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A week in Vienna; trip report will follow if you're interested

A week in Vienna; trip report will follow if you're interested

Old Oct 13th, 1999, 07:27 AM
wes fowler
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A week in Vienna; trip report will follow if you're interested

My wife and I took advantage of Austrian Airlines introductory service to Vienna from Atlanta and returned yesterday from a week in Vienna with a one day side trip to Budapest.
I'll have trip notes organized in a few days; in the interim if you've any questions, I'll try to provide answers.
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 08:08 AM
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Well OF COURSE we are Wes So fire away!
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 08:41 AM
Bob Brown
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I am very interested, Wes. I am planning my next trip now. And Vienna is very high on the list. So let me know about your experiences. Particularly, where did you stay and what did you see, and what did you hear (music)?
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 11:14 AM
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I would love to hear about your experiences in Vienna. It is my favorite city - I lived there a few years ago.
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 12:39 PM
wes fowler
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Austrian Airlines' offer of $350.00 round trip, Atlanta to Vienna was too good to pass up. My wife and I enveigled another couple with whom we had traveled in the past to join us on our first venture into Vienna. Ironically, I'd been tied up finalizing some itineraries and travel recommendations for some Fodorites and other prospective travelers who had contacted me directly via Email. My planning for Vienna was seriously deficient as a result, limited to a re-reading of Crankshaw's "The Fall of the House of Habsburg" and a browse through Frederic Morton's book on Vienna at the turn of the century. Armed with nothing more than the Baedeker guide to Vienna, an American Express card, our bank's ATM card and a confirmed hotel reservation, off we went.

Austrian Airlines flies the Airbus 340 with a 2-4-2 configuration in most of coach; the rear three or four rows are 2-3-2 in configuration. The layout greatly maximizes the possibility of getting an aisle or window seat. Legroom was ample, seats were comfortable, and headrests were adjustable. The flight to Europe was equipped with TV screens on chairbacks; the sets remained perpendicular when forward seats were reclined. Two meals were served, food was more than adequate; flight attendants patrolled constantly with various types of liquids.

I selected the Altwienerhof Hotel, at Herklotzgasse 6, based on its website, price and location. (Interestingly enough, the Baedeker Guide did not list the hotel, but did list the restaurant, describing it as a luxury establishment with superb winter garden and wine cellar.) The hotel's website is www.altwienerhof.at and its rooms and restaurants are as shown. The hotel is family owned and operated, as is the restaurant. All of the staff we encountered spoke excellent English. We reserved a double room, however my wife, who needs elbow room and bright lighting to transform herself into someone looking 20 years younger, conned me into upgrading to one of the suites, which our traveling companions also chose to do. The suite contained a bedroom with good-sized closet, a sitting area with couch, desk and TV, a small room with toilet, sink, mirror and bidet, large bathroom with oversized tub and separate stall shower with a number of spray jets, dual sinks, hair dryer and frankly inadequate lighting. Only the lighting at the desk and on bedside night tables was truly bright. Cost of a double room would have been 1160 shillings ($93.00) a night; the suite cost 1800 ($144.00). Breakfast, included in the price, was comprised of meats, cheeses, soft boiled eggs, breads, croissants, fruit juices and fruit preserves, cereals and coffee or tea and was served in the winter garden. The hotel made arrangements on our behalf for transportation to and from the airport.

We dined in the hotel's restaurant on our last evening in Vienna (and applied for a second mortgage on the afternoon of our return home). There is a large and varied a la carte menu, which would allow one to keep costs under control, but also a choice of a six or eight course dinner. We opted for the six course dinner comprised of a rustic pate, followed by a delicate goose liver dish, followed by an herbed fish, followed by venison or veal, followed by a variety of cheeses and then dessert. The first four courses were preceded by a variety of wines. Total cost including tip came to $110.00 per person. (I get seriously intimidated in restaurants where spoons at a place setting outnumber the diner by a ratio of 6:1. I get equally intimidated when a course requires more than one waitperson to serve it. The Altwienerhof restaurant is assuredly a bit intimidating for one who has "dined" in the Waffle Houses of the Southern U. S.)

I selected the hotel in part because of it proximity to public transportation. Busses, trams and the Ubahn were less than half a block away. Schonbrunn palace was four stops away on the Ubahn, the Westbahnhof train station one stop away, the Ubahn connected with the bus service to Grinzing. The Westbahnhof has shuttle service to the airport, but is also the terminal for trains going to Budapest, an intended day trip. I also selected the hotel, which is about a twelve-minute bus ride from the Hofburg, in order to take advantage of neighborhood restaurants and cheaper dining costs (other than our one splurge!).

One final comment regarding costs and money conversions. One of our traveling companions had secured a small amount of money from his local bank, which paid for our airport shuttle. In Vienna, we first visited a bank with an ATM where he tried his Optima, Visa and Mastercard to no avail, only to discover that the ATM only accepted Diners' Club cards. He cashed dollars and, after fees, netted 12.42 shillings to the dollar with the shilling being worth approximately .0805 cents. All of my subsequent cash withdrawals were made at ATMs recognizing "Plus" and "Honor". They averaged 12.74 shillings to the dollar or about .0785 cents. In my next posting, I'll indicate where we went, what we saw and what it cost using shillings valued at .08 cents as a benchmark. More to come.

Old Oct 13th, 1999, 12:44 PM
Ken Horn
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Wes- What did you think of Austrian Airlines? An acquaintance flew back from Zurich using them about 3 weeks ago and was not impressed-
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 01:10 PM
dan woodlief
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Looking forward to the rest, Wes. Especially enjoyed the description of the meal. Here in my neck of the woods people refer to the Waffle House as the "Awful House." I found out why when we ate at the one near our house. Do you remember the banter behind the counter on the TV show "Alice." Tame compared to this place. You got the strong feeling that none of the employees could stand one another. Looking forward to hearing your impressions of Vienna, which seems to get a lot of good and bad responses.
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 02:18 PM
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Did you had problems with the language? Or, if you do speak german, think about people like me - ignorants!, do you think we have a chance going to Vienna and not talking german a lot? Thanks in advance!
Old Oct 13th, 1999, 05:04 PM
wes fowler
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To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: "A plane is a plane is a plane". We didn't crash, were on time arriving in Vienna, late on arrival in Atlanta (I'd have been surprised if otherwise; we circled Hartsfield for over 40 minutes due to air traffic congestion). Seats were more spacious it seemed, as was leg room. Stewards and stewardesses were attentive and personable. If I were to rate it overall, I'd give Austrian Airlines a B+.

PH (Please help)
You should have little difficulty in communicating with the Viennese in English. It's a second language taught in all the schools. If you do encounter difficulty, look for a teenager to bail you out. Almost everyone connected with the tourist industry from tram and bus drivers to waiters to hotel staff to sales people have an adequate working knowledge of English. Do pick up a guidebook or language guide at your bookstore or library for three reasons: to learn the basic phrases of politeness: Good morning, please, thank you, etc.; to familiarize yourself with key words like "exit", "no smoking", entrance", "do not enter", "closed on Monday" and to familiarize yourselves with the words describing foodstuffs - a help in deciphering menus (although many are printed in English, German and Italian or can certainly be interpreted by waiters). There are certain eccentricities in Austrian German that may even throw the German Germans for a loss. The common greeting in German is "Guten Tag" (Good Day); in Austrian, its "Gruss Gott". "Goodbye" in Austrian is "Auf Wiederschauen" instead of the German "Auf wiedersehen". I speak no German other than phrases and words of politeness and had no trouble communicating at all.

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