Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

The sore foot tour - Budapest, Austria, Venice

The sore foot tour - Budapest, Austria, Venice

Dec 27th, 2007, 01:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
The sore foot tour - Budapest, Austria, Venice

Warning � I tend to write long � let me know if I�m including too much detail!

Back in February, my 2007 trip planning was rudely interrupted by a car accident (totally not my fault) and I was grounded by a broken ankle. It took months of recovery and physical therapy before I could think of traveling, and then only cautiously. I thought of the trip I was planning as a test - would my ankle hold up well enough for me to reasonably consider Central Asia for next year?

I decided to take things slowly, relying as usual on trains and public transport, but staying in European cities and not doing anything very energetic. My itinerary looked like this:
Revisit Budapest (6 nights), revisit Vienna (6), Graz (3), Kufstein (2), revisit Innsbruck (5), first real visit to Venice (6), leaving the U.S. October 15th - I didn't want to get to Venice until the hotel rates came down on Nov. 5th.

After due diligence on the net, I bought tickets on American for RDU-LGW (I wanted the miles) connecting to British Airways for LHR-BUD for essentially no more money, and flying VCE-LGW on Easyjet for one night in London on the way home. I printed off my packing list, dug out my luggage, bought gloves and a warmer coat, and started getting excited.

After falling in Switzerland in 2005 (broken wrist that time!), I followed my chiropractor�s advice and bought over-the-ankle hiking boots for my 2006 trip to Greece and Eastern Europe. Even though I planned no equivalent of the 15 km hike down the Samaria Gorge this time, I took the boots, and a new pair of black flats for evening � I figured it would be too cold to wear sandals for dinner - but I left my hiking stick at home.

Oct 15-16 - Actually Getting There

I had seven hours to get from Gatwick to Heathrow, ample time, I thought, for plane delays, M25 traffic jams, security lines and a cholesterol-laden British breakfast. I reached the gate at RDU early, but then the departure time on the monitors changed from 18:35 to 20:00. What??? When the gate agents showed up they announced that the inbound plane had landed with a smoking engine and would need a valve replaced.

I have to give credit to American for how they handled this. The gate agents kept us informed, helped with rebooking, and handed out meal vouchers. One, saying I needed a minimum of four hours for the transfer to Heathrow, booked me on a flight leaving Gatwick at 18:30 as a backup (bear this in mind next time an agent insists you can make that connection in two or three hours!).

I hope that when renovations at RDU are complete the restaurant selection will improve. I will say only that my chicken taco gave me indigestion. A ridiculously expensive glass of wine in the bar went down better, helped by a chat with a couple headed to Croatia.

The flight did actually take off at 20:00. With many people making other arrangements, I had an aisle as well as a window seat, and managed some sleep, even in cattle class. Since we landed exactly at 10:00 I decided to try for the 14:00 Heathrow flight, instead of taking a nap in the new
Yotel and flying out of Gatwick.

By 10:50 I was on a coach leaving Gatwick (using my UK passport got me a faster immigration line), and by 12:00 I was checking in at Terminal 1. I noticed that while security at RDU had been interested in my shoes but not my liquids, here it was the other way round. Breakfast at LHR was not as good as that at Gatwick South, and the flight also left late, although it landed only 10 minutes behind schedule.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 01:56 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
I found Budapest's airport small but efficient, with an ATM beside the luggage carousels. (I was still using my Wachovia bank account, despite its 1% foreign conversion fee, but carried a brand-new Capital One Visa card, with no conversion fee and 1% cash back.) However, I had to wait quite a while to ride the Airport Shuttle

The first time I visited Budapest I stayed in a sobe, a good-sized room in an apartment overlooking Andrassy ut, but for this trip I wanted more privacy. I still wanted to stay in Pest (on the east bank of the Danube), livelier and with more restaurants than Buda (on the west bank) and when the Leo Panzio didn't answer my emails I chose the more central City Hotel Matyas over the Radio Inn.

