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August 15, 2023   

Well deserves the title of the world’s most livable city.

Schönbrunn Palace

The palace is a stunning masterpiece, boasting some of the finest gardens I’ve encountered throughout Europe. We opted for the guided tour, which was incredibly enlightening. The palace isn’t just architecturally impressive; it’s also steeped in rich history, primarily centered around its owner, Maria Theresa.

Maria Theresa, the sole female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg, was a legendary figure. Mother to 16 children, she fiercely protected her inheritance of imperial power and implemented several beneficial reforms in Austria. It’s evident that Austrians hold a deep respect and pride for this Empress, who introduced the nation’s first free public education system and initiated numerous economic reforms.

What I found fascinating was how interconnected European history is. Maria Theresa also featured prominently in Hungarian history, a fact we discovered during our visit to the castle and palace there.

Another notable figure associated with this renowned palace is Princess Sissi. Though we didn’t learn much about her, it’s known that she was celebrated for her beauty and quickly became a cultural symbol of Austria. Interestingly, she forbade anyone from photographing her after her 40s, wishing to preserve her youthful image for the public.

The palace grounds are expansive, featuring a French Garden and an English Garden. So extensive are these gardens that they even house a zoo. I found it intriguing that the palace and gardens were designed to emulate the Versailles Palace in Paris. Personally, I think they’ve surpassed it in aesthetic appeal.

Vienna City Hall

We then drove to Vienna City Hall, located in the city center. One aspect that surprised me the most was how all the Gothic Architecture buildings here appeared much cleaner and newer than the ones we had seen elsewhere, such as in France and Germany. Perhaps this is due to recent renovations and rebuilds, but they simply looked much more appealing under the direct, hot sunshine, which we found almost unbearable lol.

We were fortunate today because it was the Feast of the Assumption, and all city parking was free. It felt wonderful to be able to park directly by the attractions we were planning to visit. Furthermore, the vibe in the city was incredible. There was a massive film festival taking place right in front of the city hall where people were drinking, eating, and simply having a great time. I absolutely adored the atmosphere here.


Not far from the city hall, there is another cathedral, which, as I previously mentioned, is significantly whiter and cleaner. Under the beautiful blue sky, it exudes an aura of sanctity. Unfortunately, due to ongoing construction, we were unable to explore its interior. However, the exterior alone was impressively captivating.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Indeed, it was another cathedral, equally beautiful but on a much larger scale than the previous one. We explored the exterior, which in my opinion, tends to be similar in every cathedral. However, we had the opportunity to take an elevator to the top tower. The panoramic views of the entire city of Vienna from the top were truly breathtaking.

The wind in the city was consistently strong, particularly at the highest points. It was an unusual sensation to be under the intense heat of the sun, feeling as though I was on the verge of melting, while simultaneously experiencing the chilled comfort of the wind’s breeze.

Another striking feature was the unique tiles adorning the cathedral’s roof. Austria is renowned for this particular type of colored tiles, which added immense beauty to the cathedral’s apex.

Spanish Horse Riding School

We didn’t visit the school, but we noticed its signs prominently displayed throughout the center of Vienna, identifiable by the horses stationed at the curbside, awaiting tourists for rides. This presence contributes to a distinctive aroma in the area, akin to that of a stable, which may be slightly off-putting. However, it offers a rather exotic contrast to the modern city backdrop. The horses themselves were quite beautiful as well.

Austrian National Library

I have never encountered a library quite like this one. The moment I stepped inside, I felt as though I had been transported to the Middle Ages. The shelves were lined with authentic books from centuries ago, their age evident in their delicate pages. The massive dome overhead, adorned with exquisite paintings, added to the surreal atmosphere. The entire experience was not merely like being in a movie, but rather a bewildering journey through time.

The Hofburg

Everything here strongly evokes feelings of Paris and the Louvre. The expansive green lawn and magnificent buildings surrounding the plaza are simply breathtaking. I couldn’t resist lying on the grass, quietly appreciating everything around me - the buildings, the sky, and the people.

Musikverein Vienna

I had the opportunity to visit the world-renowned Golden Hall in Vienna, an experience I couldn’t believe was possible given my limited knowledge of music. However, the experience felt somewhat deceptive. The famous orchestra was not performing during the summer, so we ended up booking a different event. The concert was satisfactory, but I didn’t find their performance particularly impressive, nor did I think the dinner and seating, which cost us 150 euros, were worth the price. It felt more like a tourist experience. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a true music enthusiast. That said, the building itself is magnificent. There’s no denying that it’s a venue where countless remarkable pieces have been performed.

We met a man from Denmark who is a road trip enthusiast. He drove from Denmark to Vienna by himself, a feat I admired and hope to emulate one day. It was a pleasure conversing with him. His love for visiting cathedrals in every city he visits resonates with my passion for hiking and my aim to hike as much as I can. Engaging with strangers during my travels always makes for a memorable experience.

Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel

After the concert, we decided to take a ride on the Ferris wheel. The view from the top was breathtaking, offering a magnificent view of the city at night, accompanied by a refreshing, cool breeze.

We also have had an exceptional time last night at our hotel, observing the nightfall. The place was bustling with numerous couples, enjoying their time, while I was somewhat solitary. Undoubtedly, this hotel offers the best views of the night sky over the mountains.

Undoubtedly, this is a great city to not only travel to but also to live in. Although I’m not a fan of the music, I adore the people, the culture, and the vibe here. I hope to visit again one day, maybe accompanied by someone on that hilltop as well.

Haojin Li
CompSci + PoliSci undergrad - because one major alone wasn’t enough to confuse me.