Vienna City Flats — Praterstr. 78

The Joint

Praterstraße 78
1020 Leopoldstadt
Vienna
Austria

web site

Cliff

Sarah found this place for us online and she did a great job. It’s just a hop (no skip or jump required) to the Praterstern (a.k.a. Wien Nord) train station, which last time (Thanksgiving 2006) was merely a tram and subway stop. Now it’s a full-service train station. Simply put, the location of this apartment was an ideal compromise between accessibility and price. It was well-equipped, meeting all our basic requirements:

  • shower consisting of more than just a hose in the tub
  • generous kitchen with stove and fridge
  • accomodations for four

My only beef: they had one of those IKEA sofabed things that rolls out to unfold into a mattress, but it was either broken or we couldn’t figure out how to get it to remain a couch — it kept rolling itself out (good idea, bad implementation).

Nice touch: offering to let us stow the luggage at the apartment while it was being cleaned after our check-out until departing Vienna later that day. Could have saved us luggage lockers and airport/train station schlep and hassle.

Sarah

I love the location of this place. Located right across the street from the spankin’ new Praterstern/Wien Nord U-bahn, tram and ÖBB station, it’s a great base of operations for getting out and searching Vienna. For our purposes, it was pretty well equipped and the landlord and administrator were easy to get a hold of for when we had questions. In light of what a generally nice apartment it was, the thing with the rolling couch was kind of disappointing.

The neighborhood that the apartment is in might be an issue for some people. It’s definitely not posh. It looks like there’s a good mix of native middle-class Viennese and immigrants. There were a few drunks and beggars wandering around (plus lots of drunks at the train station, but that’s kind of par for the course), but no more than would be expected for a major European city. There is easy access on foot to grocery stores, bakeries and pharmacies – plus the bonus of the nearby train station is that there is some shopping available on Sunday.

couple more pics and tips from the Austrian Odyssey

Susie, annoyed... Po on the train
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:

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  • 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.

just in time for a little Nachtmusik

Thanks for all the well-wishing after the last post. I’m feeling better today and may even attempt a Viennese Verlängerten and a pastry or two!

Yesterday, after wimping out on Schönbrunn, I displayed my gumption and attended a concert of Strauss and Mozart stuff with the peeps at the Kursalon about five minutes away from our rental apartment by taxi. I was exhausted by the end, but glad I stuck it out. It was fun! There was a good mix of well-recognized favorites and stuff that was new to me. I probably could have done without the singing and dancing numbers, but the rest of the crowd seemed to enjoy them.

I didn’t take any pictures, because I didn’t bring my camera with me. I thought for sure that they’d have made me check it at the coat check (you know, recording performances and all) but the management gave their blessing on photography during the applause, which surprised me somewhat. Here are some remaining pictures from Salzburg instead:

Below the fortress, behind the cathedral Looking down from the fortress Po in the Mirabell Gardens ahh, the magic...

not quite bed-ridden in Vienna

I’m writing this from our neato rental apartment (complete with free WLAN) in Vienna while Po and Susie and Sarah are out exploring the Schönbrunn Palace and museum complex. I tried to go with them, but the sad fact of the matter is that I have been nearly incapacitated since the night of our arrival in Salzburg three nights ago. I don’t know what I picked up or where, but this has been nasty. I’ll spare you the details; they’re pretty disgusting (even for me). There have been a couple factors at work here: our itinerary, weekend Apotheke hours, and my own stubborn belief that I’m slowly getting better (and I really am, but you’d need the details to be sure).

So, on the one hand, I’m disappointed that I am missing out on some of the stuff that I said I’d do next time (like Schönbrunn) but on the other hand I guess I’m glad I’m not missing out on a completely new city if I’m stuck here in the apartment being sick. If I had a third hand, I’d be glad on it that none of the rest of our party appears to have contracted whatever I did.

Salzburg & Vienna Recap

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:

2006-11-19

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).

2006-11-20

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.

2006-11-21

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.

2006-11-22

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.

2006-11-23

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:

So there you have it — now we’re back in Regensburg, Carolyn and Max are back in Detroit, and everyone is getting into their routines…until the next trip. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted.

Schnitzelwirt Schmidt

The Joint
STA70087.JPG STA70085.JPG STA70084.JPG
Neubaugasse 52
1070 Wien
+43 1/5233771

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/vienna/N8195.html

Cliff

Alter Schwede! This place was by far, the best value in terms of cost per gram of food served.

The place itself was kind of attractively gritty, in that upon entering, you knew immediately (apart from the name of the joint) that it was not in competition with Café Central. I went with the Garlic Schnitzel, Carolyn had the traditional Schnitzel Wiener Art, and Max went haute couture with his Pariser Schnitzel. Sarah’s was another order of magnitude cooler though, and she’ll tell you about it herself below. Alas, we have only our full-bellied memories of hers; we somehow neglected to photograph it for posterity.

Sarah

Ok, Cliff covered everything above perfectly. Which allows me all kind of room to wax rhapsodic about my metric buttload of Schnitzel.

It was a Schnitzel Cordon Bleu – with ham and cheese. First off, the thing was hanging off both sides of the plate! and it was heavy, to boot. I know this because we ended up taking three quarters of it home and it turned into breakfast for me the following morning and lunch for both Cliff and I that afternoon!! A Schnitzel (for those who don’t know already) is a pounded cutlet of veal or pork (generally) that is then washed in egg and breaded and pan-fried. Because of this, it’s usually pretty thin – say half an inch cooked. This creature that I ordered was easily a little over an inch thick. Why? Because of the stack of ham – equal in thickness to the schnitzel itself – adorning it! The most important part, of course, is not its size or weight, but that it was delicious. So much so that I was able to keep eating it for the next two meals!

Here’s the most unbelievable part. Three of us had beers, we all ordered a full-size meal, we all took home leftovers and we spent less than 10€ per person!! In a city where everything seems a little expensive, if not blatantly overpriced, this place is a fantastic value.

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Gulaschmuseum

The Joint

Schulerstraße 20
1010 Wien
Austria

Cliff

We had some great gulash! We ordered off the upper end of the menu and still got away for less than €14. I got the pork gulash labeled “spicy” — and they weren’t kidding. It was a pleasant burn, with plenty of paprika. The Bratkartoffeln were just “Ore Ida,” if you know what I mean.

Sarah

Weird place, but again, Frommer’s comes through. Honestly, due to my lackluster German skills (or ignorance of Viennese vocabulary), I don’t even know what meat I had, but I think it was either Elk or Venison. Either way, what a fun way to taste the Hungarian influence of the old Austro-Hungarian empire! I had a traditional gulash with a dark rich sauce, packed with paprika – although I think mine was sweet paprika as opposed to Cliff’s hot stuff. It came with more of my beloved Semmelknödel and a small tossed salad. Service was a little indifferent, but everything came out in a timely manner and the price was really reasonable. It’s kind of tucked away in a small side street just down the way from the cathedral, but it’s very much worth seeking out.

Café Central

The Joint

Herrengasse 14
Wien

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_Central

Cliff

Thanks, Wikipedia.

What a swell place! I felt way underdressed here, but in any outfit lacking an umbrella with a duck’s head on the handle and an overcoat and a bowler, I suppose that feeling is natural. We tried to take some pictures of the interior, but Wikipedia’s done a better job (and their images are licensed for distribution…love that).

Aside from the decor, and the history, which you can read about at Wikipedia, we ordered (on our first visit) einen Verlängerten and einen Mohren im Hemd (shown at right, click for details).

Sarah

Welcome to our all-Frommer’s vacation! I swear, the Vienna section of the Frommer’s Austria is impeccable! Although they’ve rarely led us astray, they were unbelievably on the mark for every recommendation in this section.

Vienna is famous for its cafés and confections, and this place is like a textbook example of what Viennese café culture was all about at the end of the nineteenth century. The decor is incredibly elegant, but I only felt underdressed until our wonderfully formal, kind and patient waiter attended to us. We both had the same thing (Mohr im Hemd and a Verlängerten) on our first visit and we were so impressed that we got Carolyn and Max to pop in here for a coffee on our last day in Vienna. On the second visit, Cliff had a Marzipan ‘Potato’ (yellow cake inside a marzipan shell, dusted with cocoa powder to simulate ‘dirt’) and I took a chance on a slice of Altenberg cake (chocolatey, creamy, cakey love). It’s a little pricey, but isn’t a slice of sweet creamy history worth it?

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Viele Grüße aus Wien

Hi all,

Just a quick note from an internet café in downtown Vienna. We’re staying at a great vacation apartment near a streetcar line that puts in the heart of the old downtown area in just a few minutes. We’re eating like Habsburgs in restaurants and cafes (Viennese cappucino is a force to be reckoned with) and having better luck with the weather than we expected.

Here are a few pictures to tide you over until we get back to Regensburg and can do a full report of all the places we’ve visited. Tonight: a concert at a symphony in town.

Zu den Drei Hacken

The Joint

Singerstr. 28
Wien
Austria
Phone: +43 1 512 5895

Cliff

Portion Gansl mit RotkrautMore goose! I got a drumstick with Rotkraut (sweet-and-sour purple cabbage) and it was excellent. Also, there was some paté which was quite nice — and apparently also made of goose parts (but that’s just a theory).

Franz Schubert was a big fan of this place. Nice atmosphere, but loud if full (or there’s a big party behind you) and little chance to escape the smoke.

Sarah

I finally tried Tafelspitz! In spite of my previous forswearing of beef in German-speaking lands (they’re better at pork), I had to sample this famous Viennese dish. The verdict: meh. It’s not bad, it’s just not outstanding. I think I’m spoiled on American beef.

That said, this place is very small and old-fashioned, but was bustling. The service was nice, but a little rushed. And by the end of the meal, we all needed to get out of the billows of second-hand smoke. Normally, I don’t mind a little bit of smoke, but I think the Viennese smoke more than most.