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Trip List by Gnorman

A month in Vienna!

21 Aug 2007  Inspired by trip last year
4.5 of 5 stars based on 5 votes

Rented an apartment, instead of hotels

  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Repeat visitors, Theater
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Seniors, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Spring
  • 1. Apartment Walzhofer

    We found a 50 sq meter apt a block from the Parliament, on a tram line and 1 block from the u-bahn and rented it for the month of May 2007. What a blast! We were there long enough to market locally, fix our own breakfast (and occasionally dinner if we were so inclined), and had the luxury of multiple TVs, a full kitchen completely outfitted, private bath, lift, privacy, etc. etc. -- generally came to feel like we were living somewhat like the Viennese do and got to be recognized and acknowledged by shopkeepers and flower-shop vendors, and so forth. Also became comfortable with getting on tram or u-bahn and just traipsing all over -- several really fun evenings at heurigens on north side of city, a musical evening at Kursalon in Stadtpark, lots of coffee/cake interludes along Kartner Str (with great people-watching), and one of our discoveries of a best-kept secret place: the SkyBar (also on Kartner Strasse). Best transportation secret, other than the 30-day inclusive transportation pass (45 euro each), was the bus (only a 20-min ride) from Marzinplatz to airport -- almost beats the 16-min CAT from Wien Mitte station, but has the advantage of dropping passengers at Departures, unlike CAT which is some distance walk, so the bus was definitely the way to go on our return travel day. Bus leaves PROMPTLY every 30 min beginning at 5.00 AM. This method of city/airport travel is not really advertised much, but is used a lot by flight attendants and local business travelers. Driver collects fare on board and really does leave exactly on time. Marzinplatz is just 1 block north along the Donau from Schwedenplatz. Our flight was early out of Vienna and the u-bahn connection from Rathaus Sta was just not working out conveniently, as it did not begin running until after 5.00 AM and that would have put us at the airport a bit late. Wouldn't have even had a clue about this unless the Viennese travel agent we consulted about a 3-day trip to Budapest tuned us in to it. About Budapest -- went by train and stayed at Mercure on Joseph Krt (it's right at the top of the u-bahn (Metro) station 1 stop from the train station. Budapest is whole, other-nother story; check with me if you want details. What a place! Has only been out from under the thumb of Communism since the Wall came down in '91, and they're slowly coming around to accommodating tourists; also a basic working of German really isn't helpful there, but we managed quite well. A beautiful place with a lot of tragic history, but altogether a fascinating few days. Back in Vienna, we took little, inexpensive trips on the Danube (Donau), had lunch at the Donauturm (TV tower) near the UN city just east of Vienna proper, across the Donau Canal, went on the famous Ferris wheel in Prater (reference: The Third Man movie, a must-see before going to Vienna) -- no charge to get into the amusement park, just pay for whatever rides you go on -- also a super beer-garden in the park: Schweitzerhof. Further activities were train to and boat back re day-trip to see the Abbey in Melk, just a bit north along the Donau; of course plan a couple of days to see Schloss Schonbronn and its tiergarten (zoo), and if you're in shape, take the hike up the zig-zag path behind the schloss to see Glorieta and have a beer at the little cafe up there -- whatta view. So much to see and do in Vienna. I'm sure we did more in the month than most Viennese do in a year, but we were determined to cram as much as possible into the month there. Would we do it again? Absolutely, however we also need to check out other places -- maybe Prague next year (if the euro/dollar exchange rate doesn't do us in -- DO use your ATM card: it's definitely the way to go). Other than the above, museums, museums, museums -- enough to flatten even the most sturdy. We're 82 and 60 respectively and we certainly were able to satisfy our ambitions, but we're in pretty good shape and adventurous -- way too independent to do the tour stuff with the herd, but it does require some good bit of preparation and willingness to roll with the punches. Altogether a great experience, and having discovered the many advantages of apartment rental, this is likely our preferred lodging alternative for future trips!

