Author Archives: Harriet Byrne

The Vienna Stadtwanderwege

This spring and summer have been super rainy so far in Vienna, however on the few occasions where we’ve had some good weather I’ve been trying to do the city hiking routes. There are 11 in total and I’ve only tried two of them so far. It’s amazing to me that you don’t even have to travel further than then end of some of the U-Bahn lines before you’re in lush green nature and you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One of the ones I’ve tried is right to the north of the city and is actually really close to a cute heurige I’ve tried, so if you wanted to you could stop off there along the way. You also get an amazing view of the Donau when you’re high up. The other one I’ve tried is out on the edge of Ottakring. Again, you don’t have to go far to get amazing views of the city. There’s also a church designed by the same architect who designed some of the U-Bahn stations, right at the beginning of this trail. It’s a really beautiful church and is a great place to take someone who’s visiting to show them a side of Vienna most tourists don’t come and see. There’s also a huge park, Steinhofgründe, at the beginning of the trail which is a great picnic spot for the summer!

Beautiful Salzburg

A friend of mine came to visit recently so we went on a little day trip to Salzburg. Luckily for us the weather was incredible, and Salzburg is only two and a half hours away by train, so great for a day trip. This picture is taken from the Festung Hohensalzburg, which is an old fortress on top of a hill, so you get some amazing views of the city. We did a walking tour and learnt a little about the city, how it got its name from the salt being transported up and down the river. It was also the birthplace of Mozart, so we visited his childhood home. It was interesting to see what daily life was like back then. We also saw the catacombs which are dug into the hillside that the Festung sits on. After all of this we got on a river tour and chilled out for a bit, and it was so relaxing I nearly fell asleep! I would definitely love to go back to Salzburg again soon, maybe in the winter to see how it transforms.

My Au Pair Journey

I chose to become an Au Pair because I thought it would be the safest way to move abroad and learn German, I wouldn’t need to worry about finding a job immediately and I wouldn’t need to worry about rent, bills, food etc. It’s definitely been more challenging than I thought it would be. I chose to move to Austria rather than Germany because the Laws protecting Au Pairs are better, and you earn more money here. I actually started out my Au Pair journey in Tirol, however I didn’t get along with that family very well and I soon moved to Vienna to work for another family. I then worked with that family until Christmas and although they were lovely I didn’t really feel like I fitted into their family dynamic. I then started with a new family this February just gone and I finally feel like Vienna is my home. I love working with the baby I work with, I feel like there’s a super strong connection between us. My host mum is awesome, and I enjoy chilling out with her after dinner and just chatting like friends. I think before I moved here I didn’t realise how important it was that I felt like part of the family rather than just someone who works for the family. They’ve invited for me to stay and work with them longer and as it gives me a great opportunity to learn German at a German language school in Vienna. I’m probably going to take them up on it!

An evening at a Heurige

As the weather was so nice this weekend a friend and I spontaneously decided to go to one of the Heurigen around Vienna. A Heurige is a vineyard, and there are loads of them up on the hills around Vienna. Almost all of them have impressive views of the city, and we were lucky that it was a clear day because we got to watch the sunset. The Heurigen sell traditional Austrian food, but obviously most people go for the wine. Because the wine comes straight from these vineyards you don’t have to pay the transport fees, which makes the wine really reasonably priced. We ordered an “eins eins” which is a litre of wine and a litre of soda water, so you can mix them and make your own spritzers and stopped us from getting carried away! We went to Heurige Sirbu. It was quite a trek to get there. First the U-Bahn to Heiligenstadt, then a bus, and then a 15-minute walk in the hills, and I had stupidly decided to wear sandals. However, once we arrived and saw the view it was totally worth it, it was a lovely summer evening.

International friends

I’ve made lots of friends through taking German courses. It’s interesting to hear all the different reasons why people take German lessons in Vienna, and what their experiences of Vienna are. A lot of others are also Au Pairs, just wanting to travel and experience other cultures. Some are people who want to study here because the university has such a good reputation. Some people have moved for work, and a lot of people have moved here for their significant other. One of my best friends in Vienna I met in my B1.1 class and moved here for their husband. It’s also interesting that in the classes you meet people from all over the world! I’m yet to meet another English person in any of the four classes I’ve taken. It’s lovely having international friends though. One friend of mine from Denmark invited me over for the beautiful breakfast in the picture (the brownies aren’t traditionally Danish but they were yummy so who cares). Another friend of mine is Brazilian and has twice hosted a big dinner party for the people he’s met through learning German. The food when he cooks is amazing and unlike anything I’ve tried before. I love cooking and having dinner parties, so I can’t wait until I have my own place and can return the favour to the lovely people I’ve met!


