Today we have an interview with Alicja Swierczek, Spotter for our Vienna Cityblog.
Can you tell us a bit about who you are, and what you do?
I am a Philosophy and Sociology student- full-time theoretically but the reality looks different because of my non-permanent part-time job at an international organization for Migration policy development.
Therefore I have not much time left for my passion music or other stuff I love to do like reading, watching a good movie, traveling, cooking and taking walks through Vienna.
I was actually born in Poland but grew up in Vienna, which I look back with mixed feelings. On one hand I am eternally gratefull to have grown up in this wonderful city with a really high standard of living and all those opportunities but on the other hand I feel very connected to my family and the country I was born in and somehow wished I could have lived there as well.
Anyway, all in all I am happy to live in Austria.
What do you like about Vienna?
Vienna is clean :) you can walk around all day and not need to wash your hair in the evening or brood over where the cough comes from (that is if you weren’t in a cafe all day where there are only smoking areas).
Besides, this city is really pretty. I mean the buildings, the parks and it doesn’t make you sad wandering around in the city seeing all those buildings unrestored and falling apart because they ain’t. Being in similar cities it always makes my heart ache to see beautiful buildings in need of renovation.
It’s like they are crying.
What don’t you need to see: Schloss Schönbrunn, the castle Schönbrunn, the castle is plain and yellow and not interesting. However the garden around it is nice and if you walk up the hill to the Gloriette you have a nice view on the castle and the park and parts of Vienna. But it’s not a must. Instead of going all the way there the Zentralfriedhof might be the alternative. It has a huge jugendstil church (a style which had one of its centers in Vienna).
The Spanish Hofreitschule is not really necessary to visit (although I love horses) in my opinion. If you really want to see it, it’s better to buy tickets for the morning training- they are much cheaper.
If you want to see the true Vienna- in the summer- go to Kaisermühlen. Buy some ice-cream at Trento and go either to the Donauinsel or the Gänsehäufel (outdoor swimming pool with access to the Old Danube as well).
In the winter the X-mas fare at the Spittelberg is a must. There are x-mas fares all around the city but this one is in a young and artsy quarter of the city and so will be the “audience”.
Anything you would recommend not visiting in Vienna?
What I don’t recommend are the second hand shops in Vienna. It is not that they don’t have nice things but compared to Germany and UK (NYC and Toronto are my other reference points) they a lot more expensive.
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Vienna at this moment?
From the perspective of a student, the most popular is the 9th, 8th and 7th district. It is a pretty young area, that is there live a lot of students and therefore shops and cafes opened according to the clientele. So good shopping spots are practically everywhere.
On one side it’s relatively close to the center and on the other hand it’s not far away from the Gürtel (=translation: belt) a big street that separates the outer from the inner districts, but more importantly is a “party mile”. On the Gürtel, under the so called Stadtbahnbögen (wall on which the metro goes) there are clubs. Some are good, some are bad, but there is plenty to choose from.
Which time of the year you like most in your city and why?
Definitely spring. That’s when the city starts to live again. Every year it surprises my again and again how much more people appear on the streets the minute the sun comes out in the spring.
It’s the time when you can sit outside of a cafe (which for non-smokers is a relief because smoking is very popular in Austria and so do the cafes smell).
If you can only stay for two more days in your city, which Spots would you definitely visit?
If I had only 2 days left I would go to the Zentralfriedhof- the Central Cemetery (I plan to do the article in May :). It is gigantic and beautiful with lots of alleys and trees and old tombstones. Then I would go to the Kahlenberg (see this article) and area to walk around, have some food and vine and visit my dream house (it’s blue and white in this typical old American small town style with a porch and a swing).
On the next day I would go to a Cafe, probably the Hawelka (see this article) or Prückl stroll around in the small streets of the inner district and in the evening I would go to St. Stephan’s Cathedral for some church music. It’s a bit touristy but I got into classical/choir music lately and the St’ Stephan’s Cathedral is so huge and beautiful that I get the feeling of being so small. Actually there are other nice churches in Vienna as well but they are either not that huge or small and often closed without any possibility to fit some musicians and audience in there (as the cute St.Ruprecht church). Besides I don’t believe in mediocrity so either small and cute or huge and impressive.
After that I would go with my friends for a glass of wine to a small wine bar (Unger und Klein).
Read all of Alicja’s articles here.
Check out the other interviews with our Spotters.