Life gives us precious gifts that at first may not appear positive but once you let it be, the gift reveals themselves.
If you find yourself stranded in Flughafen Wien, Vienna Airport like I was two weeks ago. Here’s what you should do. Take the CAT Express train to Wien Mitte. The train runs frequently and takes you to the heart of the city in 15 minutes for just 17 Euro round trip. The train offers comfy seats, reading material and awesome views of the many oil and gas refineries along the train tracks, some rolling hills, and the Vienna suburbs. Make sure you stand in the right part of the platform or you’ll miss the train like I did obsessing over my selfies.
Once you arrive into Wien Mitte, you’ll emerge into a large modern shopping mall. However, as soon as you leave the confines of Wien Mitte, you will begin to see the historic city. A few blocks from the station, away from the hustle and bustle, you will find Katholische Kirche St. Othmar unter den Weißgerbern. This beautiful church is set on a quiet corner with benches and fountains dating back centuries. On the particular evening I visited, older women with handkerchiefed heads sat and talked for a few minutes before heading into the church to say their Friday prayers. Other neighbourhood residents played with their kids and exchanged guarded but welcomed nods as I walked and observed my surroundings. As it was the first week of Lent, I entered the church like the ladies had done. The charm and the majesty of old churches always gets me. I couldn’t have found a better place to celebrate the first Friday of Lent. I exited the church with renewed energy to continue my Vienna nighttime sightseeing.
Vienna has an artistic and intellectual legacy influenced by some of its famous residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The city showcases some of its artistic majesty in the Museums Quartier district. The historic and contemporary buildings display works by Egon Schiele, and other artist. It was dark and I didn’t know where I was going but saw a sign to KuntsHausWien. KunstHausWien is a museum designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and houses the world’s only permanent exhibition his work. Hundertwasser is known for his use of bright colours and organic forms. When I got to the museum it was closed and very dark but I saw some of the colourful architecture of Hundertwasser’s work through the gates in the dark.
I noticed running water across the street from the museum which I realised was the Donaukanal. Like many cities, Vienna is split by water and the active life of the city revolve around the water. As I walked along the canal and enjoyed the evening air, local joggers and bikers speed past me on their daily exercise routes. There are little gems of street art that flower the walls bordering the canal. Even though I didn’t understand most of the words spray painted, I recognised the historical face of Che Guevara and English words like “SOLIDARITY” “FREEDOM” and “PEACE”.
The city is filled with history and is known for its Imperial palaces including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer home, Winterpalais des Prizen Eugen and so many more amazing regal houses. Sauntering down a quiet street, I came across the Winter Palace and a few minutes later St. Peter’s Catholic Church. Vienna’s layout makes strolling the streets easy and stumbling into masterpiece after masterpiece felt effortless as though I was on a guided tour. The beauty of the city helped me forget that Adolf Hitler is from Austria and Vienna was witness to some our World’s darkest history. However, the beauty and charm of the city reminded me that experiencing and seeing things first hand puts the World into perspective.
I can not wait to visit Vienna again in the daytime so I can visit the museums, attend a Viennese Ball, and listen to live Mozart. So if you get stranded in a city, explore it, experience it.
From Far Left- Katholische Kirche St. Peter;Katholische Kirche St. Othmar unter den Weißgerbern; Town square unnamed near Neuer Markt 4; Shop window in Seidlgasse 14; Winterpalais des Prizen Eugen.