December 24th was our last day aboard the MS Amadeus Diamond. We had to leave the ship no later than 9:00 AM because they had to sail to Linz, Austria to prepare for their next cruise.
We had signed up for a taxi, and tried to make it perfectly clear that we were not traveling a great distance. Most of the people requesting cabs were headed for the airport… a trip that would cost them at least 30 Euros. We were headed for Nussdorf, less than a mile or two away.
After we finished our breakfast and said our farewells to the crew members who had taken care of us so well, we retrieved our luggage and prepared to depart. When we turned in our room key for the last time, they returned our passports and we were ready to set off on the final day of our wonderful winter vacation.
A note to first time travelers: When we boarded the cruise ship, we surrendered our passports. Whenever we left the ship for a tour, we were given boarding passes to prove we belonged with that ship. Had we found ourselves in trouble with the local authorities, the boarding passes would’ve led us to the place where we’d be able to show our passports and prove our identities… prior to being thrown into the slammer.
While no one ever stated what I thought was obvious, by holding our passports, the crew of the ship forced us to pay any outstanding bills before taking off for parts unknown.
In case you’re wondering, my camera was packed away at this time. So I took no pictures until after we had checked into our hotel.
The crew announced that our taxis had arrived, and the mass exodus began. I tried to make it clear that “our” taxi might be different… one who was prepared for a short trip and a shorter pay day. No one would listen and we were soon sitting in the back seat of a car with a driver who was less than pleased.
Our driver tried to convince us that he was perfectly capable of taking us to the airport. When we finally got him to understand that we were staying in Vienna for another day, he quickly volunteered to take us to the hotel. There was no doubt he was not a happy camper.
That all changed when I paid him about four times what was on the meter. I truly felt for him and figured he probably made out better with the very large tip. Had he driven us any further, the tip wouldn’t have been as large and, more importantly, the cash I gave him would have been part of the fare – money he would’ve had to turn into his boss. His demeanor changed dramatically and we wished each other a Merry Christmas.
Our savings from buying the 48 hour transit pass was significantly reduced, but neither Lu nor I minded one bit. We made the cabbie’s Christmas a little merrier and we were right on schedule to catch the tram that would take us to the U-Bahn that would take us to the tram that would take us to our hotel. All was right with the world!
We performed a small experiment on the way to our hotel; we waited until the stop after the Imperial Riding School before getting off the tram. Not only was it a shorter walk, we discovered an S-Bahn station where we could catch the train to the airport. Prior to that discovery, we were thinking we would have to backtrack a good deal to find the proper station.
As with the hotel in Munich, we were pleasantly surprised when they allowed us to immediately go to our room. I think part of our success resulted from the fact that both hotels had more vacant rooms than normal. They didn’t have to wait for housekeeping to prepare rooms for new guests.
As soon as we were settled in, we headed back to the inner-circle of Vienna. My goal was to see if I could find the hotel I stayed at back in the 1980s. Beyond that, we would simply wander around and do whatever seemed interesting. I was now re-armed with my camera!
Lu eventually figured it out.
We took the “O” back to the U-bahn station and traveled to the tram station where I thought we could catch a tram that did nothing more than make continuous loops around the inner-circle. I wanted to get back to the channel in front of the IBM building.
This looked like the winner!
We boarded the Ring Tram and immediately recognized our mistake. A man approached us with ear phones and guide books and asked for payment for the guided tour. We told him we had made a mistake and got off at the next stop.
We then consulted our transit map and took the next regular tram that would take us to the waterfront.
We got off at the “river” and walked across the bridge. I’m not sure it was the same bridge I stood on during my first visit, but it certainly felt the same. The major difference was that I now knew I was not looking at the Danube.
We walked past the IBM building and tried to locate the hotel I stayed at during my earlier visit. It was a losing battle. My memory was not at all sufficient to guide me to my destination. However, we did find something interesting.
St. Peter’s church?
The beautiful carving seemed to depict St. Peter being led to his own crucifixion.
We soon gave up trying to find that hotel. It may have gone out of business decades ago. We decided to simply wander around until we saw something of interest. Unfortunately, the first thing that jumped out at us was a great price on schnitzel.
In Vienna, any place to grab a bite to eat that is right on the street front has very little seating; most of their business is the “to go” variety. Finding a place to sit down comfortably to eat your snack or meal is a bit of a challenge. We were lucky? We found two places that were side by side. The one was an Irish Pub.
No offense to the Irish – I love Irish food and drink – but we were in Austria. I wanted something that fit in with our surroundings.
We walked into the alley way that led to the Austrian restaurant and were soon seated at a table that would have done the best North Georgia Bar-B-Que place proud. It looked to be hand-hewn out of Georgia pine.
Lu ordered a sandwich and I ordered some sort of chicken dish. Chicken seemed to be a rarity in Germany and Austria; their dishes were usually heavy on the pork and beef. I also ordered a dark beer. When I asked the waiter if he was sure of what I wanted, he responded by saying, “A large glass of dark beer”. He knew precisely what I wanted. Whatever he brought with the beer would’ve been fine with me.
Lu wasn’t able to finish her sandwich and wrapped half of it in a napkin to take with us. This was a good move because we had already been warned that most of Vienna would close down in the middle of the afternoon.
The people in Austria – and Germany – celebrate Christmas with their families on the evening of December 24th. It seems that December 25th is just another day.
Thus, it was important for us to have our evening meal taken care of long before the evening. Otherwise, we would go hungry. So, at this point, Lu was taken care of and I was on the outside looking in.
Following lunch, we roamed the city some more.
A shop that would interest my sons.
Lu and I didn’t go into this little shop, but it immediately reminded me of my sons. They are big fans of comic books and have invested quite a bit of money into uncirculated titles. Hopefully, those comic books will pay off like the baseball trading cards that I threw away as a child would have.
Christmas Markets were everywhere.
The thing that made this market unique was that it was operated by two international Service clubs. This stall was run by the LIONS.
This one was sponsored by the Kiwanis.
In our wanderings we soon came across something that our “official” tour guide had completely ignored. Roman ruins had been discovered beneath the street and were uncovered by archaeologists.
Ruins of a Roman settlement.
Another view of the ruins.
Yet another view.
I have no idea why our guide did not point these out to us. We were less than fifty feet away! In any case, we found them and they are most interesting.
So often during our trip, the Roman Empire was acknowledged. They were (and are) a civilization to be reckoned with!
From that point on, it was more of the same and I took very few photographs. Besides, we were running out of steam and getting concerned about finding a restaurant open for dinner. Lu had her dinner packed away, but – unless she’d be willing to share – I was about to go hungry.
We found our way back to a transit stop and began our transfers back to the hotel. We took a closer look at the train station near our hotel to be sure we could catch the train to the airport and found a restaurant nearby that was still open. I bought a sandwich and a beer to go and Lu bought a dessert for us to share. We then walked back to the hotel and settled in for a quiet Christmas Eve.
We ate our dinner and settled in to watch whatever Austria deemed important enough to televise on such an auspicious date. We soon fell asleep. I guess we were even more tired than we thought.
Tomorrow – the trip home: One last adventure!