Vienna – A Day in Austria

After my quick visit to Zurich, a short one hour flight on Niki Airlines brought me to Vienna, Austria. Niki is a low-cost airline based in Vienna and associated with Air Berlin. On arrival to Vienna, I caught the airline bus to Stadion Center for 8 euros and that left me with a short walk to my hotel, the Hilton Vienna Danube.

As the name strongly suggests, it sits directly on the Danube but is not directly in the city center. The U2 train line from Stadion Center was an easy connection but not so convenient that you are going to pop back and forth between the hotel and city center like you would if staying closer. One way fares on the underground are 2.20 euros and a 24 hour pass is only 7.70.

The hotel itself was very nice with good size rooms, a very helpful staff, and a nice executive lounge. Both breakfast and dinner can be accomplished in the lounge for no additional costs and with a wide variety of food to select from plus free adult  beverages from 6:00 until 8:30 p.m. I was able to utilize one of my favorite HHonors redemptions – cash plus points – so the room was only 16,000 points a night plus 60 euros.

After a good night’s rest, I ventured into the city center by taking the underground to Karlplatz which is where the Opera house is located and a good starting point for a walk through the historic areas. Vienna is quite beautiful from an architecture perspective and there are grand buildings everywhere you turn. But, Vienna is quite spread out and it took me most of the day to cover most of it.

I started with a visit to the Albertina Museum that is an impressive building in its own right and houses the Hapsburg apartments from when the building was Duke Albert’s residence. They have a world-renowned print collection but my interest was in two exhibits. Their permanent collection features a nice collection of paintings from the impressionist period up through Picasso. The collection is not so much deep as it is broad and the museum does a great job of walking the viewer through the progression of art movements in this time period.

The second collection was a temporary exhibit of Anselm Kiefer’s wood cut prints. I don’t always get Kiefer, but he is one of the most important artists of this time period. Very interested in German history and culture, these prints featured the Rhine, the Ring mythology, and famous figures from German history.

After satisfying my need to feel cultured, I spent the rest of the day walking around town – Kartner Strasse, St. Stephens church, the Mozart House, the Rauthaus, parliament, Hofburg palace, and various other buildings and statues. I also stopped for lunch at the “original” Leberkas spot in Vienna near the Opera. This is an authentic Austrian food that is basically a something like a bologna sausage or a pressed meat like Spam served on a hard roll. It was good.

That was enough walking for the day. In retrospect, I might have purchased a 24 hour pass for the underground to make quicker connections between the various sites, especially if I wanted to spend more time in museums or visit Schonbrunn Palace. Between all the walking and a bit of jet lag, I was in bed by 9:00 p.m. to get ready for an early morning departure to Prague.

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