Cheaper than a taxi, the shuttle would still deliver me to my hotel, but gave me a more exciting ride than I expected. The driver seemed to think he was in a sports coupe, not a van, and the local sitting next to me told me all about the riots that had erupted in 2006 on the anniversary of the 1956 uprising. I confess it was chance, not planning, that had scheduled my departure to Vienna for Oct. 22nd, the day before. I asked the local and his wife about downtown restaurants, only to be told that they were all too expensive. Aside, perhaps, from those in the market hall.

Fodors lists the Matyas, but I'm not sure why. I had booked through Ibusz, which got me a discount from the rack rate, but even at 72 euros/night I thought it overpriced. My single was spartan, although it did have plenty of storage space and hot water. Things that were broken, like my TV remote and their Internet connection, remained broken.

It was already dinner time, so I ate in the hotel's tourist-trap restaurant: stained glass ceiling, "medieval" wall paintings, heavy wood, and a small group of musicians in fancy costumes. Blackberry soup - excellent, but overlarge dollop of cream. Trout - a bit salty and dry. Parsley potatoes - way undercooked. House red wine - forgettable. I collapsed into bed at 22:00, only to wake at midnight and turn the AC on!
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 01:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Oct 17 - Pest

Breakfast at the Matyas didn't improve my opinion of the place - watered orange juice and weak coffee. I was soon walking north past the Marriott, admiring the views of Castle Hill across the Danube. After picking up a transport pass, and failing to find the T.I., I stopped for coffee at the Cafe Gerbeaud, highly recommended in all the guidebooks. I disagree. The toilets were fine, but a small cup of coffee cost twice as much as a large cup at other coffee houses, and the ambiance wasnt twice as good.

After tracking down a travel agency to buy my onward train ticket, I took the metro over to the West End mall. Not a place Id usually visit, but for a second time I had managed to bring the wrong adapter plug (blush). I found the Media Mart at the far end, past loads of shoe and dress shops, and bought a remarkably pricey universal adapter plug. (The same error last year, rectified in Thessaloniki, was less expensive.)

I passed up TGIF (Level 1) and the Leroy Cafe (sushi, Level 2), for the Karma Cafe on Level 3 (www.karmabudapest.com). Sour cherry juice - good. Duck breast - dry. Quince in wine sauce - delicious. Potato scones - fine. After enjoying the decor (fake Turkish) and the bonsai window boxes, I checked out the local fashions - jeans, leather, blacks, and browns. Long straight hair seemed popular, and the painfully pointed high-heeled shoes ubiquitous in 2004 had mostly been replaced by more practical footwear.

I took advantage of the sunny day to visit Heroes Square and the City Park. I'm a fan of Art Nouveau and I wanted to see the elephant house at the zoo. I can't recommend the zoo itself - the buildings and sculptures were fine, but I felt too sorry for the animals, stuck in 19th century quarters. I preferred the buildings along Andrassy ut, still in multiple stages of (dis)repair. I saw one for sale, one just converted to luxury apartments, one being readied for conversion - a good time to buy?

By now I had been on my feet most of the day, and while my ankle was happy the soles of my feet were complaining. So I stopped to cool off and rest up at Menza on Liszt Ferenc. Rather bizarre decor but good coffee.

With unhappy feet I stayed close to "home" for dinner, revisiting the Central Kafehaz I had enjoyed on my first visit. I loved the atmosphere - old wooden floors, very high ceilings, elaborate rosettes supporting the chandeliers, huge windows separated by mirrors and decorated panels, comfortable green leather banquettes, marble-topped tables, elegant bud vases. House red wine - not quite rich enough for the meal, but definitely drinkable. Pork with wild mushrooms and fried potatoes - quite good. (Stay tuned for a later bad experience with a rip-off waiter.)
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 02:04 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Oct 18 - Museums

Today I took Fodors advice, walking across the Chain Bridge to reach Buda, and then riding the charming little funicular up the hill. Despite the haze, the views were indeed worth the exercise. However, I found the Museum of Art closed for the day.

