The journey to Vienna from Cesky Krumlov was almost four hours in a cab. As we were reaching Vienna, it started raining and in no time the weather got very windy and chilly.
Vienna at night
As we neared our apartment, the numbers on the houses were a little haphazard, so the cab driver took a complete round of the area, asked around and then dropped us 50 meters away from our apartment, otherwise he would have had to take another round of the entire block as the road was one-way.
We reached the apartment – MOjOvie Apartments, which was in an old building. We tried getting into the building as it was still raining and we wanted to be in a drier place but the gates wouldn’t open and there was no bell. Our host had left us a mail, saying that only one person comes across to the other building to get the apartment keys but she wasn’t answering the call. Finally, when she answered the call she mentioned that the key to apartment can be collected from the third floor in her building itself but we couldn’t figure out how to go into the building, let alone get the keys.
In the meanwhile, another person living in the building was going out so he opened the door and we all went in. We tried looking for lift to take the luggage up but couldn’t find one, so two girls climbed up the stairs to get the keys while we all waited. As they started climbing up the stairs and saw a lift, they came down. So, we went looking for lift entry on ground level and finally found an ancient lift with double door system. Wonder why the lifts are so small in Europe or maybe it is only in older buildings. These are old building with and the look and feel has been retained.
keys and instructions for the Apartment
With keys was a note with instructions It said we had to go in building number 78… currently we were in 77. So, we started walking looking for building number 78. It was across the road a few building away… numbers weren’t in order there.
We reached our apartment only to struggle again with trying to open the door. Later we realised it was not the right apartment that we were trying to open. We read the name on the gate and the number carefully and found the number to be same but a different name. So we went looking for same name gate.
The MOjOvie Apatments!
Finally we did, after climbing up a few stairs. And, we could open the apartment and go in. Oh Gosh, so much confusion and drama to just enter the apartment. We were wondering whats is store for us next. Well, there was more!
As we opened the right apartment, there was music on, lights on and it looked as if people were living there. We called out to people but no answer. A group of three south-east Asian women came and went in from another door.
Skeptically, we entered the apartment, read and re-read the instructions by the host and tried to make sense of them. And after a while, we understood, that we didn’t have the entire apartment to ourselves but only a room in that. There were 4 rooms and all occupied. We were relieved as the mystery was resolved.
I have to say, the apartment was very nice, creatively done up, and the space was well managed. All the required things were there tucked in different nooks and corners. The owner seemed musically inclined as there were all kinds of musical instruments. There were games, books, laptop, all kinds of brochures and kitchen essentials.
In the room, there was a greeting note, chocolates etc. There was also a tablet in the room for surfing, and research. The host had upgraded us to a room with attached shower. God Bless her!
Other Travelers in the Apartment
As we were trying to get a sense of place we went down a couple of stairs and found a washroom. There we saw the same south East Asian girls who had entered from the different gate. And that’s when we realised that the apartment has two entries. Then an old Russian woman came out and told us that we had a washroom upstairs itself near the main entrance. The apartment had two washrooms – one for two rooms below and one for two rooms above. Ours was the above one. A fully equipped washroom was a first till now on this trip.
She tried to be helpful but with language issue it sometimes becomes difficult to understand what the other person is trying to say. She seemed at home in the apartment and kept giving us instructions in the kitchen.
Finding Dinner in Vienna
After settling in, we decided to go down for dinner and drinks. Since it was cold and still drizzling, we geared up for it as we were hungry after the whole drama. Also, lot of time had passed since lunch. We had seen some interesting stores while coming but all had closed for the day. Apparently, all shops and stores shut down by 6-6.30pm in Vienna. The place seemed quite deserted.
We checked a few places to eat but either not having food for all of us or just too expensive. In the end, we split. Two people at subway and two of us went to the pub opposite subway. The pub had nothing veg on their menu. Next place we went to was very expensive. We also thought about picking up kebabs from a shack but then finally settled at restaurant Hafes – Persian food.
Dinner at Restaurant Hafes
The menu was not in English so the owner suggested us food and we ate that. The food was nice and felt closer to home.
The red chilly chutney he gave us was the best. Hadn’t eaten chillies like that since we had started from India for the trip. We let go drinks as the food was nice and too much. We Came back home and slept off.
