As we walk around the streets of Vienna in the glorious sunshine, it’s difficult not to cast our minds back to Budapest in July of 2015 where there were four of us – me, Adam, Tom and Tom (yes, our group has three Toms).
A beautiful city that’s on the river Danube, and amazing weather to match – it’s not a world away from our action-packed trip last year.
This one, of course, is a little different. It’s like Budapest times four – but so far there have only been two of us here to enjoy the adventure.
But that all changed today when we came across two straddlers at our hotel, who arrived in Austria this morning after catching an easyJet flight from Manchester.
Today was a later start because they weren’t due to get to the hotel until around midday. Yet for us two already here, we were will up well before that, even though we needed sleep after a strange night last night.
Continuing our tour of non-native places to drink, we stepped into The Crown and Sword last night, an Irish pub right outside Traborstraβe – our local U-Bahn stop.
In there, there were only two people – save for ourselves – the barmaid and Christian, a grey-haired and slightly inebriated doctor who was up for a chat and wanted to play us at darts.
With beers in hand and wanting to try our luck, we accepted the invitation. My friend, Tom, won and I was disgusted to come third behind Christian, who launched his darts like he was throwing the first pitch in a game of football. Suffice to say that final double was elusive.
It ended up being a good night in the end, and we didn’t leave long before the 2am closing time. It was quite ironic that somewhere so empty and seemingly lifeless, which was supposed to play how to a quiet drink or two before bedtime turned into quite the experience.
But now there are four of us, we will no longer be in a bar that empty for the remaining duration of our trip.
It was actually refreshing to travel in a larger group today, and we got quite a lot done, despite only having three or four hours to explore.
First we visited the awesome Hofburg Palace, a former imperial palace right in the heart of Vienna. Part of the building is the current residence and workplace of the President of Austria.
It use to serve as the emperor’s summer residence, while Schönbrunn Palace was known as a winter residence.
Hofburg Palace also houses the Austrian National Library, which has over 7.4 million items in its collection. Starting at €4.50, visitors can visit the State Hall part of the building, where they’ll find a large quantity of full bookcases in a delicately beautiful setting.
Along with murals on the walls and marble statues, there is also an exhibit, where visitors can find out about the history of the library and hall, as well as the chronicling of Archduke Franz Josef I’s life.
Before we headed back to the hotel, there was enough time for one more attraction and that was St Stephen’s Cathedral, located in Stephansplatz – one of the busiest areas in town.
St Stephen’s is a Roman Catholic church, and has an unmistakeable spire and tiled roof. The building was completed in 1160, and visitors are free to enter – although there are extra charges for visiting the catacombs beneath the church.
After rounding off the day’s activities, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest before heading out this evening to an XXL Restaurant just outside the city centre. But that’s a story for tomorrow’s blog…