A month in Europe: a live trip report

Mar 26th, 2011, 08:01 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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Nice report - just a few comments--
The toilet you mention is by the Oper stop U-1 ( Opera)
by the toilet steps take you dirctly up to the Ringstrasse and of course the Opera House.

No Karl Marx - it is Karlsplatz - this at the other end of a long passage from Oper - for U-2 and U-4 -

often some drunks or druggies about - this station has its own police station to keep this under control.

The Karl Marx name is just found in a early 20th century huge apartment complex built by the government - you passed this on the right side of the Streetcar D on the way to the vineyards before Nussdorf.
The wine gardens look like sticks now as they have been severely pruned back during the winter to promote better growth and grapes for the coming year.

Most have not even begun the budding and growth process yet - this comes later in April - thus not a great look now - much nicer through summer and fall.

Most all the ceilings you saw at the Leichtenstein have been restored to their original look during a major renovation some years ago.
These not recent additions or new works .

Those in the stairwells had been covered over sometime in the past . During the renovation work , these were re discovered , restored taking a long time to do it well.
The Palace had re- opened and this pains- taking work still continued for some time by the stairs. Today you see the results of this work.
To my knowledge the restoration returned most all of them to former look.

Some times during such restoration , much research is done and also work to make the coloring as before - often using small old fragments to find the old colors.

Liechtendtein is very nice- they have sunday concerts there too for visitors.

Enjoy your time in Vienna.
molker is offline  
Mar 26th, 2011, 09:39 PM
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Day 3 - Another day as the only person in the entire city of Vienna wearing shorts.

Today’s schedule was somewhat restricted due to a couple of timed events. Had a banana and some water, headed downtown to the Hofburg complex. I had a ticket to see a performance of the Spanish Riding School at 11:00. After picking up my ticket for the performance, I went to the Imperial Apartments and Sissi Museum, which is right next door, while I waited.

I spent a little over an hour there, I could have used a little more time. It is divided into three sections, a large collection of silverware, porcelain dishes, candelabra's etc.; the Sissi Museum, which talks about the life and times of the Empress Elizabeth; and the Imperial Apartments.
A few observations:
Apparently a large part of Sissi’s job was to look good, and she took her responsibilities seriously. She would spent 2-3 hours a day having her hair set (with a tutor seated next to her, so that she could use the time productively) She also used to have her washed using a mix of Cognac and egg yolk, and had exercise equipment installed in her rooms.
For all of her efforts, a lot of the paintings don’t portray her as exceptionally beautiful, except for one. There is oval shaped painting of her with her ankle length hair down on display in Franz Joseph’s study that is remarkable.
My favorite part of the entire visit was what are known as the Bergl rooms. The walls of the two rooms are covered by a mural of a fantastic garden, filled with lots of different kinds of animals and birds. There is no furniture in either room and a lot of people just seemed to glide past the rooms without paying much attention. Their loss.

The Spanish Riding School - I had a seat on ground level (77 €), which I think is the way to go as I expect it would be hard to see the footwork of the horses from the higher seating.

This is one of those things that is worth seeing once, but not something I would feel the need to go to again if I should come back to Vienna. The horses were very pretty and well trained. The last section of the performance, with 8 horses moving in tandem, was particularly noteworthy.

From there, I headed to the Imperial Treasury. I had about an hour before I needed to move on for my next stop, and I thought that was enough time. The crown jewels were the highlight, but there were lots of other displays of excessive wealth on display.

I walked over to the Staatsoper, where I lined up for the 2:00 tour. Tours aren’t running every day, so you need to check ahead. I got there about 5 minutes before the tickets went on sale (ticket sales only start 20 minutes before the tour) and was a little worried I wouldn’t get in. As it turns, there isn’t just one tour, there are actually 7 or 8 running at the same time in a variety of languages. If you can’t see a performance here, I think it is worth doing the tour just to see the venue. From there, I went to Staatsoper Museum (included in the cost of the tour ticket, but unless you can read German, there is not really much to see there except a few costumes).

I stopped and grabbed a hot dog and then set off to do one of the printed walking tours that was in my Frommer’s guide. It had begun to rain off and on, and was definitely a fair bit cooler than yesterday (which had been sunny and warm, temperatures between 15-20 I would guess)

Main highlights from the walk:
Kapuzinerkirche - actually not the church itself, which I didn’t enter, but the Imperial Crypt beneath. This is the final resting place of 300 years of Habsburgs, the coffins vary from very basic to elaborate, with Maria Theresa’s being the most extreme. A little creepy I suppose, but I thought it was fascinating.
Dorotheum - a 400 year old auction house (the building is newer), there is no cost to go and wander around looking at the items on display. If I win a lottery, i know where I can get some antique furniture and jewellery.
I also took in some wonderful churches (St. Augustine’s, Church of the Minorities, Peterskirche), and took some pictures of the exterior of the Hofburg.

Tomorrow has only 3 activities, that will nonetheless make for a very long day: Zentralfriedhof (a large public cemetery, home to the resting place of Beethoven and Schubert among others. Kunsthistorisches museum, and a performance in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein.
glenmd is offline  
Mar 26th, 2011, 09:42 PM
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Thanks Molker for the corrections. Trying to do this on the fly does mean I don't have a lot of time for fact checking (or proofreading, obviously).
glenmd is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 05:24 AM
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I admire your meticulous (some may say "anal retentive") planning. That's the way I love to travel as well. Half the fun is in the months of planning, re-planning and then totally changing the itinerary. Invariably, I too leave behind some of my hard work and have to scramble trying to remember what I wrote down months before.

I've also had the same thought of doing trip reports as I travel, and like you have found few places with WiFi. That has been very surprising to me as I thought the Europeans would be just as technologically enslaved as we North Americans. Thank God McDonalds are on every European street corner - free WiFi. I've found that the hotels that do offer WiFi charge ridiculous rates for usage.

I am really enjoying your travelogue. I've always wanted to see the Spanish Riding School, but for over $100? I'll watch on TV. I'm not THAT fascinated.
Otzi is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 06:47 AM
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Excellent trip report. My hubby and I will be in Vienna in June so following your report with great interest.
aljo is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 10:44 AM
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Spent the morning at Zentralfriedhof. I mostly went there to see the graves of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, but ended up spending about 2 and half hours wandering the grounds. If you are in the mood for a contemplative walk, this is a good spot for it. This old Jewish section has a different feel to it, so it is worth making a point of going there.

The cemetery is still in use, so other than a few pictures of the famous composers, I took no pictures.

After grabbing a bite to eat and stopping back at the hotel to change clothes, I went to the Kunsthistorsches Museum. It is essential two separate entities: 1) one floor of Roman and Egyptian Antiquities and 2) an Art Gallery. There is a lot to take in, I spent 3 hours of so there and it was a little rushed. It is probably a reflection of how tired I was, but I enjoyed the Antiquities section more.

The evening was a performance of the Vienna Symphony in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. Beautiful venue, amazing performances by the orchestra and soloists, all round nice evening (which the exception of some idiot who spent 5 minutes playing with his cellphone halfway through the performance).

To this point in the trip, the crowds have been very manageable.

Tomorrow: Schonbrunn, Mozarthaus, and a trip to the zoo.
glenmd is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 06:14 PM
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Waiting for your report on the zoo. A friend of ours told us that whenever a dignitary from a foreign country would visit Vienna they would bring an animal that was native to their country.
michele_d is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Day 5 : “Apparently, women are big fans of Mozart.”

Set out to see Schonbrunn Palace. The audio tour, which comes with the price of admission (there are also guided tours), was fairly informative, without being too dry and long-winded. There are some exceptionally beautiful rooms, especially 2 rooms known as the Chinese cabinets. The room where Mozart gave his first performance (at the age of 6 if I recall correctly) is also visited.

