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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Honeymoon Trip Report, Day 2 - Ich bin ein Weiner

In conjunction with AirlineReporter.com

Previously:
Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Vienna

Getting to the City

We arrived at the Vienna Airport, and right when we got off the plane, there was a small duty-free shop. I've never liked shopping for duty-free items, but Kat apparently gets drawn to them, so she looks through the gifts and trinkets while I hit the head.


The airport is quiet and orderly, kind of like John Wayne Airport, just much bigger. And in Austria. It was easy to navigate, and we headed downstairs to the train station underneath the terminal building.

We did our research and found two options for getting from the airport to the city center: The City Airport Train (CAT) costs €11 each way (or €17 round trip) and makes the trip to Landstrasse/Mitte Wien Station in only 16 minutes with no stops (with additional stops afterward at main train hubs). The Schnellbahn (S-Bahn) is a local train that makes every stop between Landstrass/Mitte Wien and the airport, but costs only €4.40 total (or using a day pass, only an additional €2 zone fee) and only takes about 10-15 minutes more. One other minor difference: the S-Bahn cars lack the luggage racks featured on the CAT. We weren't in too big of a rush and only had backpacks, so opted for the S-Bahn train.

There are a few ticket vending machines before getting to the station itself. We stopped at one where a poor chap in front of us figured out that it wouldn't take his credit card, so he walked away. We stepped up and used our credit card... and it didn't work for us either. Unfortunately for us, we didn't have any Euros (plenty of Turkish lira), and not knowing if our card was having a problem (fast forward: it wasn't, it was definitely the machine), we just found a nearby ATM to withdraw the cash. Cash inserted, tickets come out, and we head to the train platform.

We only had to wait 10 minutes for the next Line S7 train (the CAT leaves from the same platform). A short trip later, we arrive at Wein Mitte station (Landstrasse is the U-bahn [subway] name for the same station).

We were headed to the Park Hyatt Vienna, so we had to walk about 10 minutes to transfer to the U-bahn (U3) line to the Herrengasse station 3 stops away. This would put us at a 5-minute walk from the hotel.



Exploring Vienna

And what a great walk it was! We popped up to surface level and were greeted by a street performer, singing opera with a small crowd surrouding her. With the reverb bouncing off the high walls and cobblestone street, she sounded amazing! We walked through a narrow alley with a couple of festive outdoor restaurants and ended up right at the corner of the hotel building, located at Am Hof Square. Since the hotel had somewhat subtle signage, we had to pause and make sure we were in the right place, when two things happened: 1) I noticed a funky combination fire hydrant/water fountain/ doggie fountain, and 2) our friend Craig, who we were supposed to meet at the front of the hotel, came up behind us as he was walking in from a different station. Great timing!

With Craig in tow, we checked in to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and went back out to walk around the city a bit before finding dinner. Fantastic weather, a clear night with mild temps. Unfortunately Craig's wife couldn't join because it was sleepy-time for their 1-year-old (sorry Faith!).

So clean!


Herr Lessing must have been important.



We found a restaurant at around 9:30pm. Most places were closed by 9:00pm, and Wrenkh posted their hours as closing at 10:00pm. At first the host didn't want to sit us, saying the kitchen was closed, but then the owner/chef spotted us. When we asked him if the kitchen is closed, he said emphatically, "No, the kitchen is still open! Please have a seat..."
Wrenkh.
Maybe the host's behavior should have been a red flag, but we had a seat outside and ordered a couple of light items, tapas-style to share.

Roasted veggies and olive tapenade.

Special hashbrowns.
Wait... aren't we short a soup? In fact we were, and no one came back to check on us, so we were pretty much done by the time they came to clear our table. They were definitely there though... the staff was on the opposite end of the patio, having their end-of-shirt meals and a few smokes, owner/chef included.

The food that we got was decent, but I wouldn't come back here, based on their performance. Too bad we were so enchanted with walking the streets, or else we would have found something to eat sooner!

