I am going to divide my Vienna report into several parts. This first one will cover our hotel and the tours we took.
I first read about Pension Pertschy in Frommer's Vienna guide. I researched it on Trip Advisor and on several Vienna hotel sites. We chose this one over several others primarily becaus of location, between the Hofburg area and the Graben, close to St. Stephan and the Opera. Also since our chief reason for coming to Vienna was to see the Lipizzaner stallions perform, this location was perfect. And we felt the price for a double room, bath, and breakfast was very reasonable at E130.
The address is Habsburgergasse 5, 1010 Vienna, and the website is www.pertschy.com, and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It is rated a 4 Star Pension. If I were to go to Vienna again, I would not hesitate to stay here unless in the very hot summer since there was no air conditioning.
The windows of our twin-bedded room opened onto a walkway around an open courtyard. We were on the third floor (fourth in the U.S.), and reception, the lounge, and the breakfast room were on the first floor. Happily there was a small elevator from the ground floor up.
Our room also was furnished with two fairly comfortable chairs, a couple of tables and a large armoire for our clothes. The bathroom had a hair dryer and a tub/shower combination. The one problem with that was that the tub had very high sides and was very deep and could be slippery. Climbing in was done slowly and carefully.
The lounge had comfortable seats, and an old piano had been turned into a computer "desk." Part of the keyboard was replaced by the computer keyboard, and the monitor was in the place of the music holder. Guests could access the Internet with their own provider at no cost. This was a very nice plus for this hotel.
The buffet breakfast was included in the cost, and, foody that I am, I thought it was excellent. I still miss the one kind of brown bread that they offered!
Every day the buffet offered two fruit juices, 3 or 4 kinds of fresh fruit, 3 cereals with several toppings, yogurt, 3 kinds of dark bread and one light, 5 different jams, butter, (which really wasn't necessary in my opinion), 2 cheeses, 4 or 5 types of sausage, and ham. On Sunday they added soft boiled and scrambled eggs and a sweet bread. As I said--an excellent spread, and, of course, writing all that for the second time has made me hungry.
We arranged several tours ahead of time including the Lipizzaner show, which I will write about later.
I accessed the Vienna Cityrama site when I found it in my research since I had used Cityrama in Paris and thought it was good.
Since I had been to Vienna before, I let my traveling companion read about the tours and reserved the ones she chose. I know the same ones can be reserved at the hotel, but we were paying for as much as possible up front. The address I used was www.cityrama.at; then you can go to English. The brochure from the hotel is from a company called Vienna Sightseeing, but the tours appear to be mostly the same as the ones on the Cityrama website.
We chose two and both included hotel pickup though for the first one we had to walk with the escort down to St. Stephan's. The other pick-up was only a block up the street. Also after both tours the main drop-off point was the Opera House, which was very convenient for us.
Our first full day there we took a bus and boat tour of the Danube Valley with a very good guide. First by bus we drove along the Danube, passing several castles including the one where Richard the Lion-Hearted was kept prisoner. At Krems, we boarded the big tour boat for a ride that lasted about an hour and a half. We manaed to get seats outside so that was plesant if a bit windy. The scenery was beautiful.
We left the boat at Melk, and the bus picked us up to take us up to the Abbey of Melk. This is a former royal palace which was given to the Benedictine Monks. After lunch (which I will discuss with restaurants ), we were given a guided tour.
At the present 31 monks live there. They teach in the school, a co-ed college prep school and work in parishes in the area.
The royal guest wing is three floors 200 meters long because of the number of people necessary for a successful royal tour. Many of these rooms are now a museum of the history of the Abbey and the Benedictines. This was very interesting.
The last stop on the tour was the library--wow! It has 12 rooms and 100,000 books. Shelves reached to the VERY high ceilings in the rooms we saw. This is a working library, but books do not go out. Scholars come in.
After the guided tour, we had time to visit the Abbey church. Wow again! Very, very baroque with much gold leaf--ornately beautiful. I believe it is more ornate than the church at the Monte Cassino Abbey in Italy.
The drive home was through beautiful scenery with lots of vinyards.
The next day we took another bus tour. This was a city tour plus Schonbrunn Palace. We also had planned to be let off at the Belvedere, but because of the rain, we decided to go back to he center or town. We had hoped to walk in the Belvedere gardens but felt it wouldn't be much fun. The tour was very good and we had an excellent guide again. However, I urge you if you have the time, go to Schonbrunn on your own. With a guided tour, it is rush, rush, and even in nice weather about all you can do there in the time given is poke your head into the garden. I know because I had taken this tour before. I wish I had stayed with my idea to do this on our own, but we were trying to squeeze in another longish stop in the same day.
There are quite a few more tours available and also a Hop On Hop Off bus. I have done this in Paris and enjoyed it, and with more time would probably have done this.
One disappointment was that there was no tour of the Opera in English at a time we could take it. I did this when I was in Vienna before, and I highly recommend it. The schedules are posted outside the Opera under the portico.
At this time of year many concerts are available. The hotel had several brochures, and also young people can be found in several central areas dressed up and offering tickets to concerts. I did this the last time and enjoyed it very much. However we didn't have time this trip.
Standing room is also usually available for opera performances.
I took one more tour on my own. That was an English language tour of St. Stephan's. I had seen the time on a sign at the church. Again this was a very interesting tour. The history of the church and descriptions of some of its furnