Here are some of the places we went while in Vienna.
- Prater Amusement Park
- St Stephan’s Cathedral
- Shoyu Ramen
- Flak Tower
Here are some of the places we went while in Vienna.
What a cliff hanger eh? I ended that last post teasing that the next day (chronicled below) was magical, and then proceeded to wait 10 months before actually writing about it…well, suffice to say our stay in Italy was amazing and exhausting and I just couldn’t bring myself to sink 2 hours into writing posts while we were there…so here…10 months later, the Austria/Italy adventure continues…
St Stephan’s Cathedral is a massive (now) gothic church that dominates the skyline of the Vienna city center as it has for a long time. Originally built in the middle of the 12th century this church has gone through rebuilds, rearchitecture, and revolutions, but always been a symbol of Vienna. Singerstraße, the street our place was on was one of the roads that squared in Stephansplatz where the cathedral is, so we walked through here often. Kewl.
We woke up on second full (and final) day in Vienna to a bit of rain, but headed due north to a giant park situated between a tributary of the Danube river and the Daube itself called Augarten. There was a croissant or two. We entered the expansive green space on the south side and let the kids amble about to tire themselves out while we notionally search for a few of the 5 or 6 playgrounds rumored to in the park. When I say this place was giant, I’m not joking…in The States it would probably be constantly contested by some developer of mix-use apartment/town home crap.
Anyhow this park has been around in some for since the 1600s, but the the most interesting part about it are the decrepit World War 2 Axis anti-aircraft towers. These things are so impossibly huge and massive that apparently it is too expensive to bring them down. When Austria was liberated by the Soviets, they were unable to force the surrender of the power inside as even their most powerful guns were unable to inflict serious damage.
By this time the rain had calmed down and the kids (and their parents) were ready for a stroller nap, so we rattled our way back across the cobblestones back towards Stadtpark. While exploring yesterday, we noticed that there was a food & wine festival of sorts today and if you know anything about us, you know that is our kinda business.
Turns out Genussfestoval, Austria’s biggest food and wine festival, was happening today. Score. Like…2x score. Vendors were in from all over the country with their cheese, bread, recipes, (zomg you guys this Boar cacciatore business that I ate) and of course wine.
The walk from Augarten hadn’t been the smoothest (no naps for kids), but the sight of people stretched out on the lawn eating and drinking and generally having a fabulous time in what became a beautiful day, put some extra wind in our sails. Erin found a grassy area of the park and accumulated some ground-cover-worthy bean bags and chairs, while I went up to the vendors and basically dumped out the contents of my wallet.
After some food, the kids (and here is the magic part) feel asleep in the stroller/bean bags, so I found an ATM and once again handed all of our money to the wine purveyors.
…ok, and I’m trying to figure out how to get this in here so I’ll just say it…we were served with real glass…in a park…at a festival…with tons of people around…real glass…amazing…
R woke up and went over and played with a bunch of kids he couldn’t communicate with, but they were playing with dirt and rocks and stuff so it didn’t really seem to matter. All in all it was an amazingly relaxing day, and when we all really started to feel like we were on vacation.
None of us were the mood to find a place to eat dinner or cook, so we just grabbed some more food from a vendor for dinner and headed home for the night…expect that on the way home we found a Ramen (yes Ramen) place called Shoyu and it smelled so delicious that Erin and I both immediately needed it. We took the kids home and I went back out in the chilly evening (in flip flops, to prove a point) to get the takeaway and have a beer while I waited.
Tomorrow we head for Italy!
So we didn’t really have much explicitly planned for Vienna. Part of this is because, despite what it may look like from this blog, neither Erin or I are really good when it comes to planning these types of things (we still don’t have a place to stay on our last night here). Also, when you are traveling with two small children, reality, naps, and diapers can make short work of your plan. I also realize that the posts on this trip have featured my kids in pictures extensively. Sorry not sorry. This is a different kind of trip than our soirees to Thailand, and we like to take pictures of those little buggers.
