In September of 2005, I was in Vienna, Austria. My main reason for visiting was a romantic one: movie characters Jesse and Celine spent a whole night talking throughout the city in 1995’s Before Sunrise, and I wanted to see what they saw and walk where they walked. This film inspired me to backpack through Europe by myself, to hop on trains bound for other countries, and start up conversations with strangers.
Here, friends, is a photo essay of my few days touring Vienna: dining alone in a fancy hotel, visiting an imperial palace, attending the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and riding the Wiener Reisenrad, a huge Ferris wheel featured in Before Sunrise (it was just as magical as I’d hoped it would be).
From there it was on to the Prater, Vienna’s amusement park. When I first watched Before Sunrise, I thought that the Ferris wheel they rode was the coolest one I’d ever seen: it didn’t have ordinary little cars that you sit in, it has gondolas for standing. Each one can probably hold a dozen people. It’s so much fun going from end to end for the different city views from each window.
The next day, I had plans to see the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform. I’m not some huge orchestra buff, but Vienna’s is quite famous, and the standing section tickets weren’t expensive at all. The hall, called the Musikverein, was resplendent, as ornate as could be. Once again, I felt under-dressed, but it was so crowded I don’t think anyone even noticed me.
My one other big attraction in Vienna was Schloss Schonbrunn, or Schonbrunn Palace. It was once used as a summer residence of the Austrian monarchy and has over 1,400 rooms (!!). Unfortunately, there were no photos allowed inside the building, but there was plenty to capture once I explored the gardens on my own.
After a quick ride across the rainy city, I arrived at the palace.
The Gloriette at Schonbrunn Palace has a café inside, where the wait staff was content to let patrons idle at their tables as long as they liked, sipping on delicious lattes and gazing at the imposing surroundings.
Oh my goodness. I truly hope to visit Vienna again. What I did see was incredible, but it was only a tiny part of such a marvelous city.
Jesse: Would you be in Paris by now, if you hadn’t gotten off the train with me?
Celine: No, not yet. What would you be doing?
Jesse: I’d probably be hanging around the airport, reading old magazines, crying in my coffee cause you didn’t come with me.
Celine: Aww…actually, I think I’d probably have gotten off the train in Salzburg with someone else.
Jesse: Oh, yeah? Oh, I see. So, I’m just that dumb American momentarily decorating your blank canvas.
Celine: I’m having a great time.
Jesse: Me too.
—Before Sunrise, written by Richard Linklater