At the Historical Museum I appreciated the Pre-history to Romans section on the top floor, with good English labels, but the sequence in the medieval section was hard to follow. Further along the hill I found the outside of St. Matyas church covered in scaffolding, but loved the lavish interior painting.

Back outside I decided to escape the tourist hordes and the strong wind, retreating by bus and metro to Pest and the Govinda restaurant, recommended by a poster on fodors.com. Unfortunately, I wasnt impressed with the food edible but unexciting and was rather taken aback by a young couple engaged in a lengthy PDA.

Finding that I really did need a ticket ahead of time to visit the Parliament building, I chose instead to visit the Ethnographical Museum right opposite, where the ground floor was full of fascinating photos from the World Press Photo 07 exhibition. The permanent exhibition reminded me a little of Ukraine, although nothing matched the Hutzul woodwork I admired there last year.

Since my feet were once again complaining, I stopped off at the Central Kafehaz for coffee and cake. This time my waiter handed me a hand-written bill on a scrap of paper, instead of machine-written one, and I only realized after I left that he had overcharged me. While I love the coffeehouse, I can only recommend eating there if you pay close attention to the bill!

For dinner I took the metro to the Soul Café (www.soulcafe.hu) on popular Raday ut. So-so raspberry soup was decorated with excellent lemon sorbet balls, but the chicken in yoghurt sauce with mushy jasmine rice disappointed except for some welcome green beans. The German man at the next table had just returned from a business trip to Serbia, about which he found nothing good to say.

Oct 19 Wintry weather

Cold enough today that I dug out my ear muffs for the walk to the Jewish quarter. I had admired the Dohány Street Synagogue so much on my previous trip I wanted to see it again, and the interior was just as lavish as I remembered. I much preferred it to St. Stephens Cathedral, which although well-provided with marble, gilding and tourists, I found rather gloomy the light from the cupola fell on the middle of the aisle, rather than on the high altar. I also revisited a favorite lunch spot, Duran (www.freeweb.hu/duran/rendeles.html) for three luscious open-faced sandwiches caviar, smoked salmon, mushrooms, yumm!

Back on the Buda side, I tried to ignore the complaints from my feet, and took Fodors recommended walk along the back side of the hill, enjoying some sun, but finding the views not especially photogenic. The view from the Korona coffee shop was better. The Art Museum was open this afternoon, but also disappointed the altar pieces may be High Gothic, but not, I think, high art. What did not disappoint (along with a glass of wine in the Hiltons subterranean wine bar) was the evening light the views from the Fishermans Bastion were extraordinary. No-one seemed to be charging for access, either.

By dinner time the temperatures had dropped so much I shivered in my warmest clothes, even on the short walk from the tram stop to Salaam Bombay (www.salaambombay.hu/body_eng.swf). (The Matyas is very close to a stop for the tram that runs along the riverfront.) Again, I wasnt particularly impressed by the Indian food very good pulao rice, good lassi and chutney, but the Murghai chicken was sweet rather than spicy, and the pappadums turned soggy under their load of tomato and onion. I should wait until London for Indian food
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 02:21 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 8,379
Oh that's splendid; no such thing as *too much detail* in a trip report!

Looking forward to the rest.
Fidel is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,701
I'm also enjoying your trip report - mostly because I'm in the process of planning a trip for next summer which will include Budapest and Vienna - and because I am at the moment in somewhat bad physical shape - so your title "sore foot tour" really grabbed me. I usually walk a minimum of 8-10 miles a day in European cities, and climb every tower, lookout, etc that I can find. But at the moment I have a pinched nerve making walking difficult and stair climbing extremely difficult. So I am very interested in your take on how easy it is to enjoy these cities while keeping walking to a reasonaable amount. Were there lots of stair? Did you find alot of places had escalators or elevators? Any tips in the "walking wounded" department will be very much appreciated. (Although I certainly hope to be better way before next summer, but I'm going anyway so would rather be prepared.)
isabel is offline  
Dec 27th, 2007, 04:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Thanks Fermi! Next installment tomorrow, I hope.

