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TexasAggie's TR: 16 Days in Austria, May 2008

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Sep 18th, 2008, 01:38 PM
  #1
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TexasAggie's TR: 16 Days in Austria, May 2008

Introduction:
This trip report will be much more condensed than several I have begun before... namely because I intend to finish it! ;-)

Who: Two tax accountants: Jill (28) and her husband Chris (35), married 4 years

When: May 7-24

Resources:
Fodors Austria
Rick Steves Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
Eyewitness Austria
Eyewitness Vienna
Lonely Planet Vienna
Lonely Planet Austria
Time Out Vienna

(no... we didn't bring them all with us!)

Itinerary:
4 nights Vienna
4 nights Durnstein
3 nights Hallstatt
3 nights Ehenbichl (near Reutte)
2 nights Salzburg

NOTE: I will be posting the detailed itinerary as I write the report.

Accomodations:

Vienna: Apartment Phillips
http://www.netland.at/wien/phillips/

Durnstein: Stockingerhof (also a heuriger) http://www.stockingerhof.com/

Hallstatt: Haus Sarstein
http://members.a1.net/pension.sarste...isch/index.htm

Ehenbichl: Pension Garni Waldrast http://www.waldrasttirol.com/

Salzburg: Haus am Moos http://www.ammoos.at/

NOTE: Detailed reviews on each hotel will be written into the report.

Trip PiCtUrEs!:
http://www1.snapfish.com/share/p=421...=SYE/otsi=SALB
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Sep 18th, 2008, 01:48 PM
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Jill, I'll be following your trip report diligently. Austria is one of my favorite countries, and I always enjoy reading your trip reports. Looking forward to more!

Tracy
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Sep 18th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Days 0 and 1

We used American Airlines FF miles to get from Denver to Frankfurt (with a stopover in DFW). We ended up with a 4 hour delay in Dallas, which is my hometown, so we got to enjoy some Texas-style barbecue... yum! We arrived in Frankfurt 4 hours late and only 30 minutes before our connection to Vienna on Lufthansa was scheduled to depart. I know, know, know that booking segments on different airlines is risky and always advise others against it but have to confess we had done exactly that when I came across an awesome Lufthansa sale. Lufthansa was so kind and accomodating about our delay and booked us on the next flight to Vienna without a hitch. I know we were very lucky.

The owners of our apartment, Frank and Margot Phillips, had emailed us a couple weeks before our trip that the apartment wouldn't be available until around 5pm and even with the delay, we arrived in Vienna in the early afternoon. We took the CAT (you can save 1€ per ticket by buying tickets online) into the city center (Wien-Mitte stop), bought a 13€ 3-day public transportation pass and took the U3 subway to the Westbahnhof station. There are many luggage lockers of all sizes at the station but you need to have exact change (1€ coins and 2€ coins). We locked up our luggage and took the subway to the Stephansplatz station to spend a couple hours seeing St. Stephan's cathedral and people watching in the bustling square.

St. Stephanís Cathedral, or Dom, is one immense church! Its Gothic architecture struck me as sort of hulking. Strange, because I believe Gothic architecture is intended to invoke soaring windows, sunbeams streaming through stained glass windows, high in the sky vaulted ceilings... anyway, maybe St. Stephanís is just so boxed in by the city on three sides that it feels closed in. Parts are also under scaffolding which likely didnít help. The roof is a glittering mosaic of thousands of colored tiles. On one side of the cathedral, the old Hapsburg coat of arms is tiled into the roof. Although the cathedral is open for long hours every day, there are only certain times of day that tourists are able to walk all throughout the interior. Whenever services are being held, non-participatory visitors are still able to go inside the cathedral but are confined to a gated area at the back (you can still see a lot from there though!). We slipped inside about a half hour before a service was scheduled to start so we were able to walk all throughout the interior. I believe you can pay to climb one of the towers but we didnít opt to try it.

