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Multi-generational trip to Salzburg and Vienna

Multi-generational trip to Salzburg and Vienna

Old Jan 27th, 2017, 08:33 AM
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Multi-generational trip to Salzburg and Vienna

Background

With appreciation for responses I received here while planning this trip, I herewith present my report of our January trip to Salzburg and Vienna with our daughter, son-in-law and 8 year old twin granddaughters, Maija and Anna. I am Tutu (a grandmother name given to me after their other grandma picked gramma) and my husband Val is Dodo (the grandfather name I insisted he be given if I was to be Tutu.)

This is the second European trip we’ve taken with my daughter’s family, the first being a year ago to Garmisch PartenKirchen. The girls started life in Minnesota and moved to Orlando 2 years ago, so returning to a snowy destination is a big hit with them. I also think that Germany and Austria are quite kid-friendly and Vienna has always been one of our favorite destinations, so making it our second trip with the girls was pretty much a no brainer.

I’ll try to keep this short and give highlights emphasizing some of the things we found particularly good for kids since that was the purpose of the trip. I hope it provides some useful info for parents or grandparents taking children to the area.

Salzburg

Lodging

We split our group up for lodging in Salzburg, with the parents getting a few days to themselves staying at the Hotel Castellani, a ways away from the main part of town. Daughter liked it primarily for its workout facilities but overall it’s a good modern hotel at very reasonable rates. We stayed with the girls in the Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt right in the main part of old town. The room could not have been better for our purposes. It was actually two rooms with an interior adjoining door such that it became a two bedroom suite. It had two bathrooms, and two entry rooms besides two large bedrooms, one with a pull out couch and chairs in a sort of living room area. It was really spacious and really nice. The bathrooms had lovely fittings and there was plenty of closet space. As an older hotel, it also had an old-world charm that we enjoyed. Best of all, it too was very reasonably priced for what all it provided. I can’t recommend this place highly enough for anyone with children.

Sightseeing Highlights

We did it! The Sound of Music Tour that is. I’ve seen this mentioned here countless times and we’ve always avoided it, but after giving the girls the DVD which they’d watched often in preparation for the trip, we simply had to do it. It was a big hit! We went with Panorama Tours and had Bob as our guide. He is from Florida and a great tour guide. Gave us all the skinny on where things were filmed, what was true and what was not in the movie, and directed the singing on the bus as we moved from place to place. As we went through the “hills that were alive with the sound of music” to get to and from Mondsee church where the wedding was filmed we experienced a perfect snowstorm that made the whole thing come alive as we sat cozily in the bus singing Do, Re, Mi. A must do, especially with kids.

Hohensalzburg fortress on the other hand was not such a big hit. It was cold, tough for Tutu and Dodo to walk to, and fairly closed up. Maija (who saw Neuschwanstein on our previous trip) called it “not pretty.” OTOH the girls loved the opportunity to ride their saucer sleds in the courtyard below the fortress funicular on the giant pile of snow that had accumulated in the middle of the courtyard from plowing the area. Sometimes kids like stuff that’s not quite “in the guidebooks.”

We further satisfied the girls’ enchantment with snow by taking everyone to lunch one day at Romantik Hotel Gmachl in nearby Elixhausen, a small town about 6 or 7 miles away from downtown Salzburg. We’d dined at the hotel before and liked it and decided to treat everyone to a nice lunch there. The place is delightful and had lots of snow on its grounds so the girls got to play while the adults had drinks by the fire. A great relaxing/fun day all the way around.

Dining

Nordsee—I’m a big fan of this seafood chain. There is one on Getreidegasse in the middle of downtown Salzburg. It’s fast and good but not particularly inexpensive.

Alstadt Hotel Café—This place right in our hotel had great strudel and the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever eaten, also good hot chocolate with whipped cream, the childrens’ drink of the trip. It proved a nice alternative to the hotel’s pricey buffet breakfast and a good place to gather our group at the beginning and end of the day.

K&K—A two story place on Mozart Platz, with a “nice” restaurant upstairs and a bistro downstairs. The downstairs venue was perfect for our multi-generational group. It had good Austrian standards at reasonable prices in a typical “wood covered” room but with table cloths to make things just a bit dressed up.

Sternbrau—This is a new complex just off Getreidegasse that the Stern brewery has put lots of money into. It feels like a little, modern, glass and wood village with several restaurants and the wood huts used for the Christmas market all together in a walkaround area. We ate one meal at the La Stella Italian restaurant—good choices for the kids and good food for the adults. We also ate another meal in one of two or three areas of the main Sternbrau restaurant. It was a letdown with poor service but I think it was a bad night. The rooms are quite nice, the prices very reasonable and there is a separate playroom for kids. I especially liked the large, open main room where they serve drinks and small plates for a stop during the day where adults can relax a bit while the kids play.

Gmachl—I already mentioned this above under sightseeing but it definitely deserves respect for its food, décor and service. A lovely example of a little Austrian Inn brought up to modern standards while still preserving tradition. Great place.

Vienna

Lodging

Our son-in-law stepped up to the plate on this one. He travels a lot and has lots of Starwood points which got him a great two bedroom suite at the Vienna Le Meridian just off the Ring a block or so from the Opera House for the family. It is a modern hotel that could be found in any city with no real attachment to Vienna that I could see, but lovely with lots of green plants everywhere in the breakfast room area, a wonderful bar/restaurant that serves a terrific Aperol spritz (the adult drink of the trip), and very nice rooms.

Tutu and Dodo stayed a ways away just off the Graben at Hotel Wandl behind Peterskirche. We’d stayed here before and liked it a lot—nice family-owned place with good standards and lovely public rooms. We booked one of their smallest rooms, which proved too small so on any future trips we’ll return to booking their larger rooms. It’s worth it.

Sightseeing

Vienna is bigger than Salzburg with more to see, but as a bigger city, it also has fewer places to “play” than smaller Salzburg or Garmisch. Here’s where we went:

Stephensdom and the Graben, and a favorite of mine the Freyung passage. The latter (which wasn’t a hit with the girls) taught me a good lesson. It’s hard to plan trips for multi-generations to be sure that everyone is happy. It’s harder yet when you plan something because you think the ones you’re planning for will love it as much as you do—and disappointing when they don’t. You just have to recognize that that will happen, suck it up and go on. The reward is the great feeling you get when they do love something as much as you do and you experience that wonderful feeling of common understanding with someone you love.

Naschmarkt—another favorite of mine which the girls seemed to like pretty well, especially after we created and played the Sisi game—seeing how many pictures of Empress Elizabth (Sisi) we could count. Since she’s everywhere, from statues, to postcards, to candy wrappers—sort of like Mozart is in Salaburg--this occupied a lot of our time and made for some fun competition.

Karlskirche and the Musikverein—the latter occupied 45 minutes of our time on a somewhat boring tour that I booked because the girls had seen the concert hall on the Julie Andrews’ New Year’s Day concert. Actually the girls were very good and attentive (our daughter said it’s the kind of thing they are used to in school) though the lecture was boring and caused Dodo to nearly blow his cool.
Belvedere Palace and grounds—another favorite of mine where I was half rewarded, one of the girls enjoyed the Klimts as much or more than I do, while the other sat in the entry with her tired Dodo and worked on her travel journal.

Hofburg, Heldenplatz, University, Rathaus and Votivekirche—all beautiful buildings, but kids aren’t as impressed with buildings as adults are at least not in my limited experience.

Schoenbrunn –this, however, really did impress the girls. They loved being able to walk the apartments and control their own audio guides to get as much or as little info as they wanted rather than being forced to listen to whatever someone chose to spend time telling them. Anna even broke into a spontaneous box step waltz as she listened to Strauss in Sisi’s ballroom—one of my two favorite moments of the entire trip. The also enjoyed a visit to the Schoenbrunn Zoo, especially the polar bear exhibit and the penguins—both of which were hits with the adults as well.

Dining

Yumi—is a tiny Asian place in Naschmarkt that we were glad we chose. All 6 of us were able to easily find something to please us and all 6 of us were very happy with our choices.

Brandauer’s Schlossbrau—is a big barn of a beer hall in the suburb of Heitzing practically across the street from the Zoo exit/entrance to the Schoenbrunn Gardens. They feature a very inexpensive buffet lunch which had something for everyone, including ribs for the girls—a step up in their culinary choices over what they would eat last year.

Café Landtmann—provided a contrast to Brandauer’s in being quite chi-chi and adult but it showed the girls a nice café atmosphere with Viennese class which they seemed to appreciate.

Augustinerkeller—worked great for our dinner one night. Lots of choices for everyone and a gemutlikeit atmosphere to keep things lively—and still not disturb other guests.

