In this week’s City Perspective series, Marion Vicenta Payr (@ladyvenom) transports us to her home city of Vienna, Austria.
Stay tuned for Part II, which will go live on Friday, October 24th!
How long have you lived in your city? What is your profession?
I’ve been living in Vienna for 10 years – in 2 different districts and in 3 different apartments – and I still discover new spots and amazing features about this city every day. In addition to being a Marketing Manager at a Pay TV company, I like to call myself a mobile photographer.
If you could capture the essence of your city in one word, what would it be?
Wholesome. Vienna makes you feel whole. The city has one of the highest standards of living in the world; it offers cultural diversity mixed with historical beauty and modernity; it is safe and inexpensive; it has a wonderful public transport system; and it offers an abundance of nature. Living here makes you feel privileged – royal, even – because of everything that is accessible.
How would you describe the locals in your city?
The most common stereotype of the Viennese people is that they are grumpy and there is some truth to that. What I have noticed during my travels, however, is that this trait is somewhat common among people who live in any city. People seem to be more concerned with themselves in urban areas, at least on a superficial level. Once you get to know Vienna’s people, though, you’ll notice that they are, in fact, quite charming.
How do you think that the beat or style of the city has informed your style as a photographer?
I don’t know that it really has. Looking at the photographic style of the community in Vienna, I don’t believe there’s a specific common ground; that there’s a style that we all share. There is so much diversity, from nostalgic sepia pictures to black and white street photography to undersaturated lifestyle shots. My personal style evolves all the time and is inspired more from the creativity of the Instagram community than by the beat of Vienna.
Describe the first place you’d bring an out-of-town guest. Why would you take them there?
Schönbrunn castle is a great first spot to explore in Vienna. There is a vast, beautiful park to stroll through; there, you can experience the famous Austrian Gemütlichkeit, where you slow down, sip a coffee at the picturesque Landtmann’s Jausenstation, and just enjoy the calm and quiet in the city. The castle also gives visitors an understanding of the historical background and imperial glory that once governed the city. After visiting Schönbrunn, I like to take guests to see some contrasting modern art in a local gallery, or to new hipster joint to grab something to eat. I like when visitors experience Vienna as the locals do (because, in truth, we don’t go to Schönbrunn that often).
Describe the most underrated place to visit in your city.
Augarten. It’s a park with two old flak towers that are now landmarked. Visitors might be deterred by this sight at first, but the park itself is beautiful and houses my favorite breakfast joint, Die Au, and one of my favorite contemporary art museums, TBA21. The towers mark a period in Vienna’s history that should never be forgotten and are, therefore, truly significant.
What is one bus or train route that offers a unique glimpse or view of your city?
Any of the tramways at the “Ringstraße” (Nr. 2 for example). You’ll pass by some of the historic architectural gems of the city and circle around the first of the 23 districts of Vienna.
What’s a signature dish in your city and where’s the best spot to find it?
Although I’m now a vegetarian, I have to admit that the city’s signature dish is Schnitzel and it is best made by Figlmüller’s. The restaurant is mentioned in every tourist guide and is often overcrowded, but it really is the most delicious. If you go there, be sure to order potato salad as a side.
My personal favorite dish is the Exotic Ceasar’s Salad from Tian, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant. Although it’s not really an Austrian dish, it is fantastic. If you can still fit in a traditional Austrian dessert after that, go to my favorite café, Café Diglas at Wollzeile, and order a red currant cake.
What’s your favorite activity for a rainy day?
Vienna has a great breakfast culture, so I would recommend grabbing an early meal with freshly baked bread and rolls (called “Semmel”) and homemade jam and butter at one of the many amazing places in town. Zweitbester is one of my favorite spots. Afterwards, I would go to the Museumsquartier, known as the “MQ”, and visit some of the current exhibitions. The museums are all located on the same plot, so you don’t have to walk far in the rain to get from one to the other. There are also many nice little restaurants and cafés in the area, so you can spend the whole day there.
Where’s the best spot to see your city from above?
One of the best views is offered from the hotel restaurant “Le Loft” at the Sofitel. The food is really expensive but it’s fun to dress up and go for a cocktail at sunset. Another alternative is the “Haus des Meeres” terrace; it’s an old flak tower that houses an aquarium and the views from there are just breathtaking.
Thanks, Marion! Stay tuned for Part II of this series, which will go live on Friday, October, 24th.
Words and photos by Marion Vicenta Payr.