After a half hour inside the dim, muted atmosphere of the cathedral (and after having been awake for about 30 hours), strong sunshine and strong coffee were becoming a necessity. We dropped into an outside table at the Aida Café and refueled on decadent tortes and steaming mugs of coffee smothered in generous dollops of whip cream. Here is the link to the chain of Aida Cafés: http://www.aida.at/. Vienna is deservedly famous for its "coffee café" culture and we visited several cafés over our visit, including some of the cityís oldest and most historic. But Aida, with its hokey pink and brown décor, turned out to be our consistent favorite. Of all the tortes, cakes, and strudels we devoured in Vienna, we each had a standout favorite: I LoVeD Aidaís marillentorte (apricot) and DH loved the Haselnusstorte (layered hazelnut and cream).

Indulging in a sunny, lazy afternoon at a café when one is jetlagged and sleep deprived is somewhat akin to flirting with danger... we had a terrifically hard time getting motivated to abandon our comfortable seats and start the "highlights of the city" walk I had flagged in the guidebook. We made one pass down the promenade (the wide street with the plague monument) and in a moment of weakness, found ourselves back at Aida ordering another round of dessert and coffee ;-) We did eventually make our way back to the station to retrieve our luggage and to our apartment.

A quick shower to scrub away the travel grime, a rush through the grocery store across the street to pick up supplies, and we were off to an early dinner at Figlmuller. Figlmuller is well known to tourists, tour groups, and locals and we saw a mix of everything when we were there. DH had the famously huge wienerschnitzel (quite good, a LOT of food), and I had the chicken schnitzel. Both meals came with a mixed salad. We each had a glass of Gruner Veltlinger (more on this nectar of the gods later!). I donít remember the exact prices, but most of our meals were in the 30-50€ range total and this one was no different.

We took an unintended tour of a portion of the Ringstrasse on our walk back to the apartment despite being only a few blocks away. Vienna is a lovely city at any time of day, but it is magical at sunset. We savored the images of fading sunlight on grandiose palaces and then turned in early to bed.
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Sep 18th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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"... namely because I intend to finish it! "

Trust me, that is easier said than done. Looking forward to your report.

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Sep 18th, 2008, 02:47 PM
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Wonderful start, Jill. Austria recently leapt onto my top 10 list, so I certainly look forward to more.
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Sep 18th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement all

Vienna Accomodations: Apartment Phillips

We stayed for 4 nights, a Thursday night through a Sunday night, over the Whit Sunday/Whit Monday holiday weekend. We were charged a 20€ higher price for all 4 nights of our stay, even the Thursday night. Strange since Vienna was seemingly deserted over the holiday weekend, with all the locals having left town and very few tourists about. We paid 92€ per night plus a 40€ cleaning fee at the end. We interacted primarily with Mr. Phillips via email and his wife Margit (a lovely, friendly woman) met us at the apartment to give us the keys and show us around.

The apartment is down Singerstrasse and it took us about 5 minutes to walk from St. Stephanís. There is a very reasonably priced grocery store (cheaper than Billa) across the street and we were able to buy fresh bread, milk, cheeses, meats, coffee, sweets, fruit, and yogurt for breakfasts and snacks.

Although near an intersection, the apartment was quiet Ė when the windows were shut there was no street noise. The apartment is on the first floor (in the US it is the 2nd floor) of a building and there is a small elevator. The other units donít appear to be rental units but rather permanent residents. The building is a bit scruffy from the outside but the apartment is perfectly modern.

The apartment is a studio apartment and so itís small. The pictures on the website accurately depict it. The bed is king sized which is nice but it does take up a lot of room. There is an entry hall, a small walk-in closet, a small bathroom with a TINY shower, a little bitty kitchenette, and the bedroom/dining room. There is no AC. There is a TV and radio alarm clock. Towels (kitchen and bath), dishes, silverware, pots and pans, coffee maker, toaster, microwave, 2 stovetop burners, and a small refrigerator are provided. Everything worked and the apartment was clean and comfortable. The small size of the apartment wasnít a problem for us since we were out enjoying Vienna for most of each day, but the shower is truly tiny... if you are tall or have a larger frame, it could be a problem.

