I hop on the 12:23pm train to Salzburg and find a first class compartment (an enclosed section with 6 seats). Soon 2 American gals sit down. Then an American fellow (David) sits down. Within minutes we are having a great conversation. They're all going to Vienna. Who am I to pass up good company?
We arrive at Wien Westbahnhof (Vienna) at 6:00pm. David and I head for the tourist office. The gals take off and we never see them again. Darn! We try to get a room inside the "Ring", but none are available, so we settle for a hotel close to the train station. That night we go to dinner. David is a stock broker from New York City. He's in Europe on vacation.
The next day we move to a small hotel inside the Ring in Heidenplatz. An excellent location. Over the next 3 days I do the following:
Stephansdom Cathedral Magnificent Gothic Cathedral
St. Peters Cathedral Beautiful Cathedral
Karntnerstausse Main Shopping Street
Bus Tour Schonbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace
Kunsthistorisches Spectacular Fine Arts Museum, Ruben, Rembrandt, Titian, Durer,
Cafe on Danube Nice view of the river
Prater Park Vienna's Tivoli
Tenne Dance Hall Hopping Place with really funny Austrian - American Songs Band
Grinzing Heurigan Area Dining and Nightlife Area
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The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Fine Arts) on the Ring had me in tears. You feel so small and insignificant compared to the history of the world.
Prater Park has the biggest ferris wheel I've ever been on. You ride in boxcars with windows. There's a really neat movie tent of a roller coaster ride. I had to close my eyes, because I was getting so dizzy and nauseous from watching the realistic picture. I kid you not.
Vienna has churches everywhere. There are statues and figurines everywhere you look.
David and I would split up during the day and meet back at night to go to dinner, bars, night clubs, and wiener stands in the platz. One night we hopped a tram to the Grinzing Heurigan Area for dinner. The food was great. The wine was superb. The service was the worst I'd experienced in Europe to date. The waitresses were more interested in having conversations with their boy friends rather than waiting on people. It was unbelievable! People were waving for service all night to no avail. Poor service is a problem you can encounter where tipping is not accustomed.
David is going to Budapest, Hungary and asked If I'd be interested? Vienna is as far east as I'd planned to go. So David and I exchange addresses and hugs. He's off to Budapest and I'm off to Salzburg tomorrow.
Before I go, I buy a grey wool cap with ear muffs and a grey scarf to go with my grey jacket. Because its getting cold...
I catch the noon train to Salzburg. Its a beautiful ride through rolling countryside dotted with intermittent castles. The train arrives at 3:15pm. At the tourist office I book a room at Gasthof Hinterbruhl - a small pension across the river in the heart of old town. Its a 20 minute walk from the station, but it only costs 290 Austrian Schillings ($21) a night.
Hinterbruhl has a great location right below the Fortress. The Guesthouse has a lot of character with Coo Coo Clocks, Antlers, and Wood Carvings all over the place. At dinner I meet 4 American high school students attending an International Academy in Germany. They learn their history by touring museums all over the continent. These boys are the smartest most informed 15 and 16 year olds I've ever met! We drink tall beers and weiss most of the night...
The next morning I tour Salzburg "The City of Mozart". Its October, the leaves are beginning to change, the city is sheltered by forested mountains, and everything is very beautiful. In the afternoon I take a mini bus tour of Salzburg and the "Lake District". A beautiful tour through the Austrian Alps. I meet some really cool folks from Atlanta. That night I run into them at the Felsenkeller. A really cool bar built right into a cliff. It looks like a cave inside, but they have fabulous wine and brew. We have a great night!
The next day I take a tour of Hohensalzburg. The 11th century hilltop fortress overlooking old town. You can catch a funicular (a steep railway) from Festungsgasse if you want to avoid climbing the 400 foot hill. The Fortress is very impressive! A guided tour gives you a fascinating history of the fortress which at times served as a refuge for archbishops, a military barracks, and a prison. Like most castles in Europe, Hohensalzburg has a torture chamber. The guide goes into gruesome detail about what occurred if you made it to such a room in medieval times. They referred to this place as "The Portal of Hell".
That night I go to a place called Winkel's Cliff Cafe. I run into the folks from Atlanta again. We have a great conversation with an Austrian businessman from Vienna. He told us he was mugged 3 times. He said "crime is a way of life and should be accepted in the big city". He said the politicians have said this. We're all surprised he takes it so lightly...
The next day I catch the 12:19 Express Train to Innsbruck. It takes 2 hours and is the most beautiful ride I've been on in Europe! There are Rocky Alps, Jagged Peaks, Snow Capped Peaks, Sheer Cliffs, Forested Hills, Pristine Lakes, and Patches of Rolling Meadow. I think this 1 ride is worth the price of the Eurail Pass!
The train arrives at 14:15pm. I book a room at Pension Oberrauch in the tourist office. The tram practically takes me to the door on Leopoldstraude. That night I have dinner in Old Town. Innsbruck seems so modern compared to Salzburg. I am told that happened when the Olympics came to town.
The next day I take the aerial tram to the top of the mountain. Its a stunning view of the Swiss and Italian Alps.
That night I have dinner in old town with a mom and daughter (Jeanne and Nancy Christ from Oregon) who are staying at my pension. We have a long talk on Italy > My next destination. They both speak Italian and just came from Italy. They're teaching me all the important words (Belo, Grazie, Di Nello, Scusi, Per Favore, Buon Giorno, Si, No, Quanto Costa, Ho Capito, Va Tutto Bene,) and telling me how wonderful Italy is. We have a lot of fun!
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The next day I catch the 9:55am train to Venice. Its a beautiful ride through the Dolomites (the Italian Alps). Then the landscape turns to forested hills and cliffs. You see grape vines all over the place. Finally the terrain turns flat. The train arrives in Venice at 16:30.