While I liked the state apartments quite a bit and think they worth going to see in their own right (it is only 10 minute u-bahn ride from the city centre), it would have been better if I could have gone later. A number of things weren’t open yet - the hedge maze, the Gloriette(including a viewing terrace, though the view is fine from the outside of the building), and the gardens hadn’t yet come into season yet. I would imagine it looks lovely later in the year. It is also a runner’s paradise, lots of green space and for those looking for more challenge, there is the hill up to the Gloriette, with more than one path, so you get a choice as to how challenging you want the climb to be.

From there I headed to the zoo. For some of you, the zoo may seem like a strange choice of a way to spend half a day of my limited time in Vienna, but I had never been to one, and so it came down to here or Berlin, and my time in Berlin looks more squeezed, so I went.

I had a great time in the zoo. I have no basis for comparison, but it seemed pretty vast. Not all of the animals are in enclosures. I was walking along, minding my own business when along came a family of turkeys (well, I think they were turkeys). Not sure if are allowed to wander, or if they were escapees I watched a gibbon walk a tightrope just for the fun of it. There was a wide variety of animals and birds. Michele_d, if you had any specific questions, feel free to ask. There was no shortage of variety of animals and birds. There was a also a small aquarium section.

You can buy a combo ticket that covers the Desert House Experience and the Palm House, both of which are next to the zoo. I wasn’t necessarily all that moved by either, the Desert House was the more interesting of the two. In retrospect, I should have just spent that time in the main zoo, which I didn’t completely cover.

Heading back into the city centre, my next objective was Mozathaus. This is one of the many places Mozart lived in during his time in Vienna. This is not a fully furnished apartment, these are mostly empty rooms with the occasional artifact from Mozart’s life, together with paintings of Vienna of that time, friends and acquaintances portraits, all strung together with an audioguide. It corrects some commonly held misconceptions about Mozart’s life and death. I am a fan of Mozart’s work and enjoyed it. One thing I noticed is that there was a wide gender gap among the prople who were there, sometimes I was the only guy in a room with 6 or 7 people in it. Not that I was complaining or anything.

I stopped at Stephansdom, the magnificent Gothic cathedral in the centre of Vienna. There is some restoration work being done on the exterior, but most of the exterior is still uncovered. When I went, you could only get into the front section (there were services being performed) so I decided to come back tomorrow in the morning.

Next: One last day in Vienna, including Stephansdom, Belevedere, the Albertina, and Cafe Demel.
glenmd is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 11:05 AM
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I am really enjoying this 'live' trip report. And the photos too. Nice job.

Just a heads up, Dachau, at least for me, is a very moving experience!!

Looking forward to the next installment.


PS If you are interested, here is a link to my photos from Dachau
TRSW is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 04:36 PM
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How many hours do you think is good for the zoo? I live in California and we have two great zoos here, Los Angeles and San Diego, where you can literally spend the entire day. Just want to know how to fit it in my itinerary, as we like zoos.
michele_d is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 11:06 PM
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I'm enjoying your trip report especially as I was in Vienna in January - it was my third visit there. Im intersted to know if you find you can actually get right into the cathedral - I've tried three times now and only get as far as the first part before it is gated off - service or no service. Last time I tried again, and they only let 'locals' through for what was obviously a service going to start (but not anytime soon) - no tourists were allowed through at all - which I think is pretty jolly poor. Never mind, I did climb the stairs though as far as we were allowed to the top, and that was good for the views.
nz101 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 12:46 AM
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michele_d - You could combine visiting the Schonbrunn palace, tier garten and the zoo on the same day, they have a kinder train that takes you from the Palace to the Zoo, which is worth enjoying
Ash112 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 10:15 AM
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Day 6:
Belvedere: There are separate parts, the Upper and the Lower, divided by a large garden area. There wasn’t much to the lower Belvedere (the stables, which apparently contain the treasury, were closed by the time I reached it - it is only open from 10 to 12). The upper Belvedere on the other hand was my favorite gallery in Vienna. The top floor contains some paintings by a guy named Waldmuller (among others), that were almost photograph like in their clarity and detail. The lower two floor tended towards more modern art, which I like less in general, still there were a number of paintings I enjoyed a lot. Not a big fan of Klimt though, I must say. I spent a good 5 minutes looking at “The Kiss”, not because I was admiring it, but because I was trying to figure out what people see in it. Ok, it was actually only 1 minute, but it felt like five.

