December 30, 2015. Took the plane heading for Vienna to start my long-awaited winter break travel.
After arriving at Vienna International Airport, I took the S-bahn railway (S7) to reach Traisengasse station. The same train goes towards the city centre. Don’t forget to validate the tickets before getting onboard! Tip: Take the S-bahn and not CAT (City Airport Train) if you want to save some euros. The CAT is much more expensive (12€) compared to the S-bahn (4.40€), although much faster. Need to thank my Austrian friend for this tip 😀
At Traisengasse station, I was warmly greeted by my good friend Karin. We took a 10 minutes walk to her flat. This was my accommodation for the following 5 days of my stay in Vienna (Thanks a lot Karin! Danke schön!! xoxo).
Day 1. We took a short walk to see the River Danube the evening I arrived. Too bad it was too dark to take good pictures. On the way home I bought a weekly ticket for the local transport (U-Bahn (subway), tram, and bus). It was really ridiculous that the weekly ticket (16.20€) was slightly cheaper than the 72 hour ticket (16.50€). I guess that’s the advantage of going around with a local. You really get to know stuff. Tip: If you ever go to Vienna for more than 3 days, just get the weekly local transport ticket instead of the 72h one. You can buy tickets at the ticket machines in subway stations with cash or card.
That night we had Karin’s homemade Griessnockerl (Austrian dumplings in soup) from for dinner. It was really good! Lucky me. haha.
Day 2. Free sight-seeing tour around central Vienna with Karin as my guide! We took the tram to a stop near the Town Hall or ‘Rathaus‘. On New Year’s Eve, tram routes might change a bit since the roads are blocked by stages set up for the night’s celebrations. Don’t worry about the subways, they still run on their usual routes (obviously, since they’re underground anyway. lol.)
We continued our walk towards the Hofburg Imperial Palace complex, the working place of the President of Austria.
Did you know that you could rent Neue Burg for occasions like weddings and parties? They have two halls, The Hunting Plateu and The Ephesus Museum. Fancy having your dream wedding there? 😉
The Hofburg Imperial Palace is the official seat of the President of Austria. Unfortunately I did not enter the palace, therefore I cannot give my opinion about it. But they have an old library with old books, and I’m sure a visit to the Kaiser apartments and the Sissi Museum would be worthwhile.
After a tour of Hofburg, we headed towards the shopping streets of Vienna, Kohlmarkt and Graben.
In Austria, New Year’s Eve celebration is called Silvester. A route is set up around the Old City main streets, called ‘Silvesterpfad‘ or New Year’s Eve trail. The Silvesterpfad is lined with stages at different points, performing different genres of music from 2pm until 2am the following morning. The city will become a gigantic party zone! And not only that, you will find hundreds of stalls selling warm punch in cute pig-shaped mugs (didn’t manage to get a picture of it ㅠ_ㅠ) and a huge variety of food. The mugs have a different design every year (the wine glasses too), and you can actually take them home since you leave guarantee money for the mug when you buy punch! Still, it would be nice to ask the seller first though 😉
An interesting fact I learned while in Vienna is that pigs, ladybugs, and clovers are symbols of luck for the coming year in Austria. I think that’s cute.
It was pretty cold that day and the wind was blowing hard, so we decided to get ourselves a cup of hot coffee (or rather hot chocolate for me since I don’t drink coffee, just so you know). The cafe, Cafe de L’Europe, was a nice one with good prices and comfy atmosphere. I would recommend it if you ever need a cup of something warm while you’re out walking the streets of central Vienna.
When we talk about Vienna, we can’t forget about St. Stephen’s Cathedral with it’s majestic spire and medieval architecture. So that was our next destination, just around the corner from the cafe.
And of course we went into the cathedral itself. If you’re wondering, entrance is free.
Info: If you want to attend mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, on Saturdays at 7pm they have a mass in English.