Location: A+++ close to everything!

Cleanliness: A+

Value: B (seemed a bit overpriced compared to other apartments in Vienna. The owners appear to have lowered their prices since our stay so it may be a better value now).

Would we Stay Again? Yes
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Sep 18th, 2008, 04:28 PM
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Great report TexasAggie, and great pictures! This is bringing back memories of my first trip to Europe 15 years ago. Vienna was our first destination and I fell in love with it - I still think of it as one of the most romantic cities in Europe.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your report.
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Sep 18th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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Was so excited to see this, you went to all the places we have picked for next year and used the same accommodations in a couple so I will be hanging on every word.

Love the format too, easy to read. Thanks for taking the time to post.
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Sep 19th, 2008, 02:58 AM
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Help, I can't see your photo's - do I need to join before viewing them?
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Sep 19th, 2008, 04:14 AM
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TexasAggie, great start to your report! I love all the details.

I tried to cut and paste to see your pictures, but still can't see them.
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Sep 19th, 2008, 05:49 AM
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I had a problem getting ot the pictures at first too. What I had to do was copy and paste the section with the link into a word document (for whatever reason I can't copy just the link...it pulls sentences from the paragraphs above or below) and then just cut the link and put it into my address bar. When I did this the pictures came up.

Tracy
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Sep 19th, 2008, 06:39 AM
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By copying and pasting I can get to the front page that says View Jill's album but can't do anything from there.
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Sep 19th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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Maudie - I'm pretty sure you need to register with Snapfish in order to view the photos in the album.
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Sep 19th, 2008, 07:00 AM
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I did have to log in, so I think you do have to register.

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Sep 19th, 2008, 10:49 AM
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Day 2: Friday, May 9

With the best of intentions, we had the alarm set for 8am today. Ahhh, good intentions ;-) Exhausted after the long series of flights across the pond and to Vienna, we finally rolled out of bed around 10am. It turned out to be a good thing we were rested as we faced an unexpected and rather unpleasant surprise shortly after getting up. I was the first to shower and noticed that the water pressure was very inconsistentÖ it would trickle to almost nothing and then burst back with intensity. It made for an unusual showering experience but I chalked it up to plumbing in an old building. DHís experience was much worse. Halfway through his shower, the water pressure morphed into that of a firemanís hose on full blast and the water turned muddy brown and was thick with sediment and unidentifiable gunk. I doused him as much as possible with bottled water I had put in the fridge to chill (it was icy cold, poor DH!!) to clean him off. It turned out that there was work being done on the water main right outside the building. Normal water returned within 45 minutes, thankfully! We ate a small breakfast after we were both finally clean and set out for the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is high among my list of favorite art museums. I donít consider either DH or myself to be true art connoisseurs, but we both appreciate quality art and the insight it provides into history, beliefs, and culture. The antiquities collection (Egyptian, Greek, Roman) is impressive and DH loved the collections of ancient vases. All the exhibits are well organized, clearly labeled, and most have a description in both German and English. The picture galleries are located on the upper floor. The collection has several beautiful and impressive works by the Italian Renaissance greats, but I really enjoyed the work of the Flemish painters. Scenes of outdoor activities, everyday life, real looking people, festivalsÖ all in all, these paintings really made me smile.

We spent several hours in the Kunsthistorisches Museum and emerged satiated with art and culture but as hungry as wolves! It was still early for dinner, so we set off for Hoher Markt in search of the wurstelstand mentioned so often on this forum. It took us quite a while, as we wandered along quite the circuitous path through the Hofburg Complex, by the Burgtheater, along part of the RingstrasseÖ and eventually to Hoher Markt. We each had a cheese sausage in a bun with spicy mustard (kasekrainer mit brot, and I hope I spelled that right!). The cost was a bit over 6€ (I think they were 3,10€ or 3,20€ each) and the sausage was WoNdErFuL!! I am not usually a big meat eater nor a fan of heavy, greasy food but these sausages are seriously to die for.

