During our three day trip to Budapest, we spent one of the days travelling to and from and in Vienna. We only had around 8 hours in the city, so we were limited with what we could see and where we could go. We got the train from Budapest Keleti which, thankfully, was across the street from our hotel at 6.45am. The tickets cost £20 return each and lasting 3 hours, we arrived at Wien Mitte in the heart of Vienna around 10am.
From the station, we walked for fifteen minutes to St Stephen’s Cathedral. We passed through Stadtpark, a small park in the heart of the city with bridges crossing over small parts of the Danube River and through the streets which were lined with white Baroque apartment buildings. Vienna is starkly different from Budapest in architectural terms; whereas the latter is colourful and minimalist, the former is subdued in terms of palette but decorative and ornate. The requirement for residential buildings to be muted, in one way or another, can be seen clearly in the architecture of these two cities. We meandered through the main streets but found ourselves taking rights and lefts here and there, finding churches at the end of understated alleys and stunning courtyards on the other side of vast wooden archways.
St Stephen’s Cathedral, located in the heart of Vienna on Stephansplatz, is a mid-twelfth century gothic construction which embodies the style entirely; impossible panes of glass dominate the walls of the building, supported by buttresses of immense detail, every one of them reaching upwards. Religion is imbued in the building, both inside and out.
After wandering around Stephansplatz, shopping, looking at more churches and architecture and having some lunch we decided to visit Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens – a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the outskirts of the city. We took the subway from the city which cost £1 each, each way and was exceptionally easy to navigate. The former imperial residence is of Baroque style, and one of the world’s largest. The grounds are sprawling, so much so there’s a zoo located within them. After touring the outside of the building and some of the grounds, we visited the zoo, where we saw polar bears feeding amongst many others. We stopped in the vast primate enclosure for some Austrian hot chocolate in the small cafe which walls were decorated with art created by the apes.
That was all we had time for in Vienna, but thankfully we’ll be returning in July 2016 to much warmer weather and lots more time where we can explore the city even more.