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another side of Vienna

We visited Vienna over Thanksgiving last year. It was the onset of winter and we spent most of the time seeking shelter from the cold inside Vienna’s many museums and cafes, thinking all the while how nice it would be to return to Vienna in the summertime.

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And return we did, only Vienna did not seem to get the memo that summer has arrived. While Chisinau was in the midst of a sweltering, suffocating heat wave when we left, the weather in Vienna was definitely more autumnal than summery. The main impetus for this brief visit was a summer music festival D has been dreaming about attending for the better part of a year. Vienna is also one of our main gateways out of Moldova and made for a logical first stop on our R&R.

We both have very good friends in Vienna, S from study abroad and D from grad school, but sadly both had travel plans of their own and we did not get to see them on this trip, though D’s friend did arrange for us to stay at his apartment. S was initially rather bummed to learn that her friend would be out of town, thinking that she would be on her own with Munchkin while D was at the festival, but a closer look at the line-up revealed that all the bands D actually wanted to see played late, which allowed us to spend the bulk of each day together before D took off for the festival grounds in the evenings.

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Belvedere. Leopold. Albertina. Secession. Hofburg. Schoenbrunn Palace. Vienna’s list of cultural gems is seemingly endless, but we had visited quite a number of them during our last trip (including all of the above), and while one can never tire of the unique genius of Klimt and one can always revisit the Albertina’s collection of Monets and Picassos, as we very nearly did, their memory was still fresh enough in our minds that we opted to skip most of the top tourist attractions, a visit to the Jewish museum being our one cultural stop on this trip.

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Instead, we sought out local baby-friendly options that were a bit off the beaten tourist path. For example, Munchkin loved our leisurely stroll through the Stadtpark – leaves are kind of a big thing for him right now – and the lovely violin music emanating from one of the park’s cafes was also a pleasant treat. Another day, we took the train to the outskirts of town to walk along the waters of the Alte Donau. This part of the Danube has been dammed off, creating a scenic lake that is an epicenter for various water sports. We watched an international canoe-polo competition (who even knew that this is a thing?!) and then had lunch at a restaurant on the water that is attached to a yachting school.

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S had heard that there was a summertime food festival in the park in front of the city hall, but when we asked about it, we were told that it was actually a film festival “with maybe some food.” We went anyway and were pleased to find that S had been right. There was a big screen set up in front of city hall, but they only showed one movie every night at 9pm. The myriad food stalls, however, were up and running from 11am until practically midnight, and featured a variety of international cuisine.

Between the oppressive heat we had left behind in Moldova and the sunshine of the Croatian coast that was to be our R&R destination, we were ill-prepared for Vienna’s chilly temperatures. Even so, despite the occasional rain and mostly cloudy weather, we again had a wonderful time. Vienna is a city we’ll happily keep coming back to…who knows, maybe we’ll actually experience a true Viennese summer sometime.

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