Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Viennese Whirls, Vienna

Guten Morgen ETD Followers!

From Hungary to Austria we took another morning train and arrived in Vienna in the late morning. After dropping off our bags at our hostel, Wombats; we again picked the brain of the guy on the counter of the hostel. The hostel was very helpful; they even had a pre-planned itinerary for travellers that only have 1-2 days. So we decided to follow the itinerary so we could cover all the main sights.

First stop we headed south to Schonbrunn Palace and Garden. This is where the beautiful Austrian architecture started. Grand buildings surrounded by wide open green spaces. It would be lovely in the summer time. There was a maze/labyrinth there also, but unfortunately it was closed as there were no leaves on the trees. I was a bit disappointed, oh well.

We slowly meandered our way up the hill towards Café Gloriette. There was a zig-zag path that took you up the hill gently, or there was the steeper slope taking you to the top of the hill quicker. We opted for the quicker route to the top to bypass the mass of tourists heading in the same direction. This provided us with a breathtaking view of Vienna, a great way to start off our Austrian trip.

Next stop was a trip through the Naschmarket, an open air market which runs from Kenttenbruckengasse to Karlsplatz. There were tonnes of stalls selling local produce, freshly cooked falafels, dried fruit, spices, fresh fruit and veges, and local pastries. There were also loads of small restaurants embedded between to market stalls. We didn’t try anything, it was more for the experience and atmosphere of the local markets in Vienna.

At Karlsplatz we awed at the Karlskirche (St. Charles’ Church), another amazing architectural building; before entering the main ring of the city.

We wandered past the Opera House and found something cheap to – a hot dog. This was no ordinary hot dog... But a bread roll, cored out, filled with mustard and tomato sauce, then stuffed with a massive sausage, and the top of the roll put back on. Due to gravity, when you got to the end of the hot dog, the bread roll was filled with sauce and could’ve been a messy experience if you weren’t careful! Luckily I didn’t, but Gaffa was a different story…haha.

We then walked up the famous shopping pedestrian strip of Karntner Strasse. A shopaholics dream come true, everything from Gucci and LV, H&M, souvenir stores to McDonalds. Of course, on our budget we could only window shop! At the end of the street, there is St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Stephansdom, a grand church and another one of Vienna’s amazing architectural sites to marvel at. We had a look inside the church also.

Next stop was the Parliament House and the Old Town Hall. We walked through Volksgarten and Heldenplatz, past the Hofburg Palace and the also through Michaelplatz and past the Spanish Riding School. 

We didn't stop for long, as we were headed past Parliament House and to the Old Town Hall, opposite Burgtheater. Since it was winter, there is a massive ice skating rink installed in front of the Old Town Hall. Awesome! There was a main rink, and a smaller rink. Then in between there were mazes of tracks whirling through the gardens between the two rinks. Very cool! 

Since it was night time already, we decided to ice skate the following day, so we could get our monies worth. The Old Town Hall at night was phenomenal though. With the lights lit up, it looks absolutely amazing at night. And especially with the ice rinks, and numerous food/drink stalls around, the atmosphere was electric. 

We wandered back towards the metro station and bypassed a noodle stand called Funny Noodles. Not funny, but very yummy noodles! Gaffa and I shared a large portion of roast duck and noodles, for only 4.50 euros, it was a cheap, tasty and very filling dinner option. Oh and we also got a crepe and waffle from one of the stalls at the ice skating before we left. Can't resist the sweet stuff!

On our second day in Vienna we rose early to get a start on our ice skating. The fee for ice skating and skate hire was valid for the whole day, for only 12 euros per person for unlimited ice skating between 9am - 10pm, what a bargain! Plus locker hire was only 2 euros for the whole day, so we had numerous breaks in between and left our skates in the lockers while we were doing some more sightseeing. The ice skating is called Weiner Eistraum and runs from 20.01.12 to 04.03.12.

After about an hour of skating (we had to start off slow, since we hadn't skated since Gaffa's 29th Birthday), we visited the Kaisergruft - the resting place and imperial crypts of Austria's royalty - the Habsburg's. Very interesting, but best to get a guide; as we were just wandering around admiring the elaborate coffins, and sneaking in on an American lady giving a guided tour... 

Back to some more ice skating, in and out of the rinks and down and around all the tracks. I managed to get a pair of larger and more comfy skates, as my first pair were a bit small and squished my toes.. my new skates were RED! Gaffa was extremely jealous! 

Next break was for lunch and some souvenir shopping for my t-shirt. We had noodles again! They were just so tasty and cheap! 

Our last ice skating session was just as the sun was setting. We skated on into the night, with all the beautiful lights from the Old Town Hall as our backdrop. Just amazing! There was also a charity hockey match going on, and a band as well. 

After our day full of skating we warmed up with a mug of Amerettopunche (hot wine with a large shot of ameretto) and for dinner, you guessed it - noodles again! The lady recognised us from the afternoon, and gave us a massive portion for dinner. Score! We were very satisfied!

Next we head back into Germany, to Muchen this time... Stay tuned! 

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