August 26, 2010

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Trip to Vienna, 2010

To one of the most beautiful cities in the world

Alarm went off. It was 4am on a Tuesday morning. I had to catch the early train at 4.40 to Vienna. I didn't slept well that night, 3 hours was way to little. But the prospect of seeing my girlfriend later that day kept me fresh and excited. Mum drove me to the nearest railway station in Austria and I caught my train literally in the last minute. The ride was smooth and some four hours later I was in Vienna. Once in the city, I had to take the S-Bahn (city train) to Vienna International airport, which took me about half an hour.

The airport taken by my girlfriend from her plane.

I arrived at the airport around 9.20 and my girlfriend was supposed to arrive at around the same time. I headed straight to the arrival hall and had to wait. And wait. And wait...

The arrival hall at the VIA.

There were so many people waiting for their dear ones and every time someone opened that gate and came out with a load of baggage, everyone hoped it will be their friend, their lover, their relative. I had to wait half an hour before I saw a cute Taiwanese girl in a purple sweatshirt pushing a fully loaded black suitcase on wheels. She exited at the second gate and seemed a bit confused, because she didn't spot me immediately. But I saw her and I tried to find my way between the people to get to her. Few moments later she spotted me and we smiled and approached each other. We hugged.

S-Bahn from the airport to Vienna.

After the extensive hug and plenty questions about the flight and everything, we the city train back to Wien Meidling station (the currently main railway station of Vienna south), where I planned to buy a subway ticket, that lasts for 24h and you can ride as many trains as you want.

The ticket costs currently (in 2010) 5.7 euro per person and it's really worth it, if you plan to tour the historic center and go back to your hotel. Our hotel was pretty far away from the center, but by train, it was only 3 subway stations away. After getting the tickets, we headed to our hotel [Birg-Cyrus], which is located in the Favoriten district, south from the city center.

Meidling railway station.

Vienna's subway U-Bahn.

I have to say, after seeing various subways in Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaohsiung and Seoul), I'm pretty disappointed with what I saw in Vienna. I wasn't actually bothered by the fact that some trains were old and dirty (eating is allowed in the trains), what really makes it hard for tourists is the lack of good maps and signboards in English. And when there's a train arriving, there's no warning signal nor any announcements in multiple languages, what is common in the aforementioned Asian cities. There is also no turnstiles or barriers between the subway area and the outside, you don't tap your card on scanners, but you just board trains with a ticket, which you have to keep with you at all times and there are random controls by officers, who dress up like normal people. We had such control one time, the guy stood next to us and wore a normal jacket, was unshaved and dressed pretty casually. Suddenly he said "ticket control" and showed us and other passengers his ID. The fine for not having a ticket is 70€.

The Vienna U-Bahn frustrated me few times, but after few rides I got used to it and we had no problems. But it definitely takes more time to get the grip of it than the Taipei MRT, my personal favorite subway system so far.

The Favoriten area near our hotel.

Our hotel room.

The Birg-Cyrus hotel is old and a bit ran down, from the outside and inside. The only good things are that it's located very close (3min away) from a subway station (Keplerplatz), the rates are cheap (49€ per night) and the staff is very friendly. The whole area around the hotel is mostly inhabited by Turks, you have many shops with Turkish food (like kebab). Regarding the hotel, the room was not like it seemed on the photos we found online, it was old, the walls were a little dirty, the furniture seemed to be from the 80s, the sink was broken, there was a hole in the wall... but it was a big room (like an apartment) and the shower worked well. More about the hotel (with photos) here (in another post soon).

When we freshened up and after a longer rest, we decided to walk around the city and see the most prominent sights. My girl was so exhausted from the long flight, but she still managed to walk around Vienna's historic part with me. I was really impressed and amazed, how fit and determined she was. These are the main sights we saw that first day in Vienna:

The impressive Karlskirche is a famous baroque church built in 1737.

The Naschmarkt, Vienna's most popular market. We just walked around here. You have a big variety of foods and especially fruits, but I wasn't really impressed. We left quickly.

Vienna State Opera (from 1869) was one of the favorite buildings I saw that day.

Vienna was full of horses and cottages that day. A lovely sight.

The famous Hofburg, the biggest palace in central Vienna. This part is called Michael's wing and it's from the 18th century.

We saw many famous Lipizzaner horses (Lipicanci in Slovenian), which originally come from a stud farm in Lipica, a small village in Southwestern Slovenia, the pride of my country.

Heldenplatz is one of Vienna's famous squares. Adolf Hitler, the German führer had a famous speech here in 1938 at the annexation of Austria to Greater Germany.

The other side of the Hofburg (Neue Burg part) seen from the Heldenplatz.

Volksgarten, a famous park near the Hofburg.

The impressive building of the Parliament of Austria.

The Burgtheater and a bike that wanted to take a nap.

One of my favorite buildings in Vienna: The Rathaus. I took a lot of photos here.

The Votive Church, an impressive neo-gothic building from 1879, 85m tall.

Der Graben is one of Vienna's most prominent pedestrian areas in the center.

