and preferable. On the plus, the Austrian OBB overnight train allows two opposite seats to be enjoined to make a flatbed, which is something the reclining seats of the DBahn can't do.
An Austrian village as viewed from the overnight OBB to Italy
The OBB overnight train to Italy does pass through amazing and scenic countryside, largely due to the Alps but which I feel may be enjoyed more during the day rather than from a night train. The train slows down at some point in the night and has a stopover at Villach a few hours from the Italian border.

It is also an interesting train as it merges with a train from Germany to form a single train, before later splitting at some point to again become two trains to different points in Italy. So if you do pick a carriage that you are not assigned to, you may find yourself on the wrong train which then means that you may then have to spend extra cash buying a ticket on additional trains to your destination.

Due to an increase in migrants to Europe, the train has a passport and Visa check at the Austrian/Italian border. It also happened to be the only time that I had police in Europe ask to see my passport.


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