Monday, May 1, 2017

European Adventure 1 - Day 1- Munich/Vienna

Reached early morning in Munich. Dropped off my luggage at the "Kept Luggage".  Walked down to the subway. Took S8 train from the airport to the Munich central station (E-11). About 30 mins and a very scenic journey later I was at the main station. 

Went right away to information, which was upstairs, where the trains went all over Europe, to get my ticket to Vienna. The ticket guy was helpful and told me I should have bought it online for better price and told me to still buy one at Vienna and not here to get a better deal. Okay! So I booked the 9:28 am train to Vienna for E-100! I thought that was expensive, but that is how much it was return also even though I stopped at Salzburg. I also got my Salzburg to Munich ticket there for E-35. Now I just had to buy Vienna to Salzburg from Vienna.  I had now about two hours to kill.

I had to call my bank, Bank of America, as they had locked my ATM card after I used it in Thailand. I should have taken care of it online when I was in India. But here they put me on hold, even though I was calling collect! Finally got my card unlocked, but as usual the bank person did not hear properly and told me the banks where I can take money out from ATM without charges in Venice and not Vienna! Oh the confusion. 

There were plenty of places to eat in the station, just like an airport, but I had my own puris…and I did not have any cash on me, so better to use the card only where absolutely necessary – like the restroom. Everywhere in Munich and Austria they charge for public restrooms. I had to use my card to pay 50 cents! Crazy! But at least they took credit cards!

I sat around until the train came by. It was all quite easy, the platforms were listed and the train originated there, so it was on the platform for 20 mins or so. I found my seat and then realized that if anyone had a Eurorail pass, they could sit anywhere. Good to know.

The train was comfortable – and there were restrooms in there! For no charge! Oh well. I enjoyed my journey to Vienna. I had to go through Salzburg, where I would stop on my way back. The scenery till Salzburg was really pretty. Mountains and lakes and forests. It was beautiful! But after Salzburg it was just flat and normal – one could take a nap – I did not. I arrived in Vienna at 1:35 pm (about 4 hrs later). 

Munich to Vienna
At the Vienna central station, I found the tourist office and bought the Vienna Card (E-21) it was two days of train/bus ride and entry or discount on entry to a number of places. I also got my Vienna to Salzburg train ticket while I was there. Now I was all set with my bookings. My ATM card was still not unlocked, so no cash!

I found the U1 metro to go to Schwendenplatz. With the help of my phone map, I found the hotel. The name was so small on the road that I kept missing it. But otherwise it was less than a block from the subway. There were so many places to eat around there, shopping and more hotels. It seemed like a nice area.
Near the hotel
Checked into my hotel. It was fine, room was okay but bathroom is super tiny! After getting a little refreshed and eating lunch (yes puris again!), I went to talk to the receptionist about any suggestions he had on what to do.  He recommended a classical music concert E-29). I booked it for the next night.

Despite my lack of sleep on the plane from traveling all night and tiredness from all the walking at all the stations, I decided to go sightseeing. It was only about 3 pm. I had the whole evening. So I walked towards Stephens church. The focal point of old Vienna. I remember a little bit from what I had seen before 10 years ago, but a lot of it was hazy.
Stephen's Church
There is one main street to walk on and the rest branch out from it, but it still can be confusing to walk in the beginning. It is hard to get bearings.  Found the church easily, it is too big to miss.  It was getting renovated from the outside.  Anyway….went inside, it was as beautiful as I remember. I stayed around, took pictures.  Then came out and went right in front of it to Graben street.  The funny thing about these streets is that they don’t have the same names as in Google maps sometimes. So I was just going wherever!

I came towards St. Peter’s church. Saw it from outside and kept moving. Went to left from there on to Speigelgasse because I could see “stuff” there. There are many many shops and eating places, big and small, a number of those “touristy” shops. Today was not a shopping day for me. Just walking day. And I kept walking. Walked through a huge square – don’t know Joesphplatz? – it was quite huge! And came to other other side of museum quarter, Heldenplatz. There were a lot of people there; huge museum on the left and just surrounded by architecturally beautiful buildings. There was a band playing live music, so it was a good place to sit, drink water and just chillax for a while before the walk back.  It was only 5 pm – I cannot believe I had seen so much in under 2 hours.
Walked back the same path to go back to the hotel and reached by 6pm. Thought about going out to see the nightlife, but was too tired! I just enjoyed the sunset from my hotel window and went to sleep.

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