We went on a very long walk around the city after our snack. We ambled through the Stadtpark, around the Ringstrasse, and through many of the city center streets. I loved the shades and layers of green in the Stadtpark. Colorado is dry and arid, so Iím especially drawn to the rich vegetation and foliage of wetter climates. We saw several families in the park and the small children greatly enjoyed feeding (and occasionally chasing) the ducks and other fowl. Within the city center, I found myself fascinated with the palatial architecture. Most of the buildings are quite large, yet they are largely still graceful and light and airy. Many are adorned with interesting stonework and I loved the subtle contrasts between the shades of stone used for each buildingÖ pale yellows, grays, pinks, whites, and creams. To me, the wide boulevards and beautiful buildings clearly remind that this city was once the capital of a far-stretching and sophisticated empire.

Around 11pm, we stopped back by the wurstelstand once more (it is open quite late) and DH got another kasekrainer for his dinner. I was still pretty full from the first one so I just had a light snack from our groceries in the apartment before bed.

Late Night Observations:
We happened upon Rupertskirche (one of the oldest, if not the oldest, churches in Vienna) around 10pm. Directly across the street, there is a discotek club and bar, complete with pulsing strobe lights and high decibel dance music. The lights are aimed so that the elongated shadows of those dancing in the club fall directly across the façade of the church. The image of twisting, writhing bodies magnified on the stone walls of the oldest church in town was pretty wild.

The central portion of Vienna doesnít appear to be a late night city. In Italian, Greek, and many other Mediterranean cities, the streets are full with people long after dark. They walk with their friends and families, chat outdoors at cafés, and cluster around the piazzas. In Vienna, the city center was absolutely devoid of people after about 8pm. We often walked several blocks without so much as seeing another person. We had the squares to ourselves. All the shops were closed, the cafés were closed (including our beloved Aida), and even many restaurants appeared to be closing by 9pm. Even Stephansplatz was pretty empty by 11pm. For those familiar with Vienna, was this due to the holiday weekend or is this the usual?
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Sep 19th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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I'm sorry there have been difficulties viewing the pictures! I believe you do have to register with snapfish to see them. I will try to post them on a Kodak or Picassa account next week so that you can access them without needing to set up an account

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!
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Sep 25th, 2008, 05:32 AM
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TexasAggie - Hope you had a good weekend. Oh. Your poor DH. Shower experiences on vacation can present moments of displeasure. I'm always so grateful for extremely clean baths with great (consistent) water pressure. Glad to know that was a one-time deal due to water main repairs and good water soon returned.

The rest of your day sounds lovely. I especially like your 'late night' observations. To say that you walked several blocks without seeing another person really paints a picture.

Excellent writing. Look forward to more.
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Sep 25th, 2008, 06:24 AM
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Hi dearest TexasAggie
I am enjoying this so very much.
I literally held my breath from the moment I read "4 hour delay in Dallas". So happy that worked out for you and your sweetie.
Dear poor DH and the unidentifiable gunk, good thing you were 'at the ready' with that bottled water, cold or otherwise, I am certain he was grateful. Ohhhhhh those travel experiences, you just can't make it up, can you????
Good to 'see' you Jill, I am looking forward to reading more!
your old pal, Tiff
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Sep 25th, 2008, 06:30 AM
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Keep it coming!!
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Sep 25th, 2008, 07:03 AM
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Great report, very readable.

Maybe they heard you were Aggies so arranged the mud in the shower to make you feel at home?

Sorry, it's just so hard to resist Aggie jokes. I'm actually a Southern California person so I get used to the UCLA hazing (University of Spoiled Children, University of Second Choice), of course we know it's just jealousy on their part.
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