A Travellerspoint blog

Austria

Vienna, Austria

Whirlwind Tour

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View 2015 Eastern Europe and Ireland on pjburke's travel map.

20 September 2015

Some will say we are little crazy deciding to forgo six days in Vienna for time in Cesky Krumlov and Salzburg - with only 24 hours to explore this beautiful city.

We took the train from Salzburg, arriving in Vienna ready to hit the streets after dropping our bags off at our hotel. We walked, toured, ate and marveled at Wien and it's history .

Our street for our whirlwind stay

Our street for our whirlwind stay

We chose a hotel (our only real "hotel" of the trip - the Hotel Graf Stadion (Buchfeldgasse 5) due to it's proximity to the city center. It really worked out great. The room was huge with comfortable beds, great breakfast and wonderful staff. Though a little more expensive that we usually go ($143 per night) - location, location, location.

Very small, very cool and very old elevator

Very small, very cool and very old elevator

Hotel Graf Stadion Vienna

Hotel Graf Stadion Vienna

Off to see Vienna!! We took the Metro to a stop near the Opera house with hopes of being able to fit in a tour. It was not to happen so..time for breakfast. We dropped into the Café Tivolevhof and I thought we were transported back in time. The feel was total 1920's. Loved it!!

With a little fuel on board....we were off. We rambled up and down the cobbled streets marveling at a time gone by. Hours flew by in a flash.

There was a restaurant that we wanted to try due to it's reviews but found that it was not open on Sunday - oh boo. That evening we did find a small cafe around the corner from the hotel. A little Italian place - Pizzeria Scarabocchio. The food was very good BUT our waitress was incredible. Her smile and laugh warmed our hearts more than the wine.

On Monday, we packed, enjoyed a great breakfast and stored our luggage in anticipation of the afternoon train and again, we were off. We made our way to the Hofburg Palace viewing the Silver Collection and the Sisi Museum. Sisi is the nickname of Elizabeth the Empress of Austria, who after marrying Franz Josef as a teenager, never adjusted to royal life and was really quite sad throughout her lifetime. It was interesting following her life with mementos through the rooms of the Palace that she actually lived.

Great Breakfast Spread

Great Breakfast Spread

More strolling and it was time for lunch. "Let's try Trattoria Toscana" - was a thought that was agreeable to all. Toscana was where we had wanted to go for dinner the night before. Yes, it was Italian twice in two days ......but that's not a bad thing. We were greeted by Mario the owner and lead into the small but stylish dining room. The menu was small but tastefully selected. Mario was on hand to offer suggestions for dining and wine, all of which surpassed our expectations. After we ate, Mario had time to chat a bit, educating us as to how and why he ended up in Vienna. Funny and passionate is how I would describe him. We talked about his family in Vienna and Italy. Remember...one cannot live on goulash alone, so if you are in Vienna and are craving Italian - this is the place to go. But remember "it's the restaurant on the LEFT!!!"

With our bellies full, it was back to the hotel and off to the train station. Hungary - here we come!!!

Please enjoy the short tour of Vienna through the pictures on the Shutterfly site.

https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com

Posted by pjburke 00:53 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

Salzburg, Austria

We are traveling east and many are traveling west

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17-19 September 2015

Getting to Salzburg was an easy shuttle ride (about 3 hours). Our driver, Tomas, took a liking to us and dropped us off right at our guesthouse - Pension Jahn (yes, just like Karen and Shel). It was just around the corner from the train station and on his way. But I think the real reason was that Brenda had finished a book (true story) about a dog who helped the Czechs in WWII and she offered it to him as a present. I'm not sure any other passenger had ever offered him a present and seemed sincerely touched. Hopefully, he'll think of us fondly as he reads.

We checked in and found that our room would not be available until 2pm (it was about 1130). That gave us time to go to the train station, get money (Euros used in Austria vs Korunas in the Czech Republic) and see about getting train tickets to Vienna on the 20th.

Brenda and Jim relaxing at Pension Jahn after a long day

Brenda and Jim relaxing at Pension Jahn after a long day

The train station was less than a ten minute walk and as we approached the station there was a large squad of police officers walking in formation from their station (across the street) to the depot. There was also a very large inflated quonset hut type structure put up by the Red Cross set up to assist the refugees. Life just got real!!!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention what is going on in Europe right now. The plight and flight of the Syrians from their country is not something I need to explain. It's in the news and on the internet daily. It's one thing to read and hear about it - another to see it. I'm sure another altogether to live it.

We made our way into the station. The officers gave us a passing glance, obvious to all that we're nothing more than three middle aged travelers. It appeared to us that it was "shift change". The officers fanned out and took positions throughout the lower station area near shops, restaurants, outside the bank and near the train ticket office, seeming to be more of a presence than anything else. In Salzburg, there were not the hordes reported in the news but I think by this time people were making their way in smaller groups just trying to get "somewhere". There were men, women and families - so many children - all was orderly but oh so sad.

Outside the Train Station in Salzburg

Outside the Train Station in Salzburg

One other reality check - while trying to get our tickets from Vienna to Budapest we're told that the border was closed to train travel. We'd need to check back the next day. Compared to what others are going through, a little inconvenience isn't really such a hardship.

Our day continued with lunch at beer garden which in all truth was OK. I still like Czech sausages better.

The next couple of days in Salzburg were lovely. Rain threatened but never really appeared at least not for very long.

Note: We decided to purchase the "Salzburg Card" - 36 Euro and good for two days for many attractions and public transportation. If you're thinking about purchasing this card, first, think about what you want to do and if it comes close to breaking even, in my opinion, go for it. We used it for the cable car to the top of the mountain at the Untersberg station, the funicular, a couple of museums, boat ride on the Salzach River, the Castle and transportation and it paid for it self. If your interests are elsewhere - there were many other sites where you could use the pass. The ease of just grabbing a tram or bus was an added plus.

Our trip to Untersberg was fun. Making our way to someplace new is always exhilarating. The cable car up is not for those who don't like heights but the view from the top was outstanding. My first view of the Austrian Alps :-). It was back to town to see more of Salzburg. We crossed the Makart Bridge and observed it's thousands of locks. This seems to be a current theme to add locks with names and dates to bridges. I have heard this was the case in Paris also but that the locks became too heavy so they cut them all off. Don't know if that will really stop people from "locking" again.

The I(Tourist Information) office was very helpful with information about concert and eating suggestions - so with a suggestion in hand it was off for some tasty Austrian food and to discuss our evening plans. We decided to do a Mozart Concert with dinner the next evening up at the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It was a bit pricy but sometimes you've got to splurge.

As we were walking back towards "home", we walked through the beautiful Mirabell Gardens and took a side exit thinking it would just lead us out to the street. It actuall lead us right into a group of kiosks selling "Sturm" and small plates of food. What the heck is sturm?? We found that we had stumbled on a yearly festival to celebrate the first press of whatever grape it was (really not sure). We were given a taste and decided to stay. There were a couple of different "sturms". The one we all chose tasted a bit like a bubbly sangria. A bit...anyways - it was good enough for a second glass.

A quick stop at the train station and we were in luck. The border to Hungary was open again and we were able to get our tickets.

Our last day in Salzburg was supposed to be rainy but again the weather gods blessed us with sun - at least most of the day. Brenda headed off to Hellbrunn Palace and JIm and I wandered the streets of Old Salzburg. We toured St Peter's Church, drooled over the fresh produce at the Farmer's Market and learned more than I ever knew about Mozart from two different museums. Our stroll back lead us right by the Sturm Fest - oh what the heck...we stopped again. It was great fun people watching.

Rain did not quite hold off for the whole day but did at least to let us get to the Hohensalzburg Fortress to tour the complex and then stay for dinner and the Mozart Concert. Again, I'm not a big classical fan but on this trip I've come to appreciate the talent of the wonderful musicians.

Don't forget - check out photos from this trip on my Shutterfly site - see link below.

https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

Posted by pjburke 10:05 Archived in Austria Comments (4)

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