Isabella - basically, I limped, very slowly, a lot! I'm usually one of the fastest walkers, but on this trip I wound up being overtaken by little old ladies with canes. I did make a lot of use of public transport - I suppose I could have used taxis too. Discussing it with my chiropractor when I got back, we concluded I needed more padding underfoot - although my ankle was playing up for the last part of the trip, too.

Stairs - you should make sure your hotel has an elevator. The Matyas in Budapest did not, but I wouldn't recommend it anyway. The Pension Nossek, where I stayed in Vienna, was extremely central, and had an elevator, but you might do better to stay closer to a metro or tram stop. Otherwise, I don't remember a lot of stairs - just getting down to the wine bar in the Budapest Hilton, and most of the museums.

Note that just standing can also be a problem - my feet hurt much worse after I stood for over an hour to watch the Lipizzaners in Vienna.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 10:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Oct 20 - Godollo

During my first trip to Budapest I did the river trip to Szentendre (verdict: boring stretch of river, very pretty town but overrun with tourists), so this time I decided to go inland, to the palace at Godollo. But first I visited the Market Hall. Im a fan of markets, and found this one, in a big iron and glass building, with meat and veg downstairs and souvenirs upstairs, crowded but worthwhile. And downstairs at the back I found what looked like temporary stalls, offering several different kinds of mushrooms. They all smelt wonderful. Nearby wall cases showed which kinds were safe and which not!

Following Fodors directions, I took the metro to the end of the M3 line at Ors Vezer ter. I found the subway to the HEV station quite easily, but I didnt find anywhere to buy a ticket for the suburban train. I boarded the waiting train with my fingers crossed, and luckily no inspectors showed up. However, shortly after a crowd of school kids boarded we stopped at a station, an announcement came over the P.A., and everyone got off. Turned out we had to take a seriously overcrowded bus the rest of the way to Godollo.

As Im not a fan of baroque, and as the Godollo palace is definitely baroque, I had been more interested in the trip through the countryside than the palace itself, but I quite enjoyed it anyway. particularly the gowns belonging to Sisi (Empress Elizabeth, the Austro-Hungarian Princess Di) and a big chapel with a glass-enclosed viewing gallery. However, only coffee and cake were available for hungry visitors no lunch.

The helpful woman in the T.I. booth at the palace told me I could walk into town and catch a regular train back to Budapest. Since I was limping rather slowly at this point, the 1 km took longer than the advertised ten minutes, but I enjoyed the quiet, almost rural, back streets. The regular train, unlike the HEV, was pretty decrepit, but I was able to check out the distance from the platforms to the metro at Keleti station, and realized I would need a taxi the day I left.

I lunched at Duran again cant pass up a chance at cheap caviar and smoked salmon before tackling the Fine Arts Museum at Heroes Square. I started at the top - lots of stairs and no elevator dedicated to painters youve never heard of who were active at the same time as painters you have heard of. But the next floor offered several interesting Breughels and an arresting study of a head by Raphael.

Still looking for a replacement for the Central Kavehaz, I tried the Duncarlo, on the riverfront near the Marriott. I loved the view across to Buda, and braziers helped somewhat with the cold (I sat outside), but I wouldnt think of eating there.

I tried to get my hotel to make me a dinner reservation (this was a Saturday) at the Biboros, also on the riverfront, but they couldnt get through on the phone. I found no trace of the restaurant at the address in Fodors, but I did have a choice of Greek or Italian nearby. (I see that the website guide still lists this restaurant, even though I gave feedback that it has closed.) I picked the Trattoria Toscana, and since I had arrived very early the friendly staff gave me a choice of two tables, provided I left in either one or two hours. I opted for the two hour table, and then watched several other hopeful diners turned away.

