Our train was scheduled to leave for Vienna at 8:40. At around 7:40, we noticed that it would be leaving from Keleti train station, not Nyugati. This made things extra stressful, and we were already running late. So, we decided to take a taxi. We got to Keleti at around 8:25, thinking were good to go. No. There was a super long line getting tickets – we couldn’t use the kiosks for international travel AND the tickets ended up being way more expensive than we thought they would be at 21,000 HUF – about $75 to go 2.5 hours. OUCH.
Don’t worry. It get’s worse. We were running to our train just in the nic of time. Bartley wasn’t even in his travel kennel yet. We were sweating. The train was PACKED. The Boyfriend had to search and search for places for all of our luggage, but we did finally find a place for everything, and miraculously, two seats together.
Or so we thought. Until about 30 minutes later, when a lovely, elderly Spanish-speaking couple kindly told us that, actually, the seats were reserved for them. By the way, there was no way (as far as The Boyfriend and I could tell) to know that the seats were reserved ahead of time. Of course we could tell by looking at their tickets, so we had no choice but to vacate the seats… and go where?
That’s right, standing room only. We went to the space in between train cars, because that’s what was left. For $75. To go 2.5 hours. When the ticket controller came by, we asked him what the deal was. How can we not be guaranteed a seat if we bought a ticket? And he said basically, if you don’t reserve a seat, you are guaranteed the ride, not the seat. Thus far, we’ve just been lucky.
Thankfully, this was only our situation for another 30 minutes. Then, we were able to find seats further in the back, in the carriage section of the train.
We thought the “excitement” was over. Nope. When we arrived in Vienna at 11:19, we knew we were on a bit of a time crunch to get to our Airbnb, because the host had graciously agreed to let us check in early IF we could get there at exactly 12:00 PM. We decided we’d better take a taxi, because public transportation showed a 40 minute estimated travel time, and we didn’t want to risk running late. We found a taxi easy enough, and I noted the credit card machine on his dashboard. Excellent, since we hadn’t had time to take our euros yet.
The taxi driver seemed to enjoy Bartley’s company, and The Boyfriend and I were enjoying the beautiful architecture of Vienna, but when we got to our stop and I pulled out the credit card… the taxi driver informed us that his taxi was cash only! The credit card machine I saw was actually a receipt printer. At the same time, our host was impatiently waiting at the entrance to the apartment, because this was his lunch break and it was 11:59. We needed to check in fast. So, The Boyfriend had to rush off in search of an ATM, and I had to check in our bags and get the tour of the apartment, and the taxi driver, unfortunately, was left to wait. Thankfully, he wasn’t too upset about it, and I told him we would of course pay him extra for waiting.
By the time The Boyfriend came back, I was fully checked in, we were both anxious to pay the taxi driver and get inside. What a relief it was to be in our beautiful Airbnb at noon, rather than at 3:00 or 4:00, as is typically our Airbnb check in time. We rested, showered, and mapped out our walking tour for the evening.
What I love about traveling with The Boyfriend, is that even though we “plan,” we always let ourselves get off track if we see something interesting.
The last stop we made before taking Bartley back to feed him and leave him in the apartment to rest, was to get a Sacher Cake at Hotel Sacher, a recommendation from our dear friend Lucy. We basically had dessert for dinner. WOWZ.
We left the apartment a little after 9:00, en route for the Belvedere Palace. We hadn’t had enough time to go to the even more famous Schönbrunn Palace Palace, so we wanted to prioritize this Palace, that was slightly closer to our Airbnb. Unfortunately, it was completely closed, but I was able to snap this one photo through the gate so our 40 minute trek wasn’t completely unnecessary. Vienna is SO spread out! How can it be? Isn’t it an old city? It’s just HUGE, and SO spread out.
But, following this little mishap brings me to the BEST part of the evening. We knew we wanted to head back towards the City Hall, where so many trendy food stalls were set up earlier in the evening. Thankfully they were all still open. When we first arrived we noticed – wow, they’re playing classical music! How cool! As we continued to walk though, we noticed they were screening a recording of a live oratory – DIE SCHÖPFUNG – LA FURA DELS BAUS – against the breathtaking city hall…. for FREE. Many people were enjoying food and drink, but hundreds were seated in front of the screen hanging in front of the beautiful City Hall, fully enthralled with the music.
It was a truly special moment for me, because it was so unexpected. It reminds me of when I went to Paris by myself in 2008. I was nervous traveling alone, but I knew I had to see the Eiffel Tower at night. I took the metro, well after dark, which surprisingly doesn’t stop directly in front of the Eiffel Tower. I was having some trouble finding it (if you can imagine!) and all at once I came out from being a tall building, and I was underneath it. It was such a surprise, so incredible, I was awestruck. This lovely opera, in this beautiful, unexpected setting, with some many appreciative listeners, affected me similarly.
We enjoyed wienerschnitzel – the traditional veal for The Boyfriend, pork for me – and Vienna Sausage, and headed on back to the apartment close to midnight, knowing we had to catch a tram at 9:58 to Ljubljana, Slovenia.