My first time to Vienna I stayed at the Hilton Vienna Danube on a points stretcher award. That hotel is not remotely close to the city. This time my friend and I were staying at the Hilton Vienna downtown. It is a great location. One block from subway and tram stops just off the ringstrasse and next to Stadtpark. The rooms are normal size by US standards and large by European. Even with just Hilton silver status, we were upgrade to a suite.
|Hilton Vienna Suite|
|Hilton Vienna Suite|
The room rate included breakfast and the hotel has a very nice spread (Sunday is more of a proper Sunday brunch set up). The service was good, coffee better, and food great. There was also a large Asian spread available. It was all very nicely done and allowed us to start our day off right (and caffeinated).
Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the emperor and the royal family. It is magnificent (more subdued than Versailles) and still restrained. The tour is great and runs about an hour. Another hour can be spent touring the grounds around the place. It is easy to get to with its own subway stop, but arrive early as the lines grow very quickly.
The Treasury Museum is stunning. It puts the crown jewels in the Tower of London to shame really. On display are the trappings of 1,000 years of empire. You have to see the collection for yourself. It is truly awe-inspiring and well worth the visit.
I like a good tram ride, especially as a way to explore a city. Vienna has a special tourist tram that runs in summer around the rinstrasse (it's the yellow one, can't miss it). For EUR2 (it does not accept normal tram tickets) you get an audio tram tour of the city. The regular tram system is extensive and a great way to explore Wien. Some of the best food in town is found at tram and subway stops too.
|Tram in Vienna|
|Tram Stop Food, Yum|
My friend participated in equestrian events as a kid and said we had to take a tour of Spanish Riding School. There are no shows in the summer so the tour was the only option. It lasts about an hour and shows the stables, where you can get very close to the horses, the arena, and other areas. Our tour guide was friendly and funny. After the tour, we lucked out because the horses in town (most are send to a farm in the mountains over summer) were let in the arena to play around. This was a free show open to anyone passing by. I was able to watch from the royal box; a truly unique experience.
|Spanish Riding School as Viewed From the Royal Box|
Vienna is great and everyone should spend a few days there. Saltsburg is great too, but only a day trip, as I was soon to find out.