Central Aust '09
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Our train from Bratislava to Vienna was early in the morning and only took an hour. We arrived in Vienna at about 10am. We were pretty hungry by then, and the sight of Austrian pastries at the railway station was irresistable! We grabbed a couple of fattie treats, and sat outside the station and got our fill.
One we had filled up it was time to go to the hotel to drop our bags. We had arrived at Wein Sudbahnhof (Vienna South Railway Station), so we had to take the subway/metro to the Hotel Furst Vienna.
Vienna really impressed us with its subway/metro system, I guess you could say it's the first "real" metro we'd ever seen. From memory there are 5 lines that all intersect with each other at some point, and a train comes about every 5 minutes. The system is busy, and also very clean! You are allowed to take your dog on the metro! We took the metro U1 from Sudtirolerplatz (near the sudbahnhof) to Stephensplatz, where we changed to U3 and got off at Zieglergasse. From there it was only a 5 minute walk to the hotel.
The Hotel Furst Vienna is amazing, it's in a really old building that has been kept in great condition. The staff greeted us nicely and the girl at reception spoke good English. Our room was large, clean and comfortable. We dropped our bags off, and had a quick rest.
After all the walking we had been doing, my feet were not too happy about my $12 shoes from Goodwill. Although the shoes were comfortable they had given me blisters after countless hours walking. So I had to throw the shoes, and we went to a shop and bought some Nike runners which were much better.
We jumped back on the metro and took the U4 to Schonbrunn Palace (Summer Palace). Where we changed from the U3 to the U4, Briony was too slow as usual and she got left behind at the station. Lucky the trains are only a few minutes apart, and I had told her which station to get off.
Schonbrunn Palace is a beautiful place, and once we were inside we paid for a self-guided tour. They gave us a battery powered device which looked like a large mobile phone. It turns out the building has transmitters everywhere, and as soon as you walk into a room your handset starts to play the information about that room. The tour was quite good, however we kept getting held up with a group of school children who made it hard to hear our handset over all their noise.
At the end of the self guided tour we went outside, and they have some wonderful gardens and also an impressive building called the Gloriette at the top of the hill. We walked up there, took some photos, and then went back to the train.
The next stop was Prater Fun Park, a huge place with modern amusement rides, and some amusing billboard advertising on the way! It was good to walk around, and I only went on one ride which was probably the best one there. From memory it was about 7 euro, and well worth it. After the ride we had dinner at one of the restaurants in the park, food was quite decent really, considering that most of the food you normally get at these places is of poor quality.
After the fun park we headed back to the hotel for a good night's rest.
The next morning was an adventure. We had hotel breakfast included in our price, and we went downstairs to the restaurant. They had classical music playing, and the room was really fancy. Everyone was older, and quite dressed up, I think the hotel is normally quite expensive but we got as good price on the Internet. We felt a little out of place in our tracksuits, but we were leaving the city the next day, so who cares!
Breakfast was really good, with plenty of breads, spreads, meat and cheese to have. They had a drink machine that would make hot chocolate or any type of coffee. There was a catch with the coffee though - if you pressed the LATTE button, the serving was really big and the regular cups were too small. Of course, the lady that looked after the breakfast room knows this and she is always watching the machine. As soon as I pressed LATTE with a small cup, she came runing over as fast as possible, grabbed a big cup, put it under the machine, muttered something under her breath and went on her way. From that point forward she was known as the Coffee Machine Nazi, and we were quite entertained watching other guests making the same mistake!
After breakfast we headed to the Donauturm (Danube Tower), a really tall tower where you can get panoramic views of the city. While the walk there is nice (10 mins walk from the Metro U1 Kaisermuhlen station), the tower itself is nothing special and it actually very expensive. They take you up in a lift with a glass roof, to a room where there are windows only on two sides. You can go outside on a platform which is nice as you can look all around. over all you get a nice view but I didn't think it was worth the money. They did, however, have a platform where you can bungee jump from the top. That would be good fun, except it was too windy when we were there so the bungee jump was not operating.
After the Donauturm we went for a ride on Citybike. The Citybike is a really good idea - instead of taking your own bike and chaining it up, they have these bike stations everywhere that are full of yellow bikes. You register with the computer, you need to use your credit card for a security deposit. Then you just take a bike, ride wherever you want to, and then when you're done you put the bike back into any Citybike station. You can get some time for free (I think one hour) and then you pay a few Euro per hour after that. Of course, there are lots of bikes and there are bike lanes everywhere so riding is quite safe.
We rode around the city circle, basically a lap around Vienna, we went past the Hofburg Burgtheatre, Wien Rathaus (Vienna Town Hall), Austrian Parliament and more. We got lost at one stage and had to look at our map to find out where we were. When we were done, we put the bikes away and went back to the metro.
We took the metro to town and visited St Stephensdom (St Stephens Cathedral). We walked past the Nationalbibliothek (National Library) and through the Hofburg Gardens. We went for a walk around the general town area, and grabbed a slice of giant street pizza. The pizza was tasty, but quite salty.
After dinner was back to the hotel for sleep, ready for our trip to Linz in the morning.
Next : Linz, Austria
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