I have wanted to visit Vienna for a long time; I have leave I have to burn, so was lucky enough to get some time off for one last summer trip before school started.  (Side note–Rebecca is starting high school–AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!)  I got home late Wednesday night, so we got a bit of a late start in the morning, but we finally got everything packed and got on the road to our first stop, Vienna.aug2010_001It was a pretty easy drive.  The weather was nice and we drove through some really pretty countryside, including what I presume is part of the Vienna Woods.  Our hotel is close to the center of the city, so the traffic was terrible getting there; I gather Vienna is one of those cities where you just don’t drive.  There’s no parking at the hotel, but we paid to have the hotel park the car.  Somewhere.  The hotel guy took our car to park in their “secure parking lot.”  We hope.  We also had someone show us to our room and take our bags.  The hotel is the Best Western Premier Kaiserhof, but apparently this isn’t your father’s Best Western.  It’s a nice hotel.  The rooms are decent, but I still have to wonder about this European half-a-shower-door thing.  We dropped our bags and went out to get in a little sightseeing done.

aug2010_004The first place we headed was Stephansdom (St Stephan’s Cathedral).  I’m sorry to say, we have to agree with a review I saw from another traveler–it’s about the ugliest church we have seen in Europe.  It’s not just the scaffolding (which is pretty standard everywhere we go, it seems!)  There is something that looks like tiles on the roof of the church.  We don’t find it attractive.  We didn’t go inside; it seemed they were having a Mozart concert that evening and there were people outside trying to push tickets on us.  Perhaps the inside is more attractive.

There were some street performers in the square around the church, so we watched them for a little while.  I’m not sure if there is some event going on or if this is just normal for summer in Vienna.  We also looked at all the horse carriages (called fiakers) lined up outside the church.  We walked around for a while and ended up by the Hofburg complex, which we plan to visit again while we’re here, then wandered back down toward the Staatsoper (the opera house) looking for somewhere to eat.  We didn’t see anywhere we wanted to stop on Kärntnerstrasse (Vienna’s big shopping street–the “Fifth Avenue” of Vienna), so we asked at the hotel.  We got a recommendation from a guest who was at the desk to try Figlmueller’s, which is famous for its Wienerschnitzel.  There’s an original restaurant and a newer one, but both were pretty packed, so we had a (frankly not that remarkable) dinner at another place, and then called it a night.  We need to get an early morning start tomorrow to go to Schoenbrunn Palace and Tiergarten.

Related Images: