A Travellerspoint blog

Austria

11. Heading for Innsbruck

Sun, Sept 22


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We didn't do a whole lot today. It was our travel day to Innsbruck - about a 4 hour train ride. We are never fast in the morning, so we didn't really plan to catch the train until around lunch.

For our last day at our airbnb, the host's wife baked up an apple strudel that she had frozen - it was homemade and warm from the oven - it was def better than any I'd had at a restaurant! My hubs doesn't like cooked apple so I helped myself to his piece - but I wrapped it up in foil for later.

We got ourselves sorted and took the metro to the train station. We found the ticket office and got our tickets for the train. I had been hoping to pass on our public transport tickets for Vienna since they were still good for another 24 hrs or so. Fortuitously, there was a man who asked us about getting in to the downtown and he was going to buy tram tickets. So I gave him our tickets - he was only there for the day, but I figured he and his friend could use them.

Hubs picked up some food for the train (warmed up cheese and deli meat sandwich) - and I had my half club sandwich from the day before. There was wifi on the train to while away the hours - and the scenery was lovely. We arrived in Innsbruck around 4pm and it took us a bit to figure out the bus/tram. A man at the public transport stops told us which bus to catch and I misunderstood where he told us to get off (and I insisted to hubs it was the right stop - it wasn't) so we had to walk a few extra long blocks to the hotel - prob another 10 min or so. The Innsbruck Congress hotel was nice - we had some good views, the room was big and clean (other than the open concept showers -no door/walk in - which I hate because water always leaks out onto the floor) and the view was quite nice. The only bad thing was there seemed to be a wedding reception and we seemed to have a room right over where the reception was taking place - lots of music thumping and noise - but it stopped at 11pm.

It was clouding over a bit (calling for rain the next day), so we walked out along the river to the town proper, about 15 min or so. We popped into a small grocery for some snacks, but most things were either closed or closing, being a Sunday. Lots of restaurants on the main street, so we bounced back and forth trying to pick one...

Of all the ‘it’s a small world’ crazy things...we picked a place called the Orangerie and sat outside, since the temps were still nice, and a group of 4 sat down beside us. They told the waitress they were from Canada so of course hubs had to ask where. Well, they were in Victoria, BC now I think, but one was from Bridgewater (where my hubs cousin lives) and one actually lived in Truro back in the early 00s. I'm sure at some point I waited on her at my job selling shoes, as most people passed thru the store at some point. Really makes you realize it's a small world. We both got pasta, but it was only OK (the sauces were a bit thin and watery). We walked around a little more, thru the little alleys and picking out sights to see the next morning, before heading back to the room. There was a grocery store beside the hotel that I figured I'd go to in the morning for breakfast food.

Posted by u2traveller 06:54 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

10. Vienna - Schonbrunn

Sat, Sept 21


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Today we mostly did Schonbrunn Palace - but first - our airbnb hosts told us about the flea market that happened on Sat at the Naschmarkt - there are more parking lots that get filled up with stuff you would find at markets where we live. Mostly old ceramics and books and junk jewelry and art and nothing that we needed to buy. It was actually fairly big and I think we saw 2/3rds of it. We had a nice walk to get there - the morning was lovely and we went thru some interesting little alleys. From the metro station there we could take the metro out to Schonbrunn.

I had booked a time slot a day or two before for inside the palace - I believe it was for around 12:45 or so. We arrived around 11am, so we spent some time walking around the gardens close to the palace. Then inside to pick up a quick snack and to look at souvenirs. I believe they let us in about 5 min early - we opted for the grand tour which is about 50-60 min and 40 rooms. The shorter tour was 20 min shorter and only did 22 rooms. You got an audio guide and could move at your own pace. The rooms were lovely of course. Some interesting history throughout. At one point I was trying to keep ahead of a large tour group as they had a 'live' guide. But then I caught up with another tour in front, so we were trapped between two tour groups for a few rooms - we felt like we were getting crowded out. Eventually the group behind slowed down and we were able to have a few rooms buffer in between the two groups, so we could enjoy some of the rooms without being crammed.

After we headed back out to the gardens to make the hike up the hill to see the Gloriette a little closer. The hill is quite steep and you have to 'criss cross' to get up it, and since I didn't buy combo tickets for the Gloriette, we stopped and viewed it from one terrace down. The views back down to the Palace and over Vienna were gorgeous. The sky was a clear blue and the day was amazing. We walked around the gardens some more, and passed by the Zoo, but I get a little depressed by zoos now, so we didn't go in. We did find a nice restaurant in the gardens to eat at since we didn't really have lunch (I did nab a gelato before going into the palace, and we had some 'pocket' snacks - nuts and chocolate). At the restaurant we got some hotdogs wrapped in bacon and fries.

By now it was heading towards late afternoon so we decided to head back to the room to sort out our stuff a little as the next day was a travel day. We relaxed for an hour then headed over to the Belvedere, but I think we got there a little late and it seemed to be closed. The hill was a bit steep and we were quite tired from our day at the Palace, and we didn't want to see another old 'house'. We headed back towards the main drag to try and find hubs his 'wiener schnitzel'. We finally settled on a place that I had noticed the day before - the prices seemed reasonable - Café de l'Europe. Hubs had his schnitzel (chicken) and I got a club sandwich, half of which I took back to the room and ate it the next day on the train. The funny thing was I was wearing my Canada shirt and when I went into the restaurant (we ate outside) to use the facilities, the guy behind the bar was Canadian and spotted my shirt, so we had to chat for a minute.

We walked around the area a little more and I picked up some dessert, which we took back to our room to enjoy with some tea. Next day it was onward to Innsbruck.

Posted by u2traveller 06:24 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

9. More Vienna museums and Churches

Fri, Sept 20


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So this morning was dedicated to getting some laundry done - luckily, our airbnb host let us use his washer - there was a laundromat nearby, but the reviews of the place were horrid. I laughed that people would review a Laundromat but the comments about dryers not giving out heat and washers being broken made me glad that people did review. We had actually stuck our head in the evening before when looking for a restaurant - and the place looked like something out of a horror movie. Did up the laundry as we enjoyed another light breakfast supplied by our host (usually something like some bread, fruit, supplemented by the yogurt and cereal I had picked up). There was no dryer, but he did have a drying rack I could spread our stuff out on. Nice to finally have some clean clothes after more than a week on the road.

Our plan had been to go to the Hofburg, but that plan was soon thwarted. I was under the impression it was one big museum, not realizing it is different museums, so I got frustrated trying to find the 'door'. Eventually we realized it was numerous museums but was getting a little cranky about trying to figure out which one to go to. After some debate, and knowing we were going to be going to Schonbrunn the next day, we decided to forgo seeing furniture and whatnot (and I had listened to a few podcasts about 'Sisi' so didn't need her back story) and I let my hubs choose the armoury museum. The nice thing - it wasn't busy at all. And I do love looking at armour - the intricate designs are a marvel. I'm not a fan of guns, but the decorations on the firearms are so gorgeous. There was also a museum of musical instruments attached, and that may sound boring but it was quite neat - again - seeing the designs - and a violin made out of tortoise shell bought by Empress Maria Theresa in 1749. And the building itself was also lovely.

Now it was getting on to lunch so we hit Pizza Bizi again (the pizza is just so good!) and of course - when nearby - back to Zanoni - where I got black cherry gelato again and picked up a piece of Sachertorte for later. We had been going to go to Demel, but when we went in, the place was just so crowded, I decided against it.

Next was time for churches again. First we stopped into Peterskirche - so over the top and full of stuff. Amazing. Next we went over to see the 'mechanical clock' but had unfortunately just missed the 'performance' at the top of the hour. Then, we hit the Jesuitenkirche. Funny - a few evenings before while we were enjoying a gelato, an older fellow stopped and started chatting with us. He told us about this beautiful church (tho he couldn't recall the name) and how to get there - well, this must have been the church he meant, because the directions fit. It looks so unassuming outside, but inside - WOW. The trompe l'oeil making the ceiling look like it had a dome. The gorgeous pink and green and creamy yellow marbles. The twisty columns. The gold and gilt everywhere. I was blown away. I think it was my fav over the top church - absolutely breathtaking. Our airbnb host told us it was his 2nd fav church in Vienna.

By comparison, we went in St Stephen's next and it was kinda boring, to tell you the truth...lol. I did tell some tourists sitting behind us in a pew that they should go to the Jesuitenkirche - hope they took my advice! Afterwards we wandered around a bit and I decided we should hit Starbucks so I could get a Vienna mug (I've collected a few on our travels, including a Netherlands one). Well, we went in and were followed by a huge group of teens - I mean - like 2 dozen of them yelling and pushing and being teenagers. I just had to leave - shoving my way out thru them - left my poor hubs there. But he got me my mug!

We decided to head back to the room to rest - got back around 4pm and took a few hours to relax. I had looked up Irish pubs since I was craving cottage pie. There was one over in the Opera House area that seemed to be highly rated. Flanagan's Irish Pub. We'd been going to go inside to eat, but - really! - apparently smoking is allowed inside (!!) and it was pretty gross, so we headed back out to the outdoor tables, trying to stay away from smokers, which we did for the most part. I ordered my cottage pie and hubs got chicken fingers - and then we waited...and waited...and waited. It was over 30 min wait, and the place wasn't even that busy. I think the server said something about shift change, but we'd thought we'd been forgotten, and to top it all off, the cottage pie was only ok.

Meh.

Well, then we wandered back over to Museum square to see some of the buildings all lit up at night - and it was a lovely mild evening...

Posted by u2traveller 18:08 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

8. Vienna - so many rocks

Thur, Sept 19


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So after a nice light breakfast provided by our Airbnb host, we decided to head in to see some museums today. Our host recommended the modern art museum, but we aren't really into modern art, per se, so we decided to hit the Natural History Museum.

The first thing - there are so...many...rocks...and minerals - rooms and rooms and more rooms. That got boring pretty fast, until the last room with the beautiful gemstones. Then there was some history stuff, then the taxidermed animals, then some interesting early human type stuff - but I think I'm done with Natural History museums...lol. Overall we spent about 3 hrs at the museum - some of it was quite interesting, I shouldn't knock it. We wandered around for a bit, then hit McD's (I know, I know) for a quick lunch. We did some wandering around - found a few shopping places I had marked on my map - including Xocolate where we picked up some yummy chocolate to take home.

Next we went to the Votivkirche - beautiful stained glass and the sun shining thru the windows, making little splashes of colour on the floor. Then we walked over to the (what I believe was) town hall, but couldn't really see how to get in (there was some renovating going on and entrances blocked). We walked by the Burgstheatre then got lost trying to find the Globe Museum. Getting ready to give up, when we finally found it (after going the wrong way at least twice). It was actually quite interesting - some of the globes were hundreds of years old. I was getting pretty tired by now and almost fell asleep sitting at one of the tables (where they had computers that you could use to look up the history of mapmaking). We wandered over near to the Spanish Riding School and admired a huge fountain - that also seemed to be the place to get horse drawn carriage rides. Went BACK to Zanoni and Zanoni where I got some dark chocolate and banana gelato - such a delicious combo. Did a little shopping and hubs picked up a Vienna tshirt.

Knowing what the food options were in that area we decided to head back to the room and check out some places around there. We wandered a bit, up the road towards the metro stop and found a place called Pizzeria Azzurro...but we weren't in a pizza mood, so I got some pork scalloppine and hubs got some penne. It wasn't the best meal we had, but it wasn't bad...and a change from pizza and McD's.

Posted by u2traveller 07:08 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

7. Vienna Sights

Wed, Sept 18


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Today we had an Airbnb tour "Hidden Gems off the Beaten Track" but it wasn't until after lunch, so after having a nice quick breakfast supplied by our hosts (some bread and fruit) we decided first stop would be Karlskirche (Charles Church). We hopped the tram and went up to where we could hop on the metro and off we went.

Quite an interesting church (one of the few pay to go into churches we came across) - there is a small museum upstairs that is quite interesting, then we walked around the (very lovely) church - the ceiling paintings, the altar, the marble columns - gorgeous. I guess some years back they did restoration and they decided to keep the small work elevator and scaffolding, so now you can talk the elevator up to get an up close look at the ceiling, and to see the view out of the windows at the front of the church. We seemed to get in line when it was at the longest and had about a 20min wait or so, with the elevator taking about a minute and a half- two minutes to go up then come back down. It was an interesting perspective as well to see the church from above. After coming out we got some gelato at a little mini truck parked outside and enjoyed our snack by the fountain in front of the church.

Next we headed over to the Naschmarkt - lots of goodies there, and restaurants, but we didn't buy anything. I did find as you got to the end with the food, there was a lot of people pushing you to try samples, which I'm not fond of. We were going to grab something there. but hubs saw a little booth across the street beside the metro station - they had these intriguing looking hotdogs in what looked like a baguette. Well, hubs LOVES hot dogs so we decided to give it a go. They take the bun, cut the top bit off, push it down on a metal spike, then put the hot dog in and put the piece of end they cut off on the 'side'. Well - it was OK. I found the baguette/bun a little hard and dry (compared to our soft buns at home) so it was harder to eat. But it fed us, in prep for our walking tour...

We met our guide, Hannes, just outside the metro station. It was quite warm out and I had to carry my coat most of the way. I was surprised to see locals wearing scarves and leather jackets! They must be more heat tolerant than I. I can't recall every place we went by, but we saw some of the graffiti walls, the 'most beautiful staircase in Europe" (or the 2nd most, in a vote from 10 years ago). We saw some great shopping streets, the smallest shop in Vienna (which is right near the tram stop we'd hop off over by the museums), walked thru Museumplein (where he explained about the interesting seating they have there) and then we hopped the metro to go across the river and see some modern architecture, including a building that looked a bit like a cruise ship (and inside the architect did lots of nice to look at but super impractical things) and a building that they decided to use iron (?) on the façade, which of course has rusted and stained the sidewalks around it...and another neat to look at residence building that they attached what looked like coloured wood/bamboo to the outside - great until you have to wash the windows, paint the façade, or heaven forbid there is ever a fire because people won't be able to escape thru windows. These buildings were all at a university (and I can't rem the name of it) in the newer part of the city. We ended at the Prater amusement park which was mostly shut down - well, the rides were still going but many of the food booths and whatnot were closed. And not many people around of course, since kids were in school and it was late Sept. I could see that being a fun spot to visit in the summer months. Near the end of the tour, our guide had a 'prize' for the person who could answer his question the closest - he asked how many stairs we climbed (it was a lot). Some said a high number, some very low. I was thinking 400 but my hubs stole my answer, so I said 430. The correct answer was 490 and I came closest, so I won a package of Manner wafer cookies...yum.

We caught the metro back and got off by St Stephens - it was time for supper. But we wandered and all the restaurants seemed v expensive and we were getting discouraged. We finally went into a place I had seen in a guide book - Pizza Bizi - and once we figured out how it worked (you ordered the pizza and it would be made fresh...or you could get a v large slice) we ordered a super tasty pizza, and hubby also got some roasted potatoes. After our meal, we went down the street a block to Zanoni and Zanoni gelato - I got blueberry and cherry and it was amazing. (So good, we ended up back there a few more times). As we wee eating our gelato, and older man stopped and was chatting with us (obvs could tell we were tourists). He told us about a lovely church just down the road that we should go see, but we were so tired and his directions were a little vague...anyways, we did see the church a few days later (what we assume was the church he meant - he didn't know the name of it) but that is for another post...

We took the metro back towards our room instead of the tram, and ended up getting off on a very busy shopping street about 3-4 blocks away. (Zieglergasse). As we were trudging back to the room we passed a grocery store (I think a Lidi) and popped in for some breakfast food (cereal, juice) and some snacks (soda, chips, crackers). By the time we got back to the room we were done!

Posted by u2traveller 09:34 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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