East Meets West:  Vienna, Austria

Is Vienna in Eastern – or Western – Europe?

Vienna is further east than Prague, Ljubljana in Slovenia or Zagreb, Croatia.

Here’s a map of our route the last two weeks. We have been in 5 EU countries, with 5 different languages, and 5 different currencies! (I’m not counting the travel across Slovenia that you’ll read about in the next post.)

The next post will explain why I show a red arrow pointing to Graz.

During the Cold War, Vienna was closer to the capital cities that were behind the Iron Curtain (35 miles from Bratislava in Slovakia, 145 miles from Budapest in Hungary, 156 miles from the Czech capital, Prague) than any western capitals. Munich, Germany is 220 miles west of Vienna.

The Rathaus – or City Hall.


I didn’t expect much in Vienna other than drinking coffee and eating apple strudel in an elegant old-world coffeehouse.


Konditorei Heiner is a former supplier to the Imperial Court. Neither the sachertorte nor the apple strudel impressed me.

The air inside this cafe was too smokey so we wrapped up in the provided blankets and bravely enjoyed our coffee out in the brisk night air.

It was too smokey inside the coffeehouse so we braved the cold night air with the help of the supplied blankets.

We walked the Ringstrasse to enjoy the illuminated buildings.

The pedestrianized zone was mostly high-end storefronts.

The best surprise in Vienna were the inexpensive sausage stands known as Schnell-Imbiss or Wurstel-box. The sausages are served either on a piece of bread, in a crusty roll, or cut in pieces.

At €4 they are a real value in this expensive city! We sampled several tasty varieties, slathered in dark mustard.

Because of the rain we didn’t visit the gardens at Schoenbrunn Palace. Instead we chose to visit the Hofburg Palace. The ticket allowed a visit to the view The Silverware and China Collection, the Imperial Apartments and the Sissi (Empress Elisabeth) Museum.

Looking like a fairy tale princess story, Sissi was engaged at age 15 to Franz Josef, the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In reality, it wasn’t. I wouldn’t have liked to live the life of these two royals. Sissi sat for 2-3 hours daily to have her ankle-length hair arranged and Franz Josef arose at 4:30AM each morning to start his workday.  Their firstborn child died at age one, the Crown Prince – her only son – died by hs own hand, and Sissi suffered from depression, withdrawing from public life and her remaining children. Sissi was assassinated in 1898.

In front of the Hofburg Palace.

These golden pieces are fairly new; the gold ware was once melted down to make currency.

There was a time when the imperial household ate on golden chargers using porcelain only for the soup and dessert courses.

The collection has dozens of gorgeous porcelain sets from the many imperial households. I loved this huge set of handpainted botanicals.

Lots of gold candlelabra and centerpieces.

On the journey between Budapest and Vienna we met a friendly English-speaker on his way home to Munich. We were so caught up with our conversation that we weren’t paying attention and missed our stop! 


What a beginning to a new country and new language! The one good thing was that we already had some Euros leftover from Spain to buy a U-train ticket back to the city and to our apartment. The second good thing was having our smart devices. Without them we would’ve been lost.

Next stop:  Prague, Czech Republic

I know, I promised to tell you how the “refugee crisis” derailed us, but I like to keep these blog posts in chronological order. Stay tuned. It’s coming – tomorrow! (Two posts this week!!!)

The view from our AirBnB apartment in Split, Croata.

In real time we are cocooned in our apartment in Split, Croatia until the end of November. Even though we have been in some great places, we were more than ready to slow down for a longer stay.

Fact: Since our 6-week housesit in Spain we have slept 40 nights in 18 different beds, in 6 different countries.

Thanks for following! Meet you in the morning!

2 responses to “East Meets West:  Vienna, Austria

  1. Wow! Vienna, Austria……first thing that came to mind was the “Sound of Music” with the Von Trapp Family. 🙂 Or did it take place in Salzburg, Austria? Anyway, great posts Merrill! We enjoy reading and knowing you guys are well and safe.

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    • Hey, it’s good to hear from you! The Sound of Music is Salzburg. I really wanted to see the mountains, but the fall just turned to winter – and we like the sun. Hope you are all well.

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