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Where We Are: Vienna, Austria

When we were in Medellin for three weeks at the beginning of this trip, I made a comment that I didn’t really feel like a backpacker, yet. Even though I had a backpack and was in a different continent, I didn’t feel like I’d earned my stripes.

Europe has earned me my backpacker wings. Every three or four days, we pack up everything we have into our backpacks, get on a bus and cross into another city in another country. We plan our days in coffee shops the morning we arrive using tourist maps from our hostel and rely on our favorite travel bloggers to recommend the best things to do in a city. There’s always something new to see, always a new transit system to figure out, and always a coffee shop to try. Now, I feel like a “backpacker”, for whatever that’s good for.

People say if you love Prague, you’ll love Vienna. We personally haven’t felt like these cities were quite that similar. Prague has charm in its winding cobblestone streets and the gorgeous buildings, castles and churches that line the river and squares, but Prague also has an almost unbearable amount of tourists. Every street is just packed with selfie sticks and slow walkers. My favorite thing about Prague was the pedal boats because it was the only place I could enjoy the view and not feel like I’m blocking someone’s photo.

Vienna feels different. Vienna has winding streets, beautiful buildings and tourists, too, but they’re much more spread out and diluted with locals. Our walking tour guide explained that this was because the city of Vienna owns 2/3 of the apartments in the city center and leases them at lower prices, which results in more locals being out and spending their money in bars and restaurants right along side the tourists. I’m not sure how much I believe this logic, but I do believe that every establishment I walk into is half locals.

In addition to that, most of the things to do in Vienna are going into places. There are lots of art museums, churches, castles, etc. that most people are visiting, and these places are scattered throughout a bigger area. There are fewer attractions like squares and small shopping streets in close proximity that people are flocking too all at the same time. This means that you don’t have the mass of people all in one place, like you had in Prague.

I’ve really enjoyed having more space to breath in Vienna. I don’t know that I love it yet, but I do know that I’m happy I’m here.

What you need to know:

  • Population: 1.8 million
  • Altitude: ~300 meters
  • Exchange Rate: 0.85Euro to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: German and English
  • Walking Tour: Good Vienna Tours
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time, GMT +2 (7 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Bus, Train
  • Emergency Number: 112 (all responders can speak English)
  • Running: TBD, not sure if we’re going to have time to run here yet.
  • American Football: The timezone makes football tough! We are taking a day trip to Bratislava on Sunday, but since the noon US games start at 7 PM here, we will likely catch the game at Champions Bar (yep, it’s a Marriott hotel bar, it’s fine.)
  • Starbucks: Yes, many.
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: Cappuccino Fredo (Iced Cappuccino)
  • Coffee Price:  3-5 Euro (~$3.50 – $6 USD)
  • Beer Price: ~4 Euro for a .5L (~$4.5 USD)