The big stops I had mapped out on this trip were Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Each we would stay 3 or more days. Vienna has always been a must see for me for its history. We left Salzburg early afternoon and made it to Vienna just under two hours later. We took the subway system a couple of stops and walked on a boardwalk area towards our hostel, with some festival looking food shops and games set up along the way. We had a beer down in the lobby and called it an early evening.
Day 1
The next day we rented bikes and made a ride across town to an aquarium/zoo that had been converted from a WWII anti-aircraft tower, turret spaces at the top still visible. It also had a difficult looking climbing wall on all sides of it. The maximized use was impressive. The aquarium itself rivaled any I’ve ever been to. Lots of really cool fish I had never seen all over in different nooks and crannies of the old bomb shelter areas. On top of that they had some sort of alligator, monikers, and birds in a section that was the zoo part. At the top they had a little restaurant where we enjoyed some drinks and the panoramic of the massive city that Vienna is.
From here we biked a longer distance to the Schloss gardens and palace, the summer residence of the hapsburgs. We toured the main rooms of the decadent palace, and proceeded to the massive, massive gardens, with the classic view of the hill and structure that dominate Viennese photo albums. After probably an hour or more of walking to the top of the hill, we also walked on several of the other outer areas and several of the structures that sit in those, like some fabricated Roman ruins, a structure that had Egyptian hieroglyphics inscribed 20 years before modern civilization knew how to decode it. You know, rich people stuff.
We undoubtedly would have done the zoo, which I’ve read is one of the worlds best, but we would have only had 45 minutes by the time we were there. So we did the maze on the grounds. There were actually 3 mazes, and the first two we did had no alternative choices, and left us feeling ripped off. But the 3rd was the actual puzzle, and it was fun and well worth the few euro.
On our way back I spotted a little restaurant where we grabbed a meal and drinks and watched the first half of a Euro cup game between Germany and France. The Austrians appeared to be rooting for France.
Day 2
The next day we toured the amazing K museum, combing it thoroughly for several hours. Fantastic history, culture, and artwork. Could not recommend it enough. Then we did the Hapsburg treasury, a collection exclusively of the rarest items of the Hapsburg family over the generations. On our way out we walked past the LIBRARY and through part of the Winter palace, and then to a brat stand that Steve had read was one of the best in the city. The brat and beer I had there lived up to that. We relaxed back at the hostel after that long and hot day for a bit, and then went out to eat at a place that turned out to be a lot fancier and more expensive than we had anticipated. Probably the best meal we had so far, and I think the splurge was worth it. Afterwards we played pool in the hostel lobby to some excellent lobby music which included some of Blink’s new album among many other rock classics, to my pleasant surprise.
Day 3
The last half day we took it easy getting up and eating breakfast. We checked out of the hostel, stored our luggage, and headed out downtown to check out St. Stephens Cathedral, the opera house, and the general historic center area. Steve really wanted to go to the butterfly garden near the Winter palace, and I really wanted a picture of Steve frolicking with butterflies, so we did that too for some amusement. We went back to that great brat stand near downtown, and then wandered back through the amazing Viennese city center for the last time back to our hostel to pick up our packs.