INTRODUCTION TO VIENNA


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April 29th 2013
Published: April 29th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

Travel to Vienna

We were up at 5:30 and at the train station by 7. It was an easy 10 minute walk from the hotel to the train station and we arrived in plenty of time before the train departed. Enough time to start my earlier blog today. We were again in 1st class, and I want to say a bit about that. Yes, first class train tickets cost a few more Euros and the vast majority of European’s and travelers travel in second class. Perhaps you think us snobs for choosing to travel in 1st class, but we really aren’t. Yes, we might be missing out on the travelers bond of second class and meeting other travelers, but how much do I really have in common with the 20 something backpacker? Probably not too much. In addition, we are both over 45 and a bit of comfort when traveling for a month goes a long way. Maybe if we were just hopping a train to the next city, then yes second class all the way, but for 3 hour trips between destinations, especially when we are not getting all the sleep we normally do, then 1st class is just the best way.

That out of the way, we had a very comfortable 3 hour trip to Vienna. We were on an intercity train, which means that you stop more often so it takes a bit longer to get to your destination. Jerry spent the time reading up on Vienna and checking out what the Vienna Card would or would not do for us. I blogged, slept and just watch the country go by. Certainly the trip from Zurich to Salzburg is much more scenic than from Salzburg to Vienna, but it is very nice to not think about anything and watch the country go by you.

When we arrived as the Vienna train station, we easily found our way to the metro and had little problem finding the stop for our apartment. Getting from the metro to our apartment was another story; we took about a 10 block detour. The apartment is in fact about 5 blocks from the metro stop and we managed to go about 5 blocks past it so had to walk back to get there. We did manage to find it fairly easily. The apartment is very small, smaller than our hotel room in Salzburg (of course it’s also half the price) but it is very centrally located, close to the metro which means we can get anywhere in Vienna quickly and no cost (advantage of the Vienna Card, all transportation is included.)

We are now in high season so the apartment was booked the night before and when we arrived the previous guest had not yet left. Roland, the manager met us at the front door and we stored our luggage and left. I was a little uncomfortable storing our luggage in a room where the previous guest had yet to check out, but it turned out all right. The apartment is in the Nachtsmarkt area; the Nachtsmarkt is a very large public market (basically a permanent farms market) plus has several dozen restaurants. We are one block from this market so after we got the luggage stored we headed there to get something to eat and get our bearings. One thing I have never really done is have an actual breakfast in Europe, typically it is just some croissant and coffee, maybe some fruit and yogurt (you don’t really need much more if you got that croissant) so today I ordered a larger breakfast. It had all the traditional items, bread, cheese, butter, coffee, juice, but it also came with some nice ham and a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg, it was all so very tasty, it just hit the spot. Jerry on the other hand had apple strudel with vanilla sauce (the vanilla sauce was really pastry cream).

While we ate we mapped out the rest of our day. We picked a restaurant for dinner and mapped our way to our one sight for the day. After breakfast, we headed back to the Metro and to go make reservations for dinner. We could have called, but it is just easier to do it in person 1) you find the place ahead of time and 2) easier to be understood in person than over the phone.

After that we got on the tram and headed for Sigmund Freud’s Vienna apartment. Yes we went to the birthplace of psychoanalysis. It was a quick 30 minute audio guided tour, but very interesting. The added bonus for Jerry was there was a lot of period furniture for him to admire. It was very interesting and I did learn one thing about
Freud, as we know the man smoked cigars constantly, and there is that joke, but what I didn’t know was that he literally could not write unless he was smoking his cigar. Me thinks he may have had some oral fixation issues, perhaps he should have gotten on the couch. The other thing I learned was that his daughter was instrumental in the development of child psychology.

After are visit of Freud’s home we hopped back on the tram and back to the Apartment. Did I say how small it is; see for yourself in the pictures. I spent the next few hours finishing up my payroll reports and Jerry went off to see some design shops (unfortunately they ended up being closed). So instead he went to the Nachtsmarkt and bought some breakfast items for our stay here.

