There are two important lessons that I learned on this trip. Don’t go out the night before the trip and don’t ever relay just on GPS. So, here is what happened.
Actually, we had a plan. We went from Split on Friday afternoon and we were supposed to go to dinner in Zagreb and on Saturday morning continue our trip to Vienna. But, that dinner turned into a night out (don’t tell me this has never happened to you) and we returned home at 4 am, got up at 8 am and we were on the road at 9 am. Of course, we didn’t check the route because why would we if we have a GPS, offline maps and all the other wonders of the modern world. We put the address in the navigation and it showed exactly 380 km to the destination and that was the real distance (I checked out two days before the trip) so there was no doubt. We followed the given route. When we suspected that something is wrong, we already drove 150 km in the wrong direction. Can you even imagine that? I couldn’t believe my eyes. I checked three times the route because I hoped that I made a mistake, but unfortunately I didn’t. We were somewhere near Ljubljana and that meant exactly 390 km far from Vienna, 10 km more than in the moment we went from Zagreb. I’m not the person who should always have some fixed plans and I can handle the unpredictable situations, but I must admit this really made me upset. Somehow I got myself together and kept driving, this time in the right direction.
TWO DAYS TO EXPLORE VIENNA
I didn’t expect that it will take us more than four hours to Vienna, but now it turned out to be seven. But, what’s done is done and we didn’t want to spend our precious time thinking about that. We had so much to do in this beautiful historic city famous for rich culture, classical music, amazing food and stunning architecture. We took a nap, got ready for a dinner and our weekend getaway just began.
After the whole day of driving, we were exhausted and hungry so the first impression I’ve got about Vienna was based on food and it was more than good. For me, traveling must include delicious local food and Austria’s capital stands really high on my personal scale based on good eating. Vienna is the only city in the world that has an entire cuisine named after it and after a few days spent there I absolutely understand why. Restaurants are offering traditional food that ranges from the classic Weiner Schnitzel and Sachertorte to insider threats. There is no big difference in food quality and service between expensive restaurants and those more affordable. Also, you can often see people eating on the sausage stands. I don’t really like classical sausages, but I decided to try them because local people said this is “must” and they were right. We ate ours on the sausage stand in front of Albertina. They have a wide range of tastes so everyone can find something for itself.
You probably heard about two most famous meals, Weiner Schnitzel and Sachertorte.
If you didn’t:
Thin, breaded and pan fried cutlet made from veal or pork and it’s yummy. They serve it with the best potato salad I ever tasted. I don’t know how they make it, but it’s absolutely amazing. This meal is something you must try.
You can see cakes everywhere in Vienna. There are so many delicious treats on every corner, but if you want to try original Sachertorte everyone will point you to the Sacher Hotel. They claim to have to only authentic recipe invented in 1832. I believe they have, but I wasn’t really impressed, neither was my friend. It is a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam, too dry for my taste. In my impression, this whole story is a great marketing trick.
RIDE ALONG THE RING ROAD
The first day was pretty short. You already know why if you didn’t skip the first paragraph so we decided to make the most of the next two days. We rented bikes, which are very popular there and ride through the city center and along the Ringstrasse. The Inner City of Vienna is relatively small and there you can find out many of attractions such as Parliament, Vienna University, Rathouse, Vienna State Opera and others. We visited them all and then stopped in the Burggarten park to relax and take a coffee in the Palmenhaus bar.
This bar is everything except ordinary. There you eat and drink surrounded by a high palm trees, flowers and other plants. You can also watch the butterflies through a glass wall. It’s a perfect green oasis in the heart of Vienna.
Important: If you want to rent a bike from Citybike Vienna, you should first register online (here) or directly at the Citybike Terminal if you have an Austrian bank card (if you don’t have it then you must do it online).
COFFEE HOUSES AND BARS
You can’t start your day in Vienna without coffee. No one does that. I don’t drink coffee and I already wrote post “how to eat healthy on vacation” and it certainly does not include coffee, but I made an exception this time because I heard that Viennese Coffee House Culture is world famous and since 2011 even an UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
And then, what’s special about coffee in Vienna?
There are so many coffee houses, but you will barely ever see the normal espresso on the menu. They have so many different types of coffee and what’s even better you can almost everywhere order some of the many delicious cakes and if you ask me, cake, especially the chocolate one goes well with everything. So, step out from a daily rush, take a coffee and watch the world go by.
Vienna had a golden century during the Habsburg Monarchy and there is so much to see. We set aside one whole day for palaces. First, we went to the Schonbrunn Palace. We came with the car and that probably wasn’t the smartest decision because property of Schonbrunn is really big and it’s not so easy to find a parking around. I warmly recommend taking a taxi or subway line U4 at Karlsplatzs station directly to Schonbrunn. There are several ticketing options when you get there. We bought the Grand Tour, which took us throughout 40 magnificent interiors and to the top of Gloriete. You can also take a ride around the property in a horse-drawn carriage or even come here for jogging. Many people do that.
The afternoon was reserved for Belvedere palace. This complex consists two Baroque palaces separated with a huge garden. It’s really astonishing, especially in this part of the year. Everything is so colorful and it looks unreal on some parts and that’s why I love autumn so much. We didn’t take a tour here because we were too late. They have some weird working hours and they close almost everything at 6 pm and the same was with Belvedere Palace, but we didn’t care to much because it was time for visiting Prater. Impressive palaces gave us a peak into the city’s glorious past and now we were ready to have some fun.
Prater is one of two important sights outside the Inner City. Once in the past it was the playground for rich nobles and the private hunting ground of Emperor Maximilian II. Today is 2nd largest park in Vienna and the home of amusement park. We spent a great time there. Entree is free and if you want to go on some of the rides you can buy a ticket on the desk in front of it. We walked through it to decide which one we should try and we couldn’t agree because I like adrenaline rides such as Free fall and Roller Coaster and Petra insisted on the House of Horror. I really don’t prefer that kind of adrenaline, but I couldn’t just walk around anymore so I accepted. We sat on the train and as soon as the ride began, she started to panic and tried to explain me that she really didn’t want that, but it was too late. Here is the picture so you can see how that ended. After the ride we bought chocolate apples for “recovery” and went to the center for a dinner and a couple of drinks.
I liked everything about Vienna. I felt so familiar here from the moment I came. There is so many people from Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia everywhere. Even many of Austrians understand Croatian. They are all so friendly and that was really nice surprise. We had a great time in Vienna and I don’t know why I waited so long to visit this amazing town. It’s close to Zagreb and you can easily and cheap get there with a car, bus or train.
Also, if you are looking for accommodation here you can find some great offers and book.