European Travelogue #9: Vienna, Austria
Vienna is the cultural centre of Europe with lots of museums, sights and famous places to visit. It is located in the eastern part of Austria (map).
We drove into Vienna from Salzburg along the A1 main autobahn. A fast and efficient means of getting to the capital. Vienna is also well serviced by air and rail.
Where to Stay
We broke up our journey by staying at a farmstay near Amstetten (about 100km from Vienna). The quiet and rural aspect of this lodging gave us some respite from the hectic travelling and alcohol imbibing we had been doing, until our hostess brought out the homemade schnapps…. about 10 shot
glasses of that stuff and we were primed!
We also stayed at a homestay in Gablitz, which is about 15 minutes from the centre of Vienna. This too was a good alternative to staying in Vienna itself, which can be a bit pricey for hotel accommodation. The place in Gablitz had a good location and easy access to the walking trails, sights of
the area, pizza parlour and the supermarket (beer stop).
Amstetten was a bit on the lean side as far as restaurants go, but we managed to find a great Chinese place in the middle of town and we enjoyed a big feast and plenty of beers. We also decided to make the next meal a cook in home meal, so we raided the local supermarket and stocked up on greens, potatoes, tuna, beers and pretzels.
Gablitz is a small town, with few restaurants, but we found a great one on the main road. A great big Vienna schnitzel, salad and beers for about 15 dollars. It was truly a fantastic feed and the beers (Zipfer, Kaiser) were very well received. The pizza place at the end of our street, however, was disappointing as far as food went, but the beers were OK. Try Wieselburger beer – we practically lived on the stuff!
In Vienna itself, we found a market co-op eatery across the road from the Aussie pub and found the food and drink really good value for money. For about $9 I ate a large plate of salads, vegetables, sausage, sauerkraut, pasta and a half litre of Zipfer beer. It went down very well after walking
for half a day….
We found free internet access at the Amadeus Bookstore on Mariahilfer Strasse – the catch is that your email and whatnot are displayed on a big screen in the shop window for all and sundry to look at…. Watch those hot emails to your friend, lover, wife or all of the above !
Vienna the City
Bastards R Us drove into the city and parked with the idea of walking from one museum to the other. A good idea at the time, but I would suggest to others that use of the efficient public transport would be easier on your feet. There are just so many places of historical interest to see that you would need a few weeks just for a cursory look at everything.
I loved the old town feel of Vienna and I would love to go back in the winter and experience it again.
Leaving Vienna on the train for Prague, our passports were being checked by a young Austrian border policeman. When he handed my passport back to me, I gave him an Australian Customs Marine Unit shoulder patch. He was suitably
chuffed (Austria has no sea border), so much so that he was showing all his mates. He then promptly ripped off his own ‘Bundes Gendarmerie’ shoulder patch off the shirt he was wearing and handed it over to me!!! Nice guy! and another little souvenir of our Bastards-R-Us tour of Europe.
All the Bastards-R-Us had museums on the list to be visited, so we made a rough plan and headed off. The first stop was the cathedral in the centre of town (St Stephen’s, I think). It had lots of acid rain damage on the outside, but the interior was beautiful although very crowded!
Next stop was the Lippazaner Museum – Wow, what a great place. The actual museum chronicles the bloodlines of the Spanish dancing horses, Andalusians, from Spain through to Austria. A lot of the museum contains saddles, gold plated bridles, etc from years gone by. A special video shows all of the military maneuvers the horses are trained for. Some of these moves are quite spectacular and take years of training!
The end of the museum tour is a visit above the stables to see the horses being groomed and prepared for the morning workout (about 10am). Unfortunately, we missed the workout due to time constraints, but it is apparently well worth the time. A quick buying spree in the museum giftshop (To ensure domestic happiness!) completed the tour.
Museum of Fine Arts is a fantastic building containing a myriad of sculptures, paintings and artifacts. I especially enjoyed the Egyptian display and the section of the museum that displayed clocks made at different times during man’s evolution. I spent about 3 hours here before the Kaiser beer started calling me – The gardens in front of the museum made for a fine afternoon of beer drinking whilst watching the local bird life….
Vienna is a place of culture and refinement, which probably explains why I had a hard time adapting to the place. From the beautiful buildings to the exquisite gardens, very friendly city-folk and the mad traffic, my impressions of Vienna have given me the urge to return and discover more of what this city has to offer. The Lippazaner Museum was definitely the highlight for me as was the hospitality of our hosts in the homestay accommodations!