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3 Weeks in East-Central Europe: Part 2, Vienna

We arrived in Vienna from Budapest and printed out our tickets for Prague and Munich at the machine before leaving the station. This turned out to be a mistake (more on that in my report on Salzburg).

We took the UBahn and tram to the stop nearest the apartment we were renting. We had a bit of trouble here, due to vague instructions, and spent a sweaty 20 minutes or so trying to figure out where the place was. However, we did find it, and it was great. It was a spacious and airy, one-bedroom apartment that had once belonged to an artist, and his children now rent it out. (We fell in love with the windows it had--tilt and turn and very soundproof--and we have decided we need similar windows when the time comes to replace ours.) It was one tram stop from a UBahn station (walking distance, really, if one’s feet weren’t too sore), so the location was good.

After settling in, we took the UBahn to Museumplatz just to have a look around and get our bearings. We walked around the area a bit then headed over to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral. We ended the day with dinner at the Regina Hotel’s Restaurant Roth, near our apartment. The food was excellent, but it didn’t take us long to realize how much more expensive it was to eat in Austria than in Hungary.

The next morning, we ate breakfast and then went to the Schonnbrun Palace. This was the sumptuous summer palace of the Habsburgs. After viewing the interior, we walked through the grounds, following a path through the forested area, to the gloriette. I enjoyed coming across statues half-hidden amongst the trees. My husband was less impressed, though, when a squirrel ran up his leg. He screamed like a girl and shook it off. He didn’t realize they were so tame and thought it was rabid or something. Anyway, even the squirrels are well-dressed, with white bibs. We enjoyed the views from the gloriette and had cappuccinos and pastries in the coffee shop there. Then we walked down to see the fabulous Neptune Fountain. From there, we went to the labyrinth. We thought it would be easy, but we actually had a tough time finding the centre. We weren’t the only ones, either. We kept running into the same people and laughing, because we were all obviously lost. We enjoyed the smaller, children’s mazes afterward, especially the interactive one. We didn’t go to the zoo, since we aren’t really fans of zoos, and Calgary has a pretty impressive one, anyhow.

We went back to one of the central UBahn stations, near the opera, and caught a tram that goes around part of the Ringstrasse. We wanted to tour around and see what there was to see. After that, we had lunch at Gelateria Castelletto, near Schwedenplatz UBahn. The food was great—fresh salads, etc.—and reasonably priced for Vienna.

After a rest at our apartment, we went for a walk. We walked past the Votive Church, and Sigmund Freud Park. Then we ended up at the Rathaus and the University. We were so surprised. We had passed those earlier in the day on the tram and had no idea they were so close to our apartment.

The following day, we went back to Museumplatz. We went to the Hofburg palace and the Sisi Museum. It was interesting to learn about Sisi. There are quite a few parallels between her and Princess Diana, I thought.
We then went to the Kunsthistorisches Museum to view the art. Wow. It was quite overwhelming. Those European galleries, housed in spectacular buildings, with room after room hung with dozens of priceless paintings—it takes one’s breath away. I was particularly taken with the works by Rubens.

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Our last day in Vienna was cold and wet. We were meeting friends for lunch, so we decided to view just one sight in the morning: the Jewish Museum. We had trouble finding it, and, to be honest, we were underwhelmed by it when we did find it. However, we later learned that there are two locations, and I think we should have gone to the other.

We met our friends—an expat Canadian and an expat American who are married and who have lived in Vienna for 30+ years—at the Landtmann, a restaurant across from the Rathaus. Unfortunately, because of the rain, we had to sit inside and could not enjoy the views, but we did have seats near the window, and the food and company were both excellent. Apparently, Freud frequented this restaurant.

By early evening, the rain had let up, so we went to Karlsplatz and then ended up walking through Stadtpark. Both were lovely! I was surprised to see palm trees in front of St. Charles Church, which had a distinctly Middle Eastern appearance. I enjoyed the monuments to the composers in Stadtpark, along with its beauty and peacefulness.

We stopped in at Restaurant Roth for hot chocolate and dessert before heading back to our apartment to pack and tidy up. The next morning, we would be catching the train to Prague.