Just shy of 3 hours after leaving Salzburg on the train, we arrived in Vienna. Things started off on the right note with a good upgrade at our beautiful hotel, the Le Meridien Vienna. Finally, a real suite – no more of this “junior suite” nonsense. Now, we’re talking.
After settling in at the hotel for a bit, we charged out into the afternoon to explore Vienna.
We started with a walk down the pedestrian plaza Kartner Strasse, past stunning St. Stephen’s Cathedral and toward the Danube River. The plan was to buy tickets on the 9:45am Danube Hydrofoil to Bratislava for the next day and then take the train from Bratislava to Budapest. And it’s a good thing we did go buy tickets early because the 9:45 was already sold out, we had to settle for the 8:30am – more sleep gone.
After a moderately enjoyable but mostly uninspiring walking tour of Vienna, we stumbled upon the Vienna Film Festival just before dinner.
The festival runs the entire months of July and August in the Rathaus-Platz and is quite a spectacle. Thousands of chairs are set up in the plaza in front of a giant jumbotron. Food and drink stands from every corner of the world dot the sidewalks. The crowd is a mix of old, young, families and groups of friends…it seems all of Vienna comes out for this annual event.
We had plans to go to a restaurant recommended by the concierge for dinner but after discovering the film festival we changed our minds.
After an hour at the hotel to clean up for dinner, we walked back over to the festival for dinner and drinks. The movie starts at 9pm but the food and drink stands are open until midnight.
Despite the abundant food choices, we stuck with authentic Austrian, branching out this time to a pasta dish that was delicious. We wandered around sipping drinks, people watching and listening to the music (the movie was about the Berlin Symphony Orchestra). All in all, a very enjoyable evening in Vienna.
Next stop…Bratislava, Slovakia!