Having just returned from a weekend in Vienna, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a post about the trip. I’ve just finished writing a scene set in Vienna for my next book ‘The Single Dad’s First Love’, and I was relieved to find it was just as I’d imagined.
I went with a friend who had very patiently been teaching me some simple ballroom dancing steps since last summer, as the whole reason for the trip was to experience a traditional Viennese ball!
We chose the Johann Strauss ball, held at the Kursalon. The itinerary was a three course dinner (optional), then an official opening ceremony, complete with professional ballerinas, an opera singer and the dance of the debutantes. Once the ceremony is over, all couples can take to the floor to waltz, tango and foxtrot the night away to a live orchestra.
The ball went on till 4am, although we were exhausted by 2.30am, at which point we left. The organisers had very cleverly put us on a table with other English speakers (Scots, Americans and Welsh – so still very international!), and it was very enjoyable getting to know everyone, dancing with one another and hearing about their other ball experiences.
If you’re not a ballroom dancer but still fancy trying out the experience, there is a disco area, where ballroom dance is not at all compulsory.
It was a great experience, and I’m really glad we went. It certainly paid dividends that we’d learned the dances beforehand, otherwise we would have been sat down a lot! Having said that, there are people of all dancing levels there, so even if you’re a beginner, you wouldn’t feel out of place. I noticed lots of people didn’t even get up for a dance, and were just there for ‘the craic’ (of the experience variety, not the narcotic – I don’t think there was any of that going on!).
The only criticism I’d have is the dance floor was just not big enough to accommodate the amount of people, and you literally had to fight your way through, especially when doing the travelling dances, such as the Viennese Waltz. Having said that, the later it got, the more it thinned out, so after midnight it got quieter and more pleasant (must have been a lot of Cinderellas with a curfew!). Apart from that, it was a super evening, and we had a perfect view of the opening ceremony.
Our hotel, Hotel Kaerntnerhof, was brilliant. It was ideally located in central Vienna, was very good value for money, and the staff were incredibly obliging.
During the weekend we visited the Belvedere Palace to see the Gustav Klimt (of The Kiss fame) exhibition, and hit some of the shops. The shops are fabulous, and if you enjoy a spot of retail therapy, this would be a great place to spend a weekend.
We had dinner one night at the Twelve Apostles Cellar, which looks dodgy from the outside and when you’re going down the stairs to the restaurant area, but when you get there, it’s hugely atmospheric with a fantastic offering of typical Austrian fare – gorgeous place.