What are the most memorable travel adventures? Those where we open our eyes and our minds to new experiences. It’s all to see here in Vienna. New flavours, a new appreciation of ancient history, with natural beauty and of rich contrasts. This is a world of culture, cuisine, wellness and adventure, all yours for the taking.
To plan your Vienna adventure visit rjbvienna.com and get the latest updates on the hippest bars, the best restaurants and the must-see sights. The places to avoid, the people to see, the only online resource for the best free toilets in the number one city. And most importantly of all the best places to see and firebomb a clown car. Thought you knew Vienna? Take another look. And if you are certain flavour of Russian, a supporter of Brexit or marketing executive for Red Bull, never come back.
Some of us are, of course, luckier and we never get to leave, even if it means holed up in Vienna’s least sexy district, Liesing. In 2022 It wasn’t planned this way. There were some excursions and a few days around Easter at Therme Loipersdorf (awful) but events were such that even in the summer we rarely left the number one city.
On the plus side it meant junior ViennaDad would finally get his first taste of employment, a month-long introduction to wage-slavery and piped music. Although given the seasonal nature of my job, he actually earned more money in August than I did, a precedence I intend to maintain in the coming years as I quietly quit and concentrate on more earthly pursuits – painting, pottering and penning disparaging descriptions of the far-right Freedom Party in Austria (also still awful).
In any case, if the reports in the media were to be believed, travel, especially flying was experiencing a bit of turbulence. Cancelled flights, not enough check-in staff, no baggage handlers to lose your Samsonite, no security to check your passport (especially those UK dark blue ones), no hotel staff to clean your rooms, no taxi drivers to ferry you from the airport (which you never arrived at), and no waiting staff to serve your meals. No, better to stay at home and look after your increasingly fragile mother-in-law (known in our house by zee Kinder as: The Bank of Grandma) with a sudden propensity to fall on her face.
Of course, that was then and this is now and if you happen to pop into the first district of Vienna at the moment, to peruse the dimmed Christmas lights in search of a bit of festive Magie, then it is like Covid never happened. Which may surprise some as like much of Europe since the end of Ai Corona, certain industries in Stadt Numero Uno have been struggling to recruit staff.
Now this strange state of affairs seems to surprise (and vex) many people especially when most of these jobs were seemingly filled in the past with ease. Of course, it is no surprise if you have ever worked in tourism or gastronomy. The hours are long, often unsociable and not terribly well paid. And worse, you have to put up with an ever-increasing braying clientele raised on a diet of entitlement and instant gratification (not you, dear reader, you are travellers not tourists and know how to behave and live like a local) demanding a charging point so they can live stream stirring a sodding coffee.
In spite of this, in 2022 Vienna was Conde Nast Traveller’s pick for “best city to live in the world” citing the world class art, culture, incredible healthcare and education, where people flitter between the opera, the gardens of the Schönbrunn palace, stuffing their faces with Sachertorte (livestreamed, of course). Indeed, as they confidently claimed “you’ll never get bored here” which I would reply: have you never been to Inszerdorf in the 23rd district?
In any case, some of you may (one of you) noticed that I have been absent from these pages since the start of the year. Sadly, I can now confirm that the rumours circulating on social media that I was busy trying to corner the market in CRAP ELECTRIC REPLICA CARS WHICH FERRY VISITORS AROUND THE RINGSTRASSE AT WALKING PACE were false. In truth the reason was more prosaic; my cynicism powerbank needed recharging and after ten years I just decided to take a break from documenting life quality wherever I never found it.
But then I realised that the elusive unbroken decade of vexation and woe would remain exactly that – elusive – as I had seemingly only completed nine years of Vienna inspired existential commentary. And regrettably, the number one city was still number one (but only after Qatar). Hence, and with a need to bring renewed balance to the universe, this quick interjection before year close with ten-year bragging rights restored.
My plan, for now, is to return in some form in 2023 (either willowy spirit, vengeful seeking demon or reincarnated shapeshifter) but I will need to summon up the fortitude and doggedness to try and see Vienna with a fresh pair of eyes. So bear with me. More so because … *whisper*… don’t tell Michael Ludwig, Vienna’s Mayor … I might be plotting escape …
Merry Christmas lovely readers, travellers, clown car operators, fellow Vienna bloggers (where are you?) and especially people of Ukraine. I salute you all.
RJ Barratt, Vienna, 2022