Vienna 1: May 8, 2007 -- Incredible hotel, and good food -- notes from Bob and Sally

Bob Corbett's note:

It is our second day in Vienna. Didnít do too much yesterday. Took the morning train from Budapest to Vienna, just three and half hours. We had a lovely first class cabin all to ourselves. No reservations, just light load of folks.

I had stayed in this hotel, Pension Schonbrunn, just two blocks from the 1,000 room Schonbrunn Palace of Vienna, the center of the Hapsburg empire. Our room is really great with two huge stuffed chairs, spacious room, the toilet and shower rooms are separate rooms. Two huge windows overlooking a quiet green courtyard.

Breakfast is top flight. I had rich black strong coffee, Sally stuck to her standard hot tea. What was so great were the wonderful buns of Vienna, the Semmels. Canít describe them, one has either tasted them or not, they seem to be unique to Austria and phenomenal. Once in the 1980s when I was headed back to St. Louis (a one day trip) I stopped at a bakery on the way to the airport. I got a bag of fresh Semmels, a large loaf of farmerís bread and a large jar of Erdbeerenjam (Strawberry jam). When we had lived in Graz, Austria for a year in 1972-73 all my kids fell in love with both Semmels and farmerís bread.

That night I laid that spread out on the table in St. Louis and all 7 kids went at that pile like wild animals and it was gone in 1\2 hour.

There is a wonderful neighborhood restaurant near the hotel called Schwable. We went there for our meal and it was another of the best meals of the whole trip. We both had roast beef plates with HUGE amounts of tender beef, mine with some sort of fried potatoes with a rich horseradish sauce, which I poured all over my beef as well. Sally had a pureed spinach dish as sauce and some phenomenal potatoes, I donít quite know how they were prepared. We each had two HUGH steins of beer.

Then I noticed Mohn am Hemp on the dessert menu and told Sally to prepare for the treat of a life. We got ONE. It is a large piece of a sort of chocolate sponge cake shaped like a large orange. Over this is poured piping hot rich dark chocolate (the cake is hot too) and along side were two huge mounds of whipped cream. Not that junk from a can, really live whipped cream. We got a couple lovely glasses of Viennese Schnapps with it..... Wheeeee, we could barely walk, but knew we NEEDED to. So we walked the two blocks over the gigantic Schonbrunn Palace and I took Sally for a long long walk through the magnificent Flower-rich gardens behind the palace. She was appropriately wowed, and exhausted.

In 1989 when my daughter Janie was a student in Vienna and I was teaching, by a very strange long story Iíll spare you, we got to live in a very large apartment IN SCHONBRUNN PALACE itself. Free of charge no less. That was for the whole semester too. Janie has a birthday on May 11 coming up and I wanted to get her a post card with a photo of our apartment on it, which I knew they sold at the Schonbrunn gift shop. So we got that (Janie, just mailed it to you this morning).

Janie had written yesterday of that trip and our trips to Budapest, Prague, Paris, Naples and Florence, but I forgot all about the longest trip of all. At the Easter vacation she and I took a 10 day trip to Warsaw, Poland -- this was in the communist days, just before the wall fell when Lech Walesa was in charge or trying to be. Janie had met a young Polish guy the year before when she was in Calcutta, India doing volunteer work with Mother Teresaís nuns. This guy had invited us to Poland and for 10 days we lived at their house in a tiny third floor attic where they put two mattresses on the floor!!!!

After the long walk in Schonbrunn gardens, we stopped at a small street grocery and got a few strawberries and some dark chocolate for the room, but ate very little more last night and didnít even open up the bottle of good Hungarian wine we brought with us from Budapest. (However, we did have a few little sips of some Viennese Schnapps we picked up at the store.)

I must admit, it is really NICE being back in a place where I know the language, can ask for what I want, can get things so easily. After my huge bawling out in Budapest by the lady selling us the streetcar tickets, we both had a huge laugh when in the train station in Vienna when we arrived, I could walk right up to the window, get the various passes we needed for the week, make change and small talk with the kind and smiling woman. What a relief. Same in the restaurant and so on. Oh me, it helps.

Today were are headed in to the main "old town" of Vienna to walk the walking mall streets, see some sights and enjoy the street music which is awesome. It is sunny, with some clouds, warmish, but still a slight chill in the air. Yesterday when we walked in the gardens it was HOT, sunny, windy and glorious. Not too sure how today will turn out, but it was 70 degrees this morning, but there is at least the threat of clouds or rain. I didnít even bother to bring my rain coat this morning. Iíll take my chances.