From there I went to the Abertina, stopping along the way for a hotdog. It was neat the way they served them. They just cut the end off of the bun, jam the bun down on a spike, drop condiments and the hotdog down into the hole created by the spike, and voila, lunch is served.

As for the Albertina, well, like I said, I am not a big fan of modern art. There was a whole row of Picasso’s that I looked at without even coming to a complete stop. Still, there were a few paintings who use of color I liked. There was a artist, Secnal? or something like that, who works I could stand to see again.

However, all was not lost, I eventually came to art from the second half of the 20th century, which were entertaining on a whole other level. There a was 4’ x 6’ canvas painted black. No shading, or subtlety, it looked the same way it would if you had been painting a room of your house (and were sufficiently depressed to want to paint your rooms black ) The was another consisting on 4 very slightly different shades of red. There was also one work of “Art” that consisted on two boards (which looked like they had been stolen from the discard pile of a construction site), put together to form a T, had some black and white painted splashed over it, and then taken a giant turd, and glued it roughly in the middle. My “Favorite” was a throw pillow had was hung on the wall. Nothing had been done to it, it just hung there in the same gallery with Monet.

From there I headed to Cafe Demel to have some cake. It was very tasty, but I wish I had done it earlier and then tried a few other places, to see if Demel’s reputation is justified.

I went out at night and took a few pictures, and I went and tried to catch up on my sleep.

Tomorrow, stopping in Salzburg on my way to Munich. (Also, will add a Vienna summary, time permitting.)
glenmd is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 10:25 AM
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Michel, I spent roughly 3 and a half hours there and didn't see everything (though I probably got to 80% of it). As Ash mentions, Schonnbrun is right next to it, so that will definitely an entire day.

nz101, I had to buy an audio tour (4.50 Euros) to get into the main body of the cathedral. I think is was worth it, since you can't see the main altar very well from the entrance, and there is a wooden pulpit that bears closer examination, though you can see it from the front.

Tom, I did not look at your photos ( no spoilers for me ), but I will compare to my experience afterwards, thanks!

I will try to get caught up and post a few photos tomorrow.
glenmd is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 10:28 AM
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ttt 4 later
annhig is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 10:50 AM
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For Sat and Sun, 25C max are forecasted. Perfect timing!
logos999 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 12:05 PM
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thanks for the posts, glen. your description of your walk without a map brought back my memories of doing the same thing after we'd got a bus up to the top of the Kahlenberg. we thought it would be well-signposted, but even though it wasn't, we managed to find our way - basically, we had to walk down!

When we were there, there was an exhibition of Waldmüller in the lower Belevedere, which was a revelation - to my shame, I'd never heard of him. the elderly viennese lady with whom we shared our table for coffee was amazed that we knew nothing of him. [and it was she who sent us to the top of the Kalhenberg].

looking forward to more!
annhig is offline  
Apr 1st, 2011, 09:44 AM
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Day 7 “Can man live by Pretzels alone?”

First off, a few Vienna comments:

Hotel: I stayed at Roomz Vienna. It is located near a large mall close to Gasometer station. It is a large, newish hotel, devoid of anything resembling charm. But it was cheap, clean and fairly conveniently located. It is a 3 minute walk to the U-bahn, and the U-bahn would deliver you to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the centre of the city in about 12 minutes. They have free wifi in the lobby, and you can buy access in your room( 3 Euros for 1 hours, 9 Euros for 12). The room access is not Wifi (they will provide a cable, free of charge), so I you have a need to check your banking information online, there is a little more security. One minor thing, the shower wall is made of glass, and it is not opaque in any way. Not an issue for couples, but if you are traveling with anyone who you really don’t want to see naked, some warning system is needed.
There is a restaurant in the hotel and a gym, I used neither though. They offer a breakfast, but at 15 Euros, there is no way I was going to bother with it.

High Point: The gallery in the Upper Belvedere. I loved that gallery.

