Backpacking through Europe with Eurail, Vienna – Austria

The 5 and a half hour trip from Prague to Vienna was rather relaxing. The whole train was made up of 6-seat compartments and either everyone thought we smelt or we had it lucky as we had a whole compartment to ourselves for the full journey. We also had to use up the rest of our Czech money, so a few beers and a couple of games of last card fit the bill perfectly.

Our first impressions of Vienna were a little tainted, as the station we arrived at seemed to be the home for the entire city’s beggar population. However the 4km trek to our hostel soon had our minds thinking about how sore our backs and shoulders were instead. I have already thrown so much stuff out of my bag and I think there is more to be done, as it’s still bloody heavy and I seem to come to this conclusion every time I have to walk further than 1km with it on.

Our hostel; MyMOjOvie was definitely unique. We showed up at the front door to be greeted with a whole lot of envelopes and one had my name on it. After opening the envelope we found a set of keys and a welcome note. The note told us which apartment and room we were in. It entered up being about 10 minutes of orienteering and working out the code on the note to eventually find our room. Our room was full of all different toys from dominos to a kaleidoscope and all sorts of puzzles to play with, the orienteering to find our room all made sense. It was great and for 44 euro a night, it was excellent.

The first evening was spent in the hostel. We headed to the supermarket, stocked up on a bottle of red and a couple of cans of the local beer to match with our spaghetti and meatballs. After not eating since breakfast it was heaven. We hit the sack fairly early after coming up with a sightseeing plan of attack.

First on the agenda for the next day was breakfast – homemade apfelstrudel (apple strudel) and a Wiener Melange/Viennese blend café, delicious! Next, Morgan the ‘map boss’ led us through the beautiful Innere Stadt – the inner city of Vienna. This part of Vienna has been awarded the illustrious Unesco World Heritage Site title with its cobbled boulevards and magnificent buildings. We started off at the Hofburg Palace, where the Habsburg’s were based. The share massiveness of it has you feeling like an ant. The next stop was the 13th century gothic Stephansdom Cathedral with intricate tile mosaics on the roof made up of a range of different colours. You are able to go inside (however we decided to save our money on that one), as it is where some of the Habsburgs internal organs are housed – I can’t believe we missed out on that one! Next up we had a quick peek at one of Mozart’s houses in the center before making our way to the Danube River.

Of course having traveled past the Kawakawa toilets many times in my youth I had to go and see Frederick Hundertwasser’s famous building here in Vienna. The Hundertwasser Haus – most probably my favourite site in the whole city and surprisingly there were hardly any tourists there, even better! You have to admire a man who hates straight lines after all.

Next up we meandered through the Naschmarkt, full of fresh fruit, kebab shops and restaurants. However after seeing nearly every Viennese chowing down on noodles in a box we figured, when in Vienna, do like the locals. After a satisfying and well-deserved lunch we jumped on the underground and headed out to the Schloss Schonbrunn – otherly known as the Habsburg’s 1441-room summer palace. Boy this place was huge and well up-kept. It was great to see that the Habsburg’s were smart fellows since they even had their own grape vine’s growing on the property.

By this time we were well and truly buggered so after a quick supermarket shop for some extra booze for the night we went back to the hostel to cook up our leftovers from the night before. Great end to a great day.

Our second and last full day in Vienna was spent mostly around the Prater Amusement Park as to our great surprise we found out that the first Viennese Oktoberfest was happening – Wiener Wiesn and what do you know from 11am-2pm there was free entrance! So we spent a few hours listening to the traditional Austria music and having a few beer’s that were a nice price compared to Munich. They also have a wine tent which I very much enjoyed. Since Vienna actually has 700ha of vines within it’s city limits, it really does make sense to promote the wines as much as possible. I had to make sure I had a G’spritzter which Is a popular way to drink the famed Austrian grape – Gruner Veltliner. Very refreshing!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty laxed with some dinner and getting ourselves organized to pack up again and get ready to move onto the next place. Which will stay unnamed for the moment, with just one hint… “The hills are alive…”

On a warm summers evening, on a train bound for…

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...

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