So, now I get to tell a funny story. Before Jerry left to go check things out, he was playing with the stereo system in the room; I was remotely connected to my computer at home working. I am working away and Jerry suddenly says, well this apartment is all set for the quick sex fling. He said this because there was this box that was blue, he pressed a button and it started flashing. At the same moment I lost my internet connection. The blue box was not a as he put it “trick box” but instead the internet router, so when he pressed the button twice he disconnected the internet. That tells you just how much Jerry does not like technology, or that type of technology.

The Apartment

We pretty much lucked into this apartment (well if you call it luck it is small and the hot water is iffy) because hotels are pretty pricey in Vienna. Especially if you want to be anywhere near the sites. I find most of the places we say through a combination of Google searches, Fodor’s travel books and Hotels.com. This I found totally by accident. I was looking for gay friendly bars in Vienna so when I typed that in to Google what came up was Danbois Vacation Rentals. Which just happened to be a vacation rental company ran by a gay guy. I checked out several of the places on the website and this was simply the best priced and best location. So needless to say we are in the heart of the gay ghetto. This doesn’t mean much to us, since we never seem to be able to stay up late enough to go out.

After Jerry showered we were off to dinner, not before a few glasses of wine in the room. As previously mentioned we had already made our reservations to insure we had a place to eat. The name of the restaurant was Gasthaus Zu Den Hacken (something about three axes). They have a very traditional Austrian menu, from schnitzel to strudel. It is moderately priced and the food was reasonable good. They have a huge wine list, however I must caution you, be careful what you order. I first ordered a bottle of 1993 Austrian Pinot, one of the rare bottles with a cork. However, I knew we were in trouble when the bottle was opened; the wine had soaked all the way through the cork. I tasted it and OMG it had turned, not even good enough for cooking vinegar. This is only the second bottle of wine I have ever sent back in my life, and to do it in a foreign land. It didn’t seem to cause to much of an uproar and the second bottle was much better and half the price. I have notice that outside of France, they seemed to be shocked when two people order a bottle of wine. I don’t really understand that since they wake up drinking beer before they go to work.

As I said the food was reasonably good, my goulash was very nice and Jerry pork loin and kraut was also good, however, the salad, well that wasn’t even picture worthy and the ham and shredded horseradish, while a good concept didn’t really seem to work, mostly because the horseradish was rather mild, ok it was just plain bland.

The dinner crowed was mainly locals with a few of us tourists thrown in here and there. There was one couple in the corner, clearly a business meeting as while they spoke in English, it was not the native tongue of either of them. They were fairly rude and an elderly, I perceived them to be a gay couple, actually left the room because they were offended. Why were they offended, because the business couple were talking about them behind their backs in front of their face. So how do I know this, well it is pretty easy to tell when someone is talking about someone and they don’t want them to know (or at least they think they won’t know) She did the classic bend in close to her business associate, put her hand to her mouth, as if she was covering it so you could see her lips (like we all read lips) and the nodded towards the couple and made a few comments. Unfortunately for her, while she thought she was being clever, it works better if you actually lower your voice. Long story short, the two men got up and moved to the bar.

We skipped dessert, portions are pretty big here and Austrian food is the definition of comfort food, at the end of the Journey I am going to tell you the difference between French, German and Italian food, I bet you already know.

After dinner we took the metro home. We got off at the normal stop, but there are about 8 different exists and this time we got off and one by the Opera, had us a bit confused but Jerry had already managed to pick out the landmark building near our apartment, so we got home safe and sound.

So, that is about it for first half day in Vienna. We have a pretty packed day planned for tomorrow. As I finish up this blog, Jerry is snooping around the apartment, I am not sure at what since it isn’t much bigger than a crackerjack box. In any event, time to add the pictures and post.

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