Meinl am Graben—this was one I’d been debating about since it is quite a pricey place with some very grown up grown ups in suit coats, etc. but it was our last night together and I thought we should splurge and hope for the best. By this time Dad had figured out a pretty fail safe order for the girls—soup with dumplings and a plate of vegetables. Although service was slow, trying their patience, both did fine with the food and the pacing and Maija earned her gourmet credentials by wolfing down 6 very raw oysters—my second most prized moment of the trip, seeing that we seem to have successfully passed on a love of good food which we will continue to cultivate on future trips.

Dodo and I hung around a day after the rest of the family left. I planned it that way knowing I’d get a bit distraught having to curtail our dining choices, so we made the most of it on our final day going to:

Shiki—a terrific, new Japanese place off Kartnerstrasse with beautiful, serene, understated décor and beautiful food to match. Dodo (by now back to being Val) was ecstatic about his spectacular plate of mushrooms and sashimi. I was bemused by my opportunity to experience the Japanese Toto toilets with heated seats in the restroom. Prices were reasonable for the very special food and treatment.

Ef16—on Fleishmarkt street is a long- time favorite of ours and they didn’t disappoint. The entire place is candle lit and service is very caring. I requested a special table in my Open Table reservation which they honored. I had calamari with lime and shaved fennel followed by 2 large and perfect pieces of crispy sea bass. Val had beef tartar and then shrimp with linquini, parm and basil and declared both excellent. We look forward to returning.

So that’s the short version. We did better on this trip than our previous one having learned some lessons from it. We didn’t get to go to several of the things we’d planned—a concert, a heuriger, some restaurants and sights I’d picked out—but we kept our pace reasonable, didn’t tire anyone out, gave people down time to process (and write in journals for school), and generally enjoyed not only the trip but each other. I’d call it a success. Happy to answer any questions or give advice based on my limited experience with multi-generational travel. For certain, I recommend it. And I thank those of you who provided me advice and guidance as I planned.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2017, 08:42 AM
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Haven't finished it yet. Will you be posting a link to photos, I think yours are always interesting.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2017, 08:45 AM
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Thanks!

Always interested in hearing about places to visit and eat in Austria.
elberko is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2017, 09:11 AM
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Thanks Cathinjoetown, but sorry, I don't have pictures. Actually I have them but I can no longer get my Picasa program to post large groups of pix and I can't make myself learn another program to do it. Sigh......
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Old Jan 27th, 2017, 11:35 AM
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marking for further digestion - from such a great source!

Cheers!
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jan 28th, 2017, 12:37 PM
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Thanks! I stayed at Le Meridien years ago and didn't have a good experience, but I'm glad your family enjoyed it.
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Old Jan 28th, 2017, 01:55 PM
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Great report; sounds like a wonderful time for all!
grandmere is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2017, 06:37 AM
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Thank You for all the suggestions. We are going to Salzburg for one day in September. We will come from Vienna by train, and it is primarily to do The Sound of Music tour. I have wanted to do this for years. We were looking at Bob's Tours because it is supposed to be a smaller group but now will give Panorama another look. Do you think it mattered that much with a bigger bus??

I'm very interested in your hotel suggestion. I didn't know where to start but the Radisson sounds like it might work well. With only one day, it might be good to be in the middle of old town. The restaurant suggestion of the cafe in the hotel sounds great too. yum to the best scrambled eggs ever!!

Thank you for writing such a good report, it is chock full of information.
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Old Feb 11th, 2017, 10:59 PM
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We enjoyed our SOM tour with Bob's Special Tours particularly because of the small size (there were just 4 of us in the van). There was no queuing for photo-ops at the popular places; overall it was a pleasant, intimate outing.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 09:44 AM
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barbrn, sorry I haven't checked this thread for a while and so only now saw your post. I know that folks rave about Bob's Tours, but we did not find the larger bus a problem. In fact, though I'd thought I'd hate it, the larger bus made for more voices singing along with the tape as we drove from place to place. We also didn't experience any problems getting pictures at our stops even with a nearly full bus. What's likely to create problems in that respect is more likely arriving when there are several buses at peak tourist times.

It's my understanding that there was some kind of 40th Anniversary tv program about Sound of Music and the Panorama Tours--in fact our guide, Bob, himself--was featured in it. I'm sure there are several guides who do the tours, but we thought ours was quite wonderful. You might want to ask for him if you can.

Glad you enjoyed the report and that it gave you some useful info your upcoming visit. Enjoy!
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