Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vienna Trip

I spent the past week in Vienna.  There are a number of observations I can make....but I'll limit them to fifteen.

1.  You go to Vienna for three reasons: to get a healthy dose of history, or to get some culture, or to just spend money (everything costs a heck of a lot).

2.  The city can't be seen in less than three days.  If you think you can do one of those bus tours that arrives on Saturday morning and heads back home by Sunday's just not possible.

3.  The public transportation deal operated by the probably the best of any city in Europe.  Buy the 72-hour or 24-hour ticket and travel by subway or trolley car.

4.  Don't worry about crime.  Cops are always out and it's hard to find any part of the old city (the tourist area) where you'd be unsafe.

5.  The Schloss (on the west end of town) is the number one attraction that you have to see.  Expect to spend an entire day at the estate and park connected to it.  The food offerings there are marginal and you'd best bring along some fruit to get you through the mid-day and afternoon.

6.  There are two companies offering the hop-on and hop-off deal.  Basically, they both do the same deal......twenty-five Euro.  One makes a bigger trip up into the hills over the city.....but there's only a brief scenic view on that tour that makes it worth the seventy-minute part of that tour.  I'd strongly recommend doing the hop-on deal on day one to see the big picture.

7.  The Weiner Prater is a large dual purpose area to the north east end of town (across the canal).  One part is a huge natural park area (you can walk for hours), which was originally a hunting area for the royal and elite of Vienna.  The other part is an amusement park, which connects closely with a U-Bahn station.  It's worth seeing but you will do a heck of a lot of walking.

8.  When you get off the plane.....there's four ways to get into town.  Taxi, bus shuttle, S-bahn, and CAT. The S-bahn connection is the cheapest but you'd have to settle in for a 30-to-40 minute ride, and change at least once.  The CAT?  A first-class sixteen-minute rail ride into the city center with no stops.  The taxi ride will be a minimum of fifty Euro.

9.  Don't expect to find any fantastic hotel discounted deals.  Unless you stay way on the outer fringes of Vienna.....there's no way to avoid paying their rates.

10.  Museums?  Well.....yeah, there are a minimum of sixty different museums in the city.....the vast number of a waste of time and effort.  It's best to do your research ahead of time and limit your travels to just one or two.

11.  Food?  Schnitzel is the number one offering by all restaurants in the city.  You will find some McDonalds around town, along with a fair number of pizza shops.  At least half the restaurants will cost a minimum of twenty Euro per person for the dinner.  So don't be shocked.  I'd strongly suggest you bulk up on the breakfast buffet at the some fruit for lunch at some grocery....and do the four-star dinner experience each evening.  If you look can find the twelve-Euro dinner options still possible.

12.  There is old Vienna and new Vienna.  You could be walking down one street with modern architecture and suddenly find turning the area of town that looks like 1955.  Riding the CAT out to the airport?  You will find new urban neighborhoods built up in the past thirty years and a modern city that lays out toward the airport.  Within the city?  It's a mixture of what's left from before the war, the Soviet years, the rebuilding years (1945 - 1970), and what's been put up over the past two decades.  It's an odd mix.....I will agree.

13.  The horse show.  The lipizzaner show is daily....Monday through Friday....ten to twelve in the morning.  It's practice don't go expecting much.  Cost?  Fourteen Euro for an adult.  Is it worth the deal?  If you really get into horses and coordinated riding.....go for it.  Otherwise, you might not really get into the deal.

14.  I'd strongly recommend you read at least a fifty page history piece on the Hapsburg family and their little empire.....before arriving in Vienna.  It helps to explain the history, why the Viennese people are peppy about art and culture, and why Vienna exists today.

15.  Finally.....if you go in July or August with temperatures up....drag along at least a one-liter bottle of water for consumption throughout the day.  You can always find water for sale on the street....sometimes at a good price.....sometime hefty (I paid three Euro at the hotel for a one-liter bottle of water....way over the norm).

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