Last year’s Mercer’s quality of living survey placed Vienna on the top spot, and not to disappoint, this lovely city tops it again this year – the ranking includes 231 cities. Vienna is followed by Zurich (2), Auckland and Munich (in joint 3rd place), Vancouver is in 5th place (same as last year) which completes the top five and is the highest ranking city in North America. Sunny Singapore also placed (25) and Montevideo (77) – which are the highest ranking cities in Asia and Latin America respectively.
For 2018, Mercer provided a separate ranking on City Sanitation, this category analyses the cities’ waste removal and sewage infrastructure, the levels of infectious disease detected, air pollution, water availability and quality – which are all important aspects of a city’s attractiveness for people and businesses. It was Honolulu on the top of that list.
And like last year, I am showing you again some of Vienna’s picturesque spots, like a virtual tour, not really a claim to support as to why it deserves having the title for the 9th year since Mercer has its own qualifications, this blog is all about Vienna after all.
Perhaps the most popular tourist destination in Vienna is the Schönbrunn Palace. It is the summer residence of then emperors and their families. Nowadays, it’s open to the public as a museum, and partly a hotel. The vast garden, once a hunting ground now holds a zoo, an aquarium, and parks that visitors can enjoy.
The Great Gallerie ballroom at the Schönbrunn is an example of how lavish the lifestyle of the royalty, the Habsburgs, was during their time. Definitely one of the most grandiose Rococo ceremonial halls in existence, the paintings on the ceiling were done by Gregorio Gugliemi. This is just one of the 1441 rooms (with a handful open for tours) decorated with magnificent paintings, gold-plated walls, elegant chandeliers, and other fancy indulgences.
Vienna’s music scene, art culture, and architecture fare well with any other country in Europe. The various Opera houses and theatres hold performances on different schedules, it is never appropriate to say “I’m too busy” because you will find something to interest you at any given day. The Museumsquartier, a compound of baroque and modern buildings opposite the twin museums, Natural History and Art History, houses a number of display that are targeted for different age groups. Zoom Kindermuseum for example, encourages children to ask, touch, investigate, feel, and play to their hearts’ content. Their installations often revolve around the themes of water, air, and earth. The last summer we passed by, there was a grass-top water bed just outside where you can wait on, sit, or jump!
It’s also a hub for artists, students, musicians who sometimes spend their time showing off their creativity. If you come by at the right time, you might find a Mindy Smith casually serenading passersby along with a friend who is equally talented playing the guitar.
One of the museums I would recommend is the MUMOK – the MUseum MOderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art). The MUMOK has a 10,000 collection of both modern and contemporary art works, some of which are from Warhol, Picasso, Beuys, Paik, and Vostell.
On certain days, there are free exhibits that we would walk into from the side building, and it’s always a fun one!
Last year, Vienna finished its trainline project adding five more train stations to the U1 line. It became the longest line on Vienna’s train network, but also with 24 stops as is the U6 line. This means a more comfortable travel experience to the already convenient practicality of the transportation system, especially for those living at Vienna’s 10th district who were only used to utilising the trams and buses – which is, by the way, very well-structured.
I have often mentioned that Vienna is a small city. One can pretty much walk around the city centre and see most of the attractions, but the engineers have conveniently done well with the public transportation that I have only recently discovered how near this area is to that museum or to that palace. 😀 I was used to going around in the trams and buses that I never thought it possible to just walk.
The city has also recently allowed public “stages” for buskers in train stations. There only used to be plaza spaces for them, but nowadays, if you find yourself early for your train going to another European city, you can listen to talented violinists, guitarists, pianists, even singers on their stage.
That Vienna is a kid-friendly city is something I have reiterated on my parenting blog. Children are effectively placed in free, state-sponsored schools nearer home, unless the parents opt for private education. Since school is until 12:00 or 13:00 in the afternoon, there are after school institutions or Horts provided by the city so kids can stay there to eat, do homework, play or attend extra-curricular activities while they wait for their nannies or parents to be taken home. I used to work at one of those, as an English-speaker since the school beside is a bilingual one.
There are a lot of parks, recreational centres, indoor activity areas, child-minded museums (as mentioned above) that kids can go to on the weekends or whenever they have off from school, and they give them discounts, most of the time free entrance fees on those days. Thus, it is right to say that no kid gets bored in Vienna.
And because Vienna has four seasons, the photographer in me is always so excited whenever mother nature changes its clothing. Below are some of my favorite shots all year-round, and some of my favourite quotes, too, about each season.
“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
“Fall has always been my favourite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Whether you choose to see Vienna in spring or in summer, if you decide to drop by in winter or autumn, know that: Vienna will surely be a truly memorable city.