Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015 - Eastern Europe Summary (Vienna)

Duration: 3.5 days (arrived around noon on Sunday September 20, 2015 and left in the afternoon on Tuesday September 22, 2015)
Cost: Hotel Graf Stadion ($396.93 for 3 nights), average meal was roughly 17 € a person for us, and admissions to sights and transportation.

Highlights (in no particular order):

Schönbrunn Palace, I initially thought that I would be tired of palaces by now, but the scale of this one and the flow was quite nice and we spent an entire morning here. We didn't visit all the sights, but the ones that we saw were quite nice and even if you decide on not visiting the interiors, the outside is just as nice and it is free to walk the grounds. I would highly recommend visiting the maze section for the metal bird.

Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Belvedere Palace, similar to Schönbrunn Palace, I felt that this was a nice stop especially since it is close to the city but it feels like you are outside. It isn't a very large site and you can walk the grounds in under an hour which is free.

Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace
Vienna Parliament, this was my surprise for Vienna. I don't recall visiting many parliament buildings in my time, but this was a surprise and I would highly recommend visiting and doing the tour (and skip the Vienna Opera House unless you REALLY want to see it). The tour is an hour long and it available in English and German and well worth it. Have a look at the pictures and decide (I won't spoil what the tour guide walks about).

Vienna Parliament
Vienna Parliament
Vienna Parliament
Vienna at night, the buildings in the city are well lit at night and I am surprised at how well the pictures turned out. Do make sure to try to visit the buildings when it is dark (or just admire the pictures that Allison took with her point and shoot).

Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Vienna at night
Lowlights (in no particular order):

Vienna Opera House, it may have been the time that we came, or my expectations for this place, but it was quite the let down. There were clearly too many tourists because they broke down an English tour group into multiple to accommodate and this meant that you are rushed around and you don't get a chance to appreciate anything. The tour guide just talks as they go and since you don't have headsets, you will usually miss things and have to ask them to repeat themselves. The last part of the tour is where you get to sit inside and admire the theater which is what you are here for. It is nice, again, our tour guide didn't go through much and it was just a Q & A session, so if there are no questions, you will be escorted out.

Vienna Opera House
Vienna Opera House
Vienna Opera House
Must try food places:

Wratchko, if you happen to get bad service, I guess you have been warned but this was my favourite meal in Vienna out of all the places that we have tried. The service was slow, the food was slow, but the amount of staff was low, so while I shouldn't be saying that they should be forgiven for this, I can sympathize with their scenario.

Grilled fish
Meatballs
Pork cheeks
Beer!
Figlmüller, come for the schnitzel experience. I thought the schnitzel was good but the highlight for me was their potato salad which was part of their salad choices. I would suggest not getting one per person like we did and just share one and have a salad and maybe something else. Make sure not to eat the bread because you will be charged for it (unless you want to).

Schnitzel with salads and roasted potatoes
Schnitzel next to a 5.5 inch phone for size reference
What would I change?

Based on what we visited and what we went into and what we just saw from the outside, I feel that 3 days would have been enough and I think that's the only change I would make. The last half day we had to figure out what to do and while Prater had the world's oldest ferris wheel, I don't think it is that important of a sight to visit (in my opinion). So, ideally, if we left in the morning of the last day, Vienna would have been fine.