Our friend Margie from CA had arranged to take a river cruise ending in Vienna. She suggested we meet up if possible. Thinking that Margie was leaving on Monday morning, we made arrangements to train up to Vienna on Friday, the 12th and come home Saturday evening. Our other friend Kat, who is living in Budapest, had never been to Vienna so she came along. We booked the 7:10 am train going and the 7:48 pm train returning so as to maximize Kat’s time seeing the city.
It was more than fortunate that we had seat reservations. There were mobs of people standing in the aisles the entire trip. Strangely, the Railjet, a nicer train cost us about 2,600 Huf for the reservations for the 3 of us, but the lesser older train cost us over 4,500 Huf for our return journey.
Margie met us at the train station. We stopped at our hotel to leave our things, but at 10 am it was too early to check in. From there we toured around, visiting Christmas markets, a major disappointment still after all the years we have visited here. Hawking more junk than Christmas related products, it was a letdown yet again. Christmas related items for sale are so commonplace; there is no reason to pay these inflated prices. Those vendors who are really making a killing are at the food booths. Lines are ten deep to fill up on grease, sugar, and salt. Interestingly, I have eliminated all sugars and grains from my diet. Though I had some fears that the temptation would be too great, but as it turned out, watching grossly overweight people pigging out made it extremely bearable.
Ron tried to show everyone a good time and valiantly attempted to find the tram we remembered as circling the city. Either they discontinued this route, changed it for the season, or something was posted we could not read, but it never happened according to plan. Regardless, Kat and Margie did see parts of the city they would not normally get to view in such a short time.
As it turned out, Margie was leaving very early Saturday morning, so we basically had the entire day for the three of us. I like Vienna, but it leaves me cold. Others have said this as well. Perhaps it is the ultra-white buildings, but it was fine to go, but not a thrilling experience.
Joining Kat, we went to the Schönbrunn Palace where we did the Imperial Tour for €11.50 each. They would not discount me with the press card and there were no concessions for Ron. Ron received an audio guide that had to be replaced twice; it malfunctioned. Rococo to me is gaudy, not attractive, but of course this was the style of the time.
We managed to fill our day, but closer to the train time we were all running out of steam. We left our things at the hotel at 9:30 and did not return until an hour before the train. I was more than ready to return home.