The Rathauspark is the perfect place to meet the Viennese in the evenings.
The Rathauspark is the perfect place to meet the Viennese in the evenings.

My introduction to Vienna came about when the editor asked if I’d like to go on a press trip to the city for the launch of Guinness’ 1,000th Irish bar – or something like that. I think he was amused at the idea of sending a non-drinker. As for me, well any excuse to see a city I had always wanted to visit.

I took a flight to Dublin, joined up with the rest of the party, and we flew to London for the connecting flight to Vienna, where I made the shocking discovery that my passport was at home. I think I had a vague notion that because Austria was an EU member I didn’t need one. Not true. What ensued was a frantic call home to find the passport and arrange a courier to collect it, then despatch it to London. Of course it didn’t arrive in time and while the party flew to Vienna I settled into an airport hotel to wait the morning flight – and that passport.

The next day the airport was enveloped in heavy fog, my flight was delayed so much that I arrived in a panic and sweat at my Vienna hotel just as my group were heading to the bar opening! I just had time to change my shirt before heading off. At about 12.30am we headed back to our hotel and because we were heading home around midday I got up at 5 am and, map in hand, walked as much as I could of the Ringstrasse, gulped down a quick cup of coffee in a small cafe, sampled some nice confectionery, picked up some chocolate for the kids, then dashed back just in time.

Karlskirche church in Vienna
Karlskirche church in Vienna

What I saw, though, fired my imagination, glorious palaces, the incredible Karlskirche church. I couldn’t stop talking about the city for years and vowed to go back. Which I did some years later. More on that another time.

 

A great way to see some of old Vienna is to hire a carriage near Stephandom
A great way to see some of old Vienna is to hire a carriage near Stephandom

 

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