I don't know whether it was travel fatigue or staying in the world's noisiest hotel (i swear the place had been designed to amplify any noise) or what, but I felt like I couldn't really get into Vienna. Most of the time I wanted to opt out of being on holidays and just nap. I stayed in Vienna a week. Maybe if I'd stayed a shorter time, I'd have had the impetus to see everything, maybe if I'd stayed longer, I'd have gotten into the vibe of the city. I don't know.
My opt-out-iveness was so extreme that, in a city renowned for coffee shops, I went to Starbucks. Seriously, I never go to Starbucks.
To make matters worse, the things I wanted to do ended up being impossible. The opera is shut over summer. I wanted to do a night tour of the zoo and there was a place available but, when I went to book it, was told I couldn't do it unless I spoke German. It was too hot to eat cakes even.
I did make it to the Vienna zoo, which has FIVE kinds of bears! I have never seen both polar bears and pandas in the same zoo before. There were also black bears, red pandas and these other little bear guys who's name I've forgotten.
The zoo was overrun with monster children though. Do not travel in school holidays, it never works out well.
So, in summary:
- Vienna old town reeks of horse shit. I am not sure why they need to have a zillion horse-drawn carriages around the city. There is nothing romantic about that smell.
- There are a lot of palaces and things to go see if you are into that kind of thing.
- In summer, there seems to be a few "beach" bars along the canals as well as other summer entertainment.
- Do NOT ever go to the supermarket on Sunday in Vienna. Nothing else will be open so you might think you need to there but, when you find an open supermarket, it is absolute bedlam. I couldn't even see the registers from the end of the checkout line and people kept pushing and shoving. When you finally get near the register, the woman in front of you will have forgotten to weigh her fruit so the check out chick will go do it for her (fuck knows why when there are 50 people waiting in line). It is hell. If you need to buy stuff, go to the wurst (sausage) stand. They sell everything you will need.
- Prater is awesome if you like theme parks faded from their former glory (which I do).
- When you go to a fancy Viennese coffee house, the coffee isn't that great and it's expensive. I think most of the famous ones are very tourist-oriented. On the last day, I found a little hipster coffee shop near my hotel. The coffee was much cheaper and better. I guess it depends how much you want to pay for olde worlde atmosphere.
- All the tours, well the English ones, reference this film, The Third Man. I'd never heard of it. Nothing references the book or film Hotel New Hampshire but, if you search around online, you can some interesting stuff.