Vienna is quite simply a beautiful city. It is renowned for its incredible architecture so everywhere you look there is always something stunning in front of you. The city is also famous for its many other arts; the theatre, orchestra and paintings. Back in the day, renowned composers such as Beethoven and Mozart were drawn to this city by its artistic culture, and it is here that many of their fine works evolved.
Between 1945-1980 a bloodless struggle between the eastern and western countries (mainly US and USSR) known as the ‘Cold War’ erupted. This was not a typical war where there were epic battles between soldiers, it was more of a political war. Essentially the US feared the spread of communism mainly because the Soviets and Chinese had already adopted the model, and all this tension eventually resulted in the US getting involved in both the Korean and Vietnam in an attempt to stop communism in its tracks. Now Austria stayed neutral during this whole situation and it is partly due to this that the United Nations decided to build one of their headquarters in Vienna.
We visited the UN Headquarters and we’ve got to say, it is amazing the work that they are doing. The land that the headquarters are built on are considered ‘extra-territorial’, meaning that whilst it is technically in Austria, the Austrian government has no power over these headquarters (even though the government actually own the building).The Vienna base is considered to be involved in very ‘technical’ projects, with currently over 50 projects in the works. Their main projects revolve around nuclear power and it is their job to ensure that no country is undertaking illegal nuclear testing. In 1996 most of the countries (except Pakistan, India and North Korea) signed a treaty agreeing to cease all nuclear testing. Prior to that more than 2000 tests were undertaken worldwide, with over 1000 tests completed by the US.
So getting back on track to the city of Vienna itself; its a huge city and all the attractions are spread far and wide so our public transport ticket came in very handy. The Austrian people themselves probably aren’t the most warm or friendly, but my trusty Lonely Planet guide already warned me about that. Everybody here speaks German, but most of those living in the city can get by with some English. One of Jason’s old high school friends Matt has been living in Vienna for 5 years working as an architect and was able to give us a few tips and take us to a Viennese cafe for dinner. Its quite surreal coming to these cafes as they have a very 70’s feel to them; lots of people leaning back on their couches reading their newspapers whilst others sitting with their friends having dinner. Quite an unusual concept for me to get my head around, but it definitely works for this city.
Now this is one of the few major European cities that don’t offer a free walking tours as their law prohibits this. So to avoid spending 25 Euros each on a group walking tour, we download the Pocket Guide to Vienna app for 3 Euros which allowed us to to self guided tours of this city. This was a great way for us to go to the major sites such as the:
*Hofburg – previous residence of the Habsburgs
*Augustine Church – where Napolean got married
*Prince Albert’s Palace
*National Opera – considered the best opera of Central Europe
*Albert or Danubius Fountain
*Volkstheater – the people’s theatre
*University of Vienna
and much much more!
We also took a bit of trip outside the city to the Viennese woods. Whilst it hadn’t quite hit spring and all the trees were barren, it was absolutely beautiful, So peaceful and quiet and very well marked. We probably only walked about 3-4km, but it was well worth the trip. After this we visited one of Vienna’s main attractions the Schonbrunn which is a huge estate with a beautiful palace and incredible gardens. We however didn’t want to pay the 20 Euro each so we managed to sneak through the back, took our photos and left. Winning!
So next up, training to Salzburg for my birthday weekend!
Until next time,
Ann & Jason xo