Next stop is…*drumroll* Chocolate and Wafers! Manner is the number one brand of Austrian sweet souvenirs. Get some wafers and cookies (the plum filled ones!) for gifts, or for yourself at least. haha. The shop is located right next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral (address: Stephansplatz 7).
And if you’re a fan of nougats and chocolates, get some Mozart marzipan choco balls with nougats inside called ‘Mozartkugel‘. You can get them at the Manner store or at a Mostly Mozart store also nearby (Kärntner Straße 20).
After getting sweets, we walked past Vienna State Opera House on our way to the subway.
And we headed towards a beautiful baroque style church, Karlskirche or St. Charles’s Church. It is located south of Karlsplatz.
Then we returned to Karin’s place to wait for her friend Jenny who was coming to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us! We had a pre-party (with some white wine ;p) and left for the city centre at around 11pm that night.
We stayed in that square for a while and headed towards Stephenplatz (in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral). It was crazy crowded and we could barely stand! The fireworks were nice, but unfortunately I did not manage to get any photos. It was just impossible to take my camera out in that huge mass. Even got my beanie stolen (ㅠ_ㅠ).
An orchestra played a waltz right after the fireworks and some people even danced amidst the crowd. It was fun. And guess what we did next.. escaped the craze in the city centre and went back home to finish another bottle of wine, accompanied with the most awesome homemade cookies of course! Prost! haha 😉
Day 3. Happy New Year 2016! We started the first day of the year with lunch at a local restaurant nearby. And of course I had to taste Wiener Schnitzel while I’m in Vienna. The portion is huge and super good! (I was informed that it is ALWAYS huge anywhere, but don’t worry they’ll give you foil wraps to take the unfinished schnitzel home). Got a picture below to make you drooool. lol.
After stuffing ourselves with a huge lunch we visited Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence. The Schönbrunn palace complex is massive. Tiergarten, Vienna’s zoo, is also located there. If you visit during the Christmas holiday season (as we did), in front of the palace there is usually a Christmas market. To get there from the city centre, take the U4 subway line and get off at Schönbrunn station.
Later on we stopped for evening coffee at a cafe nearby. Dommayer Cafe, located at Dommayergasse 1, is a really fancy cafe and the pastry was awesome. I had apfelstrudel (English: apple strudel). You can’t leave Austria without eating authentic apple strudel! haha. Would recommend this cafe too.
Day 4. Day trip to Bratislava! I will write all about it in another post 😉
Day 5. We visited Vienna’s National History Museum. The museum has a total of 40 exhibition halls. In the museum you could find a meteorite from Mars, real dinosaur bones, Steller’s sea cow skeleton, and many more. Apart from the museum itself, there were several interesting exhibitions on show such as the Venus of Willendorf statue which was made in 25000 BC. Entrance fee is 10€ for adults and 5€ for students. It’s quite worth a visit if you’re into prehistoric stuff. Taking photos is allowed (I was taking photos when a guard passed by and smiled, so that means it’s allowed right?).
That day we had lunch at a place called Zum Bettelstudent (Johannesgasse 12). It is a walking distance from the museum. The restaurant is comfy with a menu of Viennese dishes. I had blunzn gröstl (blood sausage) with sauerkraut (finely chopped fermented cabbage). They served it with too much cabbages in my opinion, but nonetheless was delicious. Köstlich!! You should try some of this stuff too while you’re in Austria.
So.. sadly that was the final stop of my stay in Vienna. I left with a bus from Wien Erdberg station that evening. It was pretty tricky finding the bus terminal (or maybe because I am just bad at finding directions. haha). If you ever take a bus from Vienna to Prague or Budapest, or some place else, the buses are located across the road (there is an overhead crossing connected to the Wien Erdberg subway station) and once you get there just check the schedule and bus platform inside the bus ticket office or ask around. I booked my bus tickets online previously (flixbus.com) for around 14€, which I think is a pretty good deal. Now, I’m headed for a four hours bus ride to Prague, my next destination! Yeah!! See you in my next post 😉