Travel Insurance

Get a FREE no obligation quote!




Steve Simonsen 2018 St. John CalendarSteve Simonsen 2018 St. John Calendar
$17.95


Latest Forum Posts (all forums):


Travel Specials:


Forum members on island:


Harbor Cam
Virgin Islands Webcams


Bolongo Bay

OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

A place for members to talk about things outside of Virgin Islands travel.

Moderator: The Mgmt.

OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby jmq » Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:02 pm

Greetings Forumites and fellow travelers

The big trip this year was college graduation gift so first choice went to the graduate who chose this over STJ, primarily because she had been to Germany on study abroad and wanted to go back, plus we had been to the VIs last year. But the brutal winter and lousy spring had us second guessing the choice at times as STJ was close second choice with the Greek isles coming also coming on strong as a consideration.

Using a good map to figure out an itinerary we came up with 12 day Vienna – Salzburg – Munich – Prague loop. Then it was up to me to figure out the logistics.

Best international flights in terms of frequency and price unfortunately are still out of JFK which means negotiating the wild card ride in from NJ and then dealing with the overcrowded international terminals, in this case on Austrian Airlines.

The high number of Sunday evening overseas departures from Terminal 1 apparently overwhelm the security lines because the line was well out of the roped queue and wrapped halfway around the terminal – worst I’ve ever seen. Even allowing 2+ hrs upon arrival was not enough as after an hour I had to plead my case to the officer at the crew line showing our rapidly approaching boarding time and she took mercy and waved us ahead.

That long “overnight” flight to Europe is always a challenge in coach, although the Boeing 777 is a nice plane with much improved air pressurization and good service from the crew. Unfortunately we had a bunch of fairly rowdy college students around us heading for study abroad, making sleep difficult.

Flight arrived in Vienna a little after 8am local time and it was pretty easy to find the subway (S-Bahn), figure out the map, and buy from automated ticket machine using a handful of Euros we had left over from a previous trip, then walk 3 blocks to hotel where I had arranged early check in, hitting an ATM on the way. We wound up using the ATMs a lot on this trip as the restaurants only or much prefer cash over credit.

Image

We were in so early that we decided to take quick naps before heading out to “lunch” and the walk about the city.
http://www.kkhotels.com/en/hotels-in-wi ... a/welcome/
Normally we just try to push through on the first day in a futile attempt to re-set our body clicks. Eating wise we knew this trip would be a challenge for the girls as they don’t eat red meat and 80-90% of the main items on the menus on this trip featured meat.

You also have to be mindful of the different tipping practices, and you find out quickly that often the beer can be cheaper than ordering water (and that asking for tap water at a restaurant in some places shows poor form), plus some other things remind us that we are in Europe - - we will see few ice cubes; we will get skilled at handheld showers; a lot of meats and cheeses at the hotel breakfast; we will need to respect the bike paths that co-mingle with the sidewalks; need to be aware of pickpockets when using public transit; get used to more frequent use of coins (1 and 2 Euro); get used to 24:00 clocks; what’s this really costing us in dollars and what’s that quick Celsius conversion again so I know what to wear? (we had temp ranges from 18 to 31c on this trip = mid 60s to high 80s)

ImageIMG_0191-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Some great architecture and history in Vienna, although long time repeat visitors bemoan the large influx of high end shopping and souvenir shopping into the historic city center. That said, if the opera and certain kinds of art museums appeal to you, then Vienna has even more to offer.

ImageDSC06724-001 by jmq, on Flickr

St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is located at Stephansplatz, consecrated in 1147 and finished in 1433. The colorful roof tiles depict a royal crest.

ImageIMG_0134-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06672-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06698-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06701-001 by jmq, on Flickr

The Imperial Palace (Hofburg) of the Habsburg empire, which was pretty big deal for 300 years or so in this part of Europe.

ImageDSC06825-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06644-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06612-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06731-001 by jmq, on Flickr

The Schonbrunn Palace, gardens, and a small but surprisingly high quality zoo (world’s oldest but thoroughly modernized) on the property of the palace was fun – the critters were quite active.

ImageDSC06738-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0113-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06748-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0039-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0103-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Of course we had to do the sidewalk café thing and try the Sachertorte (quite good), and I tried the Wiener Schnitzel at a very good restaurant in the old city. I was underwhelmed by it – too plain. Local beer and wine was quite good.