I’m really looking forward to the summer in Vienna because there are so many green spaces around. The summer gets much hotter here than it does in England, and I burn easily with my pale skin, so I’m glad there are so many big trees to provide some shade. My favourite when I’m working with the kid is Burggarten, because it’s easy for me to get to with the buggy. Or Volksgarten because it has a sandbox for him to play in. They’re so close to each other that sometimes we go to both. I really like going to Augarten when I want to go for a walk or a run, and then Stadtpark is great for the same things. The park at Schloss Schönbrunn is also stunning and there is always somewhere new to walk that I haven’t been before, but it’s the hardest to get to and always full of tourists. Weekday mornings are the best times to go! I hope that with all this Viennese sun this year I’ll finally get a tan!

Day trip to Neusiedler See

Austria has a lot of national holidays, a lot more than we have in England, and on one of these holidays the weather was absolutely amazing, so I went with my host family for a day trip to Neusiedler See. It’s a beautiful huge lake only 50 minutes drive from Vienna, and some of it crosses into Hungary. To go the whole way round by bi ke would take you a couple of days I think, and you’d need your passport! When we went to Neusiedler See the weather was beautiful, so we rented bikes.

The host baby didn’t like it though because he couldn’t see anything but my host mum’s back when he was strapped in his kiddy chair. We took lots of rest stops along the way, one of which was in a nature park where there were lots of information boards about the local wildlife. After we had cycled around for a while we went for dinner at a restaurant and I had a delicious but also huge burger. I couldn’t even finish everything on my plate it was so big! Luckily my host baby is a hoover and wanted to eat all the bits I couldn’t. After this we went and got ice cream, then got into the car and drove home. I was so tired I fell asleeo in the car!

A Birthday Treat

A it was my birthday at the weekend my host grandma decided to take me for lunch at Café Museum. As well as being a lovely treat, time spent with my host grandma is a great opportunity to practice my German! The café is a lovely traditional style coffee house, but it’s recently been renovated and has all brand new plush red sofas and booths. I asked my host grandma if she could recommend me to have something traditionally Austrian, and I opted for the Rind Goulash. It was delicious!!! I think it’s originally from Hungary but given the two countries histories a lot of cultural things are shared. It was such a big meal that I didn’t even have room for dessert, despite them having a beautiful display window to choose from!

Learning with Tandem Partners

One of the ways I try to become more confidant with German is by having lots of tandem partners. A language tandem is where you meet up with someone who wants to learn a language you’re fluent in, and you speak some of the time in one language, and some of the time in the other. There are plenty of people in Vienna who want to perfect their English, so I’ve lucked out. It gives you lots of chances to get to know interesting people too. Usually we just go for a coffee or a beer, but with some of the ones I’ve become genuine friends with, we go out and do cool stuff together. I visited the Belvedere with one girl, doing something like that gives you a chance to learn and use vocabulary you might not learn in the classroom. It’s also a really good way to make friends if you’re new in Vienna and struggling to meet people because of the language barrier. In a tandem you’re both patient and looking for new opportunities. I’m really happy with the friends I’ve made through this.

Ballet at the Staatsoper

I really like the architecture in Vienna, it’s so different to anything we have at home or even in London. It’s all so grand looking. I like that I get to see the Staatsoper every day when I come to the German language course in Vienna at Deutsch Akademie. It reminds me of when my grandparents came to visit me just before Christmas. They’re the only family thus far to visit me, and they treated me to ballet as a Christmas present. We saw ‘Sylvia’ which none of us had heard of before despite being keen on ballet. It had a very complicated story line but was still breath taking, as it had a lot of pure ballet in it. In the interval we enjoyed drinks in a very beautiful grand room with chandeliers and huge windows. It was interesting to look out of them and see the street from this perspective. I hope that they visit again and hopefully treat me to more ballet!

A spontaneous evening of jazz

My Friday was pretty normal at first. I don’t work Fridays, so I had slept in, and in the afternoon dragged myself to the gym. As I arrived there a friend messaged me asking if I wanted to go to small jazz gig in a café. It was pay as you feel which, given how poor I was, sounded like a good option. I tried to rush home from the gym, but there was a market on Neubaugasse, blocking my bus home. I still managed to meet my friend in time, even if I hadn’t had time for dinner! The music was in Allergiker Café, which could only fit about 40 people in crammed together. The café was family owned and all the artwork on the walls was done by the daughters who worked there as waitresses. The family dog was there too, though it was the size of a baby bear. It wondered around and let everyone cuddle and stroke it. The gig was just one man and a piano, but it was absolutely amazing. A hidden gem in Vienna.