Austria - October 8 - 26, 2018
This vacation adventure took us to Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, Austria, as well as several other small villages. Both the natural scenery and the architecture in the country are just outstanding. The weather in October was cool, but very manageable for us. We were spared rain except on one day, and we were able to work around it.
[Monday]/[Tuesday] We left Houston about 9:40 am on Monday and arrive in Vienna, through Frankfurt, at about 11:30 am Tuesday. We caught our pre arranged ride from the airport to Hotel Stephanie. This hotel is the oldest hotel in Vienna, but was renovated in 2016 and is very comfortable. They have many historical artifacts on display. We walked to the nearby BILLA grocery store and bought a few things. We walked across the river and took the subway to St. Stephan's Cathedral (Stephansdom). We took the audio tour of the church and then rode the elevator in the shorter tower to overlook the city. We walked around the Stephanplacz area and returned to the hotel via the subway. We ate a light supper from the grocery store and went to bed about 8:00 pm, after a very long day.
[Wednesday] We awoke at 5 am and were at the opening of the 6:30 am breakfast in the hotel.
After breakfast we took the U4 subway to the Heillgenstadt stop, where we bought tickets to the train to Krems. We boarded at 8:10 and arrived in Krems and rode bus #1 to the boat that would take us to our destination in Melk. We took the Blue Danube at 10:10 am. Unfortunately the weather was foggy and overcast, so it was not very good for photos from the boat. We stopped briefly at Durnstein. Along the river, the Fall colors were underway. We ate lunch on the boat as we went from Spitz upstream to Melk. Our lunch was the traditional Austrian Wiener Schnitzel.
When we arrived and docked at Melk and walked through the little village of Melk to Melk Abbey. We toured the gardens before we took the Abbey Tour inside the massive complex. The church is beyond words. Unfortunately photos were not allowed inside, but I purchased a few postcards. We completed the Abbey tour at 4:00 pm and walked through the village toward the train station. We ate supper at a restaurant across from the station, then took the 6:38 pm train back to Vienna and arrived at 7:40 pm at Westbaunhaf station, where we took U3 and U1 subways to our hotel.< View of Melk from Melk Abbey. < Taking the train back to Vienna.
[Thursday] After breakfast in the hotel, we went to The Spanish Riding School, which is inside the Hofburg Palace, to see the training of the famous Lipizzaner stallions that perform in shows here. They didn't want any photos.
Afterwards we went to Augustinerkirche, the cathedral that is a part of the Hofburg Palace, and contains silver urns preserving the hearts of the Habsburg family.
We then toured the State Hall, which is the Austrian National Library and contains over 650 years of historic books and collections. The inside of the building is spectacular.
We ate pizza at a restaurant near the palace. Talking to a lady sitting next to us, who was a tour guide on a river cruise on the Danube, we learned that the river is so low now due to the drought in this part of Europe that the boats have had to stop in Vienna and they can't go any further to Budapest. The passangers will have to be bussed to Budapest.
We then walked to the Hofburg Palace and toured the Sissi Museum and Imperial Apartments. We were able to take a few photos inside the museum, but not in the Imperial Apartments.< Imperial Apartments section of Hofburg Palace. < Entrance to Imperial Apartments.
After returning to our hotel for a while, we attended an evening concert of the Vienna Royal Orchestra in the Imperial Hall. They played Mozart and Strauss pieces. The performance was excellent.
[Friday] This morning we took the subway to Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church), the tallest Baroque church in Vienna (236 feet). We went inside and then took an elevator to the top of the inside of the church to see the paintings on the ceiling more closely.
After lunch, we rode a trolley to the Burgtheater, which is one of the most prestigious stages in the German-speaking world. Plays are performed only in German. We walked around the area and saw the Vienna City Hall and the circus that was in front. We walked to the Burgtheater and took a guided tour at 3:00 pm.
We went back to the hotel and rested for a while. We left the hotel at 7:45 pm and went to St. Stephan's Cathedral where we attended The Vivaldi The Four Seasons concert. It consisted of five very talented violinists performing the pieces.
[Saturday] Today it was sunny and cool, as it has been since we arrived in Vienna. Mornings are in the 50's and daytimes are about 72 currently. We decided to ride the trolley #2 to one end of the line. Then we rode it back to the Schwedenplatz Station and went to the Mozart House Museum and toured it. Afterwards we ate lunch at a restaurant nearby.
We then walked a little way and visited St. Peter's Cathedral (Peterskirche).
