36 Hours in Vienna

Vienna Travel Blog

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St. Stefan's Cathedral

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.

St. Stephen's
 

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.

Schloss Hofburg
  The Treasury was amazing.  It had a crown made for the Holy Roman Emperor made in 900 AD.  There were vestaments, jewelry items, swords and scimitars -- all incredibly beautiful and ornate.  I walked all around the grounds of the Hofburg.  It is also near the Austrian Parliament, the Vienna City Hall (Rathaus), and several museums.  As I was walking around on the grounds, I came across two youngsters playing in a sandbox.  They appeared to be twins, about two years old.  They were what we called "tow heads" growing up -- very blonde haired boys.  They were stark naked and just so happy playing with their toys in the sandbox.  It was very cute and innocent.  I just laughed watching how much fun they were having.

I meandered back down the KarntnerStrasse and did some window shopping and picked up a few trinkets for friends and family back home.

Vienna City Hall
  I was close to my hotel at that point, so I went up to check on my bags and sure enough, they had arrived so I got a change of clothes and headed back out to continue my exploration.

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.

Austrian Parliament
  I got to see the Emperor's bedroom, bathroom, wedding bed, pictures of all the royalty, china, silver, chandaliers, clothing, etc.  The Empress Elizabeth was famous for having a 19 inch waist --  and purportedly could only eat a piece of bread and two oranges per day.  She was assassinated in Switzerland by an Italian anarchist.  I learned a lot about the Hapsburg Dynasty and the Austrian Empire, including that it at one time included Venice and Genoa, Croatia, many Slavic Countries (the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, etc.) and had seaports and a navy up until World War II.  Vienna was the home of the Holy Roman Empire.  Vienna now has 2.7 million persons, with only 7 million persons in the entire country of Austria.
KarlsKirche
 

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.

Schloss Schonbrunn
  After all, it would be a shame to come to Vienna and not got any musical culture!  I heard a very nice group of strings playing and had time to rest my feet a bit as I let the music pour over me. 

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.

Action shot: Ringtail Lemur leaps out onto the log in the pond
  It consists of boiled beef with vegetables.  The broth ois spooned over noodles for soup, and the meat and vegetables are served from a copper frying pan, along with hash brown potatoes on the side and spinach.  I know it sounds kind of bland, but it was delicious!  For dessert, we had Viennese coffee and mousse au chocolate.  It was very fine, indeed.  Chris and I had a nice conversation over our dinner and Austrian wine.  After our dinner, we went to the Savoy Hotel and had a couple of after dinner drinks in the bar there.  Chris departed after that, and I ended up chatting with a hotel guest in the bar who was visiting from Tel Aviv.  He was in town to visit family and had some entertaining stories about life in Tel Aviv.
Strings Concert at St. Stefan's

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!

 

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St. Stefans Cathedral
St. Stefan's Cathedral
St. Stephens
St. Stephen's
Schloss Hofburg
Schloss Hofburg
Vienna City Hall
Vienna City Hall
Austrian Parliament
Austrian Parliament
KarlsKirche
KarlsKirche
Schloss Schonbrunn
Schloss Schonbrunn
Action shot:  Ringtail Lemur leaps…
Action shot: Ringtail Lemur leap…
Strings Concert at St. Stefans
Strings Concert at St. Stefan's
St. Stephens
St. Stephens
St. Stefans -- this pic does not …
St. Stefan's -- this pic does not…
Hofburg from the rear
Hofburg from the rear
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
Atlas holds up the World
Atlas holds up the World
Altar at Hofburg
Altar at Hofburg
Palace Grounds
Palace Grounds
Entrance to Palace
Entrance to Palace
Salute to another Emperor
Salute to another Emperor
Statue on the Palace Grounds
Statue on the Palace Grounds
Lion at the gate
Lion at the gate
Schloss Shonbrunn
Schloss Shonbrunn
Rear of Schonbrunn and the Tiergar…
Rear of Schonbrunn and the Tierga…
Fountain in the Tiergarten
Fountain in the Tiergarten
DikDik Deer
DikDik Deer
DikDik
DikDik
Rhea
Rhea
Resting Rhea
Resting Rhea
Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo
Hippo eating
Hippo eating
Mama and baby Hippos
Mama and baby Hippos
Mom and baby exit, stage right
Mom and baby exit, stage right
Secretary Birds
Secretary Birds
Zazu from Lion King
Zazu from Lion King
Zazu again
Zazu again
Ringtail Lemur baby gets a lift fr…
Ringtail Lemur baby gets a lift f…
Crossing the creek
Crossing the creek
Which way to go?
Which way to go?
After he landed, he took off fast!
After he landed, he took off fast!
Mama and baby
Mama and baby
Pandas on loan from China (real on…
Pandas on loan from China (real o…
Mama Elephant
Mama Elephant
Baby Elephant using its Trunk
Baby Elephant using its Trunk
Cooling her back with grass
Cooling her back with grass
Matriarch
Matriarch
Tiger
Tiger
Penguins
Penguins
Ostrich
Ostrich
del
del
Spectacled Bear
Spectacled Bear
Polar Bear
Polar Bear
Polar Bear 2
Polar Bear 2
Vienna Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Viennese Cooking at its Best
The national dish of Austria is supposedly one called Tafelspitz, and one of the best places to try it is Plachutta in Vienna. This restaurant has te… read entire review
Vienna
photo by: EmyG