Vienna

Day 1 – Sunday 7th June

This is the road outside the Hotel – this is really “Day 2” as we had already spent a full 24 hours travelling from Taunton to Vienna by train, but “Day 1” actually in Vienna.

The worst bit was finding someone already in our cabin on the night train from Cologne, but luckily the guard explained she was in the right cabin on the right train just the wrong day!

The annoying thing was she had already polished off both our “sangria to go” drinks AND our pretzels.

We did also find people sat in our seats on the Thalys train from Brussels to Cologne but their ticket said Brussels to Paris Nord (Not the Cologne train they were sat in!)

Getting to sleep on the night train is not that easy as the mattresses are very thin but at least we had beds when other carriages only had “couchettes” or basic seats.

Getting into the top bunk was not easy but in the morning I discovered there was a fold away step ladder I could have used!

We also discovered that there is an AC charging point under the bottom bunk, but only 30 minutes before arriving at Vienna Miedling.   Luckily sleeper passengers have use of OBB lounges for 2 hours before and after trips so a chance to top up our phone charges.

Austria is a “feel at home” country if you have a Three payg sim which saves a fortune as it means unlimited data and free calls – Belgium and Germany are annoyingly not “feel at home” so we had some EE payg sims to tide us over on £5 (24 hour) data bundles.

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This is the famous RingStrabe which is a sort of inner ring road for Vienna but it has all the famous buildings along it like the opera house, rathaus, university etc

There is a “ring tram” but as we had 3 day travel passes we rode the #1 & #2 trams for free rather than pay for the tourist trams.

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The tram system is really good and the metro system is also good but trams have the benefit of a good view but metro is better for longer hops.

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Our hotel was just outside the Ringstrabe, near the museum quarter.  The nearest metro stop was volkstheatre but we later discovered a handy #49 tram takes us to within a block of the hotel from Dr Karl renner ring.

The first day we thought that rather than take transport we would walk from the hotel to the central cathedral which is exactly 2km on foot.  About half way there is a big park near the hoffburg area.   You then arrive in the “old town” with narrow pedestrianised streets and people having horse and carriage rides.

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The central area is packed with tourists, who are kept busy taking selfies with “selfie sticks” and tourists taking holiday snaps using huge ipads.

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This was some sort of archaeological site

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As we got nearer the historic centre there were more shops, this one with an unusual window display

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This restaurant had mist generators which would help keep diners cool

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A nice local draught beer

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We got the metro back to the Hotel – the metro system seems very good and you never have to wait long for a train

Day 2 – Monday 8th June

The next day we had at least had a decent rest as the first day we were suffering from sleep deprivation after the night train.

This is a display of single malts one the short walk from the hotel to the local metro

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The plan was to each get a 3 day “vienna card” as this gives unlimited metro and tram travel and saves faffing about buying individual tickets. There are also some discounts to be had, so we walked to the local “volkstheatre” metro station and took the U2 line to praterstern where there is a sort of theme park called Prater – one of the main attractions is the big wheel.   The picture below is the praterstern metro & shopping area – quite a large station as serves both U1 & U2 lines and the S-bahn

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The big wheel is called the Wiener Riesenrad and the views are very good – this is the view north east towards the vienna UN centre and you can also see the Donauturm tower with it’s revolving cafe bar.

We realised that the tower could be visited to just needed to work out the metro stop to take us there – only 3 stops on the U1 line

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Before heading to the Donauturm we had a refreshing beer at the base of the Riesenrad

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After our beer we headed back to Praterstern and took the U1 line as far as Kaisermühlen VIC – the last bit stands for Vienna International Centre

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U Snack at Kaisermühlen VIC metro – this whole area seemed very modern but dates from the 70’s although many buildings are a lot newer

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The VIC itself looked very impressive with circular shaped buildings up to 28 floors in height

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I quite like the design of this modern residential building with balconies all the way round

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This looks like an older 1970’s “tower block” style of flats and impressive in the number of storeys – it looked in good condition compared with the same type of block in the UK

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It was quite a long walk to the TV tower through a large park – there were a lot of signs saying “no golf”, “golf kills” etc

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Luckily there was no queue for the lift and it is very fast and has a glass roof so you can see the lift shaft above you.

They have toilets with fantastic views, even the cubicles!   There is a really good cafe and we had some soft drinks while we did a 360 degree rotation which takes about 40 minutes at a guess.

Below is the metro station with a good pattern to the windows.

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This building is good with a pattern on the side

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Inside the metro station – this one is raised up rather than below ground

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Day 3 – Tuesday 9th June

As it was my birthday I thought I’d make the most of it an do a couple of art museums – luckily our hotel is near the museum quarter so only a 10 minute walk to the museums.

This is an interesting camera shop near the hotel.

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There was a school next to the hotel with a scooter park for the kids – compare this with the studid system in the UK where most kids arrive in a 4×4 on the “school run”

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I like the little fish icon on the wall here as this means we are not far from the hotel – it is quite a climb from the metro stop to the hotel, at least till we discovered the handy tram just a level block from the hotel.