Anyway, we continued on our walk (glad for running shoes with a harder sole... those cobblestone streets and walks are killer), heading back towards Stephensplatz, the geographic center of Vienna and one of the more popular spots for tourists.

A rubber ducky store.

Dangit... maybe we should have come here for dinner.

They sure have a lot of statues here.

Outside of Stephensdom, or St. Stephen's Cathedral,
at Stephensplatz, the geographic center of Vienna.

The inside, near the main entrance. Very impressive.
Just outside in the plaza, there was a gelato store that was still open, and still slightly unsatisfied with our light dinner, we headed inside. A very friendly, overly bubbly Eastern European woman was happy to have us, letting us sample everything... very tasty. We each walk away with a couple of scoops.

A cone sculpture, something every ice cream place should have!
Stephensplatz left us a mere 7-10 walk from our hotel, so we headed back and called it a night.

Schonbrunn

The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel and headed out to the famous Schonbrunn garden and palace, which was easily accessible via U-Bahn. Back to Herrengasse we go!

Herrengasse Station
 While Schonbrunn has it's own named station, we chose to continue one more stop to Heitzing Station, which was also a major bus and tram station. Heitzing put us on the other side of the grounds, and was also less crowded with tourists, who naturally got off at Schonbrunn Station.
Passing by Schonbrunn Station

Getting off at the Heitzing Station
We enter through the western gates, and were immediately taken by the grand scale of the gardens. We found the Palmenhaus right off the bat.
Western entrance to the Schonbrunn grounds

Die Palmenhaus Schonbrunn
One really could just spend all day here, and locals treat this as a huge park/green space, with people jogging, walking, pushing stollers, having lunch etc. I recommend spending an entire day here, just meandering through the paths and enjoying the time outside.
Everyone loves a tree tunnel.
We eventually make it to the centerpiece of the whole complex, the Schloss Schonbrunn, or the Schonbrunn Palace. History in brief: 300-year-old Baroque palace that's one of the most important cultural, historical, and architectural places in Austria. There's a museum you could visit for a fee, but if you're strapped for time, you can skip it since the rest of the grounds are free to visit.
Die Schloss Schonbrunn.
Across from the palace, up on the hill, is the Gloriette, which in the past was a very nice dining hall and viewing point for the rest of the gardens. Apparently, a gloriette is just a high and/or focal point of a garden, but this was taken to the extreme, with a commanding view of the grounds and the rest of the Vienna skyline in the background. And what a view it was.
Facing the Gloriette, with the Palace to my back,
at the midpoint between the two



The glorious Gloriette.


The view from the Gloriette.
Finally, we started making our way out towards the Schonbrunn Station. On the way, we found a random obelisk. Because old Europe was infatuated with obelisks. At least this one wasn't stolen from Egypt (I'm looking at you, Rome and Paris...).

Back to the City

We decide to head back to Stephensplatz to see it during the daytime.
Stephensdom in the daylight.

Compare how more colorful the central area
is during the day (below) vs. at night (above).



Finally, it was time to start making our way to the airport (of course, saving some time to stop at touristy gift shops along the way). We stopped in one gift shop, but the shopkeeper was busy angrily yelling at someone on the phone, so we slowly stepped back out to look at the shop next door.


We really wanted to get a "No Kangaroos in Austria" shirt, but apparently there are tourists willing to pay $25USD and up for one... not us! We settled for some random trinkets not involving any marsupials.

A quick stop at our hotel to pick up our things and to check out, then we make our way back to the airport via U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Poor Craig was hurrying to try to meet us before we left, but we apparently missed him by 5 minutes, and unfortunately we took the last possible train that would get us to the airport in time. (Sorry Craig! But thanks for picking up the clothes we forgot in the hotel!). But we did see a pack of wild dogs in the subway...


Flying from Vienna to Budapest

Continue the story on AirlineReporter:
Adieu Fokker! Flying Economy on an Austrian Airlines F100

Our Hotel in Vienna:

Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Vienna


1 comment:

  1. The duty free shop is full fill with a lot of kids items. I am well known about this shop. This is great place for Kids Toys & Games.

    ReplyDelete