Photo credit: Aubrey Carr


Aubrey Carr/Staff writer


There was once a four year old girl whose mother was up one night watching the 1984 film Amadeus.  This was the first time this little girl heard opera and was conscious of its beauty, and so there was nothing else to do than walk out, lie about a faux nightmare that kept her up, and beg to be closer to the soundwaves.  This little girl was me, and since that day I have longed to visit Vienna, famously named the City of Music, and see a live opera.

How fortunate that I should visit during a national holiday when Antonio Vivaldi’s Don Carlo would be showing the day after learning the cheapest way to get tickets.  It was a beautiful performance, inspiring chills, tears, and many “bravos” from the audience.

Should you wish to attend an opera on a low budget and don’t mind standing for an extended period of time, there are “standing tickets” for $5.77 available for purchase at the box office of the Vienna State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) starting two hours before the performance. Before those two hours, though, people begin queueing, but you’re allowed to bring a newspaper, a shoe, anything, to hold your place in line.  

However, if your person is not queued by the time the box office opens, your effects will do nothing to reserve your place any longer. Once inside with a standing spot claimed, a sweater or a ribbon will serve as your reservation and though everyone is respectful of the system, the workers will ensure that your place is not taken.

A city isn’t very efficient if it is difficult to navigate, but even for someone with no sense of direction and without the aid of GPS, Vienna is not a terribly difficult city to understand. Vienna’s metro system is relatively cheap and simple to comprehend; for students and children, there is a five day pass available for $17.31 that can take you from the airport to the city.  

The metro works on an honor system; no one routinely checks tickets, but when there are the occasional ticket checks, it’s a fine into the hundreds to not have one.

If biking is preferred, do not fear the danger that accompanies a bike ride in the US.  Red or green coloured bike lanes exist in Vienna, unlike in the States where bikers must make the difficult decision between running over pedestrians or getting killed themselves by oncoming traffic, stuck in a limbo between lanes in the world of transportation.

I stayed at the Wombat’s Hostel in Naschmarkt, which was just as any standard hotel, and even better than some. They rent out bicycles, umbrellas, and many more supplies, in addition to offering walking tours and day trips to sight-see.  For an additional fee, breakfast is buffet style with little selection, but all of the choices are very light, healthy, and tasty.  There is a bar on the main floor, laundry facilities with free soap downstairs, and large, comfortable rooms in the floors above, with windows that open to a beautiful view.

Food is the best part of visiting a new place; in Vienna, beef and potatoes are generally your most common meals. Gmoa Keller, a traditional Viennese restaurant, has the best boiled beef I have ever tried.  Schnitzel and apfelstrudel are necessary dishes, and while the schnitzel is good nearly anywhere, the apfelstrudel is the best at the Café Museum.

Culture shock isn’t a big problem here, because apart from the food and architecture (and bike lanes), nearly everything else is similar.  Familiar department stores like H&M and Zara are on every block, American music is played nearly everywhere and there are few people who don’t speak English.  Less English is spoken in Miami.

It was strange to be in a foreign country on a different continent and still feel so close to the U.S.  The only aspect of Vienna that came as a shock was the lack of use of credit or debit cards.  I applied for my first one before this trip to avoid the worry of carrying large amounts of cash around, only to find out that many places accept only cash. 
Generally, the people here are lovely and were quick to help us when they saw lost tourists crowded over a map.  Vienna is a city rich with history, breathtaking architecture, interesting food, and great sights to see.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community


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