The plans that we did have in Vienna were centered around going to parks and eating. We started the morning out by cooking breakfast in the apartment and heading west across the city center towards the Heldenplatz (Hero’s Square) and Volksgarden (People’s Garden). These two large public spaces are situated in front of the building that is basically Austria’s White House (at least the West Wing), and has been the seat of executive, dynastic, or imperial power in Austria, in some form or another since 1200 and something. We checked out a few statues; there was a fountain…pigeon’s were chased.
We then cut due south to the Nachtmarket, an outdoor market that has existed in Vienna since the 16th century. I was expecting this place to be very touristy, but was pleasantly surprised to find it packed with what appeared to be locals, but who knows. I was also happy to see that apple-computer-guy-sitting-solo-at-the-cafe/bar-pounding-out-the-next-big-thing is not a solely American phenomenon (and yes, I realize that sometimes that guy is me). While much of the two blocks that we walked were restaurants (Uzbeki food anyone?), there was still a farmer’s market vibe with folks selling their wares. We bought some dried fruit..out of which the pineapple was deleted almost immediately by my son…and sat down to a lunch outside…with wine…because the kids were being really good…
…the kids were starting to fall apart, so we settled up our bill and headed back to the place to relax a little bit. When everyone (and I mean everyone) woke up, we headed towards the U station to take the subway northeast of the city center. R is at the age where he wants to continuously split himself into several different people and participate in all options for everything all at once. For example, when given the chance to decide between elevator, escalator, or stairs, he may choose escalator, but then after being on said escalator will immediately conclude that he wants to get off and get on the elevator…he is also willing to burn down the entire city in order to do so. This…adorable…behavior, which also leads to multiple elevator stops…because why push one button when you can push some number more than that…makes what should be a 5 minute subway trip, considerably longer. And, you just want to scream because the whole reason we are at the subway in the first place is to take him somewhere where he will have fun. #parenting …ok…better now…
The Prater amusement park is like a permanent carnival located in one of the more northern parts of Vienna. It’s big claim to fame is that is houses the oldest functioning ferris wheel in the universe, or something. The area itself has some pretty cool history as well, something about hunting grounds for rich folks and a World’s Fair. Today its full of B-side attractions. I kid you not, there was one called “Daytona Beach” (don’t step on the needles!?), and another where you ran through a Michael Jackson themed fun house, presumably trying to get away from him. Despite the age of the rides, the whole place had a distinctive charm and we found ourselves having a really good time. R rode a couple of coin-op cars, and the two of us rode a culturally insensitive American West “rollercoaster”.
All of us did ferris wheel and had a dance party in front of the aforementioned king of pop fun house. We skipped the gypsy-fortune-teller-henna-tatoo-palm-reader (we are getting pretty East here and Romania is just one Hungary away…who is being culturally insensitive now) and the really really really ridiculously high spinning swing (of doom), but we did eat (surprise!) some sausage-stand Kasekrainer’s (Frankfurter filled with chesse) for dinner.
We got back on U and headed home. R and I had a brush with physical injury disaster as I was trying to get him situated in the subway. It started to move, quickly, and I was off balance and still holding him, flinging me forward (backward?) into the seat divider, him in between me and it…I got my hand out quick enough though to avoid any serious harm…people looked at me like I was an idiot anyway…and they’re probably right.
Exhausted from what was probably our longest day yet we all crashed hard. The next day would start slow, but end up being, as far as these things go, magical.
Here are some of the places we went while in Salzburg.
The next day…we woke up and had our final breakfast at the Auersperg Hotel & Villa and bid auf wiedersehen the staff as we made our way by taxi to the train station. After a brief bit of confusion on where to go we purchased two tickets to Vienna…the kids were free!
We got on board the train and settled in, which isn’t easy considering we are carrying with us two suitcases, a car seat (for our impending Italian adventure), a stroller, a diaper bag, two backpacks, and a…well, another bag thing. All in all, it actually doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but my back might say otherwise.
We found 4 seats that gathered around a table on the top level of a car in the back of the train and we got over feeling like we had someone snuck into 1st class; we hadn’t. We watched as the length of Austria passed by outside our windows; rolling hills and Edelweiss, the Alps out to one side. It was very beautiful.
Two and half hours later we arrived in Vienna and lugged our stuff out to the taxi stand and got a ride to our Airbnb. The differences between Salzburg and Vienna were immediately apparent. Where Salzburg was a sleepy little town dominated by a fortress and some gardens, Vienna is a World City with ornately architected buildings, a long and colorful history, and a melting pot of modern cultures.
After getting situated and some groceries, we headed out into the city to explore. We ended up spending a bit of time at Stadtpark, just east of where we were staying. There were two really solid playgrounds here so the kiddos got to stretch their legs and mom & dad got to relax a bit. R and L played with kids who spoke French, Russian, Chinese, and German. World City.
The sun was already going down, and everyone was pretty tired from the day of travel so we made our way back, stopping once to get a proper frankfurter for R for dinner, which was bigger than his face. Street meat and coffee houses in Vienna are some of “the things,” and as you may remember, Erin was more than happy to partake in the former.
Erin and I were still hungry so I went back out to get some take-away Ramen from a place around the corner. I had already changed in my PJs when that craving hit, so thats how an American wearing flip flops and sweat pants ends up sitting next to a Slovakian and ordering Japanese food in Austria. Like I said; World City.
We have two full days here and we are hoping the weather holds. So far, it looks good!
On our second full day in Salzburg we had planned to take in the fort that sits on top of the imposing hill jutting up south of the old town. It’s slow going in the morning for the four of us but we had an uneventful (in a good way) breakfast at the hotel, and set out to walking to the funicular that takes you up the hill.
The first stop was the Mirabell Palace. More specifically, the expansive gardens featured in The Sound of Music. Mozart composed music here, a bunch of Dukes were probably married here, and it goes way way way back…but it was raining so we hustled through it about as fast as you can. After walking through the “tunnel” (R’s word) of vines we found a “hidden staircase” (R’s word) which led down to a playground. We stopped for a bit to let the kids have a swing.
Pressing on, we crossed the Salzach and made slow time towards Kapitelplatz, stopping to get R a pretzel and Erin a wurst of some kind. We finally came into Kapitelplatz and paid our fare to go up the hill on a route that has been in existence since the 16th century.
Festung Hohensalzburg was built by “the church” in the 11th century as part of the BSD contest that was the middle ages. The white washed stone, twisting alleys, and multiple rings of defensive walls make for an impressive fortress, but it was never really used as a combative military installment. Today it houses a marionette museum, which we went into, and an exhibit on “enhanced interrogation” which we did not. There are also a couple of cafes I guess… We were content with the incredible views that the vantage point offered, both of the city to the north and the Salzburg suburbs with the Austrian Alps as a backdrop to the south. This was also a good time to let the kids run around in the main courtyard outside some church of so-and-so-or-another.
We made our way back down the hill and over to the East side of the old town. The day before we had spotted a few nice cafes over here. A place called Zirkelwirt had the right combination of being open, serving coffee and beer, and being mostly empty so it earned our business. We spent a long time here resting because the kids were being (mostly) fun and because the food was good. Erin ordered some Spatzl and I had, you guessed it, more schnitzel…though this time around it had ham and cheese in it as well…like a Cordon Bleu. The kids hadn’t really napped and were starting to turn into demons so we decided to head back to the hotel.
So, you know that room in hotels that has the movie library that you never use and has all the tourist pamphlets? It also has that free computer that will almost certainly put a virus all up in your business? Well our hotel had one too, but in addition to those amenities, it had some toys for the kids to play with. We convinced R and L that it would be a good idea to just hang out for a little bit and play. The room also happened to have a few tables and chairs and was adjacent to the bar.
The bartender, bless him, had no problem serving us in the playroom so we hung out for a few hours while the kids, particularly L, came up with a whole slew of new ways to injure themselves. We put 3 “mommy and daddy” drinks down range and headed up to the room to put our kids down for the night and finish The Sound of Music which we had started the night before. Oh and then Erin sent me out for a Döner Kabab, so I wrote her a poem.
Wind blows and fire burns.
Seasons change as the Earth turns.
When beers have been had, the night’s not complete.
Until Erin gets her street meat.
Tomorrow we head for Vienna by train which means lugging our baggage around again. Wish us luck!
