Viennese whirl ….
Cakes and classical music apart, Vienna is now also establishing itself as an east-meets-west stepping stone and its airport is central to that development.Vienna International airport is becoming a strong hub for travel to Eastern Europe and readers may find that, as well as going there to start a Vienna weekend break to experience the city’s cultural and artistic heritage, they could just as easily be transferring to more unusual destinations on Austrian Airlines, the airport’s main carrier.
The airport carries almost 20 million passengers, and has a whole lot better growth than many of its western rivals. One of the reasons for this is the airport’s more easterly position within Europe and closer proximity to newly acceded EU states and also to western and central Asian countries beyond. For example, Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital city, is less than an hour away by car.
The rising passenger numbers mean that the airport is investing heavily to modernise its infrastructure and that includes some fancy new travel retail shopping areas. This has culminated in the completion of a terminal extension called the Skylink. This is an all singing, all dancing retail paradise of 52 outlets which almost doubles the airport’s shopping and eating/drinking space to just over 19,000 sqm. As well as large, new generic duty free stores there is a luxury area that includes boutiques from Augarten, Chopard, Emporio Armani, Etro, Hermès, Dolce & Cabbana, Hugo Boss, Rolex, Swarovski, Thomas Sabo, Furla and Versace, as well as Austrian luxury brand Liska’s first airport presence.
Landside (the area anyone can access) has the usual stores such as Billa supermarkets, a hairdresser, and a Bipa drugstore and beauty retailer, but there is also a luggage shop called Grit, and Guggi’s for anything from souvenirs to Swatch watches.Things get more interesting airside (passengers only) where there are at least five big duty free stores as well as a series of boutiques. Some of the international brands mentioned above like Boss, Swarovski and Hermès are already present, and there are others, for example, Samsonite, Burberry, Timberland and Versace.But for all things Austrian, passengers are in for a treat. For foodies, Chocolate Company sells confections from Demel whose Austrian pastry chefs are world-renowned, while air-dried and smoked specialities from the Tyrolean Mountains can be bought at Handl Tyrol. Wine & More also has Austrian and international wine and deli items while at the Manner shop you can find its famous Neapolitaner Schnitte. Then there are four Mostly Mozart and Artifacts stores selling anything from Klimt posters, to dirndls • for all of you out there wanting to look like Heidi, or Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, while the Riedel Glas shop will tempt anyone who appreciates expertly blown wine glasses.
Other interesting names to mull include Danish fashion house Sand, Striberny with its mix of international apparel from Cavalli to Hilfiger, and Italy’s Furla which makes fine leather goods or Geox another currently popular fashion house, best known for shoes. Also don’t miss out on Austria’s own brand Palmers which offers high-quality lingerie, swimwear and socks for both sexes as does another high-end Austrian name, Wolford whose striking leg wear often get a high profile on fashion-week catwalks.