We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

Which Vienna hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Shenandoah Valley...
Level Contributor
187 posts
94 reviews
Save Topic
Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

My husband and I just returned from a three week stay in Vienna, the first time to return after my husband's being assigned to a diplomatic mission there in 1976. No matter where we travel, I much prefer experiencing the culture of a country as much as possible as a non-tourist. I found an apartment to rent through a sabbatical exchange right off busy Alser Strasse in the 9th District, with excellent transportation very close by. We bought a transportation card at the monthly rate and used it multiple times daily, for trams, the U-Bahn, and buses.

Many things had changed during our long absence from this spectacular city. When we were there before, Vienna was very much an international city because of its permanent location for any number of international assemblies. There were very few tourists there. Now there are streams and streams of large groups of tourists, bus loads of them with a tour guide, going through the First District at record speed. Not the way I personally want to enjoy a city! Very little English was spoken, even in the First District, and now there were few we met who didn't speak at least some English. And most restaurants provided a menu in English if requested.

I had read many comments about the grumpiness of waiters, especially in the First District, although we didn't encounter that at all. They were very focused on their job and very efficient at it, but a smile to them always got a smile in return. They were unfailingly polite and attentive, just as they always had been before. I had to wonder if people were reacting to the fact that in Vienna the waiters didn't approach your table with "Hi! I'm Shelly and I will be taking care of you today!" ? :-).

We went just everywhere, starting with a D Tram ride to our old digs in Nussdorf, where we found our old apartment, now converted to commercial use. The shop where I used to buy my fresh poultry was sadly gone and replaced with a car repair establishment. After walking around and taking pictures for a bit we had a lovely meal in the garden of Zum Renner with lots of locals but nary a tourist in sight. We returned to Nussdorf to a heuriger, also well attended by the locals, for our last evening in Vienna and a teary farewell once again.

The city was still being brought back from the intense bombing of WW II and now soooo much more has been restored to its original splendor. The beautiful Albertina is one shining example which we enjoyed immensely. Nor was there much "Sisi" intensity before! The lady of that day was Maria Theresa. The Kartnerstrasse and the Graben were filled with venerable Viennese shops and have been replaced with Chanel, Valentino, others of that caliber, but also some much cheaper chains. Fortunately, Loden-Plankl is the same and in the same location and they beautifully restored my much-loved but battered loden cape which we had mailed them before we left. My husband bought a hat which is now rarely wants to take off and I bought a beautiful Austrian made wool challis scarf with a tapestry weave which I know I'll enjoy for many years.

The tram system is as it was but of course the U-Bahn back in the day was no more than a giant hole in front of St. Stephens. I much preferred taking a tram when possible as I liked the views from the windows. And the new low entrance trams made getting on and off much easier, although I have a fondness for the old trams which were still very much in use. We were but 3 tram stops to Schottentor and went all over Vienna from that hub.

The nasch markt was much changed, and not for the better in my estimation. But it was the only disappointment I encountered.

So there are but a few observations of changes in Vienna that we encountered!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
816 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

Neferteria –

Thank you so much for sharing your unique perspective on Vienna. You are very fortunate to have lived there at that time and to be able to again spend time in that lovely city.

I agree with you about tourists (I'm speaking of Americans) being accustomed to a too-informal greeting by waiters. (something which I can easily do without). I also love the trams for getting a look at the city.

I hope you'll be able to return to Vienna again!

Penguin

Shenandoah Valley...
Level Contributor
187 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

The cafe that had been my old go-to place in the First District, Cafe Schwarzenberg, was still as it always had been, still my favorite Vienna cafe. We made a bee line for it, where we had our first coffees and pastries sitting outside. When our waiter saw me taking a picture of my husband in front of the pastries counter, pondering which of the delectables to get, our waiter came up and asked us if we would like him to take a picture of the two of us. We took him up on his offer! We returned several times, including after the opera at the Staadsoper and a concert at the Musikverein. We had both full meals and snacks. Different waiters, same very attentive service. And they remembered us each time we returned.

Burnley, United...
Destination Expert
for Vienna
Level Contributor
13,582 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

What a lovely and unique insight. Thanks for sharing!

Just one query - what exactly did you think had changed for the worse at the Naschmarkt? (If your answer's too controversial you can always PM me!)

Shenandoah Valley...
Level Contributor
187 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

I don't know that it is controversial, but it had changed from being purely a farmer's market completely and solely stocked with local goods into what appeared to me at least to being a gathering place with lots of eateries and an abundance of very loud music. We didn't see a great deal of food shopping taking place! Also, the flea market aspect was completely changed. Before, it had been a true flea market with lots of small items that looked like they had come from local estates. I didn't see any of that but did see lots of imports of pretty low quality. There were also vendors that just dumped their wares in a heap on the ground that prospective buyers rummaged through. A welcome plus were all the Middle Eastern foods sold at the permanent stands. We bought some of those and took them back to the apartment to eat later. My husband stopped briefly with a friend at the market in the 18th District which was much more like what the big market had been when we first went there more than three decades ago.

Wien, Austria
Destination Expert
for Vienna
Level Contributor
3,422 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

The flea market has not been attractive the last 10 years.

As you are right many of the old food stalls got replaced by more restaurants/bar , souvenir shops etc

My favourite day is still the Friday as some farmers and special vendors only come on this day and it isnt that crowdy as on Saturday.

Still is one of my favourites. For pure vegetables and food I hope over to the 10th district to the Victor Adler markt.

Shenandoah Valley...
Level Contributor
187 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

We would have gone on another day had we known. We were pleased to find very nice food at either of the Billas that were close to us. As we weren't cooking the main meal of the day, we bought fruits, cheeses, cold cuts, different breads and the like. I MISS the breads we had in Vienna! We have a very good bakery here, but the breads are of a different kind.

Shenandoah Valley...
Level Contributor
187 posts
94 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

Another change that I encountered was the amount of Spanish I heard spoken among other tourists. I am fluent in Spanish and was happy to meet up with others whose native language was Spanish. The ones from South America were all from Argentina, and all from Buenos Aires as I remember. Others from Spain. One of the staff at Loden Plankl was tri-lingual German, Spanish, and English. I NEVER heard Spanish when I was there before! What has brought Spanish speaking people to Vienna?

I can bumble around in French, but didn't hear any spoken French at all.

My German is limited to being able to order a meal and to ask where the bathroom is, but I wish I had been able to speak more!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
816 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

Why wouldn't Spanish-speakers go to Vienna? Based on the posters here, people from India, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Japan, Singapore, Australia and many other countries travel to Austria.

Edited: 28 September 2012, 19:34
Wien, Austria
Destination Expert
for Vienna
Level Contributor
3,422 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

Even my General doctor speaks Spanish so you can hear more Spanish in her waiting room than in any of the Spanish restaurants in Vienna (-_°)

Edited: 28 September 2012, 19:54
Burnley, United...
Destination Expert
for Vienna
Level Contributor
13,582 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Some Reflections on Vienna, Then and Now

Can't say I've noticed the Spanish effect myself.