On our first full day in Austria, we woke up a bit a earlier than expected…oh wait, no, thats right…this was the first day in like 2 years that we haven’t had to wake up to an alarm clock, a crying baby, or a toddler trying to climb into bed with us, so we slept in. …to be fair the crying baby and half-asleep toddler could still have happened, but they did not because it appears this a god after all (though, maybe only in Europe).
We picked the hotel we are staying in because it provided us a bit of a soft landing. After traveling with 2 kids the last thing we wanted was to worry about stocking an AirBnB with groceries for breakfast…or really doing anything at all I guess. The place was stacked with a crib, and couch bed for R, it had a TV and Bluetooth sound system, and a Nespresso coffee machine which was probably used (by me) more than any of the above.
So, breakfast was included and after we go through the 45 minute ritual of getting the kids up, cleaned, and dressed in the clothes that they would ruin during their meal, we went down to eat. At this point, true to prophecy, we lost another of L’s outfits to exactly what you might expect.
The weather in Salzburg is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous…as soon as we leave town. In the meantime we are stuck with 40-60 degree weather and lots and lots and lots of rain. Fortunately, Salzburg has things to do with kids in this scenario, so we got a cab and headed to the Haus der Natur, or Nature Museum, which was 4 delightful floors full of exhibits like, such as:
We kicked it here for a good part of the morning and ended up eating a late lunch in the cafe which had a sweet little area for the kids to play, where they did, with some other kids.
We walked out of the museum and found ourselves on Greissgasse, one of the main roads on the south side of Salzach river, flanking the old town. There was a break in the weather so we decided to push our luck and explore for a while. We pulled up a walking tour and followed in towards Gertreidegasse by Mozart’s birthplace, around by St Peter’s Cathedral and the Kapitalplatz, down through the university, and out again by Mozartplatz…oh yeah…Mozart…pretty big deal here.
At this point we hadn’t been rained on at all and we probably should have headed back to the hotel for naps for the kids. L was pretty beat and R was ready to pass out at any moment. A nap didn’t sound too terrible to Erin and I either…but instead we charted a course to an old Augustinian Monastery on the western slopes of the Mönchsberg hill. We walked along the pedestrian path that followed the Salzack before cutting up the hill (still pushing that stroller ya’ll), probably making some grand over-reaching comment about how nice it is “here” that cities have “these types of things.” Oh…why a Monastery? Because it is now a brewery of course.
The Augustinerbräu is a massive complex where beer is brewed and served on site. From the looks of it, they have the capacity to serve the whole of Austria. On the floor we were on, there were 5 large halls filled with thick wooden tables at which sat various groups of mostly men; there were at least 4 floors. The complex also featured an expansive beer garden, but due to the weather, it was shut down.
In classic fashion, Erin and I charged it. After getting our bearings on the place, I folded up the stroller and trudged it inside, leaning it against some random section of wall. It was the kind of operation where you grab a few steins and they pull the keg for you, so I did that while Erin went into a hall and claimed a seat. Turns out the seats we had were quite reserved (despite and attendant half-saying we could sit there), but we ended up sharing the table with some older gentlemen with whom I could not communicate with. I don’t think they minded us being there, but they were not happy about it. Erin and I drank our (to be truthful, mediocre) beers while R and L drank some water and had a pretzel (still too young for Radler). We finished up and walked out before the stares actually burned holes in the back of our heads. Life goals: Bring a 1 and 3 year old to a beer hall. Check.
At this point the sky had opened up so we quickly hailed a cab on the opposite side of the street and headed back to the hotel for those naps…it was like 4pm already…what’re ya gonna do?
When we woke up, we were bordering on hangry so the four of us ventured back out into the rain (which had picked up considerable) for a quick 2 block sprint (literally) to the S’Kloane Brauhaus. I had a turkey schnitzel with the standard cranberry sauce and potatoes while Erin had this goat cheese dumping thing. Both were excellent and the kids got none of it because they were being jerks. The food was good to be sure, but the beer here stole the show; particularly the wheat beer, brewed on site, was worth the trip itself. Also, the dessert…serious, go here and then eat six times.
Back at the place we were still all suffering from jet-lag and weren’t quite tired so we grabbed The Sound of Music from the DVD library in the hotel and started watching it, till we fell asleep…