A Travellerspoint blog

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.


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)

6. Moving on to Vienna

Tues, Sept 17

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Hubs was finally feeling a bit better today so we decided to take the morning and try and see a few more things. We packed up our bags and had breakfast, and left the bags at the hotel cloak room as we didn't know if there were storage lockers at the train station - well, we should have known there would be. We went over to the 'new' museum, since our ticket from two days before for the old historical museum was still valid. Of course, the new museum is right beside the train station, so we could have taken our bags to the lockers and saved some time backtracking.

We spent about 45 min at the new museum (again, not a lot inside). There was an exhibition about the Celts, which was interesting, then upstairs a small exhibition about DNA. We actually could have left our luggage at the new museum as they had a nice big cloakroom.

We then hopped on the metro to go see a spot our airbnb guide told us about - the Colloredo-Mansfield house. It's an old mansion in poor shape that was bought by a rich American, so he told us it would soon be off limits. It was a few dollars to get in and not much to see except a lovely painted ceiling. The guide said you should lay on the floor and admire the ceiling, which my husband did. (insert eye roll here). At least the only one to see him do it was me and the lady who was the watching over the place. There were not camera photos allowed but I managed to sneak a few pics with the iPad.

I was starting to get a little nervous about getting to the hotel then train stn to catch our train. But we made it with enough time to spare for us to get some food for the train and maybe had a 25 min wait. I had checked the train leaving times earlier, and had a target time in mind.

The train ride was about 4 hrs. It was nice there was wifi on the train, so I had a chat with my husband's cousin back home, which was pretty cool. When we arrived to Vienna, I knew I wanted to get one of the weekly passes for the public transport, but I had a little difficulty finding the office - it was in another building, not the main terminal. Once we got that sorted, and figured out which tram to take, off we went. When we got off we had to walk about 5 min up the road (if we'd know the tram system, we could have hopped a tram to take us those few blocks).

We walked past the airbnb at first, but didn't go to far. The numbering system is always a little different. We went into the lovely apartment and chilled for an hour. The host showed us around the place the next day and it's huge! Really tall ceilings, big big rooms - he got it in very poor shape for a very good price - it was two flats put together and he totally reno'd it. Right outside was the tram to take us to Museumplein area in about 4 stops.

We didn't really want to head into the center as it was getting late, so we popped across the street to a lovely Italian restaurant, even if we weren't very hungry and wasted half of the food (I Terroni - hubs had gnocchi, I had carbonara). And someone had their choc lab in the restaurant! He was very well behaved. After we just walked around the area to see what was around - found a small store and picked up some snacks.

Posted by u2traveller 06:31 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

5. Prague Castle

Mon, Sept 16

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So hubs was still not feeling well today. He came down to breakfast and ate a half piece of toast, but that was it. The British couple were there again so I had a chat with them - they were heading home today.

I decided to head to Prague Castle and went the same way I did the evening before. Line up was short and I got the 'package' recommended by our airbnb guide - it allowed entry into the big church, golden lane and a few other spots. This line fore the cathedral wrapped around the side, and they let in maybe 3 dozen people every 5-10 min or so. I guess I hit a busy time (prob a 20-25 min wait) as when I can out, the lineup was really very short. The stained glass in St Vitus cathedral was mind blowing. I've seen lots of stained glass windows, but the colours here were so vibrant. And the huge silver ornamental piece - wow. Next on the visit list was St George's Basilica, which was quite small and fast to go thru. Then the Old Royal Palace - where I was given an audioguide - seeing the big main banquet hall (where they would hold jousting contests!) was quite impressive. Then onto Golden Lane - which was now quite crowded. The little houses were open - they are all pretty much shops now, so I poked around them but didn't buy anything. That pretty much covered everything, so I grabbed a gelato to get me thru a hungry spell, then decided to walk down to Charles Bridge and check out the artists wares.

I ran into the British couple from the hotel on the bridge! Always funny when that happens - I guess we all go to the tourist spots...lol. They asked after my husband. They were just spending a partial day, then had to get to the airport for their flight home. I did find some lovely intaglio prints on the bridge - I had a really hard time deciding, but was glad I could decide without having input from the hubby...lol - this way I got the ones I wanted without having to make concessions.

Next I found my way (only slightly getting off track) to the funicular and Petrin Tower. Lovely views over the city - I decided not to go up the tower - partly because of price, and partly because I was starting to get a little hungry. I wandered around the rose garden and the grounds and sat down to have a raisin and nut treat I had in my purse. If I was a little younger, I could see doing the hike down the hill, but I was just too hungry. I caught the funicular back down, then wandered back towards the hotel, catching a tram once I crossed the river and getting back around 3pm. Hubby was still alive, feeling a bit better, but still not 100%. I ate the leftover pizza from the night before (oh, I did walk up past the hotel to get some cupcakes at a shop I'd spotted the day before - we ate them that evening).

Hubs decided he'd come out with me, so we walked over to the Lego Store and paid to see the 'Lego Museum'. It was pretty cool to see all the Lego stuff - new and old - but it was a bit expensive for what it was. We walked back towards the hotel, stopping by the rotating statue I'd seen the day before, and showing hubby the shopping mall nearby.

He still wasn't feeling good enough to eat, so he went back to the room and I popped into the café across the street (Café Amandine). And I got the most expensive thing on the menu - lol. Actually, there wasn't a lot on the menu that appealed to me, except the steak with roasted veggies and some kind of whipped mash. The steak was absolutely delicious - especially after eating leftovers for lunch.

And while at the cafe, a couple came in and were kinda waiting for someone to seat them, even though they could just pick a table. The waiter finally came and told them to sit wherever and they sat beside me. I said I was going to tell them to just pick a seat. So got talking and he was from Ontario and his girlfriend (this was an older couple) was Polish. So when he sat he told the waiter he got a card at the hotel for 10% off the total. My food hadn’t come out yet so I said...watch my stuff, leaving purse and camera behind and ran over to the hotel for my card...lol. Anyways, had a nice chat with them and saved 10% off my meal. They had been in Italy for a family wedding, so were seeing more of the continent.

Went back over to the room and had some tea and my lemon meringue cupcake (which was super sweet and super good) and some tea, and we started sorting out as next day was moving on to Vienna day.

Posted by u2traveller 05:10 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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