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Austria


Officially REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA, German REPUBLIK ÖSTERREICH, largely mountainous country of south-central Europe. Austria extends 185 miles (300 kilometres) from east to west. It is bordered on the west by Switzerland and Liechtenstein, on the northwest by Germany, on the north by the Czech Republic, on the northeast by Slovakia, on the east by Hungary, and on the southwest by Italy. The capital is Vienna. Austria has an area of 32,378 square miles (83,858 square kilometres).

Canadian Embassy, Fleischmarkt 19 (entrance on Laurenzerbergstrasse 2) tel.01/53138-0


Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.


Salzburg

In 2004 we spent 3 days in Salzburg (actually outside of Salzburg) just hanging out. Salzburg in itself is a nice little place; clean, organized, and well, Austrian. There are some photos of it in the photo album.

We also had a couple of beers at this awesome beer hall. The Augustiner is supposedly one of the largest beer cellars in Europe. It is at the north end of the Mönchsberg next to St. Augustine's church. You can even bring your own food -- a relic of the old tradition that forbade breweries from serving meals in order to protect the status of restaurants. You pick up a stone jug of Augustiner beer and sit in the gardens or at a dark-wood table in one of the large halls. Shops in the huge monastery complex sell a vast array of salads, breads, and pastries, as well as sausage and spit-roasted chicken. Address: Augustinergasse 4 Phone: 0662/431246.


A very good thing to get before or during your stay is "The Young Vienna Scene" (Junge Wiener Szene) booklet provided by the Tourist offices. It has a lot of information about attractions and nightlife and fits into your pocket.

Take note that all Vienna's municipal museums are free on Fridays until noon.


Wein Nord Train Station

  • Trains from Germany, Switzerland, and western Austria arrive at the Westbahnhof and from Italy or Hungary, they arrive at the Südbahnhof . We might be arriving from Prague and would end up at the Wien Nord train station or Franz-Josef Bahnhof.
  • The train station is within the city centre and public transit is the way to go (see below).

Vienna Information Links

Austrian Tourism Agency - Official site with a lot of information on Austria and Vienna (a couple of different languages available). Also city guides and the like. I contacted the local agency and they sent me a huge amount of tourism information. THey are very excited about what the do I guess.
The Austrian Youth Hostel Association - Information on all hostels availabel in Austria (part of HI) but only has one link for Vienna. THere are more HI hostels listed below.
Wombats Hostel - New hostel opening up in August. Has a chance but it is near the Westbahnhof so I'm not sure if we want to be there. They DO offer a free drink at their pub...
Austria Culture. Net - A lot of cultural information created by ex-pats.


TRANSPORTATION

The public transportation system is excellent and simple. Subway & public transport maps are available at a tourist office or at the transport-information offices (Wiener Verkehrsbetriebe), underground at Karlsplatz, Stephansplatz, and Praterstern. The same ticket can be used on subway, streetcar, bus, and the S-Bahn railway.

You can buy single tickets (AS20) from automated dispensers but I found the last time that 24-hour tickets were the way to go (about AS50). This time I may get a 72-hour one for simplicity (AS130).
Another idea is the Vienna-Card (AS180) and includes 72 hours' use of public transportation and discounts at certain museums and shops.


Tourist Offices

The main point for information is the Vienna City Tourist Office (Fremdenverkehrsstelle der Stadt Wien), in back of the Opera House and around the corner from the Hotel Sacher, at Kärntner Strasse 38 (tel.01/513-8892-0), open daily from 9 to 7.


Hostels

It takes some time to find but eventually you discover that there are some out there.

Jugendherberge Wien Myrthengasse/Neustiftgasse, Myrthengasse 7/Neustiftgasse 85 Tel. 523 63 16, Fax 523 58 49
E-Mail:oejhv-wien-jgh-neustiftg.@oejhv.or.at 
(the hostel I stayed at last time, very close to centre)

Jugendgästehaus Wien-Brigittenau, Friedrich-Engels-Platz 24 Tel. 332 82 940, Fax 330 83 79 (not so close, but near the Danube)

 Turmherberge "Don Bosco", Lechnerstraße 12, Tel. 713 14 94
(only open between March and November, okay location)


Pensions and Other Cheap Accomodation

Sometimes pensions and private apartments turn out to be cheaper than hostels. Here is a list of possible candidates. Prices range from 500ATS for a double with shower to more than 800ATS for the same. Some also include kitchenettes or breakfast. Most do NOT take credit cards. (Btw, these are private accomodations and this is the name of the person to contact)

Hedwig Gally, Arnsteingasse 25, Apt.10, 1150 Wein, Tel.01/8929073 or 01/8931028
F.Kaled, Lindengasse 42, 1070 Tel.01/5239013
Barbara Koller, Schmalzhofgasse 11, 1060 Wein, Tel.01/5972935
Irmgard and Sandy Lauria, Kaiserstrasse 77, 1070 Wein, Tel.01/5222555
Frank Heberling, Siccardsburggasse 42, Apt.31, 1100 Wein, Tel.01/6072117 or 01/6040229
Renate Gajdos, Pressgasse 28, 1040 Wein, Tel.01/5877416
Renate Halper, Straussengasse 5, 1050 Wein Tel.01/5871278
Hilde Wolfe, Schleifmuhlgasse 7, 1040 Wein Tel.01/5865103


Wining and Dining

Vienna is definately NOT the cheapest place to find something to eat but nonetheless there are some interesting places to check out. The stalls in and around the Naschmarkt are a good choice for cheap food.

Spatzennest, Ulrichspl.1 (near Volkstheater) tel. 520-1659
Konigsbacher bei der Oper, Walfishig.5 tel.513-1210

Heurige (Wine Taverns)
The good ones are on the outskirts of town particularly near Pfarrplatz and Probusgasse, and also Nussdorf. Grinzing is probably the best known. For P and P take Tram 37 or Bus 39A. Tram D takes you to Nussdorf while Tram 38 takes you to Grinzing.

These are the historic wine cellars within the city centre:
Melker Stiftskeller, Schotteng.3 tel.533-5530
Augustinerkeller, Augustinerstr.1 tel.533-1026
Esterhazykeller, Haarhof 1 tel.533-3482
Zwolf Apostelkeller, Sonnenfelsg.3 tel.512-6777

The cheapest places to eat are the Student Restaurants called "Mensa". You don't need to be a student to go there. These are at:
Ebendorferstrasse 8, Schottenbastei 16, Karl Lueger Ring 1, Universitatsstrasse 7, Fuhrichgasse 10.
 

Internet Cafes
Cafe Stein, 9th district, Währingerstrasse 6-8, near the university. Take subway line U2 to "Schottentor" and walk for about 2 minutes along Währinger Strasse - it's on the right hand side.
Summer Stage (as the name implies, during the summer only!), 9th district, Rossauer Lände next to the Danube Canal, take subway line U4 to "Rossauer Lände" and walk down the steps to the Danube Canal - it's right there.


Graz

Why go to Graz you ask? Well for one it is cheaper than Vienna. It is also in the Southeast corner of Austria (the region known as Styria) which is touristed mainly by Eastern europeans. These people demand good value for there money which means it will either cost us less or we will get more for our money. Either way it is a good thing.
Styria is wine country. Enough said.
There are a few tours that can be taken (including the vineyards and thermal baths) but the most interesting is of a whole cluster of castles in and around Graz. That sounds neat.
Graz has a university which means the night life should be fairly entertaining.
In a nutshell that is why we will probably go to Graz.

There is a lot of information on Graz in front of me but only a few important things need mentioning.

1. HI Youth Hostel Jugendgastehaus Graz, Idlhofgasse 74, tel.316/714876

2. Grazer Tourismus, Hans-Sachs-Gasse 1014, tel.316/835241-0 and Platform 1 of the main train station tel.316/916837

3. Food - Keplerkeller (Stempfergasse 6), Milchmariandl (Richard Wagner-Gasse 31), Stanzerbauer (Burgergasse 4)


September 13. 1999. GRAZ, AUSTRIA.

Well we´ve spent a fabulous day in Graz. Unfortunately, the hostel room isn´t the greatest but we have decided to splurge and pay a whole bunch more for a private double room tonite. It will be nice to get a comfy nights sleep. Anyways, yesterday we walked around the city trying to find an open store to buy some food - good luck. If you come to Graz and are here on a Sunday, don´t expect anything to be open. After finding a small amount of sustinence (and about an hour of looking) we decided to attempt the trek up the hill to see the famous clock tower. Well, talk about steep, constant uphill. You think you´re at the top (it´s an old war fort up there from the Napoleon battles) and no, it just keeps going up. Once at the top though it is just magnificent! The view is very picturesque, you can see Graz, with rolling hills in the background, and little villages nestled within the valleys, maybe 20 houses big. One thing that I love about views of European houses is that they all have red, rusty looking rooves which gives it a country appeal. At the top there were lots of armory buildings etc. as well as trees galore and prettily landscaped gardens. We sat on a quiet little bench and just enjoyed the atmosphere for awhile. Then we went to see the cuckoo clock at 3p.m. and nothing happened (just our luck we thought but then when we asked at the hostel we realized that we were at the wrong clock - go figure!). We actually bought our first real souvenir/present up there to send home - Mark and Lisa win the first present prize but it´s all Rocky´s fault - he thinks Mark will get a kick out of it - so if you guys are reading this you should get a little package in the mail soon. Actually, come to think of it, Jessica wins the prize because I bought her something in Prague (she´s my neice for non family readers!).

