From Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic we were headed back to Germany. Our plan was to spend a few relaxing days on the Rhine river before heading to Paris. However, to get to the Rhine region from Cesky Krumlov we were either going to have to go north through Prague, or south through Vienna. So we decided to visit Vienna and timed our train connections so we’d have about 5 five hours there.
Unfortunately, each one of our trains in the Czech Republic left a little late, and by the end of the trip to Vienna that had added up to being very late. Miraculously, the trains waited for us (I think there were quite a few other people also trying to get to Vienna, so they were willing to hold the trains), but when we arrived in Vienna we only had about three hours until our next connection.
Still, that was enough time walk around and see a few things, so we put our backpacks in a locker and headed out. We also figured the key to seeing a lot quickly would be mastering the public transportation system and on the train into Vienna Laura had conductor explain how to use the U Bahn (subway). I also used the time to study the Vienna 2go iPhone app that I had bought the night before.
We when arrived in the city it still took us a little while to figure out how to get around (and where exactly we were). Eventually, though, we bought U Bahn day passes (€5.70 each) and got to downtown.
We ate our picnic lunch in Stephansplatz, a big, ritzy pedestrial zone, and then walked around looking at the cities famous buildings. We saw several churches, the opera house, some museums, a library, etc. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to actually explore these buildings in depth, but the experience was still nice. We also happened across a jazz concert in the park, which we watched for a little while.
By the time we had to head back to the train station we had only spent about two hours in the city exploring the sites of the city. The late trains, getting lockers, figuring out the U Bahn (which is actually a really great subway system), etc. had really eaten into our time. Still, we were going through Vienna anyway and I’m glad we allowed some time to get a basic, if quick and superficial, feel for the city.
When our time was up we went back to the train station, gave our U Bahn day passes to a couple of arriving travelers, and got on an overnight train to Mainz, Germany.