Got The Blues In Vienna

After an eventful time in Kiruna, I was looking forward to spending a bit of time wandering the streets of some pretty European cities and chilling out a little bit before heading onwards to some more intense travel destinations.

Vienna was my first stop, but unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a great one. You may recall a few weeks ago I wrote about hurting my knee in Ilulissat, and while the bruising did improve, the swelling and pain had actually seemed to worsen. There was a really hard lump in my bad knee, and the entirety of my knee felt misshapen. I had begun to worry.

After consulting with my travel insurance company, I was encouraged to visit a hospital and get a second opinion, and as much as I really didn’t want to do that, I was concerned enough to heed their advice.

However, my experience in an Austrian hospital was a rather horrible one.

My travel insurer informed me that they could not provide any coverage or reimbursement until they had a written document from a doctor with a ‘diagnosis’ of my medical issue, so up until the point of getting a diagnosis, I was going to be out of pocket.

I didn’t initially picture this to be an issue. I thought that a quick consult would be what I needed and that might set me back a few hundred bucks but overall, it would be affordable.

Upon arriving to the ‘accidental injury’ walk in department in the hospital, I filled out forms and didn’t have to wait too long until I was called into a consultation room. But then things went downhill. The head doctor in said room spoke absolutely perfect English, yet went out of his way to avoid speaking English, and when he did deign to speak to me in my native language, acted incredibly exasperated, and made it seem that speaking a language he was obviously fluent in was the most annoying thing he would have to do all day. Not cool.

Then, no sooner than I sat down and began to explain that my knee was injured, he told me I needed X-rays and an MRI. I tried to explain that this would not be covered by my travel insurance and begged him to manually palpate and feel my knee instead, but he refused. He told me to stop wasting his time, to get out of his clinic room and that he wouldn’t see me again until I had had the scans. Once again, not cool.

I had come this far, so despite knowing it was going to cost me moolah that I really couldn’t afford to spend, I went ahead and got said scans.

After a while the same doctor called me back in to his clinic room and ordered me to take off my pants so he could see my knee. He refused to close the door to give me privacy, refused to give me a sheet or towel to cover myself up with, and insisted that his male medical students watch the whole thing. Never mind the fact that I was wearing lace underwear that was kinda see-through and very obviously uncomfortable with the situation. He didn’t care and honestly seemed to actually enjoy making me uncomfortable.

After an unnecessarily rough examination, he informed me that there was no breaks or fractures, but that I did have a severely torn MCL and a first-degree tear to my ACL. Not the worst news, but also not exactly good news.

Compression, support, anti-inflammatories and physio were ordered, and I was informed that I would be sent a bill for around 400-600 euros for the privilege of being treated like shit. Joy.

When I left the hospital I was feeling pretty bloody down in the dumps. I was hit with a sudden onset of the travellers blues and was feeling nothing but dislike and disdain for Vienna.

I know judging an entire city based on one small experience isn’t rational, but after a shitty situation occurs, sometimes your feelings and thoughts just aren’t rational.


I tried to like Vienna, but it just didn’t happen for me.

By the time this post goes live it will be almost a month since my initial accident and about two weeks since the incident in Vienna, and I can report that though my knee is still painful and uncomfortable, I do think that it is improving. I’ll keep you posted.

Safe travels!


Getting to Vienna: Vienna airport and railway station both have many international connections
Wombats City Hostel: A well located and comfortable hostel, a dorm bunk starts at around $21/night AUD
Travel Insurance: Make sure your travel insurance has unlimited medical, and make sure you read the PDS closely before you purchase. If you do need medical assistance overseas, if possible, contact them prior to seeking help for assistance and advice
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Just because Vienna didn’t do it for me, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t love it

Posted by

20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

62 thoughts on “Got The Blues In Vienna

    1. Thanks John <3 He really was an absolute jerk. I am still contemplating whether I make a formal complaint – it is totally inappropriate conduct.

  1. Is patient privacy not a priority in Vienna? I’m a nurse, and I ensure my patients’ privacy as much as I can in the OR. Shame on the doctor! His med students aren’t learning good bedside manners from him! 👎🏼👎🏼👎🏼

  2. Even if you had a great doctor, I can’t imagine being happy with torn ligaments on vacation! That sucks so much! I hope your knee feels better soon.

    1. Nope 🙁 and when I told him I was uncomfortable having them there he told me that if I wanted to be treated then they would be staying 🙁

  3. I also hated Vienna. I had a different negative experience (involving the police), but found many of the people to be very rude and obviously prejudiced against foreigners and tourists. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I’m sorry your experience was bad as well. I hope you feel better soon!

  4. I’m sorry for your terrible hospital experience. I have often wondered about how much care you can really get on travel insurance in a foreign country, seeing as I always have strange illnesses. Your post was informative. I hope you feel better!!

