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Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary: May 2019 Part 3

Hallstatt was delightful. After seeing it featured on numerous websites I was ready to experience it firsthand.....it did not disappoint! We stayed at Seehotel Gruner Baum. This hotel is worth the $ because of its location to the lake and the ability to get a room on the water where you can get that incredible view. We enjoyed our dinner and breakfast there as well and they were great. We spent only 24 hours there but you can see all you need in that time. There is a boat that ferries the arrivals by train across the water to the town....pay the small fee, ride across the lake and get some great pictures. As I have mentioned earlier this is one of those small villages where you park your rental car at a garage on the edge of town and catch the town shuttle into the main square and your hotel. Take the funicular to the observation deck that extends way out over the lake up above the town.....the views are INCREDIBLE! We did not take the salt mine tour. If you have an opportunity to see this lovely town GO!
We left Hallstatt to drive to Vienna and decided to take a small detour that would put us on the 30 mile Danube River drive from Melk to Krems.....so glad we did. What a beautiful drive! It is covered in vineyards and some castles up on hills as you drive right beside the Danube. Melk’s Abbey was beautiful......so glad we took the time and detour to see this amazing architectural wonder.
Vienna was our next stop. We stayed at Hotel Austria Wien. Parking our rental car here was a challenge! The street to our hotel was one way....and our hotel was on an alley that your car can barely fit through. Once again I had to be dropped off when we got close to our hotel to find it by foot and get parking directions.....4 levels under in a garage that you needed a pass key for.....WOW. We succeeded in getting our car garaged for the 4 days we were there.....thank goodness! This hotel was very clean, a great location and had a huge buffet every morning for breakfast. The weather was not good here for our first 2 days but you push through. We had a Skip the Schonbrunn Palace and Vienna Historical Bus Tour the first day and it was nice to be on a bus in the rain. Schonbrunn Palace was SO CROWDED......I was not ready for this site to be so jam-packed with people. Our guide did a good job.....but it was hard trying to hear him talk through the audio system with so many people moving around. The palace was beautiful and I am glad we saw it.....just wish I had known a better time to go when the crowds would have been smaller. We did not see the gardens because of the rain.....wish we could have! I was ready to love Vienna but was not prepared for it to be so large and so compact.....it seemed really crowded to me. We walked through St. Stephen’s plaza each morning and the crowds got bigger and bigger as the day went by......you waited in lines everywhere you went. We loved the atmosphere of Demel’s and stopped for snacks and lunch there twice......if you do this GO UPSTAIRS!......the crowds are smaller there and you will be seated sooner. The Kunsthistorisches Museum was a wonderful visit.....and we are not huge art buffs. I LOVED the Hofburg Imperial Apartments and the Hofburg Treasury was so worth our time to see......incredible things to see that this royal family enjoyed. St. Stephen’s Cathedral was a great tour using RSteves podcast of its description. Our timing was perfect twice......we just happened to be walking by the Royal Lipizzaner Stallion’s stables when they were being walked to their rehearsal barn and got to see them up close.....FUN. We had dinner one night at the Hotel Imperial before walking over to a Mozart concert at the Musikverein. That was a great experience, so worth our time to do this. We walked through the Naschmarkt one afternoon to see the foods displayed there. There is a nice Spar grocery store very close to Hotel Austria where you can pick up anything you need.

Posted by
4383 posts

I live in Vienna and it is never crowded where I go. I guess that all the crowds are huddled in front of Stephansdom and inside Schonbrunn. So many other sites to see that are not heaving with people. Also didn’t help that the weather was so horrible and that people could not spread out outside. Next time, I recommend more than a drive by of the Wachau.

Posted by
2886 posts

Jane, thanks for sharing your personal experiences. We are looking forward to visiting many of the same attractions. At a recent RS class the presenter highly recommended the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Appreciate all your candid tips.

Posted by
172 posts

Check and see if the Kunsthistorisches is still open on Thursday nights. We visited on a rainy Thursday evening in 2014 and had the museum virtually to ourselves. I had the incredible experience of sitting in front of a Ver Meer for 10 minutes with no one else in the room. The art collection was superb. Hank, Novato, Ca

Posted by
603 posts

Wanted to add this to my report but ran out of room.....the post office is only 1 block away from Hotel Austria.......we love buying souvenirs that bring back the memories of our trip......and this can begin to weigh down your luggage.....so we mailed a box of our finds home and it was incredibly convenient! One of the guys working there spoke English and was a lot of help!

Posted by
4383 posts

I go to the post office often and always speak English. Your experience was not an anomaly. As English is required in schools, it’s hard to find someone in Vienna who does not speak English. Part of the reason why my German is hopeless.

Posted by
2886 posts

Hank,
Thanks for the tip on the Kunsthistorisches hours. We are leaving Austria on a Thursday. That said, it sounds like it's not crowded. Especially looking forward to Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer...

Posted by
1165 posts

Jane, thanks for all your reports of your trip. It takes time to come back and pass along information. It sounds like you had a great time, in spite of a little rain!

I will add that I have been to Vienna three times in the summer (most recently last July) and the only place I felt crowded was inside Schonbrunn Palace on one of the trips. Last summer, we scheduled the Palace late afternoon and it was really pleasant (and of course, beautiful).