Vienna, Austria

Hi all!  So quick post here on our time in Vienna!  We were initially debating visiting Austria since it is technically considered western Europe meaning it is more expensive (their currency is Euro).  But in the end, we decided it was worthy of a few nights and was also conveniently located on the way to our next destination anyways.

We had a bit of a complicated travel day in between Cesky Krumlov and Vienna with a couple of transfers.  First we transferred from bus to local train, crossed into Austria, and then we had another train transfer in Linz.  We were hoping our first train would arrive to Linz a little early, but it was slow with several stops and ended up being a minute or 2 late which meant our already small 6-minute window to find and get to our next train platform was even smaller.  We exited the train and luckily determined our platform number rather quickly.  We ended up running to the platform and made it just as the train was approaching.  The train stopped briefly, we ran on, and soon we were on our way.  Luckily it all worked out, but it reminded me of the NJ Transit website.  I recalled seeing an itinerary with a 3-minute window to switch trains in Secaucus, NJ which is not possible without running and luck so I always took an earlier train to be safe.  We did not have that option here and knew we would have to rush which was due to good research on our (I mean Hoch’s) part. Hoch – In the end, we saved about $35 between the two of us by this cheaper but longer route. I can’t say we always choose the cheaper, more “backpacker” route but our trip is quickly approaching the end and our budget, while still on target, is far from comfortable. But that’s not going to stop us from having a beer or two with our meals; might as well have stayed home otherwise.

Anyways, we arrived to Vienna mid-afternoon and were starving, but didn’t want to spoil dinner so we ate a small snack and did some laundry and planning instead.  Then we went out for a large dinner and beers.  I actually don’t have photos, but the portions were HUGE and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. H – We did finish all the food. We ordered soup and salad to start and pork ribs and a spinach strudel entre to share.  We were trying to get more greens into our lives.  I ordered a lettuce salad thinking it would have other vegetables, but nope. It was just lettuce and a vinaigrette dressing.  Either way, by the end of the meal, we were stuffed and happy to walk off the food coma in lieu of public transportation.  It was a nice, quiet, and mild evening.  The forecast for the next day was sunny with a high of 60 degrees F so I was looking forward to that!

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Came across this beer vending machine after dinner.  We did not know it at the time, but you can drink alcohol on the streets here.

Well damn the weather man.  We joined a 10:30am walking tour through our hostel and I dressed for the 60 degree weather that never happened.  I was freezing!  I guess shame on me for not playing it safe.  The tour lasted 3 hours and I was so ready for it to end so we could find a good place to sit inside with a cup of hot coffee.  The tour guide was an older Austrian lady.  She was very friendly and handled our rather large group very well.  The old town in Austria is known as District 1 and is right in the center of the city.  Districts 2-9 surround district 1 moving clockwise around it and the remaining districts surround those districts.  One of the first things I noticed about Vienna and it’s old town was how wide all the streets are.  Typically, in other cities I’ve visited, the old town contains smaller, winding streets, but in Vienna they are just as wide as the rest of the city.  I was trying to imagine how wide it must’ve felt back in the day before the invention of vehicles. H – full of horseshit.

Here are some photos from the walking tour:

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One of many stars along the streets outside the opera house

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Saint Stephen’s Cathedral
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Rathaus – City Hall
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Warming up with Viennese Coffee
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Of course, as soon as the walking tour was over, it warmed up a bit.  We were able to stop and eat at one of several Viennese food stands for lunch. H – Seen here are bosnas, which are just regular NYC hot dogs except with curry spices, fresh bread, and actual wurst and not sitting in its own juices for weeks. Also had some fresh onions on it. But basically a NYC hot dog.

Our second day there, we decided to go see the Schoenbrunn Palace.  The Baroque style palace was a former summer residence to the Habsburgs, one of the most influential dynasties in Europe.  Pictures are not allowed inside the palace, but you walk through room after room listening to an audio guide.  The rooms are elaborately decorated and include several photos of the family as well.  My favorite room was a banquet room that had 3 large frescos.  We also walked through the palace gardens (it was a much warmer day!) which is free of charge, but we purchased the Classic ticket which included entrance to a few other gardens, the Gloriette, and a maze.  The Gloriette is like a big ass gazebo sitting on the top of the hill at the end of the garden and offers great views of the palace and surrounding city.  The thing is, it was being restored and was covered up, so we didn’t even get to see it (they should tell you these things when you buy the ticket!).  And since it is fall, the other gardens had minimal flowers.  One was an orangery (greenhouse) which wasn’t much to see anyways.  If anything, the life size maze was worth the Classic ticket; we had fun trying to find our way through it.  But if that’s not your thing, I’d skip purchasing the classic ticket and just buy the ticket to inside the palace and wonder around the free portion of the garden.

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One of many fountains in the gardens
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View of palace and city from the garden
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Love fall!
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Life size maze
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Hoch is lost

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Outside of the Orangery

Our last morning in Vienna, I decided I needed to try a famous Viennese Sacher Torte for breakfast.  We found a café near our hostel and I was able to try the chocolate cake with marmalade center.  Even though cake isn’t really my thing (I’ve always preferred other sweets), it was pretty good.  And either way dessert for breakfast is a win in my book!

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After breakfast, we purchased snacks for our bus ride and relaxed until it was time to head to the bus station.

Popular Viennese (Wiener in German, hehe) Chocolate Snacks

In summary, I liked Vienna, but it did not have that small town, cutesy feel that other cities like Prague have.  The city is beautiful, but in a different way.  The public transportation is nice and clean.  The city is bicycle friendly and is very walkable as well; we only used public transportation when we were arriving and leaving.  The home language is German and though I do not speak German, I felt like I could figure more things out there than with other languages (everyone speaks English anyways, but I like to try 🙂 ).  I’ve always wanted to visit Germany, so I feel like Vienna may be a little sneak peek of what to expect culturally when I do get the chance to visit. H – This is the most liveable city I’ve visited during our trip. Of course it’s touristy but the city is so well planned and attractions spread out enough that it’s rare to come across large groups of tourists. It doesn’t have the reputation as a party city either, but it’s still a big ass city and I’m sure it’s all there for those who seek.

Link to more photos:

Vienna, Austria 2016 Album

Next stop, Budapest!  So be on the lookout for that post!

Until then!

Kimberly

P.S.  Happy Halloween via Snapchat!!

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