Off to the inner city.....


Sally's note

Hi Everybody,

Seems a long time since I last wrote a travel note. Our last day in Budapest was going to be an easy day, and on the one hand, it was, on the other, we must have easily walked our regular 4 miles.

It was a very overcast day, and we didnít have a real plan for the day, just wanted to ride around and see some things we hadnít seen.

Bob Iím sure will tell you about the night before as we sat outside at a very nice restaurant having what turned out to be a last meal at a restaurant in Budapest.

We were just finishing our meal I think and Bob looked past me to the intersection where he saw a police car with lights flashing just pull across one of the streets and stop.

Turned out that it was part of a police escort for a very large group of motorcyclists. All outfitted in their black leather, some with one driver, some with a driver and a rider. So many of them that the parade through what turned into an īSī turn (thanks to the police car blockade) went on for some time. Quite the convention !!

And Bob and I just reminded each other of our last meal in Budapest, at the outdoor festival with the Budapest City Fire and Police Dept. Did I write about that already?

Then Monday we took a very, very nice train to Vienna. It left Budapest about 9:15 AM and we arrived in Vienna about 12:15 PM. It was the sunniest day for many days. I cant recall the last blue sky day.

Oh, you should have seen how happy Bob was to get to Vienna! Of course it was the language, but there truly is a difference when you arrive in Vienna.

Bob got our day passes for at least our ride to the hotel and then for the next four days. They offer a special ticket for 8 tickets and he got us one. Plus the two one way tickets to the hotel

Then we rode the tram (strassenbahn) and the Metro (UBahn) to our hotel. Its a wonderful place, and our room is huge! We not only have the two beds, night stands, a desk and a chair, but we have two nice overstuffed chairs and a table, maybe about as large as a door laid flat. And they have done some very nice renovations since Bob had been here last.

A new section for the reservation person, a new section for the daily breakfast they serve their guests and a beautiful little outside sitting area with a lovely yard with grass and evergreen trees. So nice as its located in a more downtown type area of the city.

After we got settled, freshened up and sorted our clothes for the laundry we hoped to find, we went searching for another restaurant that Bob knew about. Sure enough we found it and oh, the food was soooooo delicious! Bob will write about it Iím sure. We feasted !!!

Luckily we needed to walk a bit to get a postcard for Bob to send to his daughter Janie. It was as I said a beautiful sunny day and I was able to leave my jacket at the hotel and just wear my light long sleeve shirt and vest for our walk. And what a lovely walk it was. We walked to what is called Schoenbrunn Castle. Our hotel is called Pension Shoenbrunn, not to be confused with the castle... :)

But the Castle grounds are huge, full of beautifully trimmed/shaped trees, shrubs and rose bushes. Its early spring here, so there are some flowering of trees and some early and some full blooms on the rose bushes. You can tell that there are areas that are just now being planted for annuals that will be in full bloom in a month or so. And those areas are not just straight line planting beds, they are in various designs that indicate the classic palace or royal designs used when the Royal Hapsburg Family lived here. Ah, itís beautiful and we had a great day to walk there.

Not that we walked the whole area, no, not even close Bob says. But if there is time, we may come back to see the butterfly house and the queenís picnic area, which Bob says is awesome itself.

After that we were happy to go back to our hotel and rest. Though our host told us we could use the laundry there that they had installed, and because a nearby laundry had closed. We took that opportunity to do that, though not knowing how to use the machines, it took me until 9:15 PM to get our second and last load of clothes out of the dryer and upstairs to our room. I think I would have waited until today had I known it would take so long. Ah well, its done! We have lots of nice clean clothes.

Today itís early and we donít have any set plans. We knew we wanted to find an internet site. And we might do some shopping here in this fun little shopping area called Mariahilfastrasse. They have fun resale and second hand shops per Bob, and we both like to look through them.

Well, after our beautiful day yesterday, we may be back in the overcast and rainy period here. It was partly cloudy when we left the hotel, but there is a possibility of rain. So we will do more riding around in buses or trolleys today than just plain walking around. But who knows?

Our Vienna adventure is just beginning. More later!

Sally Ryan Sharamitaro




Bob Corbett