We left the heat behind in Hungary to find much more comfortable temperatures in Austria. More than that, there was something chill about Vienna. It just had a very cool vibe to it. The city does a great job of blending the old with the new. The historic buildings are magnificent and the new buildings have a modern architectural flair all their own. While German is the primary language, we had absolutely no trouble communicating in English. We felt very welcome and comfortable throughout our stay.
The tourist information office provided us with a couple of self-guided walking tours of Vienna and away we went. Once again, we found ourselves marveling at an amazing array of architectural masterpieces. They’re all so well preserved and vast in scale. There’s also a pretty cool amusement park called “The Prater”.
How incredibly fortunate we were to discover that the Austrian Wine Festival was taking place while we were in Vienna. It was pure coincidence, we swear it. Through Elizabeth’s ingenuity, we were able to land a pair of “Press Passes” that enabled us to get in for free and come and go as we pleased throughout the 3-day event. 80% of the wine produced in Austria is white with Gruner Veltliner as the dominant grape varietal. We found it to be quite enjoyable.
We were also excited to learn that the 2014 Vienna Gay Pride Festival was being held while we were in town. We made a point to attend the entertaining Gay Pride Parade and enthusiastically displayed our support.
From our hotel, we could see green hills off in the distance towering over Vienna that had the potential to offer panoramic views of the city below. We inquired at the tourist office and they knew exactly what we were after. A combination of a metro and a bus ride took us right to Leopoldsberg, Vienna’s most famous hill with a church residing on the top. The views of Vienna and the Danube River were stunning and we received an added bonus as the hills beneath us were covered with vineyards. So, we walked back down through the Nubdorf-Heiligenstadt wine region admiring the beautiful scenery.
We made a visit to Schönbrunn Palace and toured the exquisite gardens, which are free. It’s hard to believe that this was merely a summer residence.
We spent 5 nights at the Courtyard Vienna Messe Hotel where we took advantage of yet another Marriott Rewards points offer getting 5 nights for the points required for just 4. It was conveniently located outside of the city center, close to a metro stop and a supermarket just the way we like it. The surrounding business and Wirtschafts University campus buildings were all quite modern. The a/c was good. They had a very nice gym and the wifi was very good.
Food & Drink:
We enjoyed some delicious food in Vienna that included items like bratwurst, pappardelle w/duck ragu, seafood, Hungarian goulash & the locally famous Sacher torte.
We boarded an Austrian Railjet train for a 3-hour ride from Budapest to Vienna and it was a very comfortable air-conditioned ride in the second-class compartment. We took full advantage of Vienna’s very efficient mass transportation system including subways, trams and buses.
We have found www.seat61.com to be a very helpful resource for researching and booking train travel throughout our trip.
For Your Amusement:
We found some nice water fountains in the streets of Vienna. Interestingly, one side was for those fluent in German while the other was for those who speak English.
This advertisement caught our attention at the top of the hills overlooking Vienna. What an unusual image to promote gambling.
One of the things that takes some getting used to in Europe is that the ground floor is always zero not one like in the USA. It takes some getting used to.
Highlights: We’re hard pressed to pick a favorite or two as the city of Vienna as a whole was the complete package.
Next Up: We’re off to Great Britain to see the Queen.