Very Vienna

A trip with purpose

We spent a few days in Vienna, mainly because I had a good reason to go there. We stayed in the 25 Hours hotel. Apart from a small hiccup with the room (which the staff sorted out quickly and without any fuss), it proved to be a good choice. Well located for all the museums and main tourist attractions, and for the tram and Metro networks. It felt properly central.

I loved spending a lot of time in the Natural History museum. The collections of fossils, rock samples and meteorites were among the best I’ve ever seen, and particularly well displayed. Not many museums surprise you with wit, but this one did: amid a series of fairly staid and standard fossils in glass-topped cases, a plastic replica of an early mammal catches your eye, climbing up out through the glass of its case. Lovely.

We walked for miles, as you do when you visit a European city. After trekking for hours through Prater Park and various quiet backstreets, the Danube was disappointing. We expected the romantic river, but we got the dull functional one. The bit of river bank we found ourselves on was the bit where river cruise vessels moor up. We decided that one day we’ll have to go and see the Danube somewhere else – Prague or Budapest. 

Vienna’s whole relationship with its river felt odd to me. Most capital cities on major rivers are centered on the river, which acts as the heart of the city and provides a focus for so much of its life. The Thames in London, the Seine in Paris. But Vienna and the Danube are sort of adjacent, rather than entwined. The focus of the city is a mile or so south of the river, not on its banks. Not complaining; just something that stuck me.