Vienna: The City That Sleeps

Vienna is rated as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and don’t get me wrong, it is stunning, and boasts some truly inspired architecture. However, as we walked down its hushed streets, wondering how the day had passed us by so quickly, we realised it was actually only 7 o’clock. Night had just begun to fall and yet the streets were empty, the main roads quiet and the vast majority of the restaurants closed. I reiterate – it was only 7 o’ clock! The deadly silent streets added to the foreboding atmosphere, creating a knot in my stomach, forcing me to question why there was such a lack of life around the city centre when it was peak tourist season. Was it meant only for the retired?

Given that Vienna is a city renowned for being the capital of classical music I expected there to be a premature nightlife, but what I didn’t account for was the lack of wining and dining at what we would consider a ‘normal’ time. As we searched in anticipation for somewhere to eat, we realised that there seemed to be ‘Sunday service’ at restaurants every day, meaning that the majority of restaurants closed around 6pm, allowing you more digestion time before bed. Curiously, on returning to our ‘Happy Hostel’ we asked the desk attendant why the city seemed so dead. Slightly amused, he replied “Everyone goes to bed early.”

Happily, midnight snacks are available if you happen to stumble upon a late night street vendor. Whilst these kebabs, noodles and falafels seem divine on a starved stomach, it doesn’t seem like such a luxury when you are forced to walk around in search of a bench while half scoffing down your food before it gets too cold.

A country which was quoted as having ‘the best quality of living’ worldwide in the Mercer Survey 2010 certainly isn’t one which I would think would attract the nightlife loving students of Nottingham. The dynamic of the city thoroughly baffled me. During the day it was immersed in tourists, people selling tickets dressed as Mozart outside the prestigious Opera House, children running around the Giant Ferris Wheel, people respectfully entering the Stephansdom with their shoulders covered and admiring the intricacies of its detailed architecture from the outside. However, in the evening the city became silent. Only the odd car could be seen on the main roads. Only a few people lingered in the streets. An eerie cloud of loneliness had descended on this magnificent city.

Priyal Dadhania

3 Comments on this post.
  • Tom Clements
    19 January 2011 at 04:36
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    I don’t think the eerie evening exodus, the lack of nightlife and the early restaurant closing times are particularly limited to Vienna; the same sort of culture can be observed in most cities in central Europe (apart from the big major centres, obviously).

  • Priyal Dadhania
    4 July 2012 at 06:34
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    Tom, want to specify then?

  • ViennaGuy
    4 January 2016 at 12:12
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    It all depends on when you want to go out. 7pm means no bars have opened yet; weekdays mean less folk drinking; winter means less folk drinking outside (ie not at home/with friends); and holiday season also means less students, unless it’s the summer, where everyone is going for internships.

    Try the same thing in July, at 9pm, in the second district. I guarantee that you’ll be hard pressed to find a bar or pub that is not packed full.

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