Vienna is known for being a city of classical music, home to great composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. The city has a number of architecturally stunning opera houses, and is a hub for music and art, the Viennese (and most of Austria) speak German though some words are pronounced slightly differently. Austria use the Euro and is home to almost 2 million permanent residents. It is a large sprawling city and has a good amount of green space topped off with amazing shopping, nightlife and history. Not surprisingly Vienna is a hot spot for tourists, however we were visiting in August when all the locals decide its far to hot, and if possible leave the city. The outer city where our hostel was felt very oddly empty because of this. We met a local who described Vienna in August’s heat simply as “hell on earth.”
We arrived off the plane from Luton Airport, jumped on the underground and found our hostel; Do Step Inn Central. Located South of Vienna city center it’s right next to the underground. And across the road from the bus station which was ideal for the following part of our journey to Budapest. The hostel was really clean and tidy and quite modern looking, the bunk beds were lockable via a pin code which you get given at check in. The kitchen (though we didn’t use it) was small but well equipped. The downsides were for me (being claustrophobic) having a wooden sliding door to trap you into the bed. I found this minorly off putting, and there wasn’t any luggage storage other then on the bed itself, unlike other hostels we have been to where there is storage under the bed. Also check-in was slightly confusing. (Mostly because we turned up early and the staff didn’t speak English.) I would definitely stay again. It had easy access to the city either via walking or public transport and because the building was relatively out of the was it wasn’t too noisy either.
We definitely did not have enough time in the city!! And did not see nearly as much as we wanted to, however we did spend waaay to much on lunch! We stopped in at Bier & Bierli Restaurant. The restaurant is located not far from the museum district on the corner and has a lovely outdoor seating area. Inside hundreds of beer cans and coasters from every variety you can think of all line the walls. Royce had his first Austrian half Stien and traditional Selchfleisch (smoked meat) with Sauerkraut and dumplings, said dumpling contained three different kinds of sausage meat. I had Tafelspitz (boiled beef, often served with apple and horseradish sauces). I have not had horseradish sauce before (don’t eat sushi. Yea yea I know, still not a fan.) So in my wisdom rather then having a small taste test of the white sauce on my plate, I shoved a whole spoonful in my mouth along with my beef. This led to much eye watering, pained expressions and Royce laughing at me, I do not recommend! I do recommend the restaurant though, service was great, staff spoke reasonable English and were very friendly. A bit on the pricer side for the backpacker lifestyle but if you want to splurge the food and the beer was really good.
We continued on into the city after we digested lunch and found ourselves in the museum district. Nestled among the Hofburg palace complex and the Albertina art museum at the edge of Burgatten park, is the Schmetterlinghaus ((The Butterfly house) Schmetterlinghaus sounds much cooler.)
It was 7Euro to get in. Through a turntable ticket machine then a heavy wooden door, then ANOTHER door, finally into the hot humid schmetterling dome-roofed house. In hindsight we really needed to go earlier in the day as there was ALOT of people squeezed into the little butterfly oasis. The garden itself was beautiful and equally so were the petite occupants.
As you walk in the doors to the left is a row of chrysalises in various stages of transformation, and walking around the butterfly’s are everywhere! I even ended up with a hitchhiker part way round the garden. Well worth a visit if your feeling the need for a bit of wildlife while exploring museums and palaces grounds. The Butterfly house is open all year round and can even do pre-arranged guided tours!
We continued to wander around the palace grounds and gardens but didn’t feel we had enough time to see much so didn’t go into any of the museums. Instead we found ourselves at the Vienna film festival, held annually the film festival runs through all of August and has an impressive array of food stalls. (Making us almost regret not finding it at lunch as it all smelt sooooo good!) The festival attracts a huge number of visitors to the city, admission is free and the performances range from Opera to dance and music. If your in Vienna for August go check it out!
The following day after some advice from the locals (get out of the city). We headed for a Danube river, more specifically Strandbad Gänsehäufel. A tube trip and some walking later (we could’ve taken the bus we were feeling the need for some exercise. Which would’ve made sense had we not been wearing jandals… Its just a few kilometers we’ll be right…..) Gänsehäufel occupies half an island in the Alte Donau. There is a nudist area, (which I discovered while paddle-boarding) wave pool, high ropes course, volleyball, football and basketball courts. Not to mention plenty of beach for sunbathing by the river.
There’s a small entrance fee of around 7Euro (don’t quote me) and you can even hire motel type apartments for the whole season if you want to. The door charge doesn’t take Visa or MasterCard so I recommend taking cash with you, but everything inside takes contactless as well as cash. I successfully started tanning for the trip and managed to cool off in the clear Danube river. A lazy day but definitely got us the holiday feels
An earlyish bed after some local street food that night to prepare ourselves for an early start; 6.30am bus! off to Budapest!!! Stay tuned in for more out the gate adventures in Budapest at Sziget festival. And find out why I didn’t enjoy my first day in Budapest.