Good choice! Thick, porcini mushroom soup was followed by duck breast in a wine and berry sauce with tasty, well-drained sautéed spinach, and accompanied by a glass of a good house wine. With the bill came a choice of complimentary grappa or limoncello. Ironically, this was my first taste of limoncello, and I immediately fell in love with it.

I finished a good day at the Spoon Café. Last time I had taken, and much enjoyed, the evening boat ride on the Danube: this time I settled for a boat moored to the bank. No seats outside at this time of year, but the view from inside wasnt bad.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 11:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Oct 21 Gods? Goths? Oh Guards

In the past, my feet have complained at the beginning of a trip, but when they realized I wasnt going to pay attention, they settled down and performed. This time, theyre still hurting, and I started thinking about slowing down, although Im not sure that revisiting the Applied Arts Museum really counts.

I actually prefer arts and crafts museums (think V&A) to fine arts (think National Gallery), and Budapest has a good one (www.imm.hu/angol/index.html). This time I enjoyed a display of treasures from the Esterhazy collection (tinyurl.com/359n4h), including elaborate metalwork, a millennial exhibition with some nice Art Nouveau pieces, a truly wonderful display of Galle and Tiffany glass, and a roomful of oriental rugs. And a ham and cheese sandwich in the ground-floor café.

A visit to the Gyorgy Rath Asian museum was less successful good thing it was free. I headed back to Andrassy ut, thinking of visiting the other Asian museum, Ferenc Hopp, to find the road filled with men in black vests and red and white neckerchiefs, drawn up in military formation behind big red and white flags. I asked a nearby man who these were. The answer sounded like Hungarian Gods. Or perhaps Hungarian Goths.

I tried another spectator, and learned they were actually the Hungarian National Guard, and that the U.S. and the Western press and CNN all misrepresented them I edged away from the lecture and started taking photos of the Guard and of journalists taking their own, posed, photos. I walked up to Heroes Square, to find a big crowd and more flags. I decided that there would either be a lot of speeches I wouldnt understand, or some form of mayhem Id prefer to avoid. Back on the metro, headed south, I saw more trains than usual headed north, packed with burly men in khaki.

I retreated across the river to the House of Hungarian Wines (www.magyarborokhaza.hu/index.php?selectlang=EN). Two hours and 22 wines to taste at your own speed. What fun! Aside from a couple of dessert wines I cant say I found any wines I particularly wanted to buy, but I certainly enjoyed tasting them, and despite using the spit buckets almost all the time I still got a buzz. Not as big a one as the young Australians I met part way round, of course! We shared travel stories, and found that while I had loved Slovakia (visiting in June); they had hated it (all shut down off-season).

For my last meal in Budapest I finally ate goulash soup at the Café Vian (www.cafevian.com/en%20menuoldal.html) on Liszt Ferenc. The soup was recommendable, but the goose liver pate was to die for. I went back to the Matyas to pack, happy with my second visit to Budapest.

Note: Some things from my first visit that I can recommend the House of Terror, the Opera House, the evening Danube river cruise, eating in the Jewish quarter.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 05:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Anyone else reading this? Or should I be planning the next trip instead?
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,186
I'm reading and anjoying your report. I think the holidays mean that many posters aren't online. Keep it coming.
ellenem is online now  
Dec 29th, 2007, 06:42 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 22,021
I am reading it! And enjoying it..you have a great sense of humor..please keep going with much detail!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 08:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Thanks, Ill keep going.

Oct 22 On to Vienna

My taxi (arranged by the hotel) was waiting for me at 8:30. Although it dropped me near the front entrance to Keleti station, I still spent five minutes limping down the platform to reach my compartment. The second class EC seats were clean and comfortable, with plenty of leg room, and I boarded early enough I found room for my convertible backpack on the floor between two pairs of seats.

Although Hungary has joined Schengen, border guards for both countries came through the train after Gyor. The countryside looked wintry, the fields fallow, and the last of the autumn leaves hanging from the trees. I also noticed wind turbines on both sides of the border.

I recognized Westbahnhof from previous visits, and crossed the road to the Ubahn station where I bought my transport pass (using my Visa card in a machine). In Budapest, despite warnings in the guidebooks and on the boards, I saw ticket inspectors only at the entrances to stations on the M1 line, but here an inspector boarded my very first train.

My first visit to Vienna I stayed out near the Westbahnhof, but this time I decided to spend (a little) more money to stay right in the center. I reluctantly passed up the Hotel am Stephansplatz (www.hotelamstephansplatz.at/en/home/index.html), as the prices have gone up since its renovation, and picked instead the Pension Nossek (www.pension-nossek.at). I turned down the offer of a large en-suite room with view of the Graben at 90+ euros/night, instead taking a small single with shower and sink, but toilet down the hall, at 60 euros. Over six nights the savings added up, and while the single was short on storage space it came with a comfy chair and a luxurious bathrobe.

I ate lunch (creamy vegetable soup) in what would become my favorite Viennese café, the Griensteidl, just down the street on Michaelerplatz. Reading the (free) International Herald Tribune and drinking (poor) cappuccino I felt happy to be back in Vienna, although my feet were still complaining.

Back outside I shivered in a chilly wind, and after finding a bookstore with English-language novels, getting a map and list of events from the T.I., and failing to find the Internet café recommended by the pension, I retreated to the comfortable chair in my room.

I spent some time with my restaurant lists picking a nearby place for dinner, but was disappointed with Kerns Beisl (recommended by Eyewitness). I approved of the chestnut soup, but the suckling pig was just roast pork, and the dumpling, potato and cabbage uninspiring. The place was full of tourists, too.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,701
Thanks for keeping going, I'm definitly reading and enjoying.

The hotel in Vienna - when you say toilet down the hall, do you recall how many rooms shared it?, was it clean? did you need to wait for it often? I also ususally go with ensuite, but have lately tried the shared toilet route and been happy. Any other hotel details? I'm putting it on my list.
isabel is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 09:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
isabel - if anyone else was sharing the toilet, it was only one person (based on the room map on my wall). I never had to wait, and I never saw anyone else when I walked down the hall to use it either. More hotel info in the next post.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 09:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Oct 23 Vienna

Breakfast at the Nossek was a considerable improvement over the Matyas, except that OJ cost an extra €2.50. Outside, rain had been added to the cold and wind, and I limped as fast as I could back to Michaelerplatz to see the Lippizaner (www.srs.at/index.php?id=265 ) rehearsal.

Fortunately, I asked whether the line I found was to buy tickets, and was sent inside for one. Unfortunately, I didnt get a seat. Normally I would have been fine standing against a column at one end, but this seemed to be the final straw for my feet. Instead of the soles, both the arches and my supposedly-healed broken ankle now hurt. It felt like both feet were trying to break in half.

Dont believe the guidebooks that tell you the rehearsal is a good substitute for a Lippizaner performance. If I hadnt been a horse fan (I used to ride regularly as a teenager), Id have been bored after the first half hour. Each rider just takes his horse through the paces he thinks need practice. And the horses arent all white, either.

Having found in the T.I.s lengthy list of events that I could see ballet at the Opera House, I stopped off there and bought a ticket for a seat at the front of the balcony (after walking the wrong way round the building to find the ticket office, and avoiding all the guys in costume trying to sell concert tickets).

I spent most of the rest of the day at the MAK, the Applied Arts Museum (www.mak.at/e/jetzt/f_jetzt.htm). Even without a reservation I was able to eat lunch in the well-reviewed restaurant by sitting in the bar section (www.wien.info/article.asp?IDArticle=14753). The lunch special, goulash, was heavy on potato and light on sausage, but had plenty of thick and tasty sauce.

