I just returned from my best vacation yet, starting in Vienna and ending in Budapest and an absolute joy from start to finish. I planned the entire trip myself, with help from the supportive and knowledgeable people on this website as well as Rick's books and various websites, and I'm pretty pleased with myself for pulling it off. I am a HUGE fan of the movie The Third Man, so sought out numerous locations and activities based on that.
Due to a mechanical problem with the plane in San Francisco I arrived in Vienna at 6 pm instead of 1 pm so my first day didn't include anything but an exhausted trek from the airport via CAT and then the metro to my lovely hotel on Opernring, Le Meridien. When I emerged from the metro and saw the Staatsoper I knew I needed to go 2 blocks to the left and there it was. I had an enormous room on the top floor that was beautiful and quiet, extremely comfy bed and lots of amenities.
The first day I wandered through the Burggarten to the Albertina, 1/2 price admission due to only one floor of art on display. Next I had lunch at the Café Mozart and then walked up Kartnerstrasse to St Stephensdom area, then to the MAK, really enjoyed the exhibits there. Out to the Prater to ride the Riesenrad, not at all scary as it moves very slowly. Wandered the Prater amusement park a bit then on to the Leopold, open late that day. I think the Leopold was my favourite of the museums in Vienna, big interest in the art of the Secession movement and their Klimt and Schiele exhibits were wonderful.
Friday was a day trip to Melk, caught the train at Westbhf and arrived in the town a little over an hour later. Charming little cobble-stoned village, toured the Abbey and had time to explore and have a nice lunch outdoors before catching the boat for a 1.5 hr cruise on the Danube, ending in Krems where I caught the train back to Vienna. While the scenery was enjoyable, I was having a bad day due to a blister so curtailed some of the exploring I might have done.
Saturday I stocked up on blister band-aids and banished that problem on my way to the Naschmarkt and Flohmarkt, 5 min from my hotel. Oh, the Naschmarkt was fabulous! I would eat/shop there every day if I lived there. I love poking around flea markets and antique shops so the Flohmarkt was great fun, found a couple of old things as souvenirs. Visited the Secession where I was a bit disappointed; loved Klimt's Beethoven Frieze but that was all there was to see. Not a fan of the type of modern art special exhibit they had, a few odd pieces of furniture in a huge room...I asked the clerk if that was all there was and got a somewhat testy response, so I'm guessing other people have done the same! Still, worth it for the frieze and the building itself is fascinating. Too early to visit the Third Man Museum so I set off with my map to find the Harry Lime Door on Schreyvogelgasse and poked around Graben before heading back to Third Man Museum, which I absolutely loved. Not just for fans of the movie but a well-done presentation about life in post-war Vienna.
Sunday I took the train to Salzburg, very cold and drizzly but I set off on the HoHo bus to get my bearings and toured Hellbrunn Palace and Mozart Gebursthaus--excellent little museum. Had a great lunch at Triangel and checked out the Old Town area, many shops closed but lots of craft vendors out. Train going back at 6 pm was very crowded and I had to ask a woman to move her purse so I could sit, got the evil eye all the way back to Vienna.