ImageIMG_0125-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Imageupload by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06794-001 by jmq, on Flickr

After 2 nights that included taking an Avdil PM tablet to help with sleep, taxi to the beautiful train station for the pre-booked WestBahn 2.5 hr train to Salzburg.
https://westbahn.at/en/
Rode thru some scenic countryside on a modern, clean on-time train with great wi-fi to arrive in the utterly charming Salzburg and their gleaming new train station. Hopped on the bus for short ride to near the hotel just on the other side of the river from their historic old town. View from hotel. http://starinnhotels.com/star-inn-premi ... ablerbraeu

ImageDSC07073-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Imageupload by jmq, on Flickr

Imageupload by jmq, on Flickr

We had decided to do a pretty touristy thing – a bike tour of the Sound of Music sites - the next morning, but decided to move it up to that late afternoon of arrival, under some cool, threatening skies. http://www.mariasbicycletours.com/index ... ign&lng=en

It was fun and a great way to see some of the nearby countryside right outside & parts of the city to return to on foot, but long at 3 hours, covering 8 miles. My daughter is not so good on a bike, not having logged as many hours bike riding as most kids (we live in a small neighborhood full of cul-de-sacs and it got tired quickly, otherwise we had to hump the bike via SUV to a park etc), so we had a few shaky mishaps, plus she threw the chain on the gear sprocket, probably by not listening to me about only changing gears when peddling.

ImageIMG_0235-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0196-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06864-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0212-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Imageupload by jmq, on Flickr

We had a dinner here – it was excellent http://www.zwettlers.com/angebote/speiskortn/
ImageIMG_0294-001 by jmq, on Flickr

This small city has 49 churches and WONDERFUL bakeries and street food. We were glad that this was the only hotel where we didn’t have breakfast included.

ImageDSC06932-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Imageupload by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06889-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0307-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC07101-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0330-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0264-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0315-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageIMG_0258-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC07056-001 by jmq, on Flickr

ImageDSC06927-001 by jmq, on Flickr

On the last day we got one of these giant chocolate covered pretzels (in the middle of the photo) that had a layer of crushed nut mixture inside. Serious Yum.

ImageDSC07093-001 by jmq, on Flickr

Then off to Munich, the beautiful Bavarian countryside, and Prague in Part 2 if you all are interested in being bombarded with even more photos LOL.
When we come to place where the sea and the sky collide
Throw me over the edge and let my spirit glide
User avatar
jmq
 
Posts: 2368
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:32 am
Location: NJ

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby liamsaunt » Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:22 pm

What a nice Friday afternoon treat! Great photos, the architecture is stunning. Looking forward to seeing more.
It's like looking in your soup and finding a whole different alphabet.
User avatar
liamsaunt
 
Posts: 5959
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:08 pm

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby loria » Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:57 pm

wow, beautiful! and congratulations to your daughter on her graduation from college!
< leaving on the 22nd of march...but too lame to figure out the ticker thing again!>
User avatar
loria
 
Posts: 3125
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 3:33 pm
Location: NY

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby lprof » Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:55 pm

Yes, please continue... I never tire seeing your photos and hearing even the smallest details of your trips! You and your girls travel good! :wink:
... no longer a stranger to paradise
User avatar
lprof
 
Posts: 3134
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:09 pm
Location: Florida

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby toni » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:41 pm

Congratulations and please do keep posting!

Isn't it funny about the lack of ice? Was that pretty consistent from country to country? I wondered. We made our first venture to Europe two years ago to Venice and a cruise and returned to Venice again last year. I am a serious ice in my water/soda person and was forced to go to mcdonalds several times just to get a large cup of ice to carry around with me.

How was Salzburg as far as walking around? Easy to find things relatively?

Looking forward to more :D
User avatar
toni
 
Posts: 1063
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:05 pm
Location: ny state of mind

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby jmq » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:56 am

Toni - oh yeah the lack of ice has been pretty consistent in the areas of Europe we have explored. Is that a widespread cultural thing, or maybe because commercial ice makers are a huge energy hog? You do notice other energy saving practices - escalators move at a reduced speed when nobody is on them, then a motion sensor ups it to normal speed as you approach. You also get the motion sensors for lighting in hallways, and in Milan, you had to leave your hotel room key card in a slot inside the room in order to run the air conditioner, so it shuts off when you take the key card when you leave the room. If I owned a STJ villa, that might be an engineering control that I would consider installing to help reign in expensive unfettered AC use by renters.

Speaking of AC, another reminder that you are in Europe is that it is not provided in all restaurants, hotels, or public transit, so if you happen to catch a heatwave, like we did this time and 4 yrs ago in Paris, it can be a challenge to escape the heat. We had no AC at the beginning of the heat wave in Munich, and were glad we had it in Prague, as well as in Paris, where only the triple rooms like the one we booked had it. Also in the places that have AC, its rarely set to "iceberg" like many places here in the USA.

Another clever thing you see in European cities is the signs for parking garages are electronic, showing the number of open spots available, so you don't waste time and fuel riding around finding one that isn't already full.

Other things that say to us we are in Europe: hard beds and king size beds that are really two twin mattresses, and the relative unavailability in some places of "to-go" coffee - maybe not a bad thing to slow down and enjoy your coffee for a moment vs slurping it on the run.

