Vienna: First Contact
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Having landed at the airport, having eventually found the baggage claim, we nearly got onto the bus to international departures! We found the S-bahn station in the basement, as the Lonely Planet guide said it would be, but discovered that contrary to the guide, for two years trains would not run to Wien Mitte (Wien Nord), they'd only go to the SudBahnhof.
Another person on the platform helped. It turned out that he was from Ottawa! So we took the train to the SudBahnhof and tried to find our way to our hotel (since our pre-trip planning was from Wien Mitte).
We did have a tram
map, printed out from the Internet, so we went for coffee while Dewi explored,
and found that the required tram stop was just outside the door of the cafe. The
Internet map turned out to be invaluable, since we couldn't find one in Vienna.
As it was, we took the “D” tram to the Schottentor, passing many historic
buildings (Belvedere, Opera, Parliament, Hofburg, etc.). There, we changed to a
44, overshot the hotel (the Donauwaltzer) and had to walk back - luckily,
On awakening, we took trams back to Schottentor then the opera area, intending to the find tourist office. It was not at all obvious, and the staff were not very helpful, but we did buy 72-hour transit passes.
Then we walked around and along the Kertnerstrasse pedestrian area as far as Stephansdom. By now we were feeling peckish. Eufron eyed a sausage-stand, and I went to buy sausages on a plate. The bratwurst was not ready. The weisswurst were not yet cooked. Only grill-wurst was available, so that’s what we had, cut into pieces, served on a plate with bread. It turned out to be identical to a large hot-dog! (or was it the other way round? which wurst came first?) We people-watched, and bought ice-cream cones each for dessert (Zwei Kugelen: two scoops).
By now it was evening, so it was back to hotel, had beer & mineral water with gas, and so to bed.
Took the U-bahn to the Westbahnhof. The U-bahn ran very close to our hotel, but we had to walk along the boulevard to find the station. There were many steps up to the platform: THEN we discovered there was a lift/elevator. The line is more like light rail: low-level platforms, vehicles like double-ended trams, narrow. At the Westbahnhof we filled out forms and purchased our seniors Vorteils-cards (senior citizens cards), which would give us a 45% discount on all rail tickets.
Eufron discovered a booklet about Nostalgie rail trips run by the Austrian Railways - interesting!
We got very hot and sticky while writing our forms in the enclosed waiting room,
so we took the first tram that came along, hoping to sit by an open window.
Turned out to be a no. 18, which at one point runs underground with metro-like
stations, then it rises to the surface again, past the Sudbahnhof (but at right
angles to our previous departure) and to Slachthausstrasse, which (by pure
coincidence, of course) is where the tram museum is. But the museum is only open
Click on thumbnail for larger picture.