Days 8-10: Vienna

So getting to Vienna was what the original trip plan revolved around. Never mind that the first 7 days of the trip were gone already. We arrived late Monday night, welcomed by John, who stayed up super late despite having to be at work Tuesday morning. In the morning, we started a little less early, and met him for lunch at a café downtown.

We wandered around a little bit, before heading back to his apartment where we were staying. On the way, we did something routine for the first time since leaving the US: grocery shopping. We knew we had access to refrigeration, and were enjoying eating out, but convenience store snacks and little $3 bottles of Coke (Pepsi was really rare) were getting old.

Missed the beginning of the trip? Start here.

On our way, we went by a grocery store and stocked up. Of course, it wasn’t the same kind of store you’d expect here–no Wal-Mart Supercenter. It was more akin to a miniaturized specialty grocery store, perhaps a smaller, more upscale version of Aldi. Instead of $3 for a 500mL (16.9oz) Coke, we bought a six-pack of 1.5L Pepsi bottles, for a grand total under $4. There may have been fresh croissants, cheese, and a few other indulgences on the receipt.

This type of arrangement was somewhat common–groceries occupying the lowest level of many indoor shopping malls. We also noticed how pet-friendly most establishments were (sorry Milo–you didn’t get to experience that). Check out the leash holder at the entrance to the grocery area:

This cute little pup stood there waiting for Mom or Dad to finish shopping. No barking, running around, or anything of that sort–just patient waiting.

The rest of that day, and the next two, all kind of blurred together. I’m not sure if that was because we were somewhat more relaxed staying with a good friend, because we were finally adjusting to the time change, or something else. But we were definitely having a good time.

Wandering Around

This next group of photos is just a sampling of random stuff we took while wandering around the city. I’m not trying to show anything specific, just trying to give you a feel for what it’s like generally.


We didn’t even scratch the surface. Vienna has a rich history, and has preserved it well. In addition to all of the historical architecture, monuments, and fountains, there are lots of museums. I’ll highlight two of them here:

Technical Museum

Between an engineer and a physicist, this stop should come as no surprise. We arrived just in time to catch an electrical light show–a Tesla coil set up to resonate at audible frequencies, playing a few familiar tunes with the sound of electrical arcing. This wasn’t light in time with music like some night club, the light was the music. Check out the video below:

Military Museum

It should come as no surprise that a city like Vienna, with as much involvement in global military affairs over several hundred years as it has, would have a good museum chronicling some of that history. The Military Museum of Vienna opened the doors of its current location in 1856–when the United States numbered 31. Exhibits of military paraphernalia, including weapons, uniforms, and other artifacts, date back hundreds of years before the museum’s opening. One wing was heavily damaged during World War II, but most of the exhibits survived.

Just inside the entrance of the museum, it was clear that this was going to be an interesting experience.

The main halls upstairs are very traditional exhibits–glass cases with artifacts displayed on velvet with small tags. Bring your reading glasses, and prepare to spend the better part of a day.

North wing of the museum, after 1944 bombing during World War II.
The car at the center of the start of World War I, in which Archduke and Duchess Ferdinand were assassinated in Sarajevo. The car sits at the entrance to the more modern exhibit wing, with exhibits from World Wars I and II

Film Festival

For a couple of guys that like to eat, this might have been the highlight of our stay in Vienna. Forget the cafe with small portions, high prices, and slow service. This was Vienna’s version of a food truck festival. Lots of semi-permanent stands with all kinds of food (including local favorites, like wiener schnitzel), great atmosphere, cheap prices, and lots of great food (yes, I said it twice). There was a film being shown on a big screen parked in front of City Hall, but with all the food, we were distracted.

John says there’s a snootiness among the Viennese, but we could easily adjust to the manner in which the different food establishments pooled resources. All of the food was served on ceramic plates, with real silverware, cloth napkins, and glass glasses. There was staff wandering to bus tables. And the tables themselves were nice bamboo tops with umbrellas for shade. I’m sure it wouldn’t cost that much more to do similar events that way stateside. It was easily casual enough for a stop on your way back from one of the local beaches, yet classy enough to make for a dressed-up date night.

What’s next?

With our hosts in Vienna, we decided to take a weekend trip to Berlin. Andrew and I would drive (more Autobahn), while the other two caught a cheap flight to meet us there. Next post, day 11, will talk a little bit about the drive, and our arrival in Berlin.

Day 8 0 mi 0 mi 0 mi 3.3 mi
Day 9 0 mi 0 mi 17.6 mi 4.8 mi
Day 10 0 mi 0 mi 13.8 mi 3.1 mi
Total 1,570 mi 3,814 mi 134.0 mi 44.3 mi

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