In travel, there is foreignness and familiarity. It’s like flipping a coin, you get one or the other. The most fascinating part? The sense of wonder and surprise.


Every so often, when the occasion arises, I would find myself traveling to one of my favorite European cities. I never get tired of visiting Vienna.

For the last ten years, I have made pilgrimages to Austria’s capital. Each visit reveals a different side of the city. A new enriching experience.

My early trips had been about rushing to see the sights, but the later ones mellowed into a comforting rhythm.

I would walk around my neighborhood after arriving, making mental notes as to where I would go to buy my coffee and croissant, which metro or tram I would take the next day. Perhaps there’s a decent pub nearby, a restaurant that’s cheap and cheerful or an indie art exhibit that I need to see. But I’ll be most happy if I stumble on a shaded park or a place to do my groceries where “zweite kassa, bitte!” is a familiar battle cry. 

Like their enduring Wienerschnitzel, the Viennese are creatures of habit. “Des homma imma scho so gmocht” as they say here. It’s the way we’ve always done things. So while in Vienna, no matter what the season is, I have become accustomed to stick to a common gemütlichkeit routine.

On regular days, I would treat myself to a hearty breakfast at Ulrich in Sankt-Ulrichs-Platz in the trendy 7th district. I’d ask for a Leberknödel soup whenever I can, as a starter for lunch. Then it’s a toss-up between a salad or the day’s special.

I like to hop on a bus or take the tram to Türkenschanz Park for a brief retreat and revel in its undulating lush meadows and graceful little walkways. Sometimes, I go in the opposite direction to visit Mozart’s grave. 

Oftentimes I stop for coffee at Kafka or Café Landtmann, once frequented by Freud. Although I prefer sipping tea at Vollpension, an old-fashioned café run by charming geriatrics in the city’s first district.

At Amerlingbeisl, where locals gather under a leafy covered courtyard for late afternoon drinks, I call everyone ‘oida’ and casually slip the word in every conversation. Summer is all about heurigers and splaying like a sun-drenched linen at the Copacabana Beach on the banks of the Danube. Come autumn, a ride at Prater.

Establishing a ritual whenever I’m visiting a foreign city allows me to exert a kind of familiarity. It’s like placing markers that help us connect and feel that we are, once again, in a place we’ve been before. A place not too far from home.

Hope you enjoy these vignettes of the city.  Probably not your typical postcards but most certainly a very typical day in Vienna

Vienna cityscape

Ordinary summer day in Vienna

“Vienna was the city of statues. They were as numerous as the people who walked the streets. They stood on the tip of the highest towers, lay down on stone tombs, sat on horseback, kneeled, prayed, fought animals and wars, danced, drank wine and read books made of stone. They adorned cornices like the figureheads of ships. They stood in the heart of fountains glistening with water as if they had just been born”.

― Anaïs Nin

The world inside Vienna's public buses

One of the many coffee houses in Vienna

…as I ran I reflected that the city through which I was running, dreadful though I had always felt it to be and still felt it to be, was still the best city there was, that Vienna, which I found detestable and had always found detestable, was suddenly once again the best city in the world, my own city, my beloved Vienna, and that these people, whom I had always hated and still hated and would go on hating, were still the best people in the world: I hated them, yet found them somehow touching—I hated Vienna, yet found it somehow touching—I cursed these people, yet could not help loving them—I hated Vienna yet could not help loving it.

And now, as I ran through the streets of the Inner City, I thought: This is my city and always will be my city, these are my people and always will be my people…

― Thomas Bernhard

The Copacabana city summer beach in Vienna

One of the many traffic signs displaying equality

The Prater Iconic Ferris Wheel

“You need some reason why Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn in the 18th century all flocked to Vienna. What was it about Vienna? They must have known on some level that that is where they would flourish. It’s what biologists call selective migration.”

― Eric Weiner

Night time in the city

Do you have a favorite city that you like to travel to time and again? Any particular routine or habit that makes settling into a foreign place almost feels like home? Feel free to share them below and love to hear from you 😉 Happy travels!