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The mumok museum was first on my hit list – even the building looks very good – it is a modrn art museum a bit like the tate modern and the ludwig museum in cologne.

This telephone looks like one of the original “trimphone” phones from the 70’s

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There was a large enclosed “dark” exhibit with brightly lit cabinets full of 1970’s artefacts – actually it was not that brightly lit as I had to use a shutter speed of 1/11th of a second

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The below ground levels of the museum (levels -1,-2 & -3) had some unusual exhibits with old analog tv screens showing strange “actionism” art

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The lift system was very modern where you had to stand on a glass platform while waiting for a glass lift so you could see down below you all 8 floors.

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This is the entrance / foyer level (level 0)

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The next stop was the Leopold musuem – it had a lot of works by gustav klimpt and egon schiele

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more at the leopold musuem

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this klimt is called death and life

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After the musuems we decided to take the metro into the centre again and look at the main cathedral – st stephens

there were a lot of candles being lit

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Day 4 – Wednesday 10th June

I thought I would have a look at the historic centre of the city – we normally try and book hotels as near to the historic centre of cities but it is difficult to find reasonably priced hotels in Vienna “old town”.

The transport system is so good in Vienna that it was not too bad getting into the central area luckily.

The central area near the river is know as Schwedenplatz – it’s not the main danube but a canal loop that diverts from the main river but it’s still quite wide.

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This is the riverside area

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There is quite a lot of graffti along the riverside which adds a bit of colour

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After walking along the riverbank I headed back towards the old town with its narrow streets

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this hotel looks very cool and is just off the main square at Stephansplatz – it’s called Hotel Topazz

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This is a shopping area just off Stephansplatz

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It’s possible to climb the north tower of the central cathedral and the views are really good in all directions

This view is south south west with the large green roof of the opera in the middle distance and with the Vienna business park in the distance, about 2 miles from the centre near Miedling station.

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People taking pictures near the central shopping area

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Some of the narrow back streets to the west of the central square

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stencilled street art in the narrow paved streets

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as you get nearer the ringstrabe the buildings get a bit grander and the streets are wider – there are quite a few artists sketching here

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a grand shopping arcade

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a busy street corner – there were quite a few markets near here

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next to the ringstrabe there is a very grand building which is vienna university – it’s not really set up as a tourist attraction but the building is very grand and the whole building was pretty much accessible to the public

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The university had quite a few levels – this was a high corridor on about level 5 which had a lot of lockers and linked the 2 sides of the building – i actually passed a student on a skateboard who was working on a laptop computer as he skated along the corridor.

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By this time I was a bit more familiar with the tram routes with the help of the pdf tram map I had downloaded so took the tram back to the hotel

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This is the tram stop just one block from the hotel – very handy!

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Day 5 – Thursday 11th June

Day 5 was not really a full day as we had to check out of the hotel by noon – it was decided the DDSG blue danube boat trip would be ideal for the last afternoon as our overnight train was due to depart from Vienna HBF at about 9.45pm

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There is a very modern quay at Scwedenplatz where you can buy tickets and get a beer with a good view of the river – we went for the “half round trip” which was about 3 hours and took in a huge lock.

As we were waiting there was an american tourist talking about the various tour boats and I said I was on the MS Wien but I was not saying it right – he said it’s Veen NOT Ween!

The MS Wien was very new and only about a year old – we sat at the back and a waiter brought beers to our table

The boat had a wrap around deck so you could walk all the way round – most tables were at the back but this is the front bit with a few more seats

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The huge lock was the best bit of the trip

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The whole trip was very industrial but I find this more interesting than just seeing tourist highlights from a boat tour – no annoying commentary as well!

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As we only did the half round trip the boat set us down at the main danube channel jetty near vorgartenstrabe where we got the metro back to our hotel to collect our cases and get the tram to the Vienna HBF

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The HBF is completely new but the tram stops at the “wrong” end which was deserted!  Luckily we found our way to the OBB lounge which all sleeper car passengers can use (even standard class passengers) – this is a handy bonus as they have free beers and free soft drinks and power points for charging phones.   We were a bit more used to the sleeper car system, like handing in the breakfast choices (you can have 6 items each- bread rolls, meats, coffee etc)

Another sleeper tip is to get the attendant to pull out the bunks straight away as this pretty much doubles the usable space – they had cartons of sangria which was not too bad, plus pretzels.

Breakfast is served about 7am which leaves about an hour to have breakfast while the train follows the rhine valley to cologne.

It’s then the Thalys train to Brussels followed by eurostar to london.

The Eurostar stopped just before the medway crossing as someone was trespassing on the line, a bit annoying but it means a 12.5% rebate on the return fare – luckily we had off peak british rail tickets back to taunton as we missed the train we originally planned on and we normally get advance tickets which are tied to a specific train.

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