  5. That would definitely put a damper on any trip. Hope your knee is doing much better now. As an aside, I’m skipping Vienna when I go to Austria in about six weeks. This entry made me feel less bad about that! (knocking on wood I don’t have to deal with any doctors!)

      1. I ended up cancelling the Austria trip and going to Portugal instead…didn’t have the money for Austria. Ah well, another time! Portugal was awesome as always!

  6. You meet all kinds, so sorry this experience was so bad. You know not all doctors have good bedside manner. Get that knee looked at when you get back it doesn’t sound good to me. I had about the same thing wrong and an operation later it was like new. Thank goodness it was with orthoscopic surgery so was walking on it within 2 days.Take care and get better.

    1. Luckily it seems to be healing okay. Still a little sore and ‘twingy’ every once in a while but on the whole it is not too bad.

  7. That is awful. What a pathetic human being he is, let alone being a doctor. But is he allowed to make you a case study without your consent? Anyway, I am sorry to hear of your pain. May your injury heal soon.

  8. I am glad to hear that your knee is getting better and wishing you a speedy recovery. Apologies for the doctor’s behaviour. Hope you have a better experience at your next destination. Safe travels!

  9. That is awful. Sounds like someone from the 19th century! I have had good experiences with doctors and clinics in Europe, but I haven’t been to one in Austria. Definitely sounds like you need further treatment.

    Sorry it colored your view of Vienna. I prefer Budapest, but I have still found plenty to do/see there.

  10. I’ve come to two conclusions through my travels: 1. Getting injured/sick anywhere that’s not home is the worst. I dislocated my ankle and broke both leg bones in my native US in Florida and had equally bad situations-and I’m from here. (if you ever want to read:

    2. Vienna is possibly the worst. I remember your post of the places you didn’t love and mentioning that Vienna was mine – and hoping you had a better experience. I hate that you had this crappy experience there. And from one injured traveler to another-speediest of recoveries!!!!!

    1. Yikes! I have never had to navigate the US healthcare system (but its notoriously known for being a disaster)

      And I remember! I think you and at least 10 other people mentioned Vienna negatively – I think it may just be one of those polarising kinda cities.

  11. Oh no! This sounds horrible. However, you will definitely have to give Vienna another shot sometime in the far future. It really does have a ton of charm…Plus, the coffee & cake is delicious 🙂 Feel better!

  12. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience in Vienna. Doctors are a law to themselves sometimes. I wasn’t so keen on Vienna either; nothing to do with injured knees I just didn’t like the city much and found the people rude and unfriendly. Again, just my experience

    1. You are far from the first person to comment with such a feeling towards Vienna! I think it just isn’t the city for everyone.

  13. I’m sorry for your knee. I had a complete ACL tear two years ago. Reconstructed surgery and I’m 90% good as new. The 10% is the psychological effect of being careful when you do activities that can reinjure your knee. I know your probably going through a tough time, but your blog and posts inspire me to travel which I’m currently on my first day of an entire year of travel.

    1. Ouch – that must’ve been absolutely excruciating! I am very lucky that my ACL tear wasn’t worse or I might’ve needed surgery too.

      Oh that is amazing to hear Mark! Where are you right now and what part of the world are you travelling through over this next year?

      1. I’m actually in Vienna right now. I keep thinking about your before sunrise post. I have Bratislava next week. Then Czech Republic after that.

  14. Ouch! That definitely sounds like a lousy experience and I don’t blame you for having a less than rosy view of Vienna. Hopefully your knee feels better soon and eventually you get a chance to do Vienna again and maybe see it in a different light. Or maybe not! Safe travels!

  15. What a dreadful experience you had with that awful doctor. If that had been me, regardless of the pain in my knee I would have walked out at the point where he asked me to take my pants off – there was absolutely no need for hi to treat you the way he did. I’m not surprised that the experience has coloured your judgement of Vienna – I wouldn’t want to go back there either. I hope by now you’re rested and the knee is much better.

    1. Thank you Eunice, I am doing much better now. The knee is now at about 98% (just a few twinges here and there) and it isn’t painful to walk on it anymore 🙂

  16. Can you appeal through your travel insurance company? I would if at all possible. No reason you should be treated that way, and no way that insurance company should have to pay for such treatment! Hope you are at least feeling a little better, and maybe you can get back to Vienna when you are feeling a little better!

  17. I don’t know what to feel if I experienced the same thing to me…I think its just timing that you weren’t able to fully appreciate the city, its the situation. But you have other time to enjoy the city again.

  18. Thanks for the insurance tip- definitely something I wouldn’t think about until the emergency occurred! Hope your knee continues to improve!

  19. Sorry to hear that! I loved Vienna, thought it was a charming city. Hope your knee is better! I know what it’s like to have a knee injury – I had one in Chile one time during a circuit hike! Painful!

Leave a Reply