Vienna – part 1
We’re abroad…just the two of us…in Vienna, Austria. Never mind that Woody has work obligations for the better part of our week…to me it’s vacation…and I’ll drag him away from science as often as I can. As I write, I’m sitting in our hotel bar enjoying a glass of Grüner Veltliner and some wasser, which make up the extent of my German language knowledge. You’re lucky if I can squeeze in a bitte. We arrived yesterday after a looooonnnnngggg day of flying. First a 10 hour flight from Los Angeles to London, a 4 hour layover and then on an Austrian Airlines flight to Vienna. Foreign airlines are always a guessing game. I remember my first Air France flight; I was 11 and we were served filet mignon. Of course airlines have changed quite a bit since 1990, but I was hoping for greatness with our Austrian flight, especially because our return flight from Vienna to JFK is with Austrian Airlines.
Stepping onto the plane felt a little like stepping back in history…maybe it was the grass green carpet and light blue walls or the incredibly stark and bare feeling of the plane, or the Austrian air hostess uniforms with their red vests, skirts and baby blue neckershiefs. And then, we sat down. Woody exclaimed “It’s a little more eastern European than our last flight!” The seat backs had ZERO cushioning.
It would have made a metallic hollow sound had I knocked, which would just barely have been dulled by the grey pleather cover. Redeeming factor – exit row seats and an only half full plane After the 2 ½ hour flight, our backs and necks were aching.
And then I looked out the window…
Then I looked out my window again…it seems the airport really went with the austere bleak architecture of black and straight.
We got off the plane, onto a bus to the terminal, and through customs quickly. Why quickly…? Well, you might be SHOCKED to find out that for a week-long trip to Europe, I managed to carry on all my luggage. A feat I have never accomplished, even for a weekend trip.
Truthfully, I’ve never honestly tried to carry everything on, as I’m sort of against the whole thing (who needs an additional reason to feel annoyed and sweaty and tired while traveling…????).
We hopped the City Airport Train (CAT to the city center and changed lines for the U3 line of the U-Bahn. Came up from underground and realized we exited the wrong way…and then spent 15 minutes trying to read our tiny maps on empty poorly lit streets and dragging luggage along cobblestones until we found our hotel. The Steigenberger Herrengasse is lovely. It feels hip and interesting and it is in the middle of everything in the Inner Stadt, and unlike many European hotel rooms feels almost spacious and I’m not at all concerned about the elevator breaking down and only having 2 square meters of air available.
My photos of our room didn’t turn out half as nice as their marketing photos…so I’ll slip one of their’s in…but I’m loving it, and the bathroom is elegant as well. I will for sure be enjoying the bathtub while we are here, it’s too nice not to.
After settling in the room a bit, we freshened up and head out to walk around, get our bearings and grab a bite to eat. Per the hotel’s recommendation, we ended up at an outdoor cafe of sorts, in a tiny alley…something like Restaurant Bierhof, I think. It had the traditional Viennese dishes on the menu – we were recently educated on the matter by Tony Bourdain himself in one of his recent episodes of No Reservations. Being famished from a lack of real food and hardly anything ingested below 30,000 feet felt compelled to order the Käsespaetzle with fried onions and side salad…along with a glass of Grüner Veltliner. Woody ordered the Bacon lentils with bread dumpling.
It was everything I wanted it to be…delicious, cheesy, just the right amount of salty and about 5 times as much as any one person could eat. We walked around the Graben after dinner to explore and digest a bit.
View of Michaelerplatz and the Spanish Riding School.
More research needed to determine exactly which intricate stone and gold monument or statue this is…stay tuned.
A screen was set up in the large plaza and from the sign we determined that it was some kind of propaganda against meat – maybe similar to PETA – see the Nein Fleisch sign – they were showing videos of cows being slaughtered…and not in the pastoral, happy cows on a farm sense.
To top off the evening, Stephansdom Cathedral as seen at night. It’s draped on the lower part of the tower, as they attempt to clean centuries of soot and dirt and exhaust off of the Gothic cathedral…but still stunning! We headed back to the hotel and forced ourselves to sleep to try and sway the effects of jetlag. Stick around for updates on day 2, which include a Viennese breakfast, Käsekrainer, and a lot of walking.