Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2 days in grand Vienna


Greetings! This post is the second of four posts inspired by my trip to Central Europe last November. My sister and I visited Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague. I wrote about our stay in Budapest here. I had been to Vienna with my friends before. This time it was lovely to re-visit Vienna and create new memories with my sister. I hope you enjoy my trip highlights and the selected pictures below.

DAY 4, Tuesday November 14 - Vienna

After a satisfying breakfast, we left Hungary and travelled through the Austrian countryside to Vienna, former centre of the Habsburg Empire, and the capital city of Austria. With the Communist regime ended in Hungary in 1989, and both Austria and Hungary are in the European Union, there is no longer any border control between the two countries.

Entering Austria from Hungary

Upon arrival in Vienna, we got off our modern coach for a short walk break and a quick snack. Michael, our tour manager, recommended the locally well-known Bitzinger Wurstelstand Albertina hot dog stand. My sister and I shared a hot Viennese sausage, cut up in bite sized pieces, served with mustard and rye bread. It was so tasty!

Bitzinger Wurstelstand Albertina

Next, we walked over to Kärnterstrasse, the main pedestrian-only shopping street of Vienna. The shops were beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. We window shopped until it was time to board our coach to go to Schönbrunn Palace for our scheduled guided tour.


Schönbrunn Palace was the baroque summer palace of the Habsburgs. Built between 1696 and 1730, it contains a staggering 1,441 rooms. Empress Maria Theresa and her sixteen children left the greatest impact on the palace. 2017 marked the 300th anniversary of Empress Maria Theresa's birth. One of her daughters is Marie Antoinette who was the last Queen of France before the French Revolution. Franz Josef I, who was born in the palace and reigned for 68 years, was the last Austrian emperor to live here. The greatest attraction are the stunning State Apartments, followed by the Gloriette, a marble summerhouse, and the palace's Imperial Gardens.

Schonbrunn Palace
The Gloriette

After touring Schönbrunn Palace, we were dropped off at our nearby hotel. We checked in our comfortable room, rested a bit before heading out for dinner at Schonbrunner Stockl restaurant that our tour manager had recommended. I had the classic Viennese Tafelspitz served with creamed spinach, apple horseradish, and shredded potatoes, with local wine. It was an excellent meal. Sleep came easy after a wonderful touring day.

Viennese Tafelspitz

DAY 5, Wednesday November 15 - Vienna

Today we took a tram ride around the entire Ringstrasse or circle of boulevards that enclose the old city of Vienna. The tram follows the route of the medieval fortifications. We passed by several landmarks, historical monuments, museums, beautiful buildings, and even graffiti walls. It was a relaxing and inexpensive way to view the city.

Vienna, Austria
Buildings along Ringstrasse
Hotel Sacher & Cafe Mozart, Vienna

I was interested in taking a guided tour of Staatsoper, Austria's State Opera House. This French Renaissance-style building, with its elegant arcades, is right along the Ringstrasse. It was built in 1861-1869, and rebuilt in 1946-1955 to plans.

Vienna's Opera House

The queue for the guided tour at the Opera House was long so we decided to visit Domkirche St. Stephan or St. Stephen's Cathedral, the symbol of Vienna. Construction of St. Stephen's Cathedral commenced in the 12th century. Today, it is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. The cathedral is 107.2 meters long and 34.2 meters wide. It has four towers. The tallest of these is the south tower at 136.44 meters.

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

Feeling energetic, we bought our tickets and climbed the south tower with its 343 spiral steps to the Watchman's Chamber for the panoramic views of Vienna. On the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral, colourful roof tiles were laid to create the Royal and Imperial double-headed eagle and the coat of arms of the city of Vienna.

East view of Vienna
West view of Vienna
North view of Vienna
South view of Vienna

After returning to the ground, we did gift shopping for our families. The Christmas Market outside St. Stephen's Cathedral was getting set up. I imagined it would be very busy and festive here in the next few weeks.

We took the subway train back to our hotel. For dinner, we went to Strasser Brau, a local restaurant recommended by our tour manager. Both of us ordered the Wiener Schnitzel, another traditional Viennese dish, with wine. When the orders arrived, we had a good laugh as the portions were big enough to feed four people.

Wiener Schnitzel

I'm grateful for the opportunity to visit Vienna again. It is a grand city with so much history and culture to offer. I'd highly recommend Vienna to other travellers.

18 comments:

  1. As always your pics are great. We haven't been to Vienna since 1995 - yep, that long ago - but one of my lasting memories is sitting on the steps of the Opera House eating "hot dogs" ie bratwurst in sourdough, drinking beer and listening to the busker play Arrivederci Roma. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. We might have got our bratwursts from the same hot dog stand as it was close to Vienna's Opera House. Thanks, Jo, for dropping by.

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  2. Looks like you had the most wonderful trip with your sister! I have yet to get to Europe or the UK but I hope to! The architecture over there is fascinating and inspiring. I love all the history. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. Thank you, Min, for visiting. My sister and I had an excellent trip. I hope you get to go to Europe. There is so much to explore and enjoy there.

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  3. It's all so beautiful and exotic in its foreignness to me here in Sydney.

    SSG xxx

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    1. The exotic and foreign aspects are what draws me to international travel. Thanks, SSG, for stopping by.

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  4. So beautiful. Vienna has been on my radar for quiet a while now. You have convinced me I should go! #TeamLovinLife

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    1. You're right to have Vienna on your radar, Kathy. I hope you'll get to visit it soon.

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  5. Hmm, you must have been on your European tour just around the time that I was in Germany with my daughter. Each of the countries that you visited are places I would love to see.

    Jude

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    1. Thank you, Jude, for stopping by. I remember reading about your trip to Berlin. These four cities are not far from each other so it's easy to visit them on one trip.

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  6. Vienna is such an elegant city! Your pictures are captivating and the food looks wonderful.

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    1. I found Vienna a regal and cultured city. Thank you, Fran, for your kind comment.

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  7. Every time I've ever had Wiener Schnitzel, the plate has been full. I think it's a requirement! But to enjoy Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna, well that's something special.
    Your overhead photos of Vienna suggest a really busy, bustling city. Is it like that or is it more laid back?

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    1. Good observations, Karen. We were in Vienna right before their Christmas Markets started and the Old city area where most of the major sights are, are naturally busy and bustling with shoppers, both locals and visitors. Our hotel was a few subway stops away and it was much quieter.

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  8. I'm greatly enjoying this virtual tour, Natalie -
    Climbing 343 spiral steps is very energetic indeed. Well done!

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    1. Thank you, Donna, for following my virtual tour. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

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  9. I love the coloured buildings Natalie and Austria is a beautiful country. I visited Vienna many, many years ago briefly so it was lovely to see your photos.
    Sue
    Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

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    1. Thank you, Sue, for stopping by and commenting. I agreed Austria is a beautiful country.

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