Sunday, May 20, 2012

Music in Vienna

If you are a massive music fan, there are a lot of options for you in Vienna. Whether you like classical music, jazz, rock, metal, or pop, you are sure to find a venue that will cater to you, and they’re all within easy reach from your hotel or zimmer.

Classical music, of course, has a major influence in Vienna. The Vienna State Opera offers performances 300 days of the year on a wide variety of themes, albeit based on opera or ballets. In addition, the Vienna Musikverein and the Vienna Konzerthaus both offer a wide range of classical music, including concerts, musicals, and recitals.

If you prefer something a little more modern, there are a wide variety of clubs and other venues within the city. One of the biggest venues is the U4 club, which has seen the likes of Prince, Nirvana, and Grace Jones. If you're feeling brave, you can check out the Jenseits Café & Dance. This former brothel generally focuses on funk and soul with a little bit of jazz thrown in. If you're in the mood for a wide variety of music, the Prater Dome offer something for everyone. Vienna's largest disco offers a wide range of music, from dance, trance, and garage to R&B, salsa, and Latino – all in the same venue.

No city would be complete without its jazz clubs. One of our favorite clubs to visit is Jazzland, which is Vienna's oldest jazz club. Hidden underneath a church, this club has managed to attract numerous famous jazz musicians, from Big Joe Williams to Ray Brown. The food is pretty decent too. Another place to visit would be Porgy and Bess. This unique club has musicians from around the world visiting it, including some more unusual ensembles. A recent concert featured jazz musicians from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. If you just fancy a very nice dinner with some jazz in the background, go to the Albertina Passage, which is based in the Vienna State Opera.

If you fancy doing a bit of dancing, you can practice your samba or salsa in Vienna's Latino clubs. Floridita is a great place to experience the delights of Cuba, and El Dorado's cozy atmosphere is a perfect place to learn a little bit about Latin America's dances.

Finding these clubs is generally easy, but be sure to check out what is open by asking around. Some of the smaller clubs are well worth a visit, so ask your friendly Austrian hotel staff for details.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Want to Ride My Bicycle: Cycling in Vienna

Vienna is incredibly bicycle-friendly city. It has around thousand miles of bicycle tracks, which are very useful when getting from A to B. In addition, it also has a free city bicycle scheme, although the word free is not completely accurate. There are some great Austrian zimmers that are bicycle friendly too.

The city's bicycle scheme allows you to hire a bike at an extremely low rate. The first hour is free, the next hour is a euro, the third hour is charged at two euros, and anything between four and 120 hours is charged at four euros an hour. It is worth mentioning that this is per cycling session. Therefore, if you use the service for a half hour trip and return it, you will not get charged no matter how many trips like this you make. The journey begins when you remove the citybike from its slot and ends when you plug it back into a slot, even if this is at a different station. You will need either a debit card or a citybike tourist card, which can be rented from your hotel. Make sure you ask about it. There may be a small fee of around two euros a day to hire a citybike tourist card.

There are approximately 80 public rental stations in Vienna, and the terminals are normally located near major transportation routes, such as tram, bus, and rail stations, and near major tourist areas, such as the Imperial Palace and the Ringstrasse. 

It is also worth checking out the guided cycle tours in Vienna. Most of these run between 1 May and 31 October, and there is often a nominal charge for these. For more information, it's worth going to the tourist information center at Albertinaplatz. Alternatively, your pension may have more information.

If the rain started coming down, you can always do a little traveling underground. We don't mean, of course, that you start tunneling like a mole. The Viennese Metro allows bicycles on it after the morning rush hour, which generally ends at 9 AM on weekdays, until 3 PM. Trains after 6:30 PM also allow bicycles. Saturdays and Sundays are generally unrestricted.

Cycling in Vienna is a fantastic opportunity that's not to be missed. The ease of cycling makes this one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. The free bicycle scheme is a great way for tourists to get around Vienna, and it keeps you fit, too!