The return home from my 68 Hours in Singapore afforded me the luxury of a night in Vienna. While I could have found an alternate route home, it would have cost more miles and eaten into my time in Singapore (or added a day to this trip). I love Vienna. This Vienna layover was short. I had 15 hours from the time the door on my inbound flight opened until my outbound door closed.
What would I do with this time? I had a a beautiful suite at the Hotel Bristol, so just relaxing in luxury was an option. There were no shows at the stunning Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), so that was out. I wasn’t in the mood for fine dining experience (shocker, I know!), so what is a guy to do?
The hotel recommended that I hop on a street car and head out to a huge park on the edge of the City. That’s where the Viennese go when it is hot (and it was 33C when I landed at 19h00). Splendid idea. The street car took about 25 minutes to reach the end of the line. The park was beautiful, very natural, with trails in various levels of manicure which led to a large lake. When I arrived it was getting dark, so not many people were left hanging out. I spent about 45 minutes walking around, enjoying nature in a fabulous city. It was starting to get dark and I was afraid I’d get trapped out here in the pitch black – there were NO LIGHTS in this park.
Heading back on the street car, I rode past my stop up to the Rathausplatz – City Hall Plaza. I figured I’d just walk around and make my way back to my hotel. What do I hear, once I’m off the Street Car? Music. Laughter. A crowd. Was this, what Chicagoans call, a Street Fest?
It was! But it wasn’t like a normal Street Fest. This Platz was not only lined with food and booze vendors, but there was a large screen strung up in front of the Rathaus. Surrounding the screen was bleachers. On the screen: A 2002 production of Swan Lake. Yes, a 16 year old recording of the ballet had drawn several thousand Viennese out at 22h00 on a Sunday night. The Platz was electric.
I’m not a huge ballet fan, but I do love warm weather, beer and dining al fresco. I grabbed a lager, walked around the crowd, yes, even watched part I’d the production.
The most fascinating food booth called to me. Wienerschnitzel. Made fresh while you watched. This culinary assembly line kept the crowd as enthralled as the ballet. It had been about 4 hours since I had the prelanding meal on Austrian, plus the beer, I was famished.
The Wienerschnitzel and Potatoes were amazingly perfect. Usually I think if this as a cold weather dish, it paired perfectly with the heat, the beer and the fresh air.
I had no plans for my time in Vienna, but stumbled upon this absolutely perfect evening. Music, dancing, food and drink. Who could ask for anything more? Have you ever come across a surprisingly great event like this before? What would you have done with your handful of hours in Vienna? Would you have relaxed in the beautiful suite or would you have gone out to explore?