Austria,  Europe,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Vienna (Austria): my favorite city in Central Europe – Travel Notes

When we learned that we were visiting Central and Eastern European countries, a former JB boss, who currently lives in Vienna, offered us to spend a few days at his place

This invitation is timely, since we have to go from Prague to Budapest anyway, and Vienna, being in the middle of the way, is a perfect stop for an extended weekend

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

How to get there

We chose to take a bus from Prague. It is the most economical option. The train would have cost more, for exactly the same duration

This is the first time we’ve taken a Flixbus. We are, fortunately, dropped by our Uber, right where our bus is. Completely by chance. Frankly, if he had not deposited us there, we would have had too much difficulty to find our bus
Because our bus leaves from the parking lot in front of the station. But other buses leave from the opposite sidewalk. Without ANY indication

If JB hadn’t had the idea of downloading the Flixbus app where a small tooltip tells us the exact location of the station, we would have been going in circles for a long time

Anyway, if you find our blog by typing “where is the flixbus station in Prague for Vienna / Krakow”, it is here, in the parking lot in front of the station (in 2017 anyway, I’m not responsible if they move next year)

Discovery of the city

An Uber drops us off in front of our guests’ apartment. The driver tells us a lot about the neighborhood, residential, very safe etc etc. etc. But this is apparently the case for the whole city, because everything is done to promote social mixing. HLMs rub shoulders with beautiful buildings. The children go to the same school, so there are no crappy places

In Austria, people speak German with a strong accent. With our French accent, we get grilled directly by a French expatriate. He asks us where we come from, and makes us envy by talking about his 100m² apartment in the city center for 1200€/month and the security of the city, where his wife can go out alone with friends in the evening without him worrying

This pretty portrait of the city is later confirmed by our hosts, who take us on a tour of the city showing us the different museums and the town hall, adding “we partied there, on the 2nd floor”. Oh yeah? you were invited? ” no, just buy tickets. All these buildings are made for the people, and are used by the people”. Wow!

In Vienna, everything is really very, very beautiful
JB wanted us to go to the market for lunch, but I preferred to go downtown right away

This is St. Peter’s Church. We attended a small organ concert at 3pm, free entrance with participation. Nice but nothing more.

And then we bought tickets to go up to the top of the Saint-Etienne cathedral. Very impressive the tiles seen up close

Then I quickly go to the Swarovski boutique. It’s an Austrian brand so I thought that their boutique in the city center would be a little different from other cities – but no. I’m not sure. Crystal fans should go to Wattens, the Swarovski headquarters, where there is a nice museum

We walk around and come across another cathedral

I think we see her in one of the films about Sisi the Empress (the scene of her wedding, I think). It’s really breathtaking! We could have paid 8€ to take the elevator on the right and admire the ceiling more closely, but the elevator is out of order at the moment

We move quickly to the market. There are quite a lot of stands and restaurants but it seems very touristic to us. Fortunately that we did not have lunch there. On the other hand, JB has a favorite for the cheese store particularly well provided

The next day, we take a long time to get ready and go out. It is an overwhelming heat! And it’s like this all the time in Vienna in summer

We finally get motivated to make 100m to go to Österreichische Galerie Belvedere where we can admire the famous painting “The Kiss” by Klimt. The garden is really splendid !

There are some well-known paintings

Trompe-l’oeil paintings more than realistic. On the picture, it is hard to see that they are fake columns

Obviously, the crowd in front of “The Kiss” can be compared to the one in front of the Mona Lisa

That’s why a selfie space with a reproduction of the painting is available in the next room for all selfies fans 🙂 There are other Klimt’s here (e.g. Justine) and other famous paintings spread all over the different Viennese museums. There are two paintings by Adele currently exhibited in New York as well (one of which is the subject of an American film released two years ago)

What would a visit to Vienna be like without Sisi the Empress? We head to Hofburg, the former royal palace, to visit the royal apartments and learn more about this beautiful Sisi. There are several museums in the former royal palace, but we have chosen to visit only this one.

The pictures are a bit out of order (sorry)

Apparently, during her lifetime, no one was really interested in her. She became an icon only after her death (an empress so young and beautiful murdered). Sisi was not raised to be an empress. However, she and the emperor fell in love at first sight and instead of marrying her sister, the emperor chose her. Sisi will have a conflictual relationship with her mother-in-law, and will spend her life in depression. She will love Hungary above all else, where she considers it more like home. Moreover, she has a perfect command of Hungarian, considered one of the two most difficult languages in the world

You can also see Sisi’s death mask and realize that the countless paintings of her do not do her justice. She is even more beautiful in real life

What we retain after the visit is the impressive collection of silverware that occupies the entire ground floor

What would a stay in Austria be without Mozart?
We went to pay homage to this composer, this musical genius in front of his statue in the Burggarten. Note the treble clef on the lawn behind me.
And then we went to Mozart’s house, where he spent a number of years with his family. There is no guide, but everyone is given an audio guide in the language of their choice. The exhibition explains that contrary to popular belief, Mozart certainly did not die indifferent. If he happens to run out of money, it is rather due to his addiction to gambling. And the fact that he was buried in a mass grave was more a measure of hygiene at the time, obsessed with the risk of epidemics.

That same evening, our lovely hosts take us to dinner at the foot of the town hall, where every day the foodtrucks serve excellent food… mainly to tourists. I spot a Vietnamese foodtruck and taste their papaya salad
The day before, JB was able to enjoy a superb cheese board in a beautiful setting (in the middle of a park)

We end our stay in Vienna by watching the movie “Amadeus” with our guests
Vienna really is a beautiful city. Everything is clean (too clean), well-preserved, everything is grandiose, beauty… Even if the note is more salty than the other Central European countries, this little glimpse made me want to go back there later, for at least a month and a half. For now, it’s my favorite city (from the 2nd round-the-world tour)

Part 2: Practical Tips

In Austria, the official currency is the euro. Credit cards are accepted everywhere

The tip should not be left on the table, it will be very badly seen. At the time of payment, you must announce the total amount you want to pay (including 10% tip). You can pay the total amount (including tip) by credit card

If you pay in cash, it’s the same. Announce the amount you want to pay to the server

Bus tickets can be bought directly from the driver, but I advise you to buy 24/48 or 72 hours tickets, which are more economical especially if you only travel by public transport

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