Day Two in Vienna
Next morning everyone woke up late. By the time we woke up and freshened up, one friend decided to cook her lentils-grains mix for breakfast. She had put the food in bowl and was waiting for it to boil when the Russian woman came and put the lid and within a minute the water overflew. Our friend lost her cool as that woman was interfering a lot since morning and giving instructions to all of us as if she owned the place. While we were still deciding what to do, the host came with breakfast and lay the table.
We weren’t sure if it was included in stay or payable. Also, we had booked for three people, as per our initial plan, but now we were 4 staying. So, we informed her of the same and she was ok with that. In fact, she told us what all to see as we only had one day in Vienna now.
Second day that was kept for Vienna was spent in Cesky Krumlov but we didn’t regret it at all.
Booking cab to Lake Bled
In between all this we also had to book our transport for Lake Bled in Slovenia, our next destination. There didn’t seem to be any direct options except shuttle which was too expensive. After a bit of surfing, we found a shuttle for 385 Euro which would also stop at one scenic place in between and drop us at our destination in 5 hours. We took that option and chose to stop at Pyramidenkogel.
Booking a cab and talking to people in Europe were seeming like such huge tasks. No one wants to talk, no numbers given and on being told to confirm on phone as we may not have internet, they don’t understand. The digitisation is somewhere taking away the basic human nature away from people.
While booking and getting ready, we had breakfast at the apartment itself. Our host was quite generous with the spread. We had a hearty breakfast of breads, cake, fruit, butter, Nutella, jam, coffee. Since she had left by the time we came out for breakfast, we decided to check with her and pay later for the breakfast.
Exploring Vienna in Public Transport
Then, we set out to Schonbrunn Palace by metro. On the way we saw an interesting sports gear shop – Burgfuchs. It was huge and we could have spent a lot of time, so skipped it. We took the metro u6 and then u4 to reach the palace. When we reconfirmed the train numbers with a woman at the station, she suggested to us to download an app- quando-Wien which tell us the route in Vienna. She checked the route and details on the same app before confirming to us. We then got our tickets validated and set out in our first journey in local transport on the trip together.
The Schonbrunn Palace
We reached the palace and took tickets – classic pass which gave us entry to 40 rooms, maze, gloriette and privy garden. The entry for palace was almost two hours later so we decided to see the garden and other places.
Maze was interesting and fun but the we were close to our time for palace so went through two maze games and went in to the palace. While we all came out of maze quickly, one of the girls decided to finish it.
We kept calling out to her as we were getting late but she couldn’t hear us. Finally, when we saw her reach the centre of the maze we told her to come back quickly.
Inside the Palace
At the palace entry we were allowed to take our purses and cameras though photography was prohibited. Backpacks had to be deposited. The place was interesting with audio guide but very lavish and too much show of wealth. I lost interest after a point.
Also, got a call from my mother back in India to check on our safety. Apparently there had been a bomb blast in a London under station. That diverted my attention, as a few more family members were vacationing in other parts of Europe including a cousin and his family in London itself. But thankful all were safe.
Gloriette in Schonbrunn Palace
After the palace we went uphill to the gloriette to get a grand view of the city as well as the palace.
We saw too many people jogging around the garden at various points of day – sunny or cloudy or drizzling. It was nice to know that the garden is open to general public for such activities.
After the palace, we decided to go to Naschmarkt and skip Leopold museum because we couldn’t take in any more history. As we stepped out we saw an ice-cream cart so had chocolate ice-cream while waiting for our uber cab.
On the way to Naschmarkt Vienna
There was lot of traffic on the way. Oh and we spotted a Suzuki swift on the roads of Vienna. And then realised that we had seen few more cars that frequent India roads – a Maruti Brezza in Tallinn, Hyundai Santro in Cesky Krumlov and a Tata Nano lookalike in Krakow.
The car dropped us to the market. It was a fruits and veggie market with a lot of Persian influence.
Most of the food joints were Persian with very little Austrian touch to the place. It was buzzing with people and was very lively.
We bought some falafel and baklava from a shack while walking around the market and exploring it.
Lunch at Tewa
After going through the length and breadth of market, we went looking for a nice Viennese restaurant/ café but couldn’t really find on. Then we saw a place called Tewa am Markt and it seemed interesting, so we sat there.
And ordered a minced meat and a zucchini burger which was huge. I also had local beer.
By now all local beers, by whatever name, had started seeming very similar in Europe. The only different one beer was cherry beer in Warsaw and honey beer in Vilnius. My favourite is still cherry beer.
I couldn’t finish the huge burger so got it packed and finished the beer though felt too full after that. We then paid the bill and went to the departmental store nearby to buy fruits for next morning and one friend had to buy lotion and conditioner.
Exploring Vienna around Naschmarkt
We were just wandering around for a while in the Naschmarket, bought fridge magnets and then set out to look for house of music- haus der music, recommendation by our host.
Using WC in Vienna Subway
While walking towards it, I really had to use the loo, so we went into an ice cream parlour where I tried to find the WC while another friend tried to keep the staff at cash counter busy. But the conversation didn’t last long for me to find the restroom. And we came out, unsuccessful. While walking towards the House of Music, I saw a subway which had a WC. So I went down into he subway and used the WC after paying the man there 50 cents – my first paid use of WC in Europe till now. The man came till the door of the loo, opened it and then let me go inside. For another friend, he even wiped the seat as it wasn’t clean. Didn’t know 50 cents could do wonders!
Opera in Open
On the way, we crossed the theatre where an opera show based on a Mozart’s play was being performed. They had put up a huge screen with live feed outside and people could watch it for free.
So, we stopped for a while, and watched the play sitting in the open in the lovely weather. While crossing the road later, we also saw a man and a young girl dressed in full operatic costume.
The House of Music
After looking around for a while, we found the House of Music as recommended by our host. She had told us the place has good music one could enjoy and decent food. But as we reached there, the place seemed very quiet and sophisticated. We realised it wasn’t a pub-restaurant, but it was rather a place for concerts and live music. But there were no concerts happening that day. And the one pub was open only to members. What a bummer! We hung around for a while and played some interesting virtual music through augmented reality.
If I ever come back to Vienna this is a place I would like to visit again, but on a more happening day!
Back to Opera in Open
By the time, we left we were quite tired and thought of taking the cab back home but one girl wanted to see more opera so we went back to theatre square. The play was still on but we couldn’t understand anything as it was in the local language. So, we booked the cab and, voila, there came a Mercedes Benz to pick us up. Ironically here we paid 5 Euro for a Merc and in Warsaw, we had ended up paying 61 Euro for a similar car and travelling a much shorter distance.
Back to MOjOvie Apartments
As we reached the apartment, we all packed up for next morning journey as we had to leave by 9. While packing, I broke my watch and will have to wait to reach India to get it repaired, my first and a small damage on the trip yet. There is more to come.
After finishing with packing and everyone calling it a day, I went to the living room and sat there to do some work on my laptop. While working on the laptop I saw the meddling woman’s son and wife/ girlfriend come home and then she came up to the kitchen area heat up the dinner and serve them. I finally called it a day around 12.30am. just as I was about to sleep, got a ‘good morning’ whatsapp message from a friend and had to tell that’s its still night where I was and am about to go off to sleep.
Day three in Vienna
Next morning, we all woke up in time. While coming back to the apartment group had spotted the Austrian Parliament and so wanted towards that for a run and click some pictures. But the plan was ruined as it was raining.
By 9 am, we were all ready and breakfast done. Still we waited till 9 before calling the cab driver but no one answered, so from our past experience of Auschwitz trip in Krakow, we went to the small window and found a car waiting there. And that was our cab for Lake Bled. So, we all came down to the cab.
On the way to Lake Bled
Our cab driver’s name was Pavel and Paul in English- second cab driver named Pavel on the trip. Ironically, even Auschwitz cab driver was Pavel. Two people wanted to sit in the front seat to be able to take the pictures so decided to share it half way through. I decided to sit behind in third row (it was an 8-seater car) so can have the whole seat to myself. While we all slept and looked around, the girl on the front seat and driver kept talking.
The driver was also a guide and loved to talk. We stopped on the way for loo break and coffee break.
Everytime, I went to the WC, I wondered why in Austria they have steel commodes as they get very cold in winters and it must be impossible to seat, unless they have a heating system for commodes.
The view of the countryside was breath-taking. And little rains and clouds added to the scenery.
Stopover at Pyramidenkogel
On the way we stopped at Pyramidenkogel but it was so cloudy that we couldn’t see anything except clouds.
We didn’t want to take a chance going up to the towers in rains. Instead we thought of reaching our next destination timely.
Back on Road
So we decided to go directly to Lake Bled in Slovenia, a place that has love in its name. and were soon to find out if the people of the place lived up to its name.