Tag Archives: Austria

Oh, Vienna……

Continuing my quest to learn some random facts about my December travel destinations, a little online research brought me to these (unverified) bits of trivia about Austria and Vienna:

  • Legal voting age in Austria is only 16 years old. While that’s really young, I doubt teen Austrian voters could be any less informed than the majority of their 18 year old U.S. counterpart first time voters. Interestingly, Austrian teens may not receive their first drivers license until they are 18; but legal drinking age for Austrians is 16.  I guess the Austrian kids can build up a tolerance to alcohol before getting behind the wheel in a couple of years. Hmmmmm……
  • Tiergarten Schönbrunn, founded in 1752 and located in Vienna, is world’s oldest zoological garden.
  • People from Vienna are called Viennese, which has a much classier ring to it than my Milwaukeean or Wisconsinite label.
  • The Austrian Alps cover about 62% of Austria’s total land area.
  • Classical composers, including Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert have all performed and lived in Vienna.
  • Europe’s second largest cemetery, Zentralfriedhof, is located in Vienna, and has a total size of one square mile. Zentralfriedhof contains over 2.5 million tombs, almost double the city’s living population.  Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss not only lived in Vienna, but were also buried there.
  • Approximately one fourth of Austria’s population reside in the capital city of Vienna.
  • Vienna, along with Bratislava, Belgrade and Budapest, is one of four capital cities through with the Danube River flows.
  •  This fact did not come from online research, but rather from my longstanding addiction to ’80s British Invasion era music:  “Vienna” is the name of a synth-pop ballad (an awesome one, in my humble opinion) released in 1981 by the British band Ultravox and featuring the haunting vocals of none other than Midge Ure.




And the winner is……. Prague!

Well, the headline of this post is quite incomplete, possibly even a bit inaccurate, since I’m the real winner being that my son agreed to be my travel buddy on my upcoming trip once again. But as far as the travel destination selection goes, Prague, along with Vienna and Budapest, won my internal debate about where I should spend Christmas with my son this year. It’s been an arduous process just to arrive at this conclusion, but now that I’m finally there… the fun begins!

Vienna, Austria at Christmas
Vienna doesn’t seem to be a bad place to spend Christmas with my son!

I took the first leap yesterday and bought our plane tickets via Kayak and Vayama after spending many hours researching flights on Skyscanner, Airfarewatchdog, and Google Flights amongst many of the other flight aggregator sites. It wasn’t easy to decide the right approach, but “right” is subjective. For me, it turned out to be finding a good mix of relatively conveniently scheduled and relatively reasonable flights. I say “relatively” on both counts since the flights to Prague and from Budapest both have layovers in Lisbon (TAP Portugal) with the layover on the journey to Prague being unpleasantly long (a bit over four hours), the departure flight from Budapest is at an unreasonably early hour (5 am – YUCK!), and the price, while the cheapest I’ve paid to get to Europe in many years, still wasn’t a real bargain. But, all things considered, these flights seemed a good option to grab so I can forge ahead with the next stages of the trip planning process.

So, now I’m in full research mode….looking into accommodation options as well as logistical details, mainly the train schedule between Prague and Vienna and from Vienna and Budapest at this stage in the game. The train schedule could very well affect my plan for travel dates between cities since I don’t want to cut the stay in any of the cities we’ll be visiting too short. It looks like Devan and I will be spending Christmas 2014 in Vienna, though! I’ve never spent Christmas overseas before, but Christmas in Vienna looks magical and seems like a good way to give a European Christmas a try! Really, how bad could it be?!

Now that “big decision number one” has been determined, the Tripadvisor forums will be one of the places you’ll be able to find me over the next several months. These forums are invaluable tools for seeking out advice from destination experts around the globe. They’re also quite entertaining, since there are typically resident know-it-alls, who are not only very knowledgeable about the destination they claim as their area of expertise, but who also enjoy lacing a bit of sarcasm and wit into their responses to posts, particularly to newbies.

I can't wait to take my own photos in Budapest!
I can’t wait to take my own photos in Budapest!

So much to do…but at least I have a bit of time to get all of my proverbial ducks in a row. Since my son is still incommunicado at Fort Knox Army ROTC training, he is unaware that our Christmas trip destination has been finalized. When he’s allowed to communicate with the outside world once again next month, I’m hoping he’ll be pleased with the outcome of what was the question of the hour. At the very least, I’m sure he’ll be thrilled at the prospect of sampling some fine Czech pilsners!


Continue reading And the winner is……. Prague!