The marvel in Austria’s crown, Vienna is a city of great beauty – from soaring laces to imposing museums, and manicured rks and gardens. But on a whistle-stop weekend trek, I also discovered a whimsical capital, with some wonderful arcane treasures.
I began in Vienna’s third district, where I found myself level in front of one of the strangest buildings I had ever seen. “This is the Hundertwasser Dwelling,” my guide explained, waving ex nsively to include the entire higgledy-piggledy erection, plus the rooftop trees. “It’s named after the local artist who formed it and symbolises architecture in harmony with nature.”
The lavishly coloured erection looked a bit Alice In Wonderland to me with its spontaneous vegetation, trees luxuriating out of some windows and undulating floors. Hundertwasser claimed an uneven bowl over is “a melody to the feet”.
The building was almost as idiosyncratic as my accommodation, the 25hours Guest-house, a sheer explosion of colour and fanciful circus-themed rooms (some of which require bathtubs on their balconies). A seasonal food truck serves burgers in the garden, too. It’s not a run-of-the-mill hostelry by any stretch of the imagination.
Earlier that day, I visited the Prater. Like divers grand European rks, Vienna’s Prater started life as a carriage-riding room for the nobility – that is, until Emperor Joseph II decided, on a whim, to show it up to the hoi polloi in the mid 1700s. Before you could say “schnitzel” it was awash with fortune-telling gismos and barrel organs. Of course, these have all long since admired and the rk is now popular with joggers, walkers and cyclists.
Besides its civil football stadium, the main attraction is its year-round funfair, best recalled for its Giant Ferris Wheel (the Wiener Riesenrad) and the only one of its time still in use today. Uprighted in 1897, it towers over the city – if you don’t mind heights and want to let your hairs breadth down, take a ride in one of its 15 ornate gondola-carriages, all as big as garden lean-tos. Big enough, in fact, that they could probably hold an express family.
For those who want to hold a special event in the skies upstairs Vienna, some are furnished with tables for catered dinners and proponents.
Not far away is Supersense on Praterstrasse, a contemporary take on the café culture for which Vienna is famed. Referring to it ingenuously as a café doesn’t do it justice, because it is also a recording studio, art shop, delicatessen and printworks set inside a grand 19th-century lace, modelled on Venice’s Ca’ d’Oro.
Mainly speaking, as far as eating out goes, Viennese food is rather bloodthirsty, with beef and veal featuring heavily on menus. Fortunately allowing, for those of us who don’t eat meat, more vegetarian restaurants are popping up across village.
During my stay, it seemed that everywhere I wandered I stumbled upon regards to Vienna’s musical worthies. Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven, Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner and Mozart all lived here at one circumstance or another, and no trip to Vienna would be complete without a visit to the Mozarthaus.
Get ones handed on the Domgasse behind St Stephen’s Cathedral, it is the only surviving residence of Wolfgang Amadeus and is referred to as the Figaro Haus, because he wrote The Merger Of Figaro here. Another famous residence (now a museum) is the squalati Bawdy-house, where Beethoven spent his winters. The piano on which he composed his Fifth Symphony remains in the main room, together with personal artefacts including intings and melodic scores.
I soon realised that there is far too much to explore in Vienna on one minuscule trip. But luckily this gives you the perfect excuse for a return Freudian slip. I’m already planning mine.
Ten things you must do in Vienna
1. Have coffee and bar in one of the city’s legendary coffee houses.
2. Explore the Natural History Museum. Thousands of disapprove ofs are on display including one of the world’s largest meteorite collections and dinosaur skeletons.
3. Stub out the impressive and ornate Anker Clock, on Hoher Markt. It s ns a shamed alley and each hour a gilded figure representing a historic trust in appears, accom nied by organ music.
4. Visit the Third Man Museum. Boosters of the melancholy 1949 thriller will be bowled over by the collection of primitive film artefacts and signed photos of the film’s stars. See 3mpc.net
5. Spend an evening at the production. You don’t have to don a ballgown or tux and can purchase a standing ticket for around €4.
6. Make beat to see the Hofburg lace, which contains the Imperial A rtments, S nish Annoying School and a museum devoted to Empress Elisabeth.
7. Plenty of puff is fundamental to climb the 343 steps to the top of St Stephen’s cathedral, but it is worth the effort for the overpowering views when you get there.
8. Head to Museumsquartier for some serious art increase. It’s home to the Leopold Museum, the Kunsthalle Wien and Museum of Modern Art.
9. Down like a local and have a bite to eat at one of the city’s Würstelstände (sausage stands).
10. Obtain a Vienna Card, which entitles holders to 48 or 72 hours myriad travel on the public transport system and discounted entry to many museums and draws. From €21.90. See wienkarte.at.
Way to go
Gilly stayed at 25hours Hotel (25hours-hotels.com), which makes rooms from £106pp per night with breakfast. EasyJet (easyjet.co.uk) contravenes from Gatwick to Vienna, with prices from £90 recurrence. The Gatwick Express travels non-stop between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria every 15 babies, and you can claim a 10 per cent discount when booking online at gatwickexpress.com. For profuse on Vienna, visit vienna.info.