O.K. now that I´ve bored everyone with my shopping habits, today is going to be a relaxing one I think, we will reserve our train tickets for Slovenia and find the real cuckoo clock (half the reason we came here) and maybe just wander and relax. We´ll probably spend the first few days in Slovenia doing not much, we have so much time there and it´ll be nice not to feel forced to go sight-seeing. So there may not be another update for a few days anyways. Hope everyone is doing great, wherever you are.

NOTE ON EUROPE: EVEN THOUGH THE BUILDINGS ARE FABULOUS, TRY NOT TO LOOK UP CONSTANTLY - EVERYONE OWNS DOGS AND THERE ARE LOTS OF PRESENTS LEFT ON THE SIDEWALKS!

September 11, 1999. GRAZ, AUSTRIA. Sarah is back and feeling a little healthier - not to worry for my family, I´m going to live, just tired myself out too much I guess. Anyways, since the last writing we´ve done quite a bit - our last day in Prague was fairly uneventful, more relaxing than anything. We went to Vienna on Monday morning and spent the night drinking with lots of Aussies in the hostel. All I can really say about my first impression of Vienna is that it is really expensive and our $50 budget is not going to work here if we want to do anything - we´ll have to make it up in Slovenia.

On tuesday we went to a market where we bought some fruits for food and cheap lunch before heading out to the KunstHausWein (by Hundertwasser) which was a really cool museum. The building itself is incredible - it really can´t be explained but if you go to Vienna you have to check it out. He is quite an environmentalist, lots of trees and plants everywhere and his art and architecture designs are fabulous. We also took a tram (#1 or #2) that went through the ring road where you can see most of the large sites. It was a great way to get oriented on the city and Vienna has fabulous sites to see. All of the buildings are on a massive scale and there are many different styles. It really can be overloading to the senses. We ate our first peanut butter sandwiches for dinner and made it a fairly early night.

On wednesday I hit the museums with a fun Aussie that we met from Perth (If you´re reading this - hi Jennifer!). We went to the National Gallery and the Palace and toured the treasury - wow! If you like big jewels, this is the place to go. Rocky went to the central cemetary where all the big names are buried (Mozart, Beethovan etc.) and said that was very good too - and free, the museums are pretty expensive, close to $10 to get in. We went to a great place called Einsteins for dinner and saw a bit of Vienna at night, but that was when I started to feel sick so we had to go back (I´m positive it wasn´t the food - don´t let that deter you).
Thursday I was in bed sleeping most of it, Rocky kind of hung around to take care of me - he´s such a sweet boy! We went to Grinzing that night to the wine taverns and it was really beautiful and a nice change of scenery, they´re pretty rowdy up there in the hills though. Friday was another sleepy day - we´ll just forget it happened - let me add though that the Austrian doctors are very competent and nice.

On Saturday we took the train out to Graz for another change of Austrian scenery. This is the second largest city in Austria, but after only a few hours of being here I would say that it has a small town feel. Everyone seems really nice and after just a quick walk around to get oriented and have a bite to it, the city is very pretty. Tomorrow we are planning to go to see a giant cuckoo clock up on a hill. We are hoping to take these days to relax and gain some strength for the grape picking in Slovenia. Looks like we´ll be heading to Slovenia on Tuesday. Well, I only have seven minutes left and I should let Rocky check his email. Hope everyone is doing well. We are having fun and meeting new people (mostly other backpackers) everyday.

September 10, 1999. WEIN, OSTERREICH. Greetings everyone, it's Rocky here. Sarah is feeling under the weather so I will be brief and let her talk about everything as soon as she starts feeling better. The hostel we are staying at is Wombat's (see the links under Austria). It is fantastic. It's fairly new which means everything (including the furniture) is new. The rooms smell like pine. I'll bet you that there aren't too many hostels you can say that about. Although it is only 3 weeks old, it has been very very busy. That means that whomever is thinking about coming here (and DEFINATELY DO) they asked me to tell you to PLEASE BOOK IN ADVANCE. The phone number and email is on their web page. Oh, I almost forgot, you also get a FREE BEER when you get here. That's all I've got to say so Sarah will add more later. We are planning on going to Graz soon and then to Slovenia. As far as i know, the grape picking will be on the 25th and 26th of September.

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