This weekend was perhaps the last chance this year for a long weekend. A few years ago some good friends who started out as work peeps recommended Apart Schultes to us for a pretty, affordable, friendly place to stay in the off-season in the Austrian ski region St. Anton. Continue reading A Late Summer Weekend am Arlberg
After the rest of Germany came back from Easter, we hit the road for a trip through the mountains from Regensburg to Graz, Austria to Lake Bled, Slovenia on the way to Verona, Italy. We had great weather most of the time. This was our second try on a few days in Verona, and we’re glad we gave it another shot. Continue reading Austro-Slovene-Italian Triangle
Last week we headed off to the 2nd Travel Bloggers Unite conference (the first was this Spring in Manchester). Hashtag: #TBUIBK Delegates arrived from all over and some found it more convenient to fly into Munich, and so the organizer kicked in for some free shuttle transfers for us from Munich airport down to our hotel. Even if we were arriving at MUC via DB Regio, the shuttle drivers didn’t mind at all.
We got to Innsbruck just about two hours after departing Munich on Wednesday night, checked in, and crashed out (it had been a long day). We got started the next morning early exploring the town while killing a little time waiting for our city tour and photo walk to start. One of the first things we noticed: Innsbruck likes two things: puns, and visitors from Italy.
We got ourselves some Tiroler Bauern Gröstl and Schupfnudeln and climbed the stairs to the top of the Stadtturm. The sun was strong, and it gave me a chance to play around with the Diorama art filter on my camera. Austria seems like a good place for that.
We finished up lunch and then started two tours, almost back-to-back. Our first tour guide was a very nice woman named Ute. She knows everything about Innsbruck, but insisted we didn’t have time to do all the best stuff, as we hurried our way through the multimedia museum exhibit on your favorite HRE and mine, Maximilian I; toured the Hofburg palace, admiring the royal portraits; visited the Dom for some impressive sculpture and plenty of Rokoko, and got the skinny on the Goldenes Dachl.
Just about directly after that, Ken Kaminesky took us on a photo walk around town. Armed with our DSLRs, point-and-shoots, and smartphones, we learned a little about lighting, accessories, perspectives, and that it’s not so much the gear that really makes the shot as it is the patience and perspective of the photographer.
Here’re the rest of the best of the photos from that trip:
Here are a couple more. We got back into town last night and were exhausted. Taking the plane back to Nuremberg and train from there to Regensburg cost us a little less in terms of money, but not much in terms of time, and probably exact the same amount of effort. The extra steps of U-Bahn, DB, along with the typical airport stuff at both ends really eats up any time advantage you might think you’re getting by flying.
On a gastrointestinal note: I’m feeling better. Visited the doctor this morning (nice of them to squeeze me in without an appointment) and he prescribed some pills, but I suspect I am/was already on the road to recovery. I still get winded by our staircase more than I’ve come to expect, but my appetite’s returning, which is good.
Other good things to know, or things we maybe should have remembered:
- Luggage lockers are out of service at Landstraße / Wien Mitte while it’s under construction! This totally goofed up our slick plan of attack for checking out of the apartment and spending a luggage-free afternoon bopping around Vienna.
- Vienna is a dirty place. I don’t mean sexually or corruption-wise; I mean street filth. At least compared to places in Germany we’ve visited. More like London, I guess, though at least the Brits could blame it on the IRA.
- Don’t forget that Vienna International Airport’s Terminal 1A sucks. Too many people, not enough chairs for waiting around in. Oops, forgot that from last time.
- the Café Leopold in the Leopold Museum is a pretty hip joint — much hipper than you’d expect. Sure the requisite retirees were there, but the staff, muzak, and menu selections were very groovy. We’d go back there for a meal independent of the museum visit any time. Here’s a sample of what they were playing:
- Read up on coffee varieties available in Vienna before you go — especially if you’re taking first-timers with you. The selection and terminology can be daunting and if you just sit down and ask for a coffee, you get the smile and nod and whatever they decide you probably meant. It’s in no way condescending (except perhaps at the Café Central), but you’re denying yourself the variety that way.
