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August, 2015

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We visited Vienna on our tour of Europe by train. We stayed at the Josefshof Hotel, which is situated in a quiet street in the historic heart of the city near to the Rathaus and Museums quarter. The service and rooms were great, but we considered the breakfast too expensive at 18 Euros each. Instead we ate at the Cafe Eiles nearby where the food was good but the service rather slow.

Our first impressions of the city were the sheer grandeur of the buildings and spotless streets. You can travel around via horse-drawn carriage, but we chose to ride on a heritage tram, which takes you around the Ringstrasse with an audio guide to point out the places of interest. We also used the U-bahn to get around and the great thing about Vienna is the fact that, when you emerge back on to the street, there is a handy information board of the immediate area making it very easy to find your way around.

You can’t miss the Domkirche St Stephan in the centre of the old town and don’t forget to visit the Ankeruhr Clock in Hoher Markt at 12 noon to see the animated figures.

We took advantage of the free guided tour of the Rathaus (Town Hall) built in the neo-Gothic style. It was a treasure house of chandeliers, frescoes, tiling and coffered ceilings with gold leaf.
In the evening we enjoyed the free open air Music Film Festival while sipping our drinks in the Rathausplatz. We watched Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty on the big screen – there is a different film each evening throughout the summer.

One place we enjoyed a drink was the rather grand arcade of the Cafe Einstein with the sound of Verdi’s opera drifting over from the Rathausplatz. We also ate at 7 Stern Brau in Siebensterngasse 19 (nearest U-bahn Volkstheater) and the 1516 Brewery Company in Schwarzenbergstrasse 2 (nearest U-bahn Stadtpark) They both serve good Austrian food – and beer of course!

There really was too much to see for such a short stay, so we will definitely return at some time to experience more of this impressive city. Not only was it beautiful and interesting, but also the people were generally so friendly and helpful. We reluctantly left for the next stage of our rail tour of Europe on to Prague. A bit of advice – travel first-class and reserve a seat, as the train can be crowded. We booked in advance and it was well worth it.


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