Vienna’s Belvedere Palace and Naschmarkt

The final day of our visit in Vienna found my group of 11 travelers and I storing our luggage at our hotel and spending most of the day exploring Vienna!  Now that everyone had made friends and were a bit familiar with Vienna, people began to explore in smaller groups.  Because there were six solo women travelers, including myself, I switched everyone’s rooming partner each time we changed locations, so that we could get to know each other better.  One of the other ladies and I headed out to see the palatial Belvedere Palace

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I didn’t know what to expect and was quite impressed!

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Biking and wine tasting along the Danube River

One of my favorite experiences during the month I was in Europe was an 18 mile bicycle ride along the Danube River in the Wachau Valley winegrowing area, stopping at wineries along the way.  I booked it through a company called Vienna Explorer.  They take you by train to a town called Krem, located about an hour from Vienna, where you are fitted with a bicycle, complete with a handy basket in front and helmet, if you’d like.  The ride is fairly flat and takes you through a couple of picturesque Austrian villages.  At times, you are next to a busy road or passing other cyclists on narrow side walks, but for the most part, it’s quite soothing and safe.

This is one of the stops and as you can see, we had wonderful weather!

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We stopped for lunch and exploration in the charming UNESCO town of Durnstein!  Looks like a loaf of bread to me…

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Next stop…Vienna with someone else’s luggage

The day before this photograph was taken, my group of 11 travelers and myself took a tram and train from our hotel in Prague to the train station in Vienna.  When I purchased the tickets via the Czech Republic train system online (discovered through the amazing site covering world-wide train travel…The Man in Seat 61), I knew I had to wait until 60 days before the travel date to purchase all 12 of them.  Because I had budgeted a certain amount of money based on the least expensive train tickets, I also was aware that it was necessary for me to be online and ready to secure them as soon as the window opened up.  Although I was poised and ready when the window opened, I was forced to choose two different times for the group to depart, within an hour of each other, splitting us into two groups of six each.  I’m telling you all of this to lead up to my funny (although not at the time) train travel story and in case it helps you with your travels.

While still in Prague, I gave everyone their train ticket and their 72-hr. transport card that I had purchased online and that was mailed to me, for their use while in Vienna for all trains, metro, and buses.  The 72-hr. card is especially handy for travelers so that you don’t have to buy a ticket each time you want to use the metro, a bus or tram, and one only needs to validate it once (which entails sticking it into a machine that places a stamp on it).  When my group of six arrived to the train station in Vienna, we stopped at the ATM to withdraw money with our debit cards, and we found the next train we needed to take that would deposit us within a block of our hotel.  I had verbally told everyone and typed the information on the Itinerary, to remind ourselves to validate the card  once before use, to avoid a hefty fee if discovered without the validation.  So, of course we board the train and before we even sat down I remembered, so I loudly announced for everyone to get off NOW!  You may think that’s not a big deal, but when the trains are crowded and you’re heaving a large suitcase (like me), then it can be a hassle.  We all disembarked and one of the travelers took our tickets to the validation machine, brought them back, and since the train was still there, we all got back on!  But…that’s not the end of the story…

If my memory serves me, this particular train ride was only about 10-15 minutes long and just before getting off, one of the ladies says, “This isn’t my piece of luggage”.  I look at her as the blood is draining from her face and immediately reassured her that everything would be alright.  We emerged from the depths of the train tunnels and walked down the street to our hotel.  As soon as I told them my name at the front desk, the Reservations clerk informed us that the Manager from our last hotel in Prague was on his way driving the three hours to Vienna to pick up the piece of luggage that they had mistakenly given her and replace it with her piece.  Because we had to check out of the hotel in Prague before leaving for the train station, we left our luggage in their storage room and when she went to pick up her’s they gave her the wrong piece!  It all worked out though!  The mystery is…how did the hotel in Prague know where we were going to???

The following day we followed the Itinerary and walked to the Hofburg Palace Complex, which is the official residence of the President of Austria, and where the Spanish Riding School is located.

This photo was taken in the Complex area…

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European Vacation: 9 Countries, 10 Cities, 27 Days, 12,500 miles

Having just returned a few days ago from my month-long European Vacation, I’d like to share a photo from each of the ten Cities I traveled through.  I’ll be going more in-depth in future posts about my experience of taking a group of travelers through Europe, my feelings and thoughts, challenges and delights!  The photos are in order of Cities visited…

Here’s most of the group (a couple of people’s flights were delayed or missed) (for the Eastern Europe portion) in front of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

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Within the Hofburg Palace Complex – Vienna, Austria

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Let’s go to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest!

Planning a trip for yourself is one thing, but when you’re planning for a group of 12, the importance of a solid travel itinerary is essential!   I’ve spent over 100 hours planning an 11 night trip for May of this year to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, traveling from City to City via train.  I’m so excited!  I’ve longed to visit Eastern Europe and am giving a presentation to my travel meetup group next week, to see who would like to join me!  After checking how much other travel companies charge for a very similar trip, my group will be very pleased to discover how economical it will be…at almost half the cost.  I plan on staying an extra week to travel to Berlin and Amsterdam and hopefully Couchsurf!

With the weather so cold, its been the perfect time to get all of this planning finished!  I took these photos the other morning…

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You can barely see the sun peeking through the pine trees here…

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I’ll post the itinerary for everyone when we get closer! xoxoxo

 

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