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Trip Report Keira-Caitlyn’s Best Laid Plans Go Awry…and other Misadventures in Vienna

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As always, I would like to thank everyone who posts here. Between those that responded directly to my questions, and those that posted their own experiences, I was able to put together a great plan for my brief 3-day Vienna vacation. About myself – I am an American female, vegetarian, non-smoker, non-drinker with bad knees and horrible allergies. My specific interests are architecture and art (particularly statues, ironwork, and stained glass), and historical narration/storytelling. I’m a practicing psychotherapist, so Freud’s life was of particular interest to me this trip. I also love the cultural arts of symphony and opera, but this was off-season so not a focus this trip. Usually a solo traveler, but a friend decided to join me at the last minute for this trip. After the first day, we went our separate ways due to varied interests and just met up for breakfast/dinner/gelato. I like to hit the ground running and then slow down over time (if I’m lucky enough to have a longer vacation).

Normally I plan trips 1-2 years in advance. Yeah, I’m one of those people who likes to have all the details worked out. This trip was originally planned for the week of Thanksgiving, but my teaching schedule for fall shifted a bit, and I decided to move it up to the break between Summer and Fall semesters instead –and as a 43rd birthday present to myself. So I had less than 2 months to plan, but I think I did a good job. I bought a Vienna Pass with transportation option, which paid for almost everything there. The attractions are very expensive – seemed about €10-20 per place – so it definitely paid for itself. I had my itinerary ready to go, and I left my birthday party to go hop on a plane – full of energy and excitement.

Then my best laid plans went awry. I got sick on the plane. Violently sick. I will spare you the details, but I went from feeling top of the world to bottom of the pit. Unfortunately, I dealt with some degree of upset stomach and nausea for the first two days of my trip. I did go to a pharmacy in Vienna, and the medication I got there did help. Ultimately, this seems to have been an allergic/exposure reaction of sorts – not something contagious.

Anyway, I flew British Airways from Atlanta to London, with a layover in London. I then flew on to Vienna. I had scheduled a driver to pick me up from the airport, since public transportation stops at midnight and my flight was arriving at 11pm. €27 through Vienna Airport Taxi website. The driver was on time, professional, and gave helpful info about the city during the drive. I would definitely use again. If you get a taxi to/from airport without pre-booking, it’s about €40. I arrived at my hotel, Hotel City Central. It’s on the edge of the 2nd district, just a few blocks walk from the inner city, and about 2 blocks from trams and metro station. It was a great location. Hotel room was nice, we had a double room (two twin beds pushed together). The hotel breakfast (included) was a lovely buffet of cheeses and meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, breads and pastries, yogurt, juices, and more. I ate breakfast there each day. The staff was friendly and helpful. I would definitely stay here again.

***Day 1***

With me not feeling well and my friend being a bit out of sorts, we opted to not follow the itinerary and just spend the day getting oriented to the city. We walked around the inner city, through the shopping areas down to Hofburg Palace and the Museums Quarter. We did not go into any museums. Everything was labeled very discreetly (or not at all seemingly) which made it hard to figure out what we were looking at a lot of the time. Most all of the buildings in Vienna are just magnificent architecturally. We did go inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which was beautiful and ornate. At this point, neither one of us was loving Vienna. We got some gelato and headed back to the hotel room to call it a day. We discussed our plans, and decided to go in different directions for the rest of the trip – ultimately the best decision we could have made because we were both so much happier after that.

***Day 2***

Starting to feel better, I was determined to see the sites. I chose to pick up with my itinerary day 2. I got up a bit later than I had intended, so I skipped Karlskirche and headed down to Belvedere Palace. This was the only place that was not covered by my Vienna Pass so I had to pay admission for it (€20). I saw both upper and lower Belvedere, including the Klimt exhibit. It was truly beautiful and enjoyable, especially the gardens, and I began to feel happy about being in Vienna. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

I stayed there a bit longer than I had scheduled, so I opted to take a taxi over to Freud Museum for my scheduled Context Travel private tour. The tour was wonderful, I had Reinhard as my guide and he did an amazing job of bringing Freud’s work to life within social and familial context. The tour went through the museum (his living quarters and practice area), by the hospital where he worked and trained, over to the University where he taught adjunct, past several of his more famous patients’ houses, and ended at his favorite café. Another highlight of my trip.

I then caught the tram to the Albertina museum, and saw the Monet and Picasso exhibits there, among others. I sat at the base of the statue outside the museum and wrote in my travel journal. I was starting to fall in love in Vienna. A tour of the State Opera, some more gelato, and it was time to head back to the hotel. My friend and I went to dinner at the Hard Rock Café, a tradition of mine in foreign cities. I also purchased my Hard Rock Café Vienna t-shirt (I get one in every city I travel to). It was a great day.

***Day 3***

I had a hard time sleeping the night before, so I revisited my itinerary and gave myself 3 options for what to do on my last day. Unfortunately, there was just not going to be enough time to see what I wanted to, not to mention that I was discovering more I wanted to see by the minute! I started with spending the morning at Schonbronn Palace (which was originally on Day 1’s itinerary). The place is huge! It was the one place I went that was extremely crowded too. You could easily spend the day there, but I saw what I wanted to in about 2 ½ hours. I did the Grand Tour of the palace (42 rooms), visited the privy gardens and the orangery, and went through the maze. I also took a walk through the park, and sat on one of the benches for a while to write in my travel journal. The gardens (both the privy gardens and the ones at the rear of the palace with all the statues and that magnificent fountain) were my favorite parts.

I headed over to Hundertwasser museum and KunstHaus. Amazing! This type of art is very hit-or-miss with me, but I really loved the overall energy of the place. I felt happy there. I could have sat on one of the benches in the museum and written poetry for hours, it felt so inspiring. Definitely another highlight of my trip. Also helped to clear out some of the heaviness of the Rococo style of the palace from the morning.

Next up was the Donauturm observation tower. The views were beautiful but so far away from the city that it was not what I was expecting and a bit disappointing. I took some pictures of the St. Francis of Assisi church on the bus ride back, which looks like a fairytale castle. A colleague of mine studied in Vienna, and had asked me to run by his old apartment and take pictures, which I did after going to the tower.

While touring the city, one site had kept catching my eye for the past 2 days. It had not been on my list, but I felt compelled to go see it. It turned out to be Votivkirsche. I love neo-Gothic churches! So beautiful. Yet another highlight of my trip. Spent a little time hanging out in Sigmund Freud park, which abuts the church.

My last scheduled stop was to see the Venus of Willendorf at the Naturhistorisches museum. Getting there was definitely a misadventure – two wrong metro stops and an embarrassing fall. But I made it and saw the tiny figurine. They allow photography, so I took a few pictures. Grabbed some gelato and dinner, and back to the hotel room to begin packing for the flight home the next morning.

The flight home was also on British Airways through London. While the food was horrific on the way over, the food on the way home was terrific! Flight was uneventful other than some storm activity in Atlanta that delayed our landing by about a half hour. Home sweet home, nothing flooded or burned down!

In the end, I loved Vienna, and look forward to going back!

The 3 full days in Vienna were 8/29/16 to 8/31/16.

Next…other observations and random comments about my experiences in Vienna.

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