Weekend in Vienna

A few summers ago, I took advantage of an invitation and went to visit my friend in Vienna.

It was my first proper visit there, so I decided I would enjoy Vienna and see the city I’ve  heard and read so much about. Being a history geek, I know a decent amount about the history of the region and the Habsburg family and I was excited about seeing it all in person.

So, on a Friday afternoon after work, I hopped on a train. I made the wrong decision of grabbing a seat in a compartment with four Australian teenagers, who were doing a big Eurotrip and despite having already visited Berlin, were convinced that they were “going to Germany.” All in all, it was not a very comfortable train ride.

Four and half hours later, I stepped off the train in Wien Praternstern, where my friend was eagerly awaiting me. We walked to her place, which did not take long and grabbed dinner on the way, while catching up on the recent events in our lives.

On Saturday morning, I was woken up by the sound of rain against the window. Luckily, it was just a short shower and we were soon able to leave and explore the city. We walked and I saw some of the main sights –  St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Opera house. We ducked into a few stores along the way, which made me realize that my German is worse that I thought.

After a walk through the city, we hopped on the metro and went to see the Schonbrunn palace. After making our way through large amounts of tourists – and stopping at a café for lemonade and the famous Sacher Tort, we finally emerged in the palace gardens. The only word I can think of to describe them is magnificent. The palace and gardens  were bigger and grander than I imagined them. Even the sun decided to come out from behind the clouds. While walking through the gardens, my mind went back in time, imagining the lives of those who lived here a mere hundred years ago and their ancestors. We climbed up to the top of a hill, where the Gloriette stands. The view was amazing and it is easy to see, why this specific site was chosen for the palace.  We sat down in the grass and I was taking in every moment, every image.

schonbrunn-palace-944799_1280

After deciding that we should probably get going, we went back to the apartment to make dinner. We had a lazy evening, but decided that we shouldn’t stay in. So we went for a walk in Prater. We wanted to avoid the tourists and the loudness of the attractions, so we walked through the park.

Sunday morning came fast and with it the need to pack. We then went for a short walk, where I bought a few mandatory souvenirs and postcards, and saw the Hundertwasser house with its interesting architecture and fun designs.  A short visit to Starbucks (and the purchase of the Vienna mug from their collection), concluded my visit and I got on the train to go back.

I have to say, I really liked Vienna. Nothing there surprised me – the architecture and history makes it very similar to Prague or Budapest. I wish I had more time there, which means that I am definitely planning on coming back – there is still so much to see. But, before I visit again, I plan on improving my German and reading more about the city’s fascinating history.  


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How to plan your trip (without going crazy)

DSCN2952Originally I was going to write this post while planning my three week trip to the US in September, but because, as usual, life happened and I had to cancel last minute. But even though I didn’t go, I went through the entire process of trip planning, so I decided I would share with you how I do it.

Even though it depends on what sort of a trip you’re planning – weekend getaway, road trip across a foreign country or a beach getaway, you have things to learn and plan, so here are my tips

  1. Flight (alternatively bus or train tickets, or car route). Basically, how are you getting to your destination (or the start point of your road trip) and back? It’s always good to start with this so that you have definite time information about the beginning and end of your trip. Personally, I check on websites that compare multiple airlines, so that I get an idea of the prices and can pick who I want to fly with. But I usually end up buying tickets with the airlines themselves, they are usually ever so slightly cheaper and the terms might be better. So it’s worth it to check out both the airline itself and other websites.
  1. Now that you know how and when you’re getting to your destination, it’s time to decide whether or not you will be in one destination for the entire trip or if you’ll be moving around. If you’re going to be moving around and spending time in different places, the next step is to check out transportation. Will you be renting a car? Taking a bus? Train? Look up arrangements, costs and travel times and possibilities. As was the case with my trip to the US, I looked at a few bus companies and AmTrak. I ended up picking a combination of buses that suited my route and budget the best. Map out your entire journey – if I plan on moving around, I like printing a map and drawing my routes in or looking them up on Google.
  1. Hotels! This is my favorite part. I love looking at places to stay and sleep. And since you have your individual trips planned out, you know where you will be staying. Look up possibilities and make sure to look at customer reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor. Also, don’t trust the amount of stars a hotel has. We’ve seen so many different three star hotels – ranging from nearly luxury suites to tiny moldy rooms.
  1. Now that you know the most important things, it’s time to see what you can do and see when you’re there! Obviously, if all you want to do is lie on a beach, your job is super easy. If you want to see as much as possible, look at things that are reachable by public transport or within a couple hours’ drive.
  1. And, most importantly, HAVE FUN!! Be flexible, don’t freak out when things don’t go exactly according to plan, they rarely do. But that’s what makes life interesting :)

My final tip is – you never know when you’ll have or won’t have access to the internet or a printer. Make sure you have the most important documents printed – plane/bus/train tickets, hotel reservations and possibly a list of places you want to go.

Is there anything you like to do when you plan a trip? Let me know below :) Fun travels!


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9 Tips for Train Travel in the Summer

 

train 1Everyone loves travelling by train. It’s easy, cheap and you don’t need a designated driver. Here are a couple of tips to make your travels even better, whether you travel alone or with your friends.

  1. DRINKS! – Always have enough drinks with you! You never know when the train will stop in the middle of nowhere, s o you have to hydrate the whole time.
  1. Entertainment – Whether your side is short or several hours long, make sure you bring magazines, a book or anything else that will make your journey more fun and distract you from the blistering heat.
  1. Get a seat! – Some train companies charge extra for a designated seat. Pay the extra money! Its more relaxing and at least you won’t have to keep moving out of people’s way when they walk down the aisle. Standing for the duration of a five hour journey isn’t fun either.
  1. Book early – If you will buy a seat, book early! Especially when travelling in groups, you don’t want to get separated.
  1. Try to sit far from families with little kids – The kids WILL have energy and WILL make it obvious to the whole train, so if you can, stay away from them and their inevitable sticky fingers.
  1. Noise Canceling Headphones – If you fear the families, bring noise canceling headphones. They won’t change the sticky fingers, but your music will drone out their high-pitched screams.
  1. Plan well, but be flexible – Know what time you will arrive, but know that thatrain3t could easily change. So be flexible with your plans and try not to get too frustrated when they change.
  1. Sit in the right direction – If you get motion sickness, don’t ravel backwards. If your bought seat is in the wrong direction, ask someone to change, it will save you a very uncomfortable ride.
  1. Air conditioning – Seems obvious, but pick a train company that has the AC.

Do you travel by train a lot? Do you use any of these tricks or are you planning to try them out? Let us know in the comments!


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