I divided my time between the wonderful exhibition of French and Brussels lace from the 16th to 18th centuries, the grotesques in the paper room, the bentwood chairs, the Turkish carpets (not as good as those in Budapest) and an interesting display in the basement Chinese porcelain turned to show the bottom of the pots and plates instead of the top.

I decided against the Bein Csaak for dinner as I didnt have my German dictionary with me, and tried the Plachutta on Wollzeille instead (www.plachutta.at/index.php?id=21). Again, I needed a reservation for a table, but was seated at the bar. Both the salad bar and a glass of merlot were good, but the pepper steak was excellent. (I passed on their specialty, boiled beef.) The steak came a little on the rare side, for medium-rare, but was accompanied by a good pink peppercorn and cognac sauce, divine fried mashed potatoes, and al dente veggies. My black clothes must be helping me to fit in, as one waiter thought I spoke German.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 09:45 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,739
Hi thursdays - just found your excellent trip report-I too love the details.

I'm particularly interested in Vienna as it is high on our to-do list for 2008/9. if you could have afforded the hotelamstehpansplatz, would you have stayed there? apart from the seemingly excellent position, why choose that one? and how much - thier web-site seeems to indicate that it's completely booked forever!

looking forward to more,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 10:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
ann - considering the Hotel am Stephansplatz was all about the location, although it does look comfortable. I thought it would be cool to be able to look out my window at the cathedral (although a single might not get that view, of course!) I also thought it would be cool to be on the Graben, which is why I wound up at the Nossek, although the HaS is much closer to the metro stop.

I did enjoy being on the Graben, but also enjoyed being on the Mariahilferstrasse last time. I would say the most important consideration, unless you especially want to be in the center of the center, is to be close to a metro or tram stop - the public transport is excellent. Buy a transport pass and you'll be all set.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 11:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,217
Oct 24 Vienna

Breakfast at the Nossek is generally a very quiet and sedate affair, but this morning I had an interesting chat with a young couple from California, currently based in the Czech Republic. Afterwards I revisited the Imperial Treasury I didnt feel a need to revisit the rest of the Hofburg, but I had thought the Hapsburg crown jewels easily outshone the British (and I grew up in Britain). With the audio guide it took me a good two and a half hours.

I lunched at the Griensteidl again, this time on an omelet and very good French fries. With no IHT available, I read the London Times and found Murdochs hand much in evidence. I was interested to see that London is planning to allow cars only for officials and competitors for the 2012 Olympics. Wonder if already-gridlocked Beijing might try that?

The rain had stopped, so I made the mistake of following one of the Fodors walking tours. My feet were not up to it, and the day was too grey for the buildings to show to advantage. I did find a good Internet café (at Schwedenplatz), and spent some time catching up my reports for my email list.

I looked in vain for a restaurant on the Judenplatz that I remembered from 2004, and ate instead in a pub on the same square. The music was louder than I like, and the four kids at the bar looked too young to drink even in Europe, but the staff were friendly, and I cant imagine the Weiner schnitzel could be improved on. Two big, thin pieces of pork, perfectly cooked, hid a plateful of crisp French fries.

With dinner so cheap, I stopped for coffee and Cointreau on the way home. The Café Korb had modern décor, but a journal rack and formally-dressed waiters just like the older cafes. However, my luck with waiters seemed to be completely out this trip. Mine handed me three instead of four €10 notes in change! When I called him back, he shrugged, said what sounded like oh, yes and went off to fetch another €10. (Since Austrian waiters generally carry their change around with them, the fact that he needed to get the money from the till seemed odd.) I was not amused
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2007, 11:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,136
I haven't been checking up on Fodor's very much this week, but am very glad I saw your trip report! We'll be visiting Budapest in May, and it sounds like we share a lot of your interests, including museums. Your comments are interesting, helpful and funny. Please continue!
Lexma90 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:15 AM.