Vienna was an imperial city. From the 17th century through the 19th century, much of the time Vienna was Europe’s fourth capital (Paris, London, Moscow, Vienna). Moscow was far away enough before air travel as to be very distant indeed.
And in that context, Vienna was built as an imperial city. Somehow, Vienna was never built on quite the enormous scale that Paris was. But in almost every context, Vienna has a monument or a palace or a museum to match that in Paris.
Schlöss Schönbrunn is the Viennese equivalent of Versailles – the near country palace. Somehow, Schönbrunn managed to be built close enough to Vienna as to end up with a very strange backyard.
The backyard for Schönbrunn is Westbahnhof. Westbahnhof is the main rail station for Vienna if you are coming in from Salzburg, which is the city which links Vienna with all of Western Europe, apart from Italy (which goes through the far less glamorous Villach).
I hate to fly and love to take trains. In a past life, I thought nothing of jumping a train from Moscow to Hungary with a girlfriend (18 hours). I’ve been back and forth to Paris several times from Vienna by train (13 1/2 hours) since I’ve been in Vienna. So I’ve seen a lot of Westbahnhof. The first time I arrived in Vienna it was in Westbahnhof. It’s a much better way to get to know a city, from the central train station than from the airport.
Here are some early morning photos, post-Goa.
Vienna almost looks like a modern city from this vantage point. Fortunately, it is a rare one. I have become very attached to the ubiquitous Austrian red and white.
This is what you see as you arrive in Westbahnhof.