We then walked around some, passing an Italy street market, looking inside another church, and passing through the Jewish Square. We ended our walk near Schwedenplatz. We returned to our hotel and relaxed for the evening.
[Sunday] This morning at 9:30 am, we took The Introducing Vienna Walking Tour: The Capital of the Hapsburgs. It was a 2-1/2 hour walk around the historic center of the city. We walked past most of the top historic sites in the city.
After a brief stop at our hotel, we rode the Ring Tram around the Vienna old town.
We then took the #1 tram to near the museum district. We ate lunch at Molly Darcy's Irish Pub - fish & chips and schnitzel Vienna style. We then walked around in the Museum District and returned to the hotel to relax. While in the hotel, we watched a portion of the Houston Second Baptist Church service via internet streaming.
At about 6:45 pm we left to attend a 7:30 pm concert, Mozart & Schubert in St. Anne's Church.
[Monday] Today we started by walking next door to the hotel to the John the Baptist / Monastery of the Brothers of Mercy. This is where Joseph Haydn was organist for some time.
We then went to Schwedenplatz and rode tram #1 to the end of the line in both directions. We stopped at the Hundertwasser Apartments and at the Vienna Opera House. We ate lunch at Bistro 59 Restaurant.
We then walked past the Opera to the Albertina for our 2:30 pm Historical Hitler Walking Tour of Vienna. The tour description is as follows: "Discover the streets on which a young Hitler walked on a walking tour of historic Vienna. As you explore Vienna's ornate Old Town, you'll learn about Adolf Hitler's early life and visit Jewish architecture that survived the Holocaust. See the devastation caused by more than 100,000 WWII bombs and pay your respects to monuments dedicated to lives lost." It was very educational, to say the least.
At the completion of the tour, we stopped by the Crazy Noodles right outside the subway station and bought street food for supper at the hotel.
After supper, we took the U4 subway line to the Schonbrunn Palace for an 8:30 pm concert in the Orangerie.
[Tuesday] This morning we took the U4 subway to The Schonbrunn Palace again and we took the Grand Tour of the inside of the palace, which was an audio tour. After the audio tour was complete, we rode the Panorama Bahn around the gardens.
[Wednesday] Today we walked from the hotel to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and rode the funicular to the fortress. We spent the entire day at the massive complex, wondering all the maze of interconnected passages. We ate lunch at the fortress and a late afternoon treat and coffee as we left. We departed the fortress at 4:00 pm and rode the funicular back down.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Salzburg Cathedral. Outside of the church was a Christian group from Germany, singing songs in English. We found out that they were going to have a discussion (in German of course) on Christianity that night at the local beer hall. We went inside the spectacular cathedral and took the tour.
[Thursday] This morning we walked to Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Only the Marble Hall and staircase remain, as the rest was destroyed in a fire. On the way, we walked through a street market that had outstanding produce for sale. The produce was large and perfect in appearance.
After we toured the Marble Hall and the Gardens, we walked past the second apartment that Mozart lived in and on to the Mozart birth house, which we toured. We ate lunch in the Museum Cafe.
We then walked through the streets and saw many interesting things. We walked across the pedestrian bridge to the Sacher Hotel Cafe, where we had an original Sacher Torte and Original Coffees - that's what the menu said.
We returned to the hotel about 4:30 pm and relaxed for a while. Then we walked down the street to the grocery store and bought some sandwiches for a light supper in the hotel.
[Friday] This morning we rode the #150 bus to the village of Bad Ischl. It was very foggy as we went up into the mountains. We spent about 30 minutes walking through Bad Ischi before we caught the train to Hallstatt Hbf.
After arriving at Hallstatt Hbf, we walked down the hill to a boat that took us across the lake to Hallstatt village.We spent the entire day wondering through the picturesque village on the lake taking many photos. We rode a funicular up the mountain and went to the viewing platform high above the city for some great views. We walked further up the trail to the entrance to the salt mines, which had closed for the day. We left at about 4:15 pm and caught the boat back to the train station, backtracking our way back to Salzburg on bus #150, arriving at our stop near the hotel at 7:00 pm. We stopped at an Italian restaurant near the hotel for supper, then walked back to the hotel.
[Saturday] This morning we went to Residenzplatz and listened to the carillons play at 11:00 am. Then we toured the Residenz Museum. Originally it was dthe seat of the Prince-Archbishop, the religious and secular ruler of the entire province. Today the building is occupied by government office, university offices and the Residenzgalerie, which exhibits artworks from the 16th to 19th centuries. We stayed there until about 2:00 pm.
We then walked about a mile to the Augistinabrau Kloster Mulln Beer Hall. We ate lunch/supper at this massive place along with a few thousand of our friends.
[Sunday] This morning we caught a train at 9:21 am to the village of Werfen, south of Salzburg. The weather was cold and low clouds in the mountains and it rained some while we were on the train. We arrived in Werfen at 10:15 am and it rained off and on and was very cold and windy as we walked about a mile through the village to the funicular that took us to the Burg Hohenwerfen (which means castle high Werfen) a massive fortress on top of the mountain.
At the fortress, we watched the 11:15 am Falcon Show. The weather improved wrt the rain (but not with the wind) as the day progressed. We then ate lunch in the restaurant. Afterwards, we took the guided tour of the fortress. We then walked through the village back to the train station. The train we planned to take back to Salzburg was delayed from 3:05 to 3:48 pm due to an equipment problem on the train. Once we arrived in Salzburg, we ate a coffee and dessert at the Anchor coffee shop in the train station. We made it back to our hotel in time to watch the last 30 minutes of the Second Baptist 9:30am service, and then the 11:11 am service to completion.
[Monday] Today we checked out of the Hotel Mozart and took a taxi to the train station. We took the 9:56 am train to Innsbruck, arriving at 11:44 am. The weather was clear and cold (33 degrees) in Salzburg. The train traveled through Germany - the town of Rosenheim - on our way to Kufstein, Austria. When we arrived in Innsbruck, we caught a taxi to our hotel, The Maxmilion Stadhaus Penz.
After checking in and dropping off our luggage in the room, we walked around the area and ate lunch in a restaurant and stopped at a grocery store and picked up some dried fruit. We came back to the hotel and relaxed for a few hours, then walked across the Inn Brucke bridge and along the street to the other bridge and returned to the hotel for the night.
[Tuesday] This morning after breakfast in the hotel, we walked to the Nordkette Cable Car station and purchased tickets to go to the top of Hafelekar. First we rode a funicular to the Alpine Zoo. We spent several hours looking through the zoo.
We then took the funicular to the top Hungerburg station. We switched to a cable car and rode to the Seegrube station, where we switched to the final cable car to Hafelekar. The view from each stop was amazing, and at the top we could see over the back of the mountains into Germany. We ate lunch at the Hungerberg station. Before descending from Hafelekar, we had coffee in the warm cafe. It was cold and windy on the mountain. At about 4:30 pm we returned to the hotel. We stopped on the way to eat supper.
[Wednesday] This morning, as promised by the weather forecasters, we woke up to rain outside. We had made plans for inside activities today, so we were not distressed.
We started off by walking to the nearby Tourist Office. We bought the Innsbruck Card, which gives free entry to all sites and public transportation.
We then toured the Hofburg Imperial Palace which contains the Imperial Apartments.
We then went inside the Hofkirche which is attached to the palace. It contains the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I which they say is the most important monument in the Tyrol and the most splendid of all imperial tombs in Europe.
After we completed our tour, we ate a late lunch at Himal Nepali Kitchen Restaurant. We ate one of their traditional Nepalese dishes.
We then walked across the street to the Court Church and looked inside.
[Thursday] Today it started off cloudy, but as the day progressed, the clouds went away. We walked through the city and saw many of the beautiful buildings. We caught the shuttle bus to the Swarovski Crystal Factory, in the little town of Wattens, where Swarovski has a museum/display - a Disneyland of amazing art using crystals by the millions made at the factory next door. We stayed until 1:35 pm, when we caught the shuttle bus back to Innsbruck.
After returning to our hotel for a minute, and stopping at a nearby restaurant, we caught the J city bus to the Patscherkofel Cable Car and rode the car to near the top of the mountain. We returned via bus J and called our final day in Innsbruck complete.
[Friday] This morning after our last breakfast in Austria, we took a taxi to the airport and boarded the 10:40 am Austrian Airlines Bombardier DASH 8-400 flight LH 1585 to Frankfurt. At Frankfurt, we rode a bus from the airplane to the terminal, then walked a long way to our Z15 gate, where we boarded United UA047, a Boeing 777-200 to Houston.
This draws to a close our brief trip to Austria. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another travel adventure.
Auf Wiedersehen for now,
Lawson & Kay
One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4 NKJV)