Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tell Me a Story Feb 2015: Travel Log - Vienna

For the last 3 1/2 years I have been fortunate to be working in German with the US Army.  Although it has had it’s drawbacks (missing my daughter, family and friends) it has been a dream come true. Along the way I have met a lot of good people and had some wonderful experiences. 

One of these experiences was earlier this month when a friend Julia and I met Vienna. Although I had been there before I went back for a different view of the city.  We both got there early in the morning after working all day the day before, getting no more than 3 hours of sleep and both of us beginning our travel around 3 am. 

As we were waiting in line for train tickets into Vienna I had the bright idea to start the adventure with a Budweiser  (original from the Czech Republic and sooo much better than the “Bud” sold in the states) and chocolate. This idea would prove to be not such a good idea later in the day.

Making our way to the flat we rented through AirB&B with the directions from the owner we quickly learned that when Viennese say a short walking distance they mean a mile or two. We were told a couple of times the street we needed was just up the way a short distance. That short distance turned into at least two miles if not more. As we got closer we discovered we could have taken a different Metro which stops two blocks from where we needed to go. On the bright side this insured we got 10,000 steps in for the day and we learned that Viennese can be very nice and very helpful.  

And the view from the flat is pleasant:

After we dropped our bags we headed out begin our self guided off the beaten path tour/adventure. We actually had a list of things we wanted to look for, so off we went. Our first stop was a cute tea shop where we had tea and quiche for lunch (sorry no food pictures) and got helpful advise navigating the Metro.  

The remainder of our day was spend looking for items on our list which we only managed to find one item (a cello stopper strap). 

We finished the evening at a restaurant across the street from our flat mainly because we were too tired to keep looking for a place to eat. We struggled to stay awake through dinner, which both of us agreed was not very good anyway even with the wine and it’s dragonfly looking label.  It was then when we figured that having beer and chocolate for breakfast is not a great idea when your 40+ years old. We later learned the restaurant was rated one of the best in that area of town. 

Day Two
After breakfast we ventured to the flea market for a look around. WOW, was that interesting. It was a huge market with all sorts of items for sale and of course lots of antiques. We found it interesting to be walking along tables and tables of neatly organized items then to see a pile of items on a blanket which looked like they were spoils from their most recent home robbery. If nothing else it was entertaining. 

We then set off is search of more items on our list (an Austrian cookbook for my daughter). However first things first we stopped for lunch (a very late lunch) of an American breakfast and Mimosas.  The restaurant did not specifically have Mimosas on the menu so we made our own ordering a bottle of brut and several glasses of orange juice. I think the waiter thought we were crazy Americans. 

After killing the Mimosa ingredients and lunch we found the bookstore that advertised cookbooks in multiple languages. I decided on the on the Figlmuller Viennese Cuisine Booking by Pictures, which is a beautiful book in itself. 

With that we were off to find the upcycling store “Garbage” which we found with no difficulty. Garbage has a variety of household items, bags, purses, jewelry and other odds and ends made from every recycled items. Some of the items are made by individuals completing a drug and alcohol rehab program.  I could not resist buying a necklace and matching earrings made from various watch faces. Unfortunately photos do not capture how elegant and stunning it actually is. Julia also walked away with an equally stunning set made from recycled photos, however I forgot to get a picture of her set.

After our little shopping adventure we made our way to the closest metro station, which of course is right up the road a short way (lol another 10,000++ step day.)  We came across these cute dragons which I would have loved to see the fountain when it was running. 

Fast forward past the mile plus walk to the metro stop to the frustrating experience of looking for restaurants with good reviews only to find they are closed with no posted opening hours. We settle for another restaurant in the same area as the restaurant of choice. Unfortunately it was not a good dining experience: pushy waiter, bland food and heck the wine wasn’t even good.  :(   No good reviews for that place. (Strike two for dinner choices)

(Our sunset view before venturing out for dinner.)

Day Three
Sunday… Nothing is open in Europe on Sundays. Well ok, a few things are but not many, so finding things to do on a Sunday takes creativity if you do not want to do the normal touristy things. 

We opted for the Ferris wheel, which is touristy but there seemed to be more locals in line on Sunday morning than tourists. Originally built in 1897 and rebuilt in 1945, it is rather amazing to see. 

I came to the realization a few years ago that I am afraid of heights but I enjoy climbing church steeples and an occasional Ferris wheel in hopes of getting some good pictures. This particular morning was kind of smoggy which made taking pictures almost a pointless cause, but I managed a few shots.  

Thank goodness the ride was a quick one. I was glad to get back on solid ground. 

We ventured into the amusement park which was closed except for a few rides and a few people wandering about.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing with no specific agenda. Searching the internet we discovered the family whose cookbook I had bought the previous day also had a pretty famous restaurant “Figlmuller.” Our adventure for the evening was to locate and test the some of the recipes from the cookbook. Google maps took us almost directly there from the metro station. We were turned away from the smaller restaurant and directed to their larger restaurant around the corner. As we walked up to the door we were disappointed to see people waiting outside the door, but realized most of the people were not in line. We were seated after just a few minute wait. 

It was then when we realized the significance of “Figlmuller”  - ‘Home of the Schnitzel’ and they are huge, larger than the dinner plate it is served on. Julia not having had a good experience from ordering schnitzel at the restaurant the night before decided not to try the schnitzel be is famous or not. 

We went with the waiter’s suggestion to try the goulash. I have tried goulash in different countries and I have to say this was the best goulash I have ever had by far. They also have their own vineyard and the wine with dinner was delightful. I am kicking myself for not buying a bottle to go. 

After dinner we went on a mission to find a “waffle” shop, which was highly rated for their various waffle toppings. We were excited to try one of there waffles for dessert.  A few metro stops and ‘a short distance’ later we were extremely disappointed to find them closed as their advertised hours were until 10 pm and it was only 8:30. 

Realizing we were in a questionable neighborhood we waisted no time hopping the next tram to the nearest metro station and headed back to the flat for our final night in Vienna. 

Last Day:
After a little shopping we headed to the train station via the metro. Bored while waiting for the train I took a few iPhone photos. 

Julia and I said our goodbyes and parted ways until the next work related gathering. And a final end to wonderfully relaxing weekend as my plane takes off with a glimpse of the sunset in the distance and a snap shot of the city lights of Vienna. 

Next month Budapest, Hungary 

This is a circle blog so don't forget to check out what Sharon Meyer / Sharon Meyer Photography for you


  1. Wow, what fun. Goulash, it is years since I have had that. I cannot say I have ever seen it on a menu in the US. I spent a few days in Vienna back in the day and I loved it. Austria was one of my favorite stopping points. I love your mimosa photo as well as the cathedral image. I also love the color in the amusement park photo's. Thank you for sharing your beautiful weekend.

  2. What fun! I've never been to Europe, so I love reading about other people's adventures. Love that you made your own mimosas!

  3. I loved seeing Vienna through your eyes! My very favorite photos were of the ferris wheel.

  4. sounds like a fun trip!.. never been to Europe yet! maybe some day!.. thanks for sharing your trip with us!