Vienna…the capital of Austria and for 640 years the capital of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. It is a beautiful city without skyscrapers and full of some amazing architecture. It was our first stop in Europe and the farthest east.
The four of us (Hubbie, Nathan 13, Hailey 10) flew from Dallas to London, then to Vienna. Our oldest (Caitlyn 17) was in Nicaragua and would join us after a week flying to Munich by herself. Long but uneventful flights where sleep unfortunately eluded us all. We arrived at 1:30 pm to an unusual heat wave exhausted. But…we were in Europe! The initial excitement helps with the jet lag, but really it just takes a couple days to recover.
It was an easy subway ride and a short walk to our apartment near the Schloss Belvedere where we stayed for 3 nights. Vienna is a stunning city and relatively inexpensive. The metro tickets were cheap, the electric trams pleasant. People walked everywhere of course, but we were surprised to see how many people where getting around on Razor scooters. We settled in, bought groceries at the market, bought our metro tickets, and attempted sleep.
On our first full day we went to the city’s center to walk around and see the sights. We walked mostly up Kartner Strausse which is a pedestrian only shopping street that heads through the old town. It is full of café tables, tourists, fountains, and shops.
We came to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a gothic church built beginning in 1300. It is the center of Vienna with a 450 ft tower. It was beautiful inside and the kids were open mouthed. After looking around for a bit we climbed the 343 tightly wound steps up the South tower. The kids really enjoyed the climb, the little windows along the way. The views from the top were amazing.
After St. Stephens we walked a bit and came upon St. Peters Church. This church was built as a thank you to God from Leopold I for surviving the 1679 plague. It is baroque in contrast to the previous gothic cathedral which was very interesting. Hailey really liked this church. She took pictures and walked around even after we were sitting and resting.
We wandered through Old Town a bit more towards the Hofburg Palace and stopped at St. Michaels church. Seeing three churches in a row wasn’t at all repetitive. They were all beautiful, and from different periods so they were different. And on a hot day, they were all blessedly cool. While St. Stephens was packed with tourists, the other two were practically empty.
At St. Michaels, we were just in time for the 1300 tour of the Church Crypt. Our tour guide, a young German, spoke perfect English and did the tour in both German for the four Germans in our group and in English for the four of us. Later Michael asked him where he learned English and he said he learned it from watching American movies and tv.
The tour was 45 minutes and took us under the church to the crypt. It was about 55 degrees and cold. It was quite interesting, and the kids enjoyed it. We saw 3 perfectly preserved mummies from the late 1700s, and plenty of bones. At the end, our guide told us that when they cleaned up the crypt years ago they spread out all the bones from the broken and piled up coffins about 4 feet deep and spread dirt on top to make the uneven ground we had been walking on. Very glad he told us that at the end! We couldn’t take pictures in the crypt, but here are a couple from St. Michaels.
We were going to tour Schonbrunn Palace the next day, so we didn’t tour the Hofburg Palace. But here are some pictures of the palace which is right there in the city center.
We had stopped for coffee and fruit smoothies in the morning, and then in the afternoon we stopped at a famous sandwich bar Trzesniewski that sells Viennese finger sandwiches. Michael’s plate was accidently rung up with the next customer, which greatly annoyed the check out lady. The man spoke a little English so they worked it out. Michael and the man had a good laugh about it. The cashier…not so much.
Later we passed by St. Peters again and went in to hear a free organ concert on their huge pipe organ. It was nice, but we were all tired and the kids both dozed off. Home for grilled cheese sandwiches. That night we all finally got some sleep…jet lag is tough.