Re Salzburg - the Old Town is quite small, easy to walk around and find stuff with the help of a decent map. Even if you get turned around and/or take the wrong connecting alley, its so small that its not big deal to circle around or double back, unlike other urban areas with long city blocks.

We find that having and using a compass it REALLY helpful to help you orientate the map to north when walking around an unfamiliar city that isn't laid out in a grid (like NYC). I have a small D ring carabiner style compass attached to my camera bag, & my daughter has one attached to her travel shoulder bag (from her study abroad trips). The compass function or app in a smart phone could also come in handy to re-orientate yourself, like when you come up out of the subway, or get turned around in the maze of the older towns.
When we come to place where the sea and the sky collide
Throw me over the edge and let my spirit glide
User avatar
jmq
 
Posts: 2368
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:32 am
Location: NJ

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby jmq » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:23 am

Another European thing: dogs seem to be allowed in most public places and on most public transit, and no one bats an eyelash.

Unlike here in NJ (aka "The No Fun State") where prominent new "No Dogs Allowed on Boardwalk All Year Round" greeted us at our fav beach and non-commercial boardwalk this weekend.

It might have always been a "rule", but it used to be that off season or off hours it really wasn't enforced. Probably some idiot brought their ill behaved dog on the boardwalk and something happened and somebody got sued etc.
When we come to place where the sea and the sky collide
Throw me over the edge and let my spirit glide
User avatar
jmq
 
Posts: 2368
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:32 am
Location: NJ

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby PA Girl » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:51 am

Thank you for the trip down memory lane!

My father came to the US from Germany as an adult after WWII. We had many relatives to visit all over the country and would take 2-4 weeks vacation to see everyone.

I went to school in Germany between my junior and senior year of college and my roommate and I ran all around Austria. Your pictures of Vienna and Salzburg take me straight back 25 years ago.

Concerning the lack of "to go" cups - It is cultural. I know my German cousins think the American habit of eating or drinking while walking or driving is at best odd and at worst, vulgar and piggish.

When I was a kid/teen, my dad's cousins had a little ice cube tray that they would bring out when I visited. She would give me a little bowl of ice at every meal. She was disappointed when I aged out of "needing" ice in my drink.

Looking forward to the next installment!
User avatar
PA Girl
 
Posts: 4477
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:55 am

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby linne » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:20 pm

Thank you for the TR. So interesting to read it and your pictures are as always fantastic.

You are really a good traveler, who understand to find the interesting things on the places you visit.

It must take you a lot of time to investigate everything before you start your vacation (but I would do the same).

As an European it’s funny to read about the difference between USA and Europa. I remember how difficult it was to fulfill our wish about rooms with a double bed with two mattresses or with two single beds, when we visited NY and Virgin island. I hate the big beds with one matress.

Looking forward to you report from Prague. There you must have used your camera a lot.

Linne
User avatar
linne
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Mon May 14, 2007 4:25 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby mbw1024 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:00 pm

jmq wrote:Another European thing: dogs seem to be allowed in most public places and on most public transit, and no one bats an eyelash.

Unlike here in NJ (aka "The No Fun State") where prominent new "No Dogs Allowed on Boardwalk All Year Round" greeted us at our fav beach and non-commercial boardwalk this weekend.

It might have always been a "rule", but it used to be that off season or off hours it really wasn't enforced. Probably some idiot brought their ill behaved dog on the boardwalk and something happened and somebody got sued etc.


I noticed this when over in Spring Lake a few weeks ago. Seems extra harsh and not at all friendly to not allow this in off season. I don't get it.
And I must add the sand looks weird post Sandy. What is that sand all about and what color is it? Never have been a big NJ beach goer but not I really have become less and less interested.
User avatar
mbw1024
 
Posts: 7353
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:54 pm
Location: The Garden State

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby KatieH » Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:42 am

Beautiful photos and a wonderful report. Traveling with your kids (especially those old enough to escape the obligatory family vacation) is a gift. I liked the photo of beer right after the post about breakfast :D
KatieH
I will drink no wine until it's in my glass.
User avatar
KatieH
 
Posts: 353
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:27 pm
Location: The Ocean State

Re: OT Trip Report & Photos > Central Europe Part 1

Postby nothintolose » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:46 pm

Just seeing these reports and LOVING them! We were Europe this past September and October, starting in Amsterdam and ending in Vienna. We hit Salzburg and Vienna in Austria so your pics brought back lots of AWESOME memories!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

One of my favorite beers was in Salzburg...Stiegl Weisse! I loved both Salzburg and Vienna!
"Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" - Dave Matthews Band
User avatar
nothintolose
 
Posts: 1956
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:36 pm
Location: New Orleans, LA


Return to Off Topic Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests

cron


VIOL on tumblr
Submit a pic



Advertising | Privacy Policy | © 1995 - 2017 | iBizDaily