All in Vienna
Vienna has been in our list for a very long time. Well it has been in my list for quite a while. Before this i have been to two cities in Austria, namely Salzburg and Innsbruck, but did not make it to Vienna due to its distance (went to Salzburg and Innsbruck from Munich back then in 2009). This time we managed to go to Vienna via Budapest. Will update more about Budapest in the next entry.
Arrived from Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport in Budapest via Wizz Air. Return ticket for 3 of us (Eusoff by this time has been considered child so the fare is different as compared to when he was a baby) EUR499. This also includes check-in luggage 32kg return. Whilst travelling, nowadays we packed everything into one luggage instead of two luggage and paid for the heavier luggage allowance (for budget airlines that require purchasing check-in luggage). One reason is for the budget and another reason is for logistics purposes. It is easier to go travel with one big 4-wheel luggage instead of two luggage when you also have to take into account the baby stroller. And another thing is, Wizz Air only allows 1 free small hand carry. Really need to read carefully about its luggage requirement otherwise they could charge a fee upon boarding the flight on the spot. Its not cheap.
Arrived at midnight in Budapest and we had pre-arranged an airport transfer to bring us to the city for EUR22 one way. Originally booked a guest house near Keleti Palyaudyvar (the train station for the train to Vienna) for us to rest while waiting our train at 8.45 a.m. Already paid EUR33 via booking.com. But I had done a big mistake on the date of arrival resulting us not being able to stay as it is fully booked. The airport transfer driver was kind enough to drop us to another nearby hotel but most of the cheap hotels are fully book that night (not going to spend big sum on few hours of hotels so all those that cost more than EUR40 has been dismiss). Instead we just hang out at one of the turkish restaurant near the train station and wait till morning for the train. Thank god we encountered really nice people that time in Budapest and we managed to go thru it rather smoothly.
Train to Vienna took almost 3 hours and cost us EUR78 return (2 adults and free for Eusoff). We slept throughout our journey to Vienna only to be waken midway by officials checking our passport. Reached Vienna at 11.45 a.m. and bought the 48 hours public transport pass for EUR14 per person. Eusoff, free. Took the subway straight to our friend's apartment in Franz Josef-Kai. Freshen up and rest for a while before starting our own city tour.
Vienna has an extensive public transport system and very baby stroller friendly especially the new trams (the old trams requires you to climb up the stairs a bit but there is a dedicated area for baby stroller). First up, we took the tram to the city centre. Sightseeing and take pictures. The weather is very breezy and cool and it was a great walk. Then we took the tram to the Belvedere Palace and walk and take pictures again. That is all we have done in Vienna. Took the tram to everywhere and anywhere, got lost and detour via tram again then have some amazing coffee at the cafes and beautiful pictures along the way. For that night, we went for dinner in a Palestinian restaurant called Lord of S at Liebenberggasse 7. It is near Marriott Hotel and very easy to find. It looks kinda posh but the price is actually not bad. I had chicken with rice and wifey had schnitzel with water and tea. Cost us about EUR35. Tips: I always find halal food via www.zabihah.com it provides plentiful of suggestion of available halal restaurant in the city. After the meal, we walked back to the apartment and rest for the night.
The second day we went out to Prater. Took tram 1 all the way to the end of the line on the direction to Prater. It is a park where locals hang out in weekend. Beautiful park. There is also a small train that go around the area. For one full round ride cost EUR8 per person. We took a ride on the train to the amusement park. They have all those roller coaster, merry go round etc. you name it. Madame Tussaud Vienna was also there. We instead took the big ferris wheel ride, Wiener Riesenrad. It gives you a whole view of the city from 65m high and cost EUR9.50 per person. Kids below 3 years old is free. Tips: there are more discount on all of these kind of attraction if you purchase Vienna Card or do a combined ticket to some attraction. Be sure to google all these info before travel to save some cash.
One thing about having a transport card for unlimited travel and going on a tram is you can just opt to go down anywhere you find interesting. En route to the city centre, we went through this street (which i totally forgot what was it called) and quickly went down to take a few shots. Came across a souvenir shop and managed to get some good price from the seller who happened to be a muslim from Egypt. Wifey nowadays bought a miniature of a building of a particular city, small snow globe and fridge magnet as her travel collection. Me on the other hand nowadays bought Hard Rock Cafe fridge magnet for collection. Tips: Souvenir prices in Vienna are almost the same at all places and kinda expensive as compared to other countries. According to the seller, it is because of the high rental fee.
Then up on the tram again to the city centre. This time we went to the town hall. Was hoping to go into the circus (there were Roncalli Circus in Vienna) but when we took a look at the queue, forget it. But managed to take few photos with the circus performer who were entertaining guests in the queue. Went to the city centre again because we came across an Egyptian restaurant near Stephenplatz. Had our lunch there and it cost a bit more compared to the restaurant the night before, and we prefer the taste of the food and the ambiance of the former. Cost us EUR35 for 1 mixed grill and 3 drinks.
I wanted to buy some Nespresso supplies (Abu Dhabi cost a bit more than it cost in Europe, so why not) and the boutique is just a walking distance from Stephenplatz. It was just our luck that day that if we enroll into the member programme (for free) and buy minimum of 5 sleeves of nespresso, we entitled to get 20% discount off the accessories. Phew, why not. So we took full advantage of it and bought few sleeves of Nespresso and some accessories. For info: Tax Refund for Austria is EUR76 and it is 12%. Owh yeah before i forgot, there are some halal kiosk in the Stephenplatz area. We bought fried mee before going off to our next stop. Wachaaaa.
From there we took the tram to Hofburg Palace and another photo session. We just sit at the bench and enjoy our fried mee while enjoying the sunset. Meanwhile Eusoff was having the time of his life running and jumping around. Near sundown we walked to the tram station and took tram back to the apartment. That night our friend took us to a Malaysian restaurant called Sinohouse (could google for location). Great food and the owner and waiter are Malaysians and very kind. The price was reasonable and our friend insisted that it was her treat. Alhamdulillah. That night we just went back to the apartment, freshen up and have a rest. As per usual practice, i re-arrange the clothes in the bag along with some souvenir bought in Vienna.
The following morning, before departing to the train station for our train to Budapest at 3.00 p.m., we walk along the Danube river in front of the apartment. Brisk morning walk around the area and up to one of the ice cream parlor because our friend insisted that we have a Vienna-style ice-cream before we left. Had our morning coffee with ice-cream and walked back to the apartment. Freshen up and it was time to say till we see you again Vienna.
Vienna. What there is to say about Vienna. Our experience as a tourist has been amazing. Beautiful place, lots to see, fantastic public transport network and very clean. The price is a bit more as compared to Prague and Budapest but the experience was nice. We did not encounter any problem and saw a lot of muslims (identifiable through the ladies wearing hijab) walking around. We would not say that the people are not friendly, it is just everyone goes on with their own self and could not be bothered. But seriously, Vienna is a beautiful city with plenty to see. We only experience 1/10 of what Vienna has to offer. The comprehensive guide to go around Vienna is available at their tourist information and it is one of those cities that you can just afford to get lost and find your way back again. As for Eusoff, there are plenty of space for him to run and jump without worrying about the traffic (mostly in the palace garden areas) and it was a delightful experience for him as it was a delightful experience for us as a family. All in Vienna.