Time difference: -7 hours
Visited October 2012
At long last, my first step onto European soil.
More than 10 years since I thought of visiting the continent, I finally had my chance to do so. And while Europe is home to many countries, more often than not, the first question most people will ask me is, ‘Why Austria?’
To be honest, I’m not very sure why I chose Austria. All I knew was that the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland were common places most people would want to visit first, but this was not the case for me. Perhaps it was to do with a compromise on the places that my partner and I very much wanted to visit. Both countries were not adjacent to each other, so I thought maybe we should first give them a miss. Combined with the knowledge of The Sound of Music, of Austria being a place where one can also see the Alps for a dose of nature, it somehow became the choice destination.
Flying by Emirates, we arrived at Vienna International Airport after transiting in Dubai. As the airport had signs in English, it was easy for us to locate the tourist information counter to purchase the Vienna Card, which offered discounts to attractions and free transport within Vienna city. The tourist information counter also provides ticket sales of the City Airport Train (CAT), of which the entrance is located just next to the counter.
Our accommodation for Vienna was Austria Trend Park Royal Hotel, located slightly off from the city centre. In fact, it was much nearer to Schloss Schönbrunn. This became a challenge for us, as the metro station Schönbrunn was pretty far from the hotel. We probably spent about close to an hour trying to figure our way there, as we had problems communicating with the locals, of whom mostly spoke German.
Due to us spending too much time locating the hotel, we could not visit some attractions like we had originally planned, but instead chose to wander and familiarize ourselves with the city centre of Vienna. This resulted in us accidentally coming across Karlskirche, and with the dimming light, we quickly snapped some pictures. Within the church, one can choose to admire the dome’s frescoes by taking the panoramalift and climbing up more steps. However, as the steps creaked too much, it freaked me out a little that I chose not to proceed to the top, but choose to just admire the lower levels of the interior architecture.
Stopping by occasionally to take a quick snapshot of the city at night.
Further wandering saw us finally coming across Vienna State Opera, where we were approached by a costumed sales person, persuading us to buy a concert ticket for the ‘Sound of Vienna’.
After much deliberation, we decided to go ahead with it, because hey, we were in Vienna, the well-known music city of the world. The catch however was that the concert was held at Kursalon Wien; but for about 50€, I think it was alright. Besides, like he said, there are 3 things one should do when in Austria: (1) Visit Stephansdom, (2) Try out the Sacher Cake, (3) Enjoy a concert in Vienna.