Mistakes: You can buy a combo ticket to the Hofburg Treasury and the Kunsthistorsches Museum, which I overlooked. Also, the ticket to Kunsthistorsches also gets you into the Neue Kunsthistorisches, but they are closed Monday and Tuesday so by the time I realized it, it was too late.

I thought the Vienna Card was worth it. You get small discounts at most attractions (ranging from .50 to 2 Euros) They were also a bunch a coupons for discounts at restaurants and such, but I never bothered with them. (When you are eating Pretzels and Pizza on the go, discounts to food hardly seem worth looking into.) On the other hand, if your hotel is in the city centre, you probably don't need transit at all for most of the sites.

Oh, one trivial thing I did on my last day. I took a walk to Augarten, a park in the 2nd district. I went there to see an old Flak Tower from the 2nd World War. There are a few of these around Vienna. 15-20 metres tall, with walls as thick as 5 metres, it completely dominates the park. Apparently, there were attempts made to destroy them after the war, but the authorities weren’t able to bring them down. (Or more likely, they realized that at a time when a large portion of the city lay in ruins, it wasn’t worth the effort that it would take) So, there it stands, a kind of monument to war, surrounded by people out walking their dogs, runners and children playing in it’s shadow.

Anyway, I had an early train to Munich, with a 6 hours layover in Salzburg. I actually fell asleep during both legs of my trip, which bodes well for later on.

I got into Salzburg, where the train station is undergoing extensive renovations. However, the luggage lockers were still there, so I stowed my luggage and took a bus into the centre (5-7 minute ride). My only real plan for my time was to follow a self guided walk from the Rick Steve’s guide, and climb up to the fortress which overlooks the town. The Cathedral was a big contrast to the one in Vienna. Stephansdom was very much dark and brooding, whereas Salzburg’s was very bright inside, but equally beautiful. I also has a look at a museum of the history of Salzburg. It was interesting, but unless you have a big interest in religious art, you could probably skip it.

I started to climb up to the fortress (there is a funicular that you can take if you don’t want to walk, and it is definitely a climb, but by this point, you know about me and climbs, I would have walked even if the funicular was free) I got a rude awakening about halfway up. I had thought I could climb all the way up without paying to enter the fortress, but there was a ticket booth blocking access to the rest of the way up. I think there is another way to the top, however time was an issue, so I just decided to pay the 5.70 Euros and keep going. The view of Salzburg from the top is breathtaking. Since I had paid for it, I decided I time to look around part of the fortress. One part requires an escort to go through, and my schedule didn’t permit that. I thought the part I did see had enough value to be worth the time, although the fact I am having difficulty 2 days later remembering much of what I saw would suggest otherwise.

Anyway, I walked down the hill, walked through a tiny little graveyard surrounded by 3 churches and then headed to the train station on foot (only about 20 minutes). On to Munich.
glenmd is offline  
Apr 1st, 2011, 09:49 AM
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Day 8 -

Today was almost exclusively spent at the Deutsches Museum. It is a very, very large technology museum, which covers an overwhelming variety of topics. Aeronautics to textiles to mining to steel making to crystal growth to a display of 50’s technology (cars, jukebox’s and everything in between. A fair number of the exhibits have English description but not all. The section I most noticed their absence was the mining section. While touring the musical instruments section, there was a woman playing one of the pianos (with considerable skill, might I add). It is was unclear if she was supposed to be doing this, or just couldn’t resist the temptation, There was also WW1 u-boat there, intact.

I spent about 6 and a half hours there, after awhile I stopped even looking to see if there were English language descriptions and just wandered about marveling at the scope of human endeavor.

After leaving the museum, I headed North and took in a few churches: Asamkirche, St. Michael’s Frauenkirche. The only one I got much of a look inside at was St. Michael’s the other two had services either in progress or about to start.

If you buy a city map before you go, try to get one with the tram routes printed on it, they are very helpful and using the trams lets you see the city as you move around.

Tomorrow, Schloss Nymphenberg and the Residenz.
glenmd is offline  

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