Mum, Grandpa and I went on a four night trip to Austria. Grandpa was born in Vienna, but had to leave in 1939 when he was very young, and he was taking me there to show me some of our family history.
The plane journey was comfortable and short leaving us plenty of time to check in to our hotel and check out the local area. We stayed in the Hotel Royal, a lovely building that had everything we needed (except for an English TV). It’s situated right in the middle of Vienna meaning we didn’t have many long journeys. It was really easy to walk every where and we were just a few minutes from the Stefansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral) which is a real Viennese landmark.
We went to Huth Gastwirtshacft , which is a traditional Viennese restaurant, for dinner, and a few drinks as well, and sampled some of the biggest pasta (or dumplings) I have ever seen. They only gave us three pieces but it was more than enough. All the staff were really friendly and the food was very nice. It all seemed very Austrian too.
After a filling breakfast of croissants and yoghurt we set out on a tour of Vienna. Our tour guide was Brigitte Timmermann who showed us loads of cool and interesting things. I personally liked the Monument Against War and Fascism, which was made up of four monuments, dedicated to different types of people who suffered from the Second World War. It is behind Vienna’s opera house, on the Albertinaplatz.
I also found the archives at the DOW (Documentation of Austrian Resistance) really interesting and it is definitely worth going there and looking at the small exhibition about what happened around the war years. We saw one of the voting cards for the referendum for whether Austria should join Germany under Hitler and it was amazing to see how the “Ja” (yes) was a really big circle and the “nein” very small. I also loved the view of the city from up high.
You may or may not know that Mozart spent many years in Vienna, so there were plenty of shops and buildings dedicated to the composer. After a long time walking we went to have lunch, at Café Mozart. The food served there was great. I had a large portion of crispy fish and chips, heated lemonade (which was really nice) and for dessert a small creamy cake… and half a portion of pancakes! This was probably my favourite restaurant that we went to, so I would recommend going.
Next, we went to the Clock Museum, three whole floors of clocks, watches and sundials. Each room explained how time-telling machines had evolved over time. Although there were some very cool clocks I personally found the museum quite boring but my sister liked it when she went a few years ago.
After we went to synagogue, we had Friday-night dinner at Alef Alef, which is a kosher restaurant. To be honest it was more of a feast. Our table was already covered in bowls and dishes when we sat down and that was only the first course. We were then provided with chicken soup, salmon and vegetables before we even got onto the main course. We had the option of schnitzel or chicken, I picked the schnitzel which turned out to be a very good choice. Dessert was a pudding smothered in sauce but I was too full up to eat any of it!
This was my favourite day of the holiday as it was jam-packed with loads of cool things. First we went to Time Travel which was a bit like the London dungeons (but without being as scary). We were given audio guides that played exactly in time with the tour guide speaking in German – this was really clever. The experience included a 5D ride where you travel through time, a show about the Habsburg family and a music-off between Mozart and Strauss. There was also a ride that took you on a Viennese waltz, a section where you find out what it was like to be in an air raid shelter during the war and a tour of Vienna on a flying horse. I loved Time-Travel and would definitely recommend it if you go to Vienna with kids. Our hotel also had vouchers for 20 per cent off, so you should look for these in yours!
We then went on a 20 minute horse and carriage ride. It was really fun, cosy and exciting and was a really cool thing to do even if it only took a short amount of time.
My great grandparents lived and ran a cinema in Vienna before World War II came along and mucked everything up. It felt really special going into the cinema called the Admiral Kino. I particularly liked the cinema’s old fashioned style which made me think that it hadn’t changed that much since my family had run it. The cinema was beautiful and I loved visiting it. You should definitely go if you are in Vienna.
The final thing we did was going to the operetta, a light opera, at the Volksoper. We saw the Circus Princess, a lively performance telling the story of love, betrayal and a horse rider called Mr X. The theatre provided the audience with English subtitles on a screen which was very helpful. I really enjoyed going to the operetta as the show was funny and clever at the same time.
We visited two different Jewish museums, one explaining the history of the Jews in Austria from Medieval times, and the other displaying people’s stories and objects. I personally liked the latter more become there was a more personal feel. For more on these museums read mum’s post as she explains it in more detail.
Next on the agenda was taking a trip to the Prater which is a large theme park. The Prater is most famous for the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel, which we obviously went on. Like the London Eye it slowly takes you on a vertical circuit giving you plenty of time to take pictures and look at the views. I really enjoyed going on the wheel and couldn’t resist going on some of the other rides too.
Finally we visited Schönbrunn Palace, a beautiful building where the previous leaders of Austria had lived. We had the option of a longer, more detailed tour or a quicker one so we picked the latter as the palace was to close in half an hour. The audio guide was really interesting and I learnt a lot. The gardens were also very beautiful.
On Monday we went to the Haus der Musik which was a brilliant museum, all about sound, starting with a staircase which had steps which played musical notes. While we were there we created our own tunes, conducted the Vienna Philarmonic and more. This is a place which families will really love if they come to Vienna and I am going to write more on it in a later post.
Overall I had a brilliant holiday, there was so much to do, and eat. There were so many chocolate shops and bakeries as well as museums, monuments and theatres. I had a great time and can say that there is something for all ages. I also felt very lucky to find out more about my family’s history.
Read the Five Things You Must Do in Vienna, by Jessica (and they are not all the ones mentioned here……)