Author Archives: Viktoriia Poliakova

Shout-out to DeutschAkademie

This Thursday was the final day of my B2.1 course here in Deutschakademie. In total, I’ve spent 2 months studying here, and one more is just around the corner, so hopefully I’ll reach the B2 level soon.

So, how can I sum up my experience here? In one word: just awesome. To be fair, I couldn’t imagine that my German would improve so much over these 2 months: I’ve learned tons of new grammar, trained my listening and reading skills, became more confident at speaking, and, of course, learned a huge amount of new vocabulary. It’s amazing how much information and knowledge has been given to me and my classmates during the courses, and even more fascinating was the way we were taught: fun, easy and informal. All this combined led to great productivity and awesome language improvement results for all of us.

Sounds like a cool environment to skyrocket your German skills? Then DeutschAkademie is the right place for you. Check out the next course dates and register now! Don’t believe the rumors, life is not too short to learn German.

I’m wishing every one of you a great time in Vienna and a lot of success in mastering German. Choose DeutschAkademie and very soon you’ll nail your coffee house orders or you’ll even be able to see the best theatre shows in German. Hope I managed to share some ideas about Viennese activities through my tips and observations, which I’ve posted during the last month. Anyway, the best way to learn Vienna (as well as any other place) is just to go out and explore. In Vienna you can do it endlessly.

Best wishes and good luck,

Viktoriia

8 Signs That You’ve Lived in Vienna

Today is exactly 6 months since I’ve moved to Vienna. Half of the year has passed, it’s crazy how fast time flies! At this point, I can definitely say that I know something about this place: I’ve observed many interesting things during my stay here and I’d like to share some highlights. Some of you will relate to them, I’m sure.

1. You’ve mastered grocery shopping planning

Vienna is one of those places where almost the whole city is shut down on Sundays. While this is a good thing, because this day is usually dedicated to friends, family or just to yourself, this can be a problem if you need those two bloody eggs for your morning pancakes recipe. That’s why everyone here plans ahead: Saturday morning is the prime time to see families filling their shopping carts with tons of stuff. Working days are tricky too: if you live in Vienna, you know you should get your evening beer before 20:00.

2. … if no, you know how keep calm in these enormous queues at the train station supermarkets

If your memory, like mine, sometimes fails you, then you’ve definitely experienced this lifelong waiting in the Billa at Praterstern or in the Spar at Landstraße. And you’ve probably also cursed at yourself million times and promised yourself that it was happening for the last time.

3. You praise Viennese transportation system

Public transport in Vienna, or Öffi, as locals call it, is pretty amazing. It’s clean, safe and super efficient: you can get basically anywhere without any problem. When you travel, you compare the local transportation system to the Viennese one, but soon you realize that Vienna is unbeatable.

4. “Grüß Gott” doesn’t freak you out anymore

Here, instead of being greeted with standard German Hallo, you’ll hear Grüß Gott, which is not going to make sense at all at first. Don’t be shocked though, this phrase doesn’t have anything to do with religion these days and it’s a perfectly normal way to be polite in Austria.

5. You find a cup of coffee served without water bizarre

I haven’t seen any single coffee house in Austria, where you’ll get your coffee without a glass of water. In fact, you get so used to it, that any other coffee drinking scenario sounds extraordinary.

6. You know how to avoid these Opera tickets sellers

Every time you pass Opera, you see them: a bunch of guys dressed in costumes, trying to convince you to buy an overpriced ticket to a show. Most likely you instantly speed up, ignorantly stare in your phone or just throw a quick “Nein, danke”. Alternatively, you just avoid walking in the 50 meter radius from them.

7. This is your idea of a perfect summer evening stroll

8. And you wouldn’t have your Christmas any other way

 

Do’s and Don’ts In The Viennese U-Bahn

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, states an ancient saying. When one is traveling, this should be the main motto, regardless of a destination. If you want to fully enjoy your experience and leave a good impression, being somehow aware of local rules is necessary: an excellent example of such rules is the Viennese U-Bahn etiquette, which locals are, apparently, very rigorous about. I’ve gathered a few essential tips about the Viennese subway behavior for you, in case if you want to avoid some heated comments in the local dialect.

1. Kein Essen, bitte!

Some of us might occasionally be guilty of Kebabs, Falafels or those take-away noodles, but let’s be real: no one likes this odd smell of food going through the whole carriage. Train your willpower and save your food for devouring it somewhere else.

2. The left side is for walking

Where I come from, no one cares about the golden escalator rule: stand on the right side, walk on the left one. Having lived in Europe for 2,5 years, now when I come home, I understand the passive aggressiveness of Viennese, when the left side is occupied. Please, just don’t.

3. Leave space for baby strollers

Viennese U-Bahn trains have secured plenty of space for buggies, so when you see one, you should make some room for it. Mums and dads will appreciate this, seriously. You’re free to stand there when no baby strollers are in your sight though.

4. U-Bahn is not a music venue

While this one is quite obvious and definitely universal, many still fail to follow it: please, keep the volume in your headphones loud enough for you to hear it, but quiet enough, so that other passengers don’t notice it. And definitely don’t use speakers for the purpose of enjoying the latest Justin Bieber’s hit – others might slightly dislike it.

5. NO to free rides

While it might be tempting to skip the ticket purchase and set your hopes on your luck, you should always travel with a valid ticket – it’s a no-brainer. After the feast comes the reckoning, as they say, so buying a ticket is the best way to say danke schön for the excellent Viennese transportation system.

Enjoy your rides!

 

 

 

The Endless Charm of Graz

I’ve heard many times from Austrians that Graz, a city about 200 km southwest of Vienna, is the best city in the country. Having visited it a while ago, I have understood why this opinion is so popular. Although I wouldn’t compare Graz and Vienna, I absolutely think that a trip to this city is among the best ones that you can do while in Austria.

Graz and Vienna are so, so, so different. That’s why I think it’s a bit unfair to compare those two and decide on one’s superiority. Graz is small and quiet; its streets are narrow, buildings are not that colossal and churches are very modest. But all of this makes the atmosphere so incredibly warming, comforting and welcoming. Even people are somehow different here: you won’t see a big city rush in Graz, but rather a chilled and relaxed mindset and vibe.

One of the highlights of Graz is Schloßberg (see the picture above), a hill with a fortress right in the heart of Graz. You’ll have to manage many steps on the long staircase, but the view is absolutely rewarding and pays off all the effort. It’s a wonderful area to walk around, enjoy nature and fantastic scenery.

One more thing that I absolutely recommend to visit in Graz is Kunsthaus, a contemporary art museum. It is named “a friendly alien” by its creators, but you’ll have to see it for yourself to understand the origin of this name 🙂

Other than that, I would simply recommend to stroll around the city and make sudden discoveries on your own. I feel like Graz is perfect for this.

Craving Some Extreme?

In the heart of the famous Wiener Prater amusement park there is an attraction that you absolutely can’t miss: Prater Turm. Unless you’re afraid of heights, of course. It’s basically a giant, 113-meters high, carousel: you’ll get an amazing experience (and an amazing view) by slowly spinning your way from the ground to the top of it. Additionally, you’ll get a good shot of adrenaline – some extreme won’t hurt and will surely add some diversity to your daily life.

Still hesitant and not sure if this is for you? Well, I’ve got one last thing to say. This amazing adrenaline rush costs only 5 euros! This might be a game changer 🙂

The high season in the Prater starts very soon – on the 15th of March, so all attractions, including Praterturm, should be opened from this day onwards. Save the date!

Secrets of the Innenstadt

Warm days are slowly returning back to Vienna: days are getting longer and you can already feel this warm spring wind blowing in your face. I guess now we can start preparing some space in our closets for the winter jackets, and take out the comfiest shoes for long walks – you’ll need them!

One of the best areas in Vienna to go out and explore is, of course, Innenstadt. You can easily spend a whole day wandering around here because of countless activities and sights you can find here: Rathaus, Hofburg, Opera, Stephansdom, Graben, Kärtnerstrasse, museums and many other things. This would be your typical tourist walk though. There’s another, less known side of Innenstadt: quiet, calm and almost devoid of people.

One minute you’re standing near Stephansdom, another – you’re in absolutely peaceful and charming old area, where it’s so quiet, that you start lowering your voice almost to whisper, too. The area I’m talking about is located right near Stephansplatz: what you need is basically just to dive into one of the surrounding arches, big doors, or just follow tiny streets that are spreading from the cathedral.

It’s easy to get lost here, but you’ll enjoy this feeling of purposeless and carefree wandering around. Try doing this walk on a warm spring day and flee away from the big city while not even leaving its borderlines.

International Tourist Guide Day

Today, on the 19th of February, tourist guides all over the world celebrate their wonderful and very important profession. In this honor, the Austrian National Library has opened the doors to its state hall, Globe, Esperanto, Literature and Papyrus Museums – anyone could visit all of those places for free, or even join various free tours. Of course I couldn’t miss this opportunity and I decided to opt for the state hall (even though I’ve been there already) and the Globe Museum.

Austrian National Library, Josefplatz

My first stop for today was the National Library and its spectacular State Hall. Several posts ago I have already expressed all my admiration to this place, but its really magnetizing, and I couldn’t resist going there again. This time I have joined a free tour in English and learned many interesting facts about the library’s history. The most surprising thing I’ve heard from the tour guide is that the State Hall is actually functioning like a normal library: you can purchase a day/annual pass, take the books from the shelves and read them there! Now I have one more thing on my Viennese to-do list.

State Hall

After visiting the State Hall, I headed to the Globe Museum, which is located nearby. It’s the only one globe-related museum in the world, and although it is not that big, it somehow fits around 750 objects, which are really fascinating and diverse.

Visitors of the Globe Museum can learn everything about the history of globes, how they are made, different types and forms of globes, and the artistic aspect, related to them. Besides that, you can simply get a strong visual satisfaction, because the globes are truly beautiful and magnificent.

The Globe Museum is probably not the most famous one in Vienna, but it definitely deserves a lot of attention. I really recommend visiting it, especially if you’re into science, art, or simply would love to see a collection of very old and beautiful things, which helped to develop our knowledge of this world.

 

Donauturm – The Second Best View Over Vienna?

In my recent post I have solemnly proclaimed the top of the DC Tower as the best place to enjoy amazing views over Vienna. I’m still not abandoning my words, but today I have explored one more brilliant place to do so: Donauturm – the Danube Tower.


Donauturm, like the DC Tower, is located in the area of Donau City, so you’ll get very similar views from  the both of them. However, one big perk of choosing Donauturm is that you’ll see the DC Tower from there in all its beauty, while you obviously can’t do that from the skyscraper itself.


Small New York in Vienna, huh? On this isle you’ll find the United Nations building, offices of many international companies, fancy restaurants and modern apartment blocks. The buildings in Donau City are quite tall for Viennese standards, but from the Donauturm even they look like a bunch of children construction toys.

Standing there on the height of 155 meters, I couldn’t help but ask myself a question: how is it possible not to be in love with Vienna? Even in the gloomy weather like today, this city feels special and inspires you to the core. How can one not admire Vienna, having visited it once? I guess I’ll never be able to find proper answers.

DC Tower – The Best View Over Vienna

Several months ago I was extremely lucky to visit Austria’s tallest building, the DC Tower. It’s located in the hottest business area of Vienna – Donau City, which is a perfect place for a skyscraper like this.


The reason why this location is perfect is because the views from here are simply spectacular: the DC Tower is 250 meters high, and from the top of it you can see Vienna and Danube spreading right in front of your eyes.