Stephansdom in the middle of Vienna's historic center was completed in the year 1160 (makes it 850 years old!) is 107m tall and the most prominent landmark of Vienna. We walked around the whole cathedral and we even went inside. It's truly an amazing construction.

It was the last famous spot we visited that day. My girl was too tired and so was I. We went back to the hotel. The next day we only had few hours in Vienna, because we also planned to go to Bratislava in the afternoon. So I suggested we see another famous building before we leave: The Hundertwasserhaus.

This expressionist landmark of Vienna was completed in 1986 and designed by 100Wasser.

After the Hundertwasserhaus, we checked out of our hotel and headed to Wien Südbahnhof (Vienna Southern Railway Station) to take the train to Bratislava at 1.25. We had like an hour to spend and I knew there's another lovely palace in the area:

This is the Upper part of the Belvedere palace. It was a sunny day and there were some Asian tourists around there. This lovely girl was happy to be in my photo (I guess :-P).

And then it was around 1 pm and we boarded the train to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. That will be the topic of my next blog post. Two days in Vienna really made us exhausted, but we were happy to see so much in such a short time. It wasn't my first time in Vienna (I think I've been at least 10 times here), but it was my girlfriend's first time in Vienna and Europe and she really liked it, which made me truly happy. Vienna is always worth a visit. I'm happy that I could show my girlfriend one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And then I showed her Bratislava...

[My post about GRAZ][My TRAVELS page][All photos by MKL, 2010]


  1. I'm gonna [LIKE] this post if there was a like button here! :D Btw, have you written anything about M'sia in the past?

  2. @Mabel: Hehe.. thanks. Guess I need to install that Like button soon :P I wrote some Malaysia related posts, but not like recently. Browse my Malaysia page or my travels.

  3. Beautiful photos! I hope I can go to Vienna soon, I might actually go on an exchange there.. it's one of my alternatives. Time will tell!

  4. finallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy the long awaited moment :)

  5. Hey there! :)

    Just when I thought to say "hey how am i going to visit this place when there's no english signboard" than saw what you wrote.

    What a bummer bro!~ hahahaha

    Those old building are just awesome!

    I can't stay in that hotel bro! I am not sure if I want to go there :(

    any more better hotel than that? Kuching's motel is 10 times better than what you describe bro! it seem I will had a bad night if I were to visit your place with a hotel condition like that wahhh wahh wahh :~( *crying*

    Cheers Bro


  6. finally.... ok.... tell as much as you can on evrything & everywhere, i can use it as a guide on my next EU trip ;)

  7. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh U sure seem like u had an amazing time there ;p

    More, more, more!!! :D

  8. So this is the "rival city" to Prague - must say I'm impressed

  9. Once again nice photos. I was surprised that the underground looks exactly like the underground in London (train is same color more or less)

    Sucked to see some grey clouds in some of the photos, what was the weather like there?

    Hope you got a write up on the cuisine in your continuation with some yummy pics ;D

  10. Those are awesome photos! And glad you two are having fun!!

  11. You won't believe it I know... I'm so near to Austria and I've never been to Vienna. Innsbruck I've visited so many times I lost count of... Salzburg, but never in VIENNA! And I simply adore HUNDERTWASSER! I love him!
    Well done! Are you coming to Italy too?

  12. WOOHOO
    you're with your woman.
    photos are gorgeous. have missed your blog! am jealous of your travels. as always

  13. miss the stephansdom and city hall...oh and hundertwassehaus :) wanna go back to austra!

  14. Time and money doesn't allow me to travel right now, so I just read your blog.

    I'd love to go to that area of the world. Love the pictures.

  15. I love the outdoor markets in Europe. Been to one in France, and it was crowded, yet not as dirty as the markets we have in Asia.

    Austria was one of my favourite stop in Europe (the other being France). And that's probably because I have yet to go Slovenia, bro. ^_^

    Looking forward to pictures and stories from your homeland.

  16. Oh wowo, here starts my EUROPE trip, by viewing the photos and reading the posts! Great post, the buildings are absolutely amazing, no wonder it got the beautiful award!

  17. WOW! Vienna looks so beautiful! Really, I don't know what building I like the most in this post. The fountain outside of Volksgarten is so beautiful with the building in the backdrop. The Vienna State Opera building is soooo gorgeous! And wow, look at the pillars for the Karlskirche. And wow, if I ever travel to Europe I'm gonna have a problem with the language I think :S
    But yes, the subway station seems sad - LOL, you'd be totally disappointed if you saw Toronto's public transportation system. We don't even have a proper train going directly between the airport and downtown Toronto - you have to take a cab (which is pricey at about $50-$60 one way) or take a bus (I personally never took the bus to the airport). And that's interesting that the ticket officers on the subway are dressed like regular laymen so as to not scare off anyone who didn't pay their fare. Smart! I think our ticket officers are actually dressed like workers so you have time to run off the train LOL.

  18. Thanks for all your comments :) I have so much to catch up, so I won't reply individually here. But really happy to see you guys like my pics :D


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