Since we were in Austria, specifically Vienna, for just a few days, it makes sense to combine this report with Hungary, since we also spent just a few days there.
This is not the first time they have been combined, since they were officially united from 1867 until 1918 and officially called the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is one of the few empires that people remember. Even before that, Austria hada unique distinction of being part of one of the truly memorable “empires” in recent history, known as the Habsburg Empire, which ruled for 650 years.
With that much history how could we not help but be overwhelmed by the city of Vienna! It reminded me of the city of Monaco, which we visited in Jan 2019, and compared it to a Hollywood movie set: pristine, almost surreal with barely a piece of trash on the street! Add in the ornate horse drawn carriages which Vienna is known for, and you have the makings of a fairy tale setting.
Vienna had that same surrealness to it, with grand architecture, the carriages, and some of the best street hot dogs, er, sorry, Vienna sausages, I have ever had! We spent much of our time in the Alservorstadtdistrict, which is an area that offers a beautiful church, Votivkirche, magnificent fountains, plus scores of eateries in this area. This complex was formerly a hospital, but now part of a university campus., which becomes a magnet for some very talented street performers.
Along those same lines, the inner-city area has the Rathauspark, which is a huge 40,000 sq meter park across from the Vienna City Hall and the Parliament Building.
Here are some of the takeaways and memories that stay with me after moving on:
Shopping: Since Vienna was one of the larger, more cosmopolitan cities that we visited, it makes sense that shopping was everywhere. Many of our world-famous designer shops were highlighted, as well as a great selection of local vendors.
Food: I don’t claim to be a foodie, but I do enjoy my meals, and with only a few days I had to fit in as much as I could! How could you come to Austria and not try what they are known for: Schnitzel. Thinly sliced, then deep fried, this serving of veal was yummy, especially when served with the traditional vinegar and oil.
Vienna is Expensive!!We’ve stayed in almost 100 AirBNB locations, and finding one in Vienna was more difficult and expensive than most. Mind you, it was August and the high tourist season, but it would be challenging to stay for longer periods.
Vienna is far and away the largest city in Austria, with 1.7 million population, but we would like to return and check out the magical musical city of Salzburg and Innsbruck.
Hungary was also surreal and like Vienna, we only spent our limited time in one city: the capital, Budapest. Our few days was very personal to me since my Mother was born in Hungary and for her entire life wanted me to visit it with her. Foolish, arrogant youth declined the offer, which I forever regret…
Even without the personal relation, Budapest was overwhelming in its grandness and beauty! With the Danube river dividing the two separate cities of Buda, where we spent most of our time, and Pest, on the other side, the city is similar in size to Vienna and we decided to take as much in as we could over our three day stay. That included a river tour, which was awesome, and a Stop and Go bus tour, which showed us the highlights there.
There were three things that specifically stood out in this magnificent town, and they were the Parliament Building, the Buda Castle and the bridges, especially the Chain Bridge, which connects the two twin cities.
We have seen our share of castles and government buildings, but truly, their Parliament was grand in every sense of the word. And since the city is divided, bridges are more ornate than some other cities we visited.
We arrived here just before our Vienna leg and found Budapest to be a walker’s paradise, especially when crossing the riverfrom Buda, to Pest which offered a beautiful park and at the top had breath-taking views of the city. So much history here, too, and much of it World War II related as opposed to the older cities in Europe. We stayed at a very affordable AirBNB flat and were pleased to meet travelers from several countries to share stories with.
Boththese cities are post card picture ready and as photogenic as any city you will visit in Europe.Daytime, nighttime, they both glisten with beauty.
When we started our Traveling the World Adventure in February 2019, our goal was to stay in different places for six weeks at a time and determine if we wanted to go back for more. Budapest, much more affordable than Vienna, certainly qualifies as a place to go back to for longer, and the idea of staying there for six weeks is on our agenda.
Norm Bour left the USA permanently in February 2019 at the age of 64. His goal was to travel the world six weeks at a time, which he did, and wrote two books about his experiences. Over 14 months he visited 23 countries along with taking 36 plane trips. He is now hunkered down in Mexico, which has been a way to get back to writing and waiting for the world to open up again. Norm’s inspiration has been the Millennial generation who make travel look so easy, so he teaches fellow Boomers how to "travel like a Millennial."
You can follow his journey at www.TravelYounger.com along with his Facebook blog by the same name.