Exploring Central Europe: VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The train ride from Prague to Vienna was comfortable and efficient—on time departure and arrival, good food and drinks. We took a taxi to our new “HomeAway” then went to Wind, a nearby Viennese restaurant that was recommended by the agent that settled us into the apartment.

For the first time during our trip, a restaurant did not have an English menu–perhaps because we were in a local neighborhood, not a tourist location. The waitress spoke English, though, and she offered to read the list for us. We decided on traditional Viennese fare: goose leg and breast, dumpling stuffed with chestnut, and red cabbage, which we enjoyed with a nice bottle of white wine–the meal was superb.

Our apartment was a modern loft in a 17th century building—not much to look at from the outside but quite comfortable, with all of the modern conveniences. There was a church directly across the street, and every morning at 7:00 we were awakened by a concert of bells.

15th Century St. Othmar Catholic Church

15th Century St. Othmar Catholic Church

We had brought a Vienna Pass that gave us three days of on-and-off bus as well as entry to several local landmarks. The main stop was in front of the Opera House, and easily accessible to us by tram (from the stop right near the apartment), and we took full advantage of both to check out the sights.

Vienna Opera House

Vienna Opera House

We were surprised when we learned that the bus had three different routes, each 90+ minutes long. We rode two of the three routes on the first day, and learned a lot about the city and its environs–Vienna is an amazing city, with many different facets.

The major line (red) went by two of the largest Christmas markets, which we had been looking forward to visiting. One was in Mariatheresaplatz, a city park between two huge museums: Art History and Natural History. It had about 70 vendors, including a number of food and beverage kiosks.

Museum of Art History

Museum of Art History

The other was in front of City Hall–the relatively newly redesigned Christmas World–and was absolutely spectacular, with about 150 vendors and two large ice skating rinks with various pathways so that people did not just skate in a circle.

Christkindlmarkt at City Hall Square

Christkindlmarkt at City Hall Square

After riding along all three lines, we got on our No. 1 tram and took a detour stop at one of the Christmas markets where we walked around a bit and had some Gulwhein (hot mulled wine, which we had previously enjoyed in Prague). Surprisingly, all of the signs on the food/drink kiosks were in German; however, most of the sellers and servers spoke English and helped us. Then we got back on our tram and headed “home” where we decided what we would go back to see the next day.

If you are interested in learning more of my take on Christmas Markets, check out my previous blog titled CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN VIENNA.

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