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  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

Our Trip to Vienna, Austria!

Day 1 - Flight and Getting Acclimated

Shelly and I had booked a 15-day Viking cruise in the Baltic Sea with friends Pat and Lani Morrissey for 2022. With the war in Ukraine, we were concerned about stopping in St. Petersburg, Russia, Helsinki, Finland, Gdansk, Poland, and other Baltic Sea ports. Putin’s saber-rattling scared us off this cruise so we canceled it. Instead, we scheduled a two-week, land tour of Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, Prague, Czech Republic, and Munich, Germany. We figured if the fighting in Ukraine escalated within NATO, we could easily cancel this trip for full refunds.

We were so excited for this trip! We met Pat and Lani at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia and boarded our flight. We booked Premium Economy seats which offered wider seats, lots of legroom, and bigger video screens. We also got a food menu for meals that was better than economy seats but not quite what you get in business class. The flight departed at 5:30pm and was about 8 ½ hours, and I knew I probably would sleep at all, so I watched three movies. The latest James Bond flick, “No Time to Die”, was decent, lots of action as you would expect, but the story line was a bit confusing for me. I then watched what might have been the worst movie I have ever seen, “Moonfall”. It was disjointed, had bad acting and terrible dialog, and was just utterly ridiculous. Lastly, I watched my favorite of all time, “Pulp Fiction”. The flight was comfortable and uneventful. Premium Economy was quite comfortable, not like business, but a lot better than economy. We arrived in Vienna around 8:30 am, collected our checked bag, and grabbed a taxi.

We made it safely to our hotel, the Hotel Am Stephansplatz, a boutique hotel in the center of Vienna. It's the number one, traveler-ranked hotel and best-value hotel in Vienna according to TripAdvisor.

As the taxi driver unloaded our luggage, I realized we were missing one carry-on bag, and that I had left it on the plane! It had, among other things, Shelly’s medication and walking shoes, and my CPAP machine. We couldn’t believe it. We checked into the hotel and the front desk was very helpful to us as they filed a lost baggage claim on the Austrian Air website. I had hoped we would be notified that they found the bag and could send it to us at the hotel. We talked about going back to the airport but decided to walk around the streets of Vienna and get acclimated. I kept checking my phone for alerts about the luggage.

We walked to the Hofburg Palace, about ½ mile from the hotel, and marveled at the buildings and architecture. We thought about doing a tour but decided to do it later in the week.

We also found the building where the Lipizzaner Stallions train and perform. We wanted to return later to watch them train.

We had lunch at Lugeck, a block or so from the hotel. It was recommended by the hotel front desk and offers authentic Viennese cuisine. I had wiener schnitzel, which was good and filling. Shelly had soup and potato salad and thought it was just OK. We enjoyed chatting and the beautiful weather.

We went back to the hotel and our room was ready. The room was a nice size with a comfortable queen bed, and a large bathroom. We had a great view of the St. Stephan Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1147.

We unpacked, and Shelly said we should go to the airport and try to find our luggage. So, we got a taxi and headed out to fix our problem. We first checked with the Austrian Air ticket counter. They contacted the Lost Luggage Office and told us they had found the luggage, but we could not pick it up until tomorrow, which made no sense. We went to the airport information service desk, and tried again, pleading with them that we needed Shelly’s medications. The service desk representative was so helpful, and he confirmed our bag was found, and figured out how we could get it. He walked us to the office of the company that cleans the airplanes, and they produced our luggage! We were so relieved! I got his and his supervisor’s name and email address so I could send a formal compliment. We hopped in a taxi and headed back to the hotel where we rested for a moment.

We headed out and did a quick tour of St. Stephan Cathedral. It’s a massive and beautiful church.

We then ate a light meal at Orpheas, a Greek restaurant near the cathedral. We shared a gyro which was quite good and chatted about all kinds of things. It was a really nice experience. We headed back to our hotel with hopes of getting a good nights sleep.

Day 2 - Exploring the Summer and Winter Palaces of the Emperors

A good nights sleep eluded me. I fell asleep around 10:00pm but woke up at 12:00am and was up the rest of the night. We went to breakfast early, and I enjoyed some eggs, cereal, and very fresh croissants.

We booked a 9:30am walking tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the summer retreat of the Habsburg royal family, through a company called Tours by Locals. We met our guide, Kaspar W., in the lobby of of our hotel. He was right on time and very pleasant.

Kaspar led us to the metro located right outside our hotel in Stephansplatz, the central square of Vienna. We were on the metro for maybe 20 minutes, exited, and walked 1/2 mile to the palace. We started on the palace grounds and walked through hedge-line paths and gardens. We then came to the Neptune Fountain, and saw the Gloriette in the background.

Here we are in the garden.

Here's the Roman Ruin and the grounds.

We then toured the 40+ rooms inside the palace. There was no photography allowed inside the palace, but you can use an interactive tool and see photos of the inside of Schönbrunn Palace at the link provided. Here's a photo of the center section of the palace.

We finished the tour and Kaspar led us back to our hotel. We had beautiful weather and a wonderful tour. We were starving and went looking for a restaurant that served authentic, Viennese food. We passed several that were not opened, so we settled on a Thai restaurant. Unfortunately I do not remember the name of it, but it was quite good, and only a short walk from Stephansplatz.

We then walked 1/2 mile to the Hofburg Palace and did the tours of the Silver Collection, Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments. There was no photography allowed but the links below offer an interactive tool with photos.

The Silver Collection is full of royal dishes, silver utensils and cisterns, and other tableware. Did I mention there are dishes? Lots of them. It very quickly got boring. But we pushed through to the next section of the tour.

The Sisi Museum, dedicated to the life, times, and murder of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi), was interesting and worth the time.

The Imperial Apartments were the highlight of the tour. It's where the royals lived and contained original furnishings. This tour, along with the tour with Kaspar this morning, provided at great overview of the Habsburg dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

We found a nice, outdoor café near our hotel. had a few drinks, chatted, and people-watched. We then went to a pastry shop named Aida for some apple strudel with vanilla ice cream. We got back to the Stephansplatz in time to hear the bells from St. Stephan Cathedral.

We headed back to our hotel and went to bed early. I fell asleep around 9:15pm and slept very well.

Day 3 - Lipizzaner Stallions Training and Food Walking Tour

We had a 2:00pm walking food tour so we had some time in the morning to relax. Pat and Lani decided to sleep in so Shelly and I walked to the Spanish Riding School to watch the Lipizzaner Stallions train at 10:00am. It was pretty boring. There really was no training that we could see. It looked more like riders walking the stallions. I would not recommend this event, but If you do go, get a seat on the short ends of the arena rather than the long sides. You'll be able to see better.

Shelly and I then walked to the Danube Canal and had a couple drinks at a restaurant situated on the canal. It was about 6 blocks from the hotel.

We met Pat and Lani at the hotel for our 2:00pm food tour. We met Gabriela from Tours by Local in our lobby and began our Gourmet tour - food walk in history. We started out at a shop that served open-face sandwiches. It's a common lunch meal for Viennese. There small sandwiches, about half the size of a slice of American bread. Most had an egg spread with a topping, like a slice of roast beef.

We shared about 10 sandwiches and headed to a café to have some desserts. I had nice slice of apple strudel.

We walked to the Naschmarkt or snack market. Along the way, we snacked on some sausages from a street vendor, and stopped at a café to sample a glass of wine. We only spent a few minutes at the market as it was closing. The food tour was not that great, and was pretty expensive, about 100€ per person. Gabriela had a drink on our dime at every restaurant we stopped at, which I don't think was right. It was not communicated in advance that we'd be paying for her to drink, so we were a bit pissed off. I would not recommend this tour with this guide.

Shelly, Pat, Lani and I found a restaurant near the market and had a couple drinks. We then walked back to the hotel and turned in for the evening. Our tour of Vienna was over and we were heading to Prague in the morning. Vienna was great. It's a very walkable city with beautiful buildings and churches, and lots of cafes. We loved the city and the people, who all were extremely nice and helpful.

Hotel Am Stephansplatz was a great hotel with great service. We had a nice, sized room with a large bathroom with shower and tub. The location, right on the Stephansplatz, is convenient to everything, including the metro. And the view of the St. Stephan Cathedral is magnificent. I highly recommend staying here if you plan to visit Vienna.

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1 comentário

12 de jul. de 2022

This was my home for over 5 years. Your trip was a very touristy account. You should have gone deeper and off Stepansplatz in your touring. I’m not sure paying someone to take you to cafes was the best plan. You could go to any cafe on your own To eat or drink. But thanks for the memories. Next time study up on the city and do your own investigating!

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