Austria, Vienna: Great beer, great people, great architecture

After two solid nights of drinking, three days aimlessly wandering around and six nights of great food, I’ve realised that one week in Vienna is simply not enough. Read about my time in this cold, dark, but awesome place.

Whizzing around with the metro

Travelling around Vienna, or any new city, might seem daunting initially — fortunately getting from A to B is a breeze.

How I got from A to B

A typical metro station in Vienna. This was my local, Kettenbrückengasse.

The Germans are renowned for their efficiency and organisation and their Austrian neighbours certainly took a leaf out of their book. The Metro — or the Vienna U-Bahn — is superbly run, simple to use and allows you to travel around the whole city in as little as 30 minutes.

My apartment was near the Kettenbrückengasse metro station: which yes, is incredibly difficult to say after four or five weissbiers. It’s on the U4 line (green) which runs between Huttledorf and Helligenstadt. There are a total of six lines which intersect at four main stations — Karlsplatz, Landstraße, Praterstern and Handerskal.

Tip: if you’re ever staying in Kettenbrückengasse, just remember ‘kettle broken glass’. Slurred, most taxi drivers will know what you mean.

To get from the airport to Kettenbrückengasse I highly recommend you catch the CAT from platform three at the airport train station, especially if you’re travelling to Vienna for the first time. I did try to play it smart by buying a regular ticket to Wein Mitte, but after travelling for hours my frazzled mind and lack of internet connection couldn’t fathom where to catch the bloomin’ train. The CAT costs €11 — about €8 more than a regular ticket — and will take you directly to Wein Mitte, where you can then transfer to the Landstraße metro station. It’s a bit of a rip-off when compared to a regular ticket, but it’s great for tourists or those in a rush.

Fortunately from Landstraße I was able to take the U4 directly to Kettenbrückengasse, dump my bags and head straight out after a quick refresher. From Kettenbrückengasse, Karlsplatz was my main changing point, where I would jump on the U2 (red line) and ride to either Stephansplatz or Schwedenplatz — both of which took me smack-bang into the city centre, where I was greeted with the awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral. What a welcome.

I take all my own photos, but sadly it was tricky in Vienna as it was always dark.

First impressions

As always when I visit a new city, my first day/evening/night is spent aimlessly wandering around in an attempt to take in the new surroundings. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Vienna in January is very, very cold — as this day was a particularly miserable day I decided to retreat into the first welcoming pub I could see, Bermuda Bräu, for a proper Austrian pint and to celebrate my 25th birthday.

As I made myself at home next to the bar, the first thing I was offered wasn’t a menu, nor even a smile and a hello, but an ashtray. After a drunken conversation with a local later on in the night, it transpired that the far-right party currently in power had blocked the smoking ban and as such, smoking is legal in Austrian bars. This would prove to be the only downside while here, as every night I’d come home with the black lung and my clothes reeking of cigarettes. Smoking is so well engrained in the Viennese culture to the point where I’m convinced most people fly out of the womb with a cigarette in their hand. Everybody seemed to be smoking, although I imagine this isn’t the case.

If you’re looking for gorgeous visual art to reminisce about your time in Vienna then I recommend Displate’s Austrian Skyline.

Lemmon Bar,
Club Fragezeichen and my first night out in Austria

After a tasty burger and a couple of weissbiers (wheat beer, very refreshing and only €3.50 a pint in the capital) I decided to check out a Couchsurfing meet-up at Lemmon Bar, as there was no chance I was spending my birthday on my own.

Like most of these events I’ve been to things started off slow, but soon I got talking to a few locals who gave some solid advice to a newcomer. I found out it was illegal to cross the road without using a crossing and that Austria has a far-right party pretty ingrained into the current political system (don’t let that put you off, Vienna is nowhere near far-right — I was told that they’ve gained a more prominent voice as the other parties have been pretty incompetent and most Austrians are sick of the countless gaffes).

Alright, not the most revealing facts, but I was more interested in hearing the stories from nationalities I’d never met before, including an Iranian guy and Syrian woman. We often have prejudices about people from these notorious regions, mainly due to their portrayal in the media, but after meeting them and listening to what felt like their behind-the-scenes views of their own countries, Iran seems to be a reassuringly safe place to visit. Maybe one day I’ll visit also. That’s the beauty of these events, they open yourself up to new ideas.

At around midnight we shifted over to Club Fragezeichen, or Club Question Mark in English. Initially, we were turned down for unknown reasons, but then after about 10 minutes one of the girls somehow managed to get us all in. Result. The club is actually below a restaurant and was pretty small, but not super busy — enough to throw some shapes and blast through bottles of Heineken at a dire €5 a bottle. Tactically, I decided to not announce my birthday until around 1am in the attempt to get people who I’d never met until tonight to buy me drinks. It worked. There was jubilation in the air and the free shots didn’t stop, which was great at 3 in the morning but not for my head the next day. All-in-all a great birthday to bring in my first quarter century.

Tip: If it’s your birthday and you’re at a couchsurfing drinking event, wait until everyone is drunk. Guaranteed free drinks.

And that pretty much sums up my first night in Vienna. When I get chance I’ll drop an article about sights to visit and some of the awesome food I ate while here. Thanks for reading!

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Sounds Awesome ash
Germany , Austria.& Poland are mint been to all more times than I can remember
can’t get enough of wiessbier 🍻 enjoy pal .

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