Scouting out a new partner on that matchmaking website “your friend” signed you up for? If their profile says any of the following, consider Vienna for a first date:
- likes long walks in palace gardens
- thinks museums are good date spots
- loves art and architecture
After this past weekend, I can validate that Vienna is a great place for a romantic getaway. Chris arrived at the airport at 10 am on Thursday, where I was waiting to throw my arms around him. Although he had come to Judenburg twice before, he never had more than a passing glance at Vienna from the train window. This time, I wanted to show him around a bit.
We started out with the typical must-see: Schönbrunn Palace. The day was gorgeous and sunny, like a pathetic fallacy in our personal fairy tale. Blue skies and green grass made the cream-yellow building even more dazzling, and though we didn’t walk arm-in-arm like 17th century lords and ladies, it was still very romantic.
For lunch, we stayed within the palace walls, trading in an American-diner-style shared milkshake for an Austrian-style shared snack board complete with meats, cheeses, bread, and bacon jam. Paired with a lemonade made in-house, it was a delightful meal.
Ready for a nap, we found a quiet spot to sit in the square facing Karlskirche. The moment was worthy of a couples Christmas card: two people, sitting on a park bench, the man’s arm around the woman’s shoulders, her head leaning on him, the lush green leaves of a tree casting a tranquil shade on them as they gaze forward at a glamorous Baroque church and gurgling fountain. Whoever decided Paris was the city of love needs to reconsider Vienna.
As a girlfriend, I was more than happy to share with Chris these places that I had already visited. As an avid traveler, I wanted to see something new in Vienna, too. Our last stop for the day was the Hundertwasserhaus, an Art Nouveau style building by the Austrian architect Hundertwasser. One of the most fascinating things about Vienna is how you can see both modernity and tradition simultaneously as you walk the streets: contemporary buildings stand next to Baroque palaces and Gothic churches. And yet, you can still spot the Hundertwasserhaus from all the way down the street. The facade is colorful, asymmetrical, and inviting, patchwork blues and reds on the building creating striking contrast with the gold fountain in front and the green leafy trees framing it. Somehow elegant and shabby at the same time, the Hundertwasserhaus was, for me a great spot for couples: imperfect yet beautiful, like any good relationship.
The classic date, whether you’re eating spaghetti on the streets of Venice or curled up having Chinese at home in sweats, is dinner. So of course our day ended with a nice meal. We sat outside under an awning, willing the newly impending rain to hold off just a little longer, and I enjoyed a chicken breast doused in a creamy mushroom sauce while Chris relished Austria’s proximity to Italy by taking on a whole pizza solo. It was the perfect finale to our reunion day.
The next morning, after sleeping in leisurely at our Airbnb, we indulged Chris’s academic side by going to the Museum of Natural History (does that count as studying for his exams?). The forty-room museum looked more like a palace, with a high dome ceiling in the center and fading paintings of hunting and royalty and landscapes on every wall. The rooms themselves contained earthly treasures of all sorts: minerals and fossils and animals kept alive by taxidermy or impressive imitation. Maybe that doesn’t sound typically romantic: but taking Chris somewhere I knew he’d be interested in was what made it special.
Going through 40 rooms of a museum really works up an appetite though, so we had to grab lunch after that. Luckily, we had made plans to meet up with Meg and Katie at a schnitzel place highly recommended by multiple people. There, I had a delightful cutlet of pork stuffed with ham, mushrooms, and onions and Chris opted for the traditional Wiener schnitzel.
All too soon, it was time to make our way back to Judenburg. But it was fun to make a brief mark on Vienna together (metaphorically–you won’t find “AG + CS 4 eva” carved into any trees in the Karlskirche park!).