I imagine this is what standard backpacking looks like. Landing in a city and hitting the ground running to squeeze everything into as few days as possible. It’s certainly a change for me, and it was fun but it sure was tiring! Still, I do the same things I do in every city, I ate, I checked out markets, and I went to a cemetery. Ok the last one only happens in some cities. I’m not sure I could keep up learning so much about a city that quickly and remembering it all if I did this for every place I went. Luckily Vienna kept it packed with interesting tidbits to make it easy on me.
As soon as I got into town at the train station, I saw a bunch of young, hip adults wandering around in lederhosen and dirndls. Finally as I sat down on the subway I decided to find out what was going on and asked the couple across from me. First I asked if they spoke English, and they said they did a little. This is, of course, where we have a completely fluent conversation in English. When I say I speak a little Spanish, this is not what I mean at all. Anyways, so they told me that Vienna recently started their own version of Oktoberfest in a giant park and told me I should go, encouraging me to buy my own dirndl. Alas I have no room in my bag for that nor 40 euros to spend on beer gardens. Perhaps another year.
Instead I decided to wander around the old town. What a beautiful sight at night! You can’t walk one block without seeing some beautiful building or age weathered statue. Austria must have the world’s longest list of heroes to supply so many.
I marveled at the well populated streets late into the night with whole families strolling. Everyone looked so cultured in button down shirts, sweaters and blazers. The busker at the subway stop was playing a harp. Only midway through my own walk did I realize it was “Late Night at the Museum”, which meant all the I assume hundreds of museums were open til 1 AM. What a wonderful annual event! to bring people out onto the streets. I found out too late to really make it worth it but it was a great opportunity to people watch. The sidewalks and squares were still quite full as I walked back at midnight.
The first day was a wonderful 70 degrees, tricking me into a false sense of security. My second day, the only real full day, ended up being a cold, gray and rainy affair. Fitting, as I was going to go wander around the giant cemetery. Vienna is not a big place so I could walk from my hotel all the way through the old town in less than an hour.
The cemetery is out in the suburbs though, past where the subway runs even. So I hopped on tram 71 to head out there. This is a pretty old tram line and I heard that people used to use the tram to transport the dead to the cemetery. So there was an euphemism for dying where one was “taking tram 71”.
The cemetery is a sprawling complex and contains the various famous composers of Austria. These graves were kept immaculately with beautiful fresh flowers. Their tombstones often had elaborate statues that really made the place look more like a park than a cemetery from afar. All cemeteries are giant green spaces though, so I wish we had less of a morbid fear of them so we could utilize all that green space n every city.
I tired of looking at all the Strauss tombstones and set out wandering the back parts of the cemetery. I found the other less famous graves more entertaining.
After checking out the biggest cemetery in the city, I headed to a small mass grave. Mozart has a memorial in the big cemetery but in his times, everyone was buried in mass graves.
My last day, or morning really, I spent visiting two markets. The first was the touristy naschmarkt. It was full of overpriced international restaurants and people aggressively selling clothing and knick knacks. I took it as a bad sign that I went in the latemorning and it wasn’t really all open yet, they were still setting up for a lunch rush.
After lunch I took a quick stop at the karmelitamarkt. In much better impressions, it was open in the mornings and in the evenings when people get off work. Now that’s a working market! Unfortunately that meant when I got there in the afternoon few things were open.
Vienna is a delightful and regal city that I wish Ic ould’ve spent more time in. The honest truth is though, that I don’t think I could’ve afforded much more. I was just taking a trip to let the guys back in Budapest fix my laptop and I’ll be happy when I can head south to the coast like I originally planned to.