The past month has been very busy for Nick and me; unfortunately, that means updates on our activities haven’t made their way here!
One of the most exciting events of the past month is that Nick and I snuck away to Europe for 10 days to visit Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and Munich, Germany. These are all cities we wanted to visit during our trip to Europe last year (you can read about that trip here, here, here and here), but couldn’t squeeze in during that vacation.
After an 8-hour flight, Nick and I arrived in Vienna very early in the morning (too early to check into our rental apartment) so we oriented ourselves to the city with a quick 30-minute tram tour around the Ringstrasse, or central ring of the city.
After our tour and a cafe breakfast, we got settled into our cottage rental. Once again we booked all of our rental apartments through AirBnB (similar to HomeAway) and only had great experiences – not only does it allow access to a washer/dryer and a small kitchen to enjoy breakfast or other meals at home, but you also typically meet with a local host to get the key to the apartment, and he or she is usually full of great advice about the best sights, restaurants and activities (like the map and tips that were written in chalk on our rental’s bedroom door below).
After our quick nap, we spent the afternoon following Rick Steve’s City Walk Tour (listed below), which took us about 2 hours, but could take more or less time depending on how much you sightsee at each location.
- Opera house (Staatsoper)
- Burggarten Park (Palace Gardens)
- Albertina Muesum and square
- Kärntner Strasse (pedestrian-mall shopping street)
- Kaisergruft Imperial crypt
- Neuer Markt
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral
- Plague Column
- St. Peter’s Church
- Kohlmarkt (high-end shopping street)
- Michaelerplatz square
- Hofburg palace complex and gardens
- Heldenplatz (Hero’s Square)
Nick and I especially enjoyed our visit to Stephansplatz, the gotchic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and one of the most iconic structures in the city. The immense cathedral was breathtakingly beautiful inside and out, and we especially enjoyed our climb up the south tower, all 343 winding steps!
The climb was definitely worth it; the tower offered an impressive view of the city below.
After a full day of sightseeing, one our favorite Viennaese places for grabbing a drink or a bite to eat was the City Hall Food Circus, an open-air summer beer garden with dozens of food stands located in the park in front of City Hall, or Rathausplatz. The area was filled with locals and tourists alike and was a great place to rest our legs and enjoy a beer in the afternoon sun (we enjoyed it so much we went back again the following day!).
The next day we headed to the Naschmarkt Flohmarkt, which is a bustling food and flea market that stretches for nearly a dozen blocks; we spent more than two hours walking through the crowded stalls, which sold the most amazing array of fruits and vegetables, spices and meats, among other things.
After winding through the flohmarkt, we made our way to Mariahilfer Strasse, one of Vienna’s busiest shopping streets, which is lined with shops and cafes.
After ducking into a few stores and grabbing a cafe lunch, we headed to Prater Amusement Park, supposedly the world’s oldest amusement park. Besides roller coasters and Ferris wheels, the park also has sprawling gardens and an overcrowded beer garden.
One of my favorite activities we did in Vienna was the afternoon bicycle tour we took to the heurigen, or wine gardens, which are clustered around the edge of town. We booked our bike rentals through a company called Pedal Power and specifically reserved their wine garden tour. We were joined by a dozen or so other riders, a group of Austrian women on a weekend getaway and a Canadian couple currently living in New Jersey.
The tour wound along the Danube River through grassy parks and rural neighborhoods and was mostly traffic free. We made stops to two different heurigen, and it was such an enjoyable evening, chatting with the tour guide and our new American friends and relaxing in the warm afternoon sun while sipping on wine.
And just like that, our three days in Vienna were over, and we headed to the train station for the five hour train ride to the Czech Republic.
We really enjoyed our time in Vienna, and I’d definitely recommend a visit to this great country to anyone that might be considering it!