Or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Currywurst”
I try to avoid layovers wherever possible. It’s not that I mind waiting around airports – it’s that I mind not being able to leave them when there’s so much to see outside. Especially as a completionist. By the end of this trip I’ll be changing flights at Delhi Airport, but with there being no time to explore I cannot truly claim to have been to India.
Hence, my layover in Bangkok took two days. Vienna? Fifteen hours. It still counts. I’ve been to Austria now – and with that, I’ve now been to Europe!
Most of the other passengers decided to stay at the airport. Me, I grabbed my day pack then jumped on the next airport train into the city. Unfortunately my
disorganisation rush to pack back in Bangkok meant my day pack was missing a few items I could have used – my phone charger, a change of clothes, and my phrasebook. I don’t speak German- in fact I couldn’t even say “I don’t speak German” correctly (which, in a way, just proves my point.)
I stepped off the train and, on a hunch, decided to turn left. I walked a few blocks with no destination in mind, before deciding to backtrack after finding little of interest. Back at the station I turned left, then shortly saw the spire of Stephensdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral.) And with that, I had a destination to aim for.
Try as I might, I could not get a photo which would do this cathedral justice. It was just too big and I was stuck at ground level. Whilst I did make sure to go into the church itself, what really impressed me was the tilework on the cathedral roof. Certainly nothing like any church I’d seen before!
Mozart’s house was just around the corner, but after a quick peek I found myself wanting to just follow my feet and keep exploring the streets of Vienna. I spent a lot of the time looking up, admiring the buildings and sculptures, before ending up in the Hofburg area. A nearby Roman archaeological site was the highlight – a pit containing the remains of houses and a road, as well as plenty of modern euro coins. Perhaps it has become a wishing well?
I headed over to Karlsplatz, grabbing a currywurst on the way. Spicy sausage with curry powder and ketchup – amazing. I now had a map, and wanted to think about what to do next. Random browsing had lost some novelty – I’m usually happy just wandering and admiring, but all of the buildings had began to merge into one. I guess the Viennese lived by that old adage “if it aint baroque, don’t fix it…”
I swung by the Information Centre before reaching the station but nothing appealed. A second map (not included) which I had picked up, however, displayed the Sigmund Freud Museum near the Votivkirche – another stunning cathedral. Deal! I was worried about the train as there was a €120 fine for not validating a ticket – and I accidentally validated mine twice. The validations blurred each other so I validated a third time on the other side, then hoped I wouldn’t get a horrible ticket collector. In the end there were no collectors on either train I took.
The Freud museum, being his old apartment, was great but limited. Having taken a few psychology papers at university it was fascinating to be in the home of such an influential figure. After seeing everything relevant in the museum, all that was left were a couple rooms dedicated to psychoanalysis-inspired modern “art.” I decided to skip the rest of the museum and instead search for schnitzel.
I had found a place earlier offering €7,50 schnitzel, but it was out of the way back to the railway station so I gave it a miss. Time was running out, so I decided to find something on the way to the railway station. As was to have been expected, all the options near the main streets were overpriced, so I passed those as well. The only place I’d found below €20 served American beer – I was determined to find something a bit more local. Eventually I found a place that suited – MASSIVE schnitzel, with a huge glass of Austrian beer and a coke – totalling €13.
I left Vienna impressed with the baroque architecture and lovely gardens – but it didn’t really connect with me. It was just a nice place. Perhaps if I had more time I could have explored more, and hopefully meet some of the locals. Ideally I could have even left the city limits and see some of the countryside. Lesson learnt, next time I’d aim for at least a coupe of days for any layovers. Overall though, seeing Stephensdom was enough to justify the layover – and it sure beat waiting in the airport for fifteen hours!