36 Hours in Vienna
Vienna Travel Blog› entry 6 of 10 › view all entries
I arrived in Vienna, via Frankfurt, at about 11pm local time on the 3rd. Lufthansa had lost my luggage, but promised to have it to me by today at noon. They did give me a toiletries kit anda plain white t-shirt -- so at least I had a toothbrush! My hotel is the Bristol, a Westin operated hotel right on the Kartner Ring. It is just off one of the main streets of Vienna (or Wien locally), KartnerStrasse. I got up early on the 4th, as I only had one day to see Vienna, and I wanted to make the most of it. I needed coffee and succumbed to a local Starbucks since it was right on the corner by my hotel. I know I should have started with a real local coffee shop, but I did not see one close by and I really needed the caffiene.
I strolled with my coffee down to St. Stefan's Cathedral. It dates back to the 1400's and is so beautiful. It has a spire that reminds me of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I climbed to the top of the spire and got some great shots of the city and had a chance to get an aeriel view of the city and begin to get my bearings. After viewing the cathedral, I found a real Viennese coffee place and stopped for another coffee and a pastry. It was called the Tirolerhof and it had excellent coffee. I also had two rolls with apricot jam that was awesome.
After that great shot of coffee and sugar, I headed over to the Kofburg, the palace of the Hapsburgs in the central part of Vienna. It had it's own cathedral (Augustine Kirche), the Treasury (Schutz Kammer), the home of the Vienna Boys Choir, and the home of the world famous Lipazanner Stallions.
I meandered back down the KarntnerStrasse and did some window shopping and picked up a few trinkets for friends and family back home.
I walked the opposite direction from my morning route and started with KarlsKirche, a beautiful church east of my hotel. From there I walked on through the Nachtmarket, an open air market of meats, fruits and vegetable and flowers -- even some flea market kinds of things. I found a place to grab a gyro (grilled lamb with lettuce, tomato, onions, yoghurt, hot pepper flakes on pita bred) and it was one of the best I have tasted!
I grabbed the subway from the market to Schonbrunn, the summer palace of the Hapsburgs. It was built in the 1690 timeframe and could accomodate 1900 people! I did the grand tour of the palace which went through 40+ rooms.
One of the highlights of Schloss Schonbrunn was my tour of the Zoo behind the palace. The Zoo was celebrating it's 250th anniversary that year (2003). I did see some animals I had not seen previously, including a Great Rhea (like an Ostrich, yet it comes from South America) and several other bird species. The Zoo has two Panda Bears on loan from China. Like all Pandas I have ever seen on display, these Pandas were shy and faced away from the crowds, so hard to get good pictures. It was a very nice Zoo. I understand it used to be the Royal Family's private Zoo.
After my tour of the Zoo, I caught the subway back down town to St. Stephen's Cathedral again, as I wanted to hear a free concert being played there that afternoon.
I hustled back to my hotel to shower and change, and was dressed just in time to meet up with the friend of a friend for dinner. A friend of mine in Austin who is a professor at the University of Texas had arranged for me to meet a friend of his, Chris, in Vienna. Chris is a professor at the University of Vienna and had done a visting professorship at the University of Texas in Austin several years ago. We went to a great restaurant called Plachutta. We both had the "national dish" of Austria, the Tafelspitz. It was supposedly the Emperor's favorite back in the day.
As I was headed back to my hotel, I passed by a group of 4 guys who were obviously having a great evening out on the town. They noticed that I was wearing a New Zealand t-shirt, and said "hey Kiwi, come have a beer with us" with a heavy Irish brogue. Long story short, I went along with Sean, Kevin, David and Ian for a few beers. We chatted about travel and a lot about New Zealand. One of them finally said --'you know Kiwi, you don't sound much like a Kiwi." And I told them I wasn't a Kiwi, I was from Texas. They all laughed and asked me why I didn't say something earlier - -and I reminded them that they never asked! I finally left them at 4am to catch a bit of sleep, as I had a 7am flight to catch to Klagenfurt. Ugh!