- Don’t forget: you can’t buy a BayernTicket at the Nuremberg Airport. You either have to have bought it in advance (perhaps even well in advance) or suck it up and pay for an U-Bahn ticket to get from the airport to the Hauptbahnhof. We forgot this from last time, too.
Well, there we have it; another great trip in the bag. Clicking on the links below to the restaurants, hotels, etc., will take you first to our reviews of them (read the reviews for our specific opinions), and from there you can get to their own websites where applicable.
Here’s how it went down:
Took an early train to Salzburg from Regensburg via Landshut and managed to put our BahnCard 50 discount train passes to good use — we got 25% off of the travel from Salzburg to Vienna. Dropped our stuff at the hotel, where we got a very good deal on the rooms thanks to Sarah’s internet travel scouting skills. Biggest benefit to the hotel (besides the price): Sound of Music Channel (all hills alive, all the time). Had lunch at the K & K on Waagplatz, which was recommended to us by the staff at the hotel. Then we took the Sound of Music tour, where Sue was our guide again, just like when Gabe and Potter and I did our Salzburg trip back in November 2004. Although the weather was much better this time, I liked the smaller tour group better last time. For dinner: the Sternbräu (another Frommer’s suggestion).
Arrived via the Austrian Rail (ÖBB) from Salzburg at the vacation apartment and had a nice introduction to the city from the landlord. Walked around a lot taking in the city by night. Actually, it was kind of “by night” pretty much the whole time because in rainy November, Vienna doesn’t seem to get much light, even during the day. We had dinner at Zu den Drei Hacken and it was a very nice way for us to welcome each other to Vienna.
Tried to visit the Schatzkammer. Shopped a bit for an extra shirt for Cliff and some scarves to match Sarah’s new jacket.
Attended a concert at the Wiener Musikverein. Selections from Mozart, Haydn and Chausson, plus two encores (a Ravel and a Brahms) piece. Some were just strings, some were strings and piano. Very, very nice, and fairly cheap.
We ate lunch at the Gulasch Museum. It’s not really a museum, but rather a restaurant specializing in the Hungarian part of the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Really good.
We had our Lunch-Dessert at the Café Central. We had such a fantastic cup of coffee and dessert here by ourselves (Cliff & Sarah) that we knew we just had to bring Carolyn and Max here later. And we did exactly that, on our collective last day in Vienna.
The Schatzkammer proved extremely interesting — if a little steep at €8. You can kill 1.5 hours easily gazing at the treasures of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and ecclesiastical collections from these regions. Note well: Frommer’s Austria (11th Edition) lists their daily schedule as Tuesday through Sunday, this burned us. Their actual day of rest is Tuesday, not Monday.
At the Belvedere we checked out the 19th and 20th century collection and really liked some of the later stuff (including Klimt, Monet, and Kokoschka). You can read more about the history of the building on Wikipedia.
Later that day, knowing it was our last night in Vienna, we decided to each get a Schnitzel at the Schnitzelwirt Schmidt. Very good food, but beyond the quality, the quantity was astounding.
Alas, this was the day we were to leave Vienna. However, the good news was that there was plenty of leftover schnitzel for lunches, which freed up a little room in the budget for Carolyn and Max to treat us at Café Central, where they got to try the wonderful coffee and we sampled other desserts. That Mohr im Hemd was still the winner in my book, but I was quite happy with my Marzipankartoffel (yellow cake inside a potato-shaped marzipan mold, dusted with chocolate powder to simulate the dirt). The other good news was the weather; we got lots of bright sunshine in the early afternoon. This permitted us to take the elevator up the top of one of the wings of the Stephansdom to enjoy the view and admire other famous buildings while killing time, waiting for our shuttle to the airport: