Sometimes you’ve got to call a spade a spade. Cast aside all the superlatives dangled in Lonely Planet, ditch the romanticism that hangs like a spectre over this once charming city. Yes, I said “once”. Because Vienna (or “Wien” in German) has, sadly, become as uninspiring as the dry and crummy sachertorte on my plate. Did I mention that I’m trying to chomp down this brick of a cake in the opulence of the Hotel Sacher? The home of THE creator of the original sachertorte. I ditched my original plan to lug three kilos of these chocolate monsters back home as mementoes.
At the same time, I’m suffering from “church fatigue”. At first, you just snapped at every single one you see. You admired the ornate interiors, the intricate carvings, the awe-inspiring sculptures of Jesus and his disciples. By this time, however, even the majesty of St Stephen’s Cathedral has lost its draw on me. I just stood in front of the cathedral, wilting in the Viennese summer heat. I decided I needed another round of iced coffee.
Part of me blamed Budapest – because it’s difficult not to draw comparisons. Part of me blamed the Austrian national football team. Had they been a bit more adventurous, the streets of Vienna would have been enraptured in football fever. Instead, while the rest of Europe were chugging beer hops and partying to the wee hours, it was business as usual here.
So I did something very Austrian. I plonked myself on the grass in Stadtpark – Vienna’s first public park constructed in 1862 – and took snaps of other locals frolicking / making out / reading / chatting on the greens. Then I swear I dozed off for five seconds.
Fortunately I found Naschmarkt, a place that reminds me of the good old “Newton hawker centre” in Singapore. More than 120 restaurants and market stalls squeezed into an area the size of a football field, offering cuisines from authentic Viennese to traditional Vietnamese. In other words, paradise! LS