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!