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  1. I love Vienna and lived there for several years many moons ago. Like you, I take it slow when I visit. I love the cafes and appreciate the fact that many of my favorites from decades ago are still there and going strong. Nice photos 🙂

  2. Vienna is a wonderful city which never fails to engage me and let’s me discover a new side, even tho I also have my routine there and re-experience certain experiences like you do. Mitch and Colin hit the nail on the head here, it is the familiarity and the warm feeling of belonging that pulls me back to Vienna every time.
    If you like Vollpension so much, try the second branch in Wieden (Schleifmühlgasse). It even has an outdoor bit (I’m not the biggest fan of Vollpension but ca understand why it is so popular).

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

  3. Magnificent photographs that challenge the reader to visit Vienna. I think my desire to visit Vienna is much stronger now. After reading this post, I got the feeling that this city has so much to offer and I don’t want to miss a thing. I just need to start planning this trip and hope it happens soon.

  4. While I haven’t been to Vienna, I can understand that love of a favorite place and feeling like you’re back where you should be. You can tell that Vienna really calls to you by the way you’re writing about it. Your pictures are photojournalistic which shows the city in a completely new light for me- great work!

  5. I visited Vienna for the first time last year and I did enjoy it. I’d likely go back, and saw some of the things you enjoyed while I was there. I didn’t instantly fall in love with Vienna, however I could see it building over time – and by that I mean with every dessert I consume. Your feelings about Vienna mirror my love of Paris. I have a favorite bakery, the same hot spots I have to hit each time I’m there and new ones I love to discover. Not having to spend a trip checking off the usual sites really makes me enjoy a place more and feel a bit more like it’s “my” city

  6. Great photos! These everyday scences give a real sense of place, like the walking light that shows a couple holding hands—so cute! I like the idea of forming routines in places that I revisit most often, like Strasbourg, the North Shore of Oahu, New York City… I have yet to make it to Vienna, though, but hopefully someday

  7. I enjoyed reading this post. Vienna looks super chill, modern and exciting. I have never visited before but I could see myself here for sure. Right now as we are on travelling on a longer trip for the first few days we tend to eat in the same place and build familiarity with the staff and get to know them and ask questions to learn about the city we are in. Then we get more comfortable and really go for it exploring deeper into the city or location. A city I like to visit time and time again is Dublin!

  8. I have yet to visit Vienna (and I’m really not sure why since, as a classical music and Mozart superfan, I have had it on my list forever! I really like this vignette style post, these scenes show the city and your comfort beautifully. The road crossing light is precious! I really like staying in an area often or long enough to wander and get to know the local stores and coffee shops.

    I feel that way about Rome. I have been there often enough that it feels familiar and comfortable and I can move around without checking GPS, I get to know the local coffee place and pick out my favourite place to enjoy an apertivo.

  9. There are a few cities in the world where I have liked them so much, that I actually stopped doing the tourist routes for a couple of days . I’d just wander the streets, popping into certain cafes or stores that I had gotten to like, and almost acting like a local. It was comforting and relaxing especially on long trips to zone-out and take a break in this way. I can’t say I have a regular city at the moment to do this in, as I’m always on the move visiting new places. However, there are definiteley a few that I’d like to go back to do do this in. Love your creative journalism style that evokes memories and passions you hold.

  10. Although we haven’t visited Vienna, we can relate to that comforting, warm, fuzzy feeling of returning to a favourite place. The excitement of exploring an unfamiliar place morphs into the joy of relaxing into now familiar haunts and enjoying particular rituals. For us, that place is Japan. But what your post has also done has invited us to move Vienna further and further up our ‘to-visit’ list. I love how your photos and quotes have really captured the essence of the city. I particularly like the traffic crossing – the two people crossing together with a love heart is adorable! Selective migration – a hugely apt aphorism. Thank you for sharing your love of this city.