Wel­come to my place ... Vi­enna

The Irish Times Magazine - - TRAVEL- BAG -

Joe Lowry is se­nior me­dia of­fi­cer with the UN mi­gra­tion agency in Vi­enna, cov­er­ing south­east­ern Europe, eastern Europe and cen­tral Asia. He is from Dún Laoghaire, but has been over­seas since 1991. He ar­rived in Vi­enna with his wife Lena from Be­larus, and chil­dren Maya and Polina, af­ter a five- year post­ing in Bangkok, cov­er­ing Asia and the Pa­cific.

Where is the first place you al­ways bring peo­ple to when they visit Vi­enna?

There’s no one spe­cial place. Vi­enna is a city for saun­ter­ing. Go through the Prater Park. Linger over a cof­fee, dip in and out of parks, palaces, churches and mu­se­ums. Pub­lic trans­port is dream­ily great and con­nects the city un­til the wee small hours ( and there are buses and U- bahns that run all night at the week­end).

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are:

Well, saun­ter­ing again is cer­tainly one of them. Stad­park is full of stat­ues ( the shiny gold one of Jo­hann Strauss is al­ways mobbed with selfie- tak­ers) and from there you can hear singers warm­ing up in a nearby con­cert hall and a sax player tootling for his own amuse­ment in a deep tun­nel.

I can’t em­pha­sise how won­der­ful the Prater Park is. Peo­ple think it’s just the Riesen­rad ( the Big Wheel from The Third Man and other movies), but there are many lit­tle wilder­nesses in this huge park and all have their own char­ac­ter. It’s a great place to be melan­cholic on your own, or wildly happy with fam­ily and friends.

Back on the streets, look down at the brass plaques on the pave­ments, each telling a sad in­di­vid­ual story of de­por­ta­tion and ex­ter­mi­na­tion of Jews and dis­si­dents dur­ing the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion. Vi­enna has a his­tory of vi­o­lence in its walls as much as its mu­sic. Oh, and how could I for­get – 10.15 Mass at the mar­vel­lously aus­tere Stephans­dom. On a Sun­day ( ex­cept in sum­mer) you can hear a 68- strong choir belt­ing out Masses by Mozart and other mere mor­tals. Get there early, sit near the front ( tip – on the right side) and feel your soul stir.

Where do you rec­om­mend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Vi­enna?

Sch­nitzel­w­ert in the ninth district. You can eas­ily pay ¤ 25 for a Wiener schnitzel in the posh first district, but in this place you get slabs of meat with ex­otic twists like Mex­i­can schnitzel for not much over a ten­ner. Bring a doggy bag. Pints for un­der ¤ 4 too. And the red wine is deep and ro­bust.

Where is the best place to get a sense of Vi­enna’s place in his­tory?

The Vi­enna Time Ma­chine tour is a good

If you’d like to share your lit­tle black book of places to visit where you live, please email your an­swers to the five ques­tions above to abroad@ irish­times. com, in­clud­ing a brief de­scrip­tion of what you do there and a pho­to­graph of your­self.

We’d love to hear from you.

■ Joe Lowry from Dún Laoghaire

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