The DC Tower observation terrace used to be open for the general public for an entrance fee; unfortunately, according to the official website, it is no longer possible to get there this way. Nevertheless, another possibility to enjoy these breathtaking views still exists: you can go for a lunch/dinner/drinks to the 57 Restaurant & Lounge, named after the floor number, on which it is located. I can’t think of a better place to enjoy a glass of wine!

How to get here: take the U1 and get off at the Kaisermühlen – Vienna International Centre. It takes several minutes to get to the DC Tower from there: you’ll see it straight away, so you’ll be able to find your way instantly. Hope you’re not afraid of heights!

 

How I Fell in Love With A… Library!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “library”? I, personally, instantly think of a bunch of students, who are consuming liters of coffee, stressing about their deadlines, and spending days living as hermits somewhere between library shelves. What if I told you that a library can be a breathtaking and inspirational place?

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Yes, like this. Pretty amazing, huh? Welcome to the State Hall of the Austrian National Library – the home for more than 200,000 books, the oldest of which date to around 16th century! Located in Hofburg Palace, this library/museum is open for the public eyes all year long. In the same building of Hofburg you can find the Literature museum, the Papyrus museum and the Globe museum.

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Obviously visitors can’t touch any of the objects inside, but the good news is: you are allowed to take pictures, so make sure to capture this gorgeous interior in your memories and on your cameras!

Austrian National Library – State Hall

P.S. This Sunday (February 19th) the Library and all museums will be free of charge, here’s the link to the event. You don’t wanna miss this!

How to Satisfy your Coffee & Cake Cravings in Vienna

Der Kaffee and der Kuchen. These two words I find essential to know for anyone who finds himself in Vienna, regardless if for simple traveling or for a long-term stay. If you’re in Vienna, trying local specialties like Strudel, Sachertorte, or Wiener Melange is a must, I’m telling you. And it’s not only because of their incredible taste; it’s also about this special atmosphere in Viennese coffeehouses: relaxed, elegant and somehow dreamy. Vienna has a very old and established coffee culture, and coffee houses can be spotted here literally in every corner. Some locals told me that in a real Viennese coffee house, it is perfectly fine to order a cup of Melange and sit there for hours, reading a newspaper or a book. Somehow I’ve never had this true Viennese experience though. And I know for sure why: that’s because when you finish your first drink/cake, you are always tempted to order more and more.

I’ve explored a lot of great coffee houses and cafes here in Vienna, had numerous cups of coffee with cakes, and now I’ve come to realize that, apparently, my favorite places are the typical touristic ones, featured in all guides. What’s great about them though, is that you can always see many locals there too. Which proves that these places are definitely worth visiting! So here are my three favorite coffee houses for the ultimate Viennese coffee experience. I don’t think that you will be disappointed either.

Café Central

Café Central

Yes, it’s one of the most touristic cafés which you can find in Vienna. Yes, you will probably have to wait for a bit to be seated. But this 100% doesn’t undermine the greatness of this place. Everything is amazing about it: from the interior to the incredible desserts. Once inside, you feel yourself somewhere in the past, somewhere in the beginning of the 20th century, when everything was so elegant. In the evenings (although I don’t know if on the daily basis), around 20:00, live music is played there, which makes the atmosphere even more wonderful.

Strudel and Melange at Café Central

Cake or art?

Café Central

You’re not gonna regret any single euro and minute spent in this place, trust me. Go there for the unique coffee & cake experience!

Café Sperl

Another beautiful and traditional Viennese coffee house. You’ll see a lot of local people there, who are sipping on their coffees and reading newspapers (which, by the way, you can also take from a big table in the center of the café, just don’t forget to return).

Café Sperl

Café Sperl was also one of the filming locations for a famous movie Before Sunrise (1995), the main action of which is taking place in Vienna. One more reason to check out this coffee house!

Before Sunrise (1995)

Aida at Stephansplatz

Again, a super touristic place in the heart of Vienna. Still, I find something special in this coffee house. Maybe it’s these seats in front of the showcase? Or its location, perfect for warming up during the winter walks? Or maybe the Punschkrapfen that they serve…?