Our connecting flight from Iceland landed in Frankfurt, Germany – the closest city to Budapest that WOW Air flies to. I gave us two nights in Frankfurt to get over our jetlag, explore a bit of the city and (ironically) allow time for delayed luggage to catch up with us. The irony, of course, is that we DID have a delayed bag, but my two nights and a day were not enough time for it to catch us. So much of our time in Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon and most of Monday were spent shopping. Our traveling clothes were geared to the chill of Iceland, and in late May, Frankfurt was HOT. I bought a cotton dress right away to keep from melting.
Frankfurt stores are closed on Sundays, so for day two, we had to make do. We spent the day visiting the Deutsches Filmmuseum and the rebuilt town square, which Chad dubbed “Twee Town.” On Monday, we were forced to do some heavier shopping because there was still no word on my bag. Forced is the word I use because neither of us really like shopping. But we were able to get what we’re needed and are still awaiting word on whether WOW Air will reimburse us (processing takes 7-8 weeks) and are filing a claim with our travel insurance, World Nomads, in case they don’t.
Highlights from Frankfurt include an unexpectedly excellent German meal at Restaurant Klosterhof, idling by the Main river, and watching the first 30 minutes of Liverpool’s Champions League final. We stayed in a good budget hotel, Hotel Münchner Hof, near the main train and bus station. My review is below.
We arrived in Vienna following a 10-hour overnight bus ride on Flixbus. This actually worked out well – it was more comfortable than an airplane and we were both able to sleep most of the night. Upon arrival, we headed out to the Vienna airport to retrieve my suitcase, which had finally been found and forwarded on. From there, we had the good fortune of being able to check in early to our hotel, the Kolping Wien Zentral (review below) and we were off to sightsee.
We took the metro out to Schönbrunn Palace, which had been the imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs. A note on the metro – it is operated sort of on the honor system, so you buy a ticket from the machine and validate it on the way in. But, it is checked by officials who periodically wander through the cars and ask to look at your ticket. This happened to us once on the half-dozen or so rides we took. Luckily we’d purchased 48-hour passes and always had them with us.
Schönbrunn Palace is really impressive. We bought the Classic Pass, which included the full audio tour of the main palace rooms and entry to the gardens and labyrinth, as well as the top of the Gloriette, the “triumphal arch” that towers about the garden. We spent about 3 hours at Schönbrunn, which was just right. We learned a lot about the House of Habsburg and the Austro-Hungarian empire, especially the reign of Marie-Therese and later of Franz-Joseph and his wife, Sisi.
Our second day in Vienna is when I really fell in love. After a solid Viennese breakfast at our hotel, we walked toward the other Habsburg Palace, the Hofburg. The first corner we rounded was absolutely magical, with perfect European architecture and an old brick street. It didn’t take long until we were in the Museumsquartier, with its magnificent buildings, gardens, and statues. We spent the rest of the morning wandering around, ending up in the Donaukanal neighborhood walking along the Danube (“Blau Donau”).
Later in the afternoon, we went by metro to Donauinsel, an island in the middle of the Danube with hipster beach clubs and lovely walking paths. The best moment of our time in Vienna was sitting at the fountain in front of the Karlskirche after dinner late that night with the buzz of conversation all around us.
Our final morning in Vienna we went out early back down to the Hofburg to check it out without all the crowds. It was lovely and I highly recommend the early morning stroll. I really fell hard for Vienna with its beauty, charm, and ease of living.
Despite the mishap with the luggage, we are settling in nicely to full-time travel and love being in central Europe. Some of our best times have been the meals we’ve eaten – we’ve traveled the globe in food. In Frankfurt, we had German, Mexican (nachos pollo, not as good as home), Vietnamese and Turkish. In Vienna, we enjoyed Middle Eastern from the Naschmarkt (where we got “touristed” into buying way more food than we wanted – watch out for the big portions they try to sell you!), Japanese (60% off sushi to-go!) and Austrian. I think we are making the most of our new lifestyle.
Frankfurt – Hotel Munchner Hof – Great value near Frankfurt train station
This hotel is a great value, very close to the main Frankfurt Train Station. All the employees were very friendly, our room was a good size and even had a mini-fridge. The breakfast was a good value for the money too. There are a ton of shops and restaurants nearby and it is an easy walking distance to museums and the lovely park along the Main River. The only slight negative was that the room’s old-style key had a lot of bulk to carry around.
Highly recommend; in fact, we will be back in September!
Vienna – Kolping Wien Zentral – Great hotel for sightseeing in beautiful Vienna
This hotel is a very good value. The room felt spacious and had plenty of storage. Although there was no AC, with the windows open we didn’t require the fan. The included breakfast was great and we thought the location was perfect – easy walk to the U4, which goes to main tourist attractions, and not a bad walk to U3. Very close to the Naschmarkt, which was interesting. Plenty of dining and entertainment options in the area. We especially liked Oishi, the super-cheap to-go sushi place across the street. Because their wifi setup limited the number of devices you could have online and would occasionally bump us off, we didn’t find this to be a great business hotel.
Both hotels were reserved at Booking.com. If you’ve never used that site, using this link to book your first stay will earn a $20 reward for you and me: https://www.booking.com/s/34_6/12d8419f