The best of world on a budget of €15 a day…
Value comes to those who wait.
Time is money, money is time. It’s an age old saying. But it’s not just related to the boardrooms you thought you left behind when you picked up your backpack. Good value experiences come to those who wait and have the time to inform themselves, or in some cases wait on stand by for cheap deals. The best example is the €3 standing tickets at the Vienna Opera House to perch on a step behind someone who paid at least €30. You can’t beat that!
Performances generally start at 19:30 but if you head there at 17:30 a certain number of ‘standing’ tickets are available. The desk opens at 18:10 but if you’re there a little earlier (17:30 seems to be enough) you can nab a seat at the front of the standing places and actually sit on the steps – getting you a sort of seat with a pretty good view at a performance that people are paying €100s for. The poor Americans in the seats directly in front of me paid €32 for their seats that provided (although perhaps a little ore comfort) the exact same view.
The opera is an age old tradition in Vienna and the atmosphere there is amazing – sometimes old Viennese couples in gowns and tails, with full orchestras and amazing performances. Even if you’re not into it, it’s with going to for the experience and you might find yourself a closet opera fan after all. There are not many opportunities across the world to grab such a bargain. If you don’t think you can handle the standing and waiting, or worry an opera might drive you crazy, there is a large screen attached to the side of the Opera House. Here is totally casual and is where you can grab a seat last minute for free and only watch a portion of the performance, as your time budget permits. It’s not the same as being inside, but the building is incredible and you can buy a bottle of wine from a nearby supermarket to enjoy while you watch and pretend you could be bothered to line up. This is only installed in Summer, and you should still bring a wee blankie.
Ten steps to a successful and cheap opera night in Vienna.
Before you go, I would recommend finding out what’s on ad doing a 5 minute google to get the plot – it’s not necessary, but you’ll get more from it 🙂
1. Turn up at the Opera House at about 17:30. The standing ticket office is to the left of the impressive building if you are facing it – follow the building round and look for a sign saying ‘Stehplatz’.
2. Get in line with ALL of your team. The guy running this show is an adorable wee Austrian – he’s lovely, but he doesn’t take any crap from anyone and he won’t let one person hold the fort for the others and it’s a strictly one ticket per person in line rule. You may go the toilet, you may NOT leave the building – so bring snacks if you’re hungry.
3. Finally the Kasse opens at 18:10 and you can choose Balkon (balcony) or Gallerie (gallery). Pick which ever he has sold less tickets for.
4. Go straight up the stairs to your place, you have to wait a little longer here until they let you in.
5. They let you in to the theatre and it’s a mad dash to get the best seat – front row of the steps is best as you can sit on the steps.
6. It’s probably about 18:30 now when you find your seat, you can tie a sweater or better yet a scarf around the BOTTOM bar of the railings to reserve your place. One clothing per person seems to be the go.
7. Now, you can leave your clothing there as a marker and head outside – grab a sausage (Kaeser Krainer time, baby!) as a snack and make sure you drink water before you go in. They won’t let you bring it in to the theatre, but drinking it before hand means you’ll save yourself the whopping €3.20 they charge of water in there. More than the ticket. Ouch.
8. Make sure you’re back in at least 10 mins before the performance starts. When you get back in, you might be lucky enough to have scored a place in front of a translation screen. These are the little screens hanging from the top bar of the railing. They translate the songs (if it’s an opera, swing it out of the way if you went to a ballet) so you’ll stand a chance of knowing what’s going on.
9. Mind your manners, Austrians are very proud of their Opera culture and won’t appreciate noise and talking. Not one bit.