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December 28, 2014

So, I never got around to writing up our Vienna experiences.  Our last night in Vienna was spent in a hotel, so I didn’t have the keyboard I had at the apartment.  And since then I’ve been busy and/or tired.  After finally uploading some photos and updating posts, the previous entries now have links to photos in them, if you’re interested.

Prague, Bratislava, Budapest.

A Google+ Photo Story is also available.

We arrived in Vienna in short order after leaving Budapest.  There’s a nice high speed train that links the two cities, and we were there in a little over 2 hours.  There was some weird police activity going on at both points of the train ride.  While sitting in the station, some Hungarian police boarded the train and started asking some seemingly random people in the seats near us (but not us) for passports.  Nobody was able to produce any, and were asked to accompany the officers off the train.  Okay, that was weird.  Then, between the last stop before Vienna and the Vienna stop, some Austrian police came through and asked random people around us (but, again, not us) for passports and other things, and those people were then rounded up into the adjacent car.  No idea what was going on there, it was a kinda weird start to the last leg of our trip.

Our flat was immediately adjacent to the train station, as I’d noted previously, so we were quickly set up and on our way for our first day in the city.  For the first time since my unsuccessful attempt in Prague, we decided to get a SIM for our wireless modem since they were so cheap (€5 for a SIM w/ 1GB of data).  That worked flawlessly, and we were able to pick up a few bags of Tisha’s new favorite snack (which, of course, is not available in the US).  We hit the Vienna cat cafe for a bit, and also visited a great little Christmas market (here’s a 360° view of it).  We visited the Slovak center in Vienna to take in an exhibit of Christmas decorations that our host in Bratislava invited us to.  A nice, fun day, all in all.

Our next day, we did a city walk with a stop in the St. Stephens church and its associated Christmas market. Our self-guided walk took us through some of the sights and the main pedestrian mall, as well as the Capuchin Crypt.  Ultimately it ended at the Palace grounds (where there was yet another Christmas market), and from there we made our way  towards a cafe for some coffee before walking to the city hall and its associated (and huge) Christmas market. After exploring the market and enjoying walking the city some more, we made our way back towards Stephensplatz for some dinner.

After a nice morning coffee, we hit the main big street market in Vienna, “Naschmarkt.”  Enjoyed a nice lunch at an authentic feeling small gasthaus named “Landssknecht Treff”. We decided to visit the Opera House for a tour.  I’m glad we did, it was so inspiring it made me want to go to the opera for a performance, so we bought some cheap seats for the following night. We rounded out that day with the Music Museum (Haus der Musik) for their weird, fun exhibits, some beers at a local brewpub (1516) before dinner and adjourning for the night.

Our following day was all indoor activities, mainly spending a day at the very impressive Museum of Fine Arts, followed by the opera we bought tickets for.  It was an Italian opera telling a version of the Cinderella story, called La Cenerentola.  We both really enjoyed it, and were impressed with the view from our supposed sub-par seats.  We were in the Procenium seating, so in a box by the stage.  But we could see most of the activities just fine (unlike the poor people behind us who could not see a thing).

On our last day, our intention was to visit Schöbrunn palace.  I’d mistakenly assumed it being a lousy day and being December would mean the tourist crowds would be minimal, but I was wrong.  They had long enough wait that we would have spent the day waiting to just get a little time in the palace, so we hiked back to the center for a visit to the Albertina museum, which we both really enjoyed.  Earlier in the day I’d made a dinner reservation at this wonderfu little restaurant we’d found called Gasthaus Poeschl, which is where we headed after another visit to the Vienna cat cafe.  The restaurant was simply fantastic.  The food was delicious and very authentic, as was the clientele.  It’s a tiny place, with maybe seating for 50 people, including at the bar (where Tisha and I were seated).  Great beer, great food, and at the server’s suggestion we did a little after drink of Nusserl.  I have a mission to try and get bottles of this, but it looks pretty much impossible to find outside Vienna and Germany.

That wraps up our 2014 European adventure.  Another fantastic trip!  Can’t wait for the next one.

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