  • 2. Apartment Walzhofer, Josefstadterstr 9, Vienna, Austria

    Found this apartment on a very helpful site: apartment.at. This is an apartment approx 50 sq meters (500 sq ft, give or take) and was such a lot better than changing hotels every few days, and with a lot more room! Has a washer/dryer (a single appliance -- how strange is that? It was to me!), dishwasher, 2 TVs, living room/dining area, bedroom, shower/vanity area, separate toilet area, lift to the apartment (it's on the top floor of a 19th century building, but fully updated), and several grocery stores at the end of the block. Apartment building is in the middle of the block -- out the front door of the building and turn left: at the end of the block is a Spar Markt and a Zielpunkt Markt across the street from each other; turn left at that corner and there's a Billa Markt just a half block further on. Turn right as you come out of the apartment building and the tram stops at the end of the block, right in front of the newpaper/flower kiosk, and right across the street is the u-bahn stop (Rathaus Sta.). Apartment landlord is a youngish couple who kindly met us at the apartment and checked us out of the operation of things, and then left us totally alone for the entire month, although they did leave us their number in case we needed to consult them for anything (which didn't happen). The only times we heard from them was after about 2 days he called to ask if everything was all right, and then again the day before our departure he called to arrange where we were to leave the keys, etc. They were very nice and cooperative, and we appreciated the privacy to relax and rest so we were prepared for the next day of seeing and doing. Definitely would do business with this couple in the future. There are 4 apartments on the top floor of this building, and he owns 3 of them, so with a little preparation you should be able to coordinate with him for something suitable. What a nice guy! Rented the apartment for the month of May 2007 (unpack just once!), and found the rate to be super, especially compared to what an average 3-star hotel runs and so much more room!

  • 3. Transportation in Vienna, Austria

    Since we rented an apartment for the month of May 2007, we purchased 30-day transportation tickets. This included all public transportation, i.e., U-bahn, S-bahn, tram, and bus. Cost was 45 euros each, and we really got our value out of them. Also had the convenience of not having to get individual tickets for each outing (which would have been considerably more expensive as well). Viennese rarely check for tickets (only asked to display ours twice in a month), but woe to the traveler who gets busted without having paid the fare -- a significant fine, and you're tossed off, God knows where at the time. You really don't want to go thru that. The U-bahn maps available when you buy your pass are really easy to understand, and the reverse shows a detailed map of trams and "hoppers" (smallish vans that go into the very inner city itself, up and down all kindsa little local shopping/eating neighborhoods). You should get a couple of these maps, as ours were folded and creased, and unfolded so many times we stopped in to a service counter at one of the stations (Karlsplatz, I think) to replace them. Also of interest is the CAT (City Airport Train) that runs to/from Wien Mitte Station (also called Landstrasse) and the airport in 16 minutes. Really wonderful feature of the CAT station at Wien Mitte is that there is an airline counter there -- you can (and we did) check in your luggage anytime within 24 hours of your flight home, and receive your boarding pass -- how great is that? That way the day you travel all you have to do is get to the airport and go straight to your gate. No muss, no fuss, and totally reliable. Timetable on our particular return (Vienna/Munich/Denver) turned out to be very early in the morning, however, and we checked the U-bahn schedule to get us to the CAT station at Wien Mitte and it was not working, so we alternatively went by taxi to Marzinplatz and took the 5.30 AM bus to the airport (20 min., fare 6 euros ea.) We never would have known about this little secret in Vienna, but a travel agent clued us in. Turns out this is heavily used by locals and particularly airline personnel, flight attendants and such, but since the bus runs every 30 min. there's no problem getting on. Very convenient -- driver collects the fare, and leaves promptly -- be there on time or be left to get the next bus in 30 min! This is not advertised to the tourist trade, but a short exploratory walk (1 block north of Schwedenplatz, same side of Danube/Donau) will bring you to a bus shelter and signage telling all about it, along with schedule and fare information. If CAT doesn't work with your travel timetable, check this out. Confession time -- I hate to admit it, but I am aware of signage at the CAT station that says only CAT ticket holders are permitted to use the luggage check-in and boarding pass assignment feature. However, we failed to comply and ended up taking the Marzinplatz bus instead, even after getting luggage checked in and receiving boarding passes. I'm contrite and promise to never, never do this again. Mea culpa.