Sunday, September 2, 2012

Salzburg and Vienna to London on Austrian Airlines

The friend I was travelling with wanted to have a Von Trapp style experience while in Austria so we took the train to Salzburg.  It’s about a two hour trip from Vienna and $75 each way.  Our train out was delayed over an hour, so don’t plan on punctuality.  Salzburg has a quaint old town with expensive hotels.  Luckily there is a Crowne Plaza and HolidayInn less than a 10 minute walk away.  The Holiday Inn had a friendly staff, recently renovated rooms, flakey free wifi, and gave a nice platinum welcome gift of a bottle of Austrian wine.  The price was right too.
Salzburg and the Funicular, Take It, Don't Walk
Nice Park
More Nice Parks
Salzburg’s highlight real includes the castle at the top of the bluffs (take the funicular railway), a lovely park on the other side of the river, Die Weisse (best food and best beer on the trip), and the old town with shops, restaurants, churches, and the Mozart house (and a NORDSEE).  This can all be done in a day with an overnight stay as to not feel rushed and enjoy an evening in town.
Die Weisse Was Amazing
After two full days, we went back to Vienna to catch a flight to London.  We took the CAT, City Airport Train, to Vienna Airport and were able to check in and check out bags at the train station (the train ride is about half the price of a taxi to the airport).  The train was comfortable and we glided to the airport with ease, went through a fast security lane, had our passports stamped by customs, and settled in at the Austrian Airlines lounge.
Check In Desks at City Airport Train Station in Vienna
Austrian Airlines recently opened a newly renovated terminal at Vienna International Airport with a new check in area, new lounges, and new gate areas.  The lounge had plenty of seating, fast wifi, good drinks selection, and tasty food.  I also checked out the Priority Pass lounge (thank you Palladium card) which didn’t have a view and had similar food.
Austrian Airlines Lounge at Vienna Airport
Priority Pass Lounge at Vienna Airport
Boarding for the flight to LHR was delayed for no obvious reason and no information was given.  Once boarding started I was first down the jet bridge (Star Gold status perk) and settled into my own row.  About a dozen Austrian Olympians were on the flight.  I talked briefly with a swimmer, so I checked “talk with an Olympian” off my London to do list.  The flight boarded and departed quickly. 
VIE to LHR Flight Map
The cabin crew was very friendly and started the service quickly.  I had a soda and half a sandwich (it had an odd taste, but was free).  The flight went smoothly and we quickly arrived at LHR (The Economist makes time fly).  On approach we went up the Thames and saw all the classic London sights.  I was prepared for a long queue at customs, but there was no wait at all.  Further, the arrivals hall was full of helpful and cheery volunteers, a great experience at LHR, especially since I read about nightmarish conditions leading up to the games.  We were able to get a fast start to out 14 hour layover in London and we walked to the Tube station and headed to the Arsenal station.
Austrian Airlines Coach Meal in Europe

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