Vienna Travel Guide: With Vienna I think I was expecting gas lights, snow on the ground and the clatter of horse-drawn carriages trundling along foggy cobbled streets. It wasn’t like that, for a start it was the middle of summer and Vienna was devoid of snow but full of tourists, and whilst you can still take a ride in a carriage, you’d need to take out a second mortgage to do so.

As for the gas, that’s a sore subject in Austria. The Austrians are quite pally with Russia’s Gazprom and they were keen to exclude actions against the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in any European sanctions regarding Russia’s arsing around in Ukraine.

Even the man on the ‘un-gas-lit’ street had something to say about it…

austria and nord stream 2

However, despite being quite different to what I thought it would be, Vienna does have a few other treats that didn’t disappoint…

The Ferris Wheel in the Prater Park. This is most well-known for Orson Welles’ famous ‘cuckoo-clock’ speech in the 1949 film ‘The Third Man’.

I say ‘famous’, I think it might be a generational thing. Everyone I mentioned the film to where I work just shrugged their shoulders. They’d never heard of it. I don’t think the youngsters of today have ever watched anything in black and white.

So no doubt the sparkling wit of the t-shirt below would be totally lost on them…

harry lime the third man

One thing to look forward to on my return was a colonoscopy. Whilst this odious procedure is being undertaken they usually have a nurse chat to you to try and take your mind off it. Making conversation under these circumstances is as awkward for them as it is for you. Although, rather bizarrely, the middle-aged male nurse given this task knew of ‘The Third Man’ and could reel off the cast, the director and the plot.

So, the only time I’ve been able to impress anybody with my ride on the Prater Wheel, so far, was with a camera stuck up my rectum.

If you interested, I have actually written of colonoscopies before. This was my second time round, click here for the visceral details of the first.

So let’s slide out of my back passage, thankfully with lots of lubrication, and go back to Vienna and see what else it has to offer…

The Bruegels in the Kunsthistorisches Musuem. The largest collection of them in the world, and much bigger than I thought they would be. Far too big to make off with under my coat.

bruegel vienna

The Venus of Willendorf in the Naturhistorisches Musuem, definitely not too big to make off with under my coat, she could even fit in my underpants. She’s tiny. Unfortunately she’s also very well protected in a bullet-proof glass cabinet. I did get to wrap my arms around her though, well the cabinet anyway, in order to take this awkward looking selfie…

Gustav Klimt...Vienna’s star artist. You can see ‘The Kiss’ by Klimt at the Lower Belvedere Palace, along with a number of his other works. Even if you don’t go to the Belvedere, you can’t miss ‘The Kiss’ in Vienna. It will be on everything from umbrellas to fridge magnets to socks, in every tourist-tat shop you go in. With all its gold, silver and platinum leaf it is very blingy, so it makes for good merchandise.

There is also the Secession Building in Vienna (see main picture) where you can see Klimt’s ‘Beethoven Frieze’. This is a painting on its walls, rather than a strident police order to a composer trying to make a run for it after being caught shoplifting.

Wiener Schnitzel…You have to really, ‘when in Vienna’ and all that. It is extremely good, especially when served in the famous Cafe Central with delightful potatoes and a slice of lemon. Freud and Trotsky used to eat there, although I haven’t found their reviews on Tripadvisor yet.

…and surprisingly McDonalds. Far be it from me to cast doubt on the shite we get served in the UK, but a McDonalds’ burger in Austria is very different. Rather than those grey discs of compressed-cardboard, the burgers are quite substantial and they actually taste of something, other than compressed-cardboard. I think it might be because the Austrians are prepared to pay quite a bit more for quality.

It was quite fortunate that the McDonalds was so toothsome, as it was about the only place open at 11pm. The Austrians, like the Germans, tend to eat early and restaurants don’t stay open very late.

So be warned, it’s not the place for seventeen pints of lager followed by a large old Prawn Vindaloo in a curry-house at kicking-out time. Although, if there was a late-night Indian restaurant in Vienna, I’m sure they could pull in the tourists by serving poppadoms with Harry Lime Pickle.

Again, if you are under 50, the joke was probably lost on you.

Even if you are over 50, it wasn’t that funny.

For my other guides to Austria click here, for my guides to Germany click here.