Vienna is a city of many charms and quirks, and although I didn’t have the most cerebral of experiences there (to be honest, more priority was given to drinking than thinking), I did manage to immerse myself – at least in part – in its culture.
I can at least say that I saw a lot of sights and had some brilliant experiences, and owing to the fact that I had a local showing me around, it wasn’t too sickeningly touristy.
That said some of the popular tourist attractions, for example, the stunning Schloss Schönbrunn, are not to be missed.
Inspired by my adventure in Austria, and my subsequent depressing departure back to Dublin, I have decided to assemble a comparative guide between the two cities. So here you go: here’s how Dublin fairs against Vienna in five factors.
As I don’t want to let this article turn into a tirade against the Dublin transport system; I will just say that Vienna – like most continental European cities – has a public transport system vastly superior to Dublin’s.
One interesting thing I found, however, was that both cities have tram systems. As I rode along on the Vienna tram line (playfully known as the “Bim” by locals because of the admittedly adorable noise it makes when it stops) I couldn’t help but notice some things missing.
Where were the scantily clad teenagers giving cheek to the ticket inspectors? The religious/political zealot spouting vitriol against the government? The drunken man snoring loudly in the corner?
The Bim, unlike the Luas, had none of these things, and while it was a nice change, I must admit it made a (small, insane) part of me long for the Red Line.
Dubliners are immensely proud of their statues. We dote endlessly on Phil Lynott and sing tunelessly about Molly Malone. However, one thing our statues don’t have is the depiction of a man punching a horse in the face. That’s right, all around Vienna I kept seeing grand gold gilded statues of men punching horses.
What did the horse do to make the man so mad? Neither my Austrian guide nor subsequent internet searches have been able to tell me, but I think the mystery just makes them that bit cooler.
Ireland is famed for its castles, so you’d think Dublin would win this round hands down. You would think. However, anyone who has witnessed the majesty that is Schloss Schönbrunn and its vast, vibrant gardens would agree, I’m sure, that Vienna has this battle won.
Annoying tourist trap
Vienna’s equivalent to Temple Bar is an amusement park which is somewhat comically named the Wurstelprater, and it is one area in which Dublin definitely has the upper hand when it comes to culture hubs.
Granted Temple Bar can turn pretty nasty (read vomit filled) at night. However, it has many redeeming qualities: unique shops, good restaurants and those iconic cobblestones.
The Wurstelprater, however, showed me nothing more than a big wheel (the iconic Wiener Reisenrad), some bumper cars, a “traditional” Austrian restaurant and about 50 different sets of stag parties drunkenly stumbling around in ridiculous matching T-shirts. And this was just in the daytime.
To tell the truth, the area in which the Wurstelprater was located didn’t seem all that safe, and so while Temple Bar undoubtedly has its shortcomings I’d take it over the Austrian option any day.