We are lucky in that we usually sneak away for a few days in January and this year after pricing up a trip to London we found that for almost the same cost we could zip across to Vienna, so that's what we did. We'd never been before and hadn't really done a huge amount of research but we had a lovely time, even with the cold winter weather!
We basically got ourselves a 72 hour travel pass and, by tram, bus and metro ventured around the inner and outer city doing a wee bit of exploring and sightseeing. There was plenty of choices for museums and culture but we really only had time for one and chose the (upper) Belvedere home, of amongst many other fine pieces, Gustav Klimt's famous The Kiss, which was a real thrill seeing the original.
|The impressive approach to the upper Belvedere, a former palace|
We couldn't but help be impressed by all the impressive architecture and compared to most other capital city's, just how quiet and clean it all seemed.
|The Austrian Parliament building (designed by a Danish architect apparently)|
|St Stephen's Cathedral|
Vienna was also famously the setting of Carol Reed's Third Man movie, based on the Graham Greene novel and starring Orson Welles and while we didn't venture on a tour of the sewers we did visit the Prater amusement park, which is still dominated by the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel, which prominently features in one of the movies memorable scenes.
There was also a special ice skating event, Wien Eistraum, ('Vienna's Ice Dream'), that had just opened where thousands of skaters made their way round a specially constructed track in front of the town hall, surrounded by log cabins serving up delicious fresh cooked food and beer, it reminded us of Manchester's Christmas markets but more relaxed!
We enjoyed wandering around and had fun trying the local food and drink - the coffee houses and cake are as superb as we'd heard and the Ottakringer beer wasn't too bad either. Although we didn't visit the Opera, we did enjoy an evening concert of Mozart, Strauss, ballet and operatics in the chamber room of another former palace so we got a wee flavour of Austrian culture that Vienna is of course famous for, even if I couldn't get that Ultravox song out of my head!