anisha shah / Austria / Bucket list travel / Destination / Food / globetrotter / Historical sights / journalist / review / Travel / travel writer / Uncategorized / world



After an exciting morning of performances and stopping to re-fuel at Cafe Central coffee house, I saunter along quiet Sunday streets towards Vienna’s Old Town.


The smell hits the back of my throat and forces my attention. It’s that rich, sweet musty scent of tobacco. My nose is led to a vintage tobacco shop; a tiny box of a shop tucked away in the corner of a cobbled back street. The window’s crammed full of old smoking pipes, sheesha pipes and smoking apparatus from all over the world. Further along the same street, I’m charmed by an antique map and navigation shop. Globes and old maps from all eras of history are on sale, with bronze compasses and vintage navigation tools. I’m in love. Vienna’s Old Town back streets are bursting with charm and character.

"Robert Schumann" "Vienna arts" "Schumann Vienna" "historical buildings Vienna" "Schumann Wien" "music" "composer" "artist" "writer" "arts association vienna" "free music Vienna" "free concert Vienna" "unusual things to do in Vienna" "arts" "music" "theatre vienna" "free things to do Vienna" "culture Vienna" "beautiful buildings Vienna" "historical buildings Vienna" "history Vienna" Wien" "horses Vienna" "sights Vienna" "must do Vienna" "wien travel" "travel" "austria" "Europe sights"

Building on Schonlanterngasse once had a famous resident, Schumann, Vienna Old Town

Narrow cobbled streets & alleyways intertwine, revealing old pubs, coffee houses, restaurants, museums and galleries.

"horse carriage vienna" "public transport Vienna" "horses Vienna" "sights Vienna" "must do Vienna" "wien travel" "travel" "austria" "Europe sights"

Horse carriage through the streets of Vienna

Schonlaterngasse, Jesuitgasse and Backerstrasse unwind to reveal age-old ancient churches and monasteries mixed up with vintage smoking shops and olde book shops with that deliciously musty smell.

"Jesuitenkirche Wien" "Jesuit Church Vienna" "church Vienna" "baroque buiding Vienna" "historical building Vienna" "religious building Vienna" "university Vienna" "history Vienna" Wien" "horses Vienna" "sights Vienna" "must do Vienna" "wien travel" "travel" "austria" "Europe sights"

Baroque Jesuitenkirche or Jesuit Church, AltStadt Old Town, Vienna

It’s dark now. I’m transported to a London winter in the 50s; bitter cold, old street lighting and an edgy air of danger. But in Vienna, I experience no such danger, even exploring the streets of the Old Town alone at night.  As I navigate the quiet back streets, I stumble across ‘Alte Schmiede.’ The lights are on and the door is open, on a Sunday evening.  That alone is reason enough to enter.

"Alte Schmiede Wien" "arts association vienna" "free music Vienna" "free concert Vienna" "unusual things to do in Vienna" "arts" "music" "theatre vienna" "free things to do Vienna" "culture Vienna" "beautiful buildings Vienna" "historical buildings Vienna" "history Vienna" Wien" "horses Vienna" "sights Vienna" "must do Vienna" "wien travel" "travel" "austria" "Europe sights"

‘Alte Schmiede’ Arts Music Association in the Old Town, Vienna

Posters festoon the walls on the ground floor. I spot a sign pointing down the winding stairs into a basement. It translates from German as ‘To the concert, downstairs, free entry.’ Of course, I wander down and straight into a group rehearsal. Half an hour later, a group of musicians will perform a free concert. And I’m in. I’ve wandered straight into the Arts Association, a non-profit organisation encouraging arts of all kind.


It’s an intimate basement setting; a tunnel-feel with exposed brickwork. Before long, the entire basement is full of people of all ages and backgrounds. The one thing they share is conversational German. I don’t. This means I miss all the jokes that make people laugh between pieces of music, as the band introduce each piece of music. I’m tempted to laugh along but fear getting caught out, so decide not to and sit there slightly embarrassed instead. Still, the performance is entertaining.


The unusual classical quintet band comprises a Violinist, Harmonica, Bass, Trombone and Cello player. The Trombone is hilarious, providing laugh out loud moments. The musician makes a character of his instrument; I imagine a miserable, whinging old man! Unexpected and engaging…and free; this is a fantastic local experience I’d highly recommend. As a solo female traveller, I’m also a little proud of myself for not walking away from fear of feeling shy or out of place. Little victories!

"Specht restaurant Vienna" "restaurant Wien" "Specht Vienna" "restaurant Vienna" "food Vienna" "foodie Vienna" "foodporn" "risotto" "unusual food Vienna" "taste Austria" "Austrian food" "food Europe" "sights Vienna" "must-see Vienna" "travel Vienna" "solo travel Vienna" "solo female travel Vienna" "girls travel Vienna" "austria" "europe" "travel"

Squid-ink dyed jet black Parmesan & Thyme Risotto, Specht


Late in the evening by the time I leave and the hunt is on dinner. I’m after somewhere cute and cosy with good hearty food. On Backerstrasse, I spot a cosy snug restaurant called ‘Specht’ – the Parmesan and Thyme Risotto is calling me in. I enjoy a glass of red wine and feast on a most surprising meal. The Risotto arrives jet black. It’s dyed with squid ink & topped with King Prawns. The flavours are divine! Inside, the atmosphere is very local, which is just what I was hoping for. In the basement, they also have a cosy lounge bar with quirky caricature portraits on the walls.

Specht is a real gem and a treasured find. I’d wholly recommend it for somewhere local, unusual and packed with character and flavour.

"beautiful buildings Vienna" "historical buildings Vienna" "history Vienna" Wien" "horses Vienna" "sights Vienna" "must do Vienna" "wien travel" "travel" "austria" "Europe sights"

Tower of Jesuitenkirche or Jesuit Church in the back streets of Vienna’s Old Town

It’s been a Sunday to remember and cherish. Crammed full of all my passions in life, I feel totally, completely satisfied to the core. Complete with unintentional delights and surprises as well as the pre-booked exciting  ones, it has been soul-nourishing Sunday in Vienna!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s