Tom and Linda’s 2008 Europe Trip

Vienna, Austria


It was nice to get to Vienna in the morning. We left our bags in a locker at the station, found our way to the city center and took Rick’s Tram Tour of the Ring around the Old City – a good way to get our bearings.

Sadly, the Opera was closed for this first week in September. We couldn't even get in to see the building, which is said to be impressive. But the outside was nice, and we could at least take a picture.


Flower Clock

Strauss in Gold

The big public park in the center of the ring features statues of famous people of Vienna's past. Johann Strauss is probably the top of the list. We joined the nymphs at his feet.

J. E. Schindler

Honoring more recent heroes.

W.A. Mozart

Across the park from Strauss, Wolfgang is surrounded by cherubs.

Hookah, anyone?

Quite a variety in the shop window.


After our first tour around town, we found one of Rick's recommended Pensións – big room, high ceiling, bath module added later, old hard bed, only one very wimpy pillow each, no AC, but not too stuffy. No desire to stay beyond our planned two nights.

Our host was Armenian and proud of his people being the “first Christians,” and that Mount Ararat was once in Armenia.

We asked him about laundry and he directed us to a Laundromat a few blocks from the train station. I think it may be the only one in Vienna, as it’s the only one Rick mentions as well.


After a rest, we took the tram back to the station, got our bags, walked to the coin-op laundry where we found a place to change our clothes so we could wash the ones we were wearing. Unfortunately, the place was behind the dryers, small and almost unbearably hot.

So we changed and sweated, and spent a couple miserable hours washing our clothes.

Hot and Humid

Like this poor pooch, I couldn’t handle the heat long enough for the second dryer cycle, so we packed up damp clothes and took them back to the room. Hung them in the armoire and any other place we could find to dry in the fairly humid air.

Tom's Bike

Or one he would have liked to buy. They didn't bring this model in to the States.

City Walking Tour

The second day we did Rick’s Old City Walking Tour, including some excursions. We spent some time at the Monument Against War and Fascism.

This monument honors the scientists and mathematicians.


Partly to escape the heat, we took a walk down into the Kaisergruft to see the many ornate crypts of the Hapsburgs, dating from 1618 to 2007.

There were a few simple ones, the more recent ones and those for the less egotistical of the family. Most of them are incredibly ornate and were porbably designed for the funeral processions more than for the crypt.

The one-sheet tour tells you who is where, and a lot about Hapsburg history.

Maria Teresia was Empress in her own right for 15 years after her husband Josef died. This is the crypt she had built for the two of them.

Among her 17 children were Napoleon's second wife, Maria Louisa, who is encrypted here, and Marie Antoinette, who is not. She raised her daughters to be queens and was reportedly not particularly kind to them.

The more recent coffins are simpler.

Beloved Emperor Franz Josef lies between his beloved Elizabeth and their ill-fated son. He outlived them both by many years.

Saint Stephen's

This ornate cathedral with its tile roof mostly survived Churchill’s bombing. He bombed Vienna because he thought the Austrians were a little too welcoming to Hitler. The church was rebuilt with donations from “the people” by 1957.

The stained glass is less spectacular now, in more subdued colors for the most part. But the architecture is as audacious as ever.

We walked around the free-access parts of St. Stephen’s, the most ornate church I’ve seen yet, and that’s going some.

The glass behind the alter was not damaged, so is the original.

Mass started (in Latin) while we were there, so we didn’t pay to ascend the towers.

Under the Subway

An ancient temple, unearthed when the subways were built, is preserved behind glass and on display at the lowest level of one of the stations.

Plague Monument

In 1690 Vienna lost 1/3 of its people to the plague. This is the monument to its victims, netted to keep bits from falling on unsuspecting passers-by.

Stairs on either side of the monument lead down to public toilets built by a chemical company in 1900 to demonstrate how well their products work. Still in use, very clean and very art-deco.


We stopped at a street café for spare ribs and a drink, wandered through Julius Meinl, the Simon David of Vienna, and down into the Michaelerplatz.

Roman ruins in the middle of the square.

The Seven Labors of Hercules

The front of the Hapsburg Palace.


We spent several hours looking at places and possessions of the Hapsburgs,

Gold-plated silver table service

More table wear


Franz Josef and Elisabeth

We saw a lot about fairy-tale couple of Franz Joseph and his young wife Elisabeth, the enigmatic queen.

Sissi wasn’t well suited to the public life, felt imprisoned and grew melancholy, had her children taken from her by her mother-in-law.

She traveled a lot, partly to avoid her public, thought often of suicide, but was famously assassinated in Geneva when in her forties. She left no heirs since her only son had committed suicide (with his mistress) at 30.

Franz Joseph was apparently the best of the best – a reasonable man, known for his dedication to his people, accessibility and fair judgment, and his love for his wife. When told of her murder, he said only, “You have no idea how much I loved that woman.”

He died in 1916, the last of the Holy Roman Emperors who lived to see the world change around him. During our trip through Austria and southern Germany we saw many things that he influenced.


Empress Maria Teresia

Matron of the dynasty


Our last evening in Vienna we piled up with books and maps for a while. Friday morning we packed up, stopped for coffee from our little Armenian host and headed out.

Stopped at an internet café where we found out that our riding gear was in limbo. The US Post Office said it had cleared German customs on the 25th, but a week later there was no update. Tom was worried and emailed the hotel.

We had decided we liked the villages better than the cities, and that we were more likely to come back to Italy than Austria. So we decided to leave Venice and Florence for another trip and go, instead, to Salzburg and Hallstadt.


1 Beginning 5 Paris 9 Frankfurt and the Night Train 13 Bavaria and Tirol
2 London to Edinburgh 6 Bruges 10 Vienna 14 Motorcycles in the Alps
3 The Fringe 7 Amsterdam 11 Hallstatt and the Salzkammergut 15 Switzerland near Interlaken
4 Scotland and Wales 8 Bacharach in the Rhine Valley 12 Salzburg 16 Home again

If the journal is narrow, adjusting the width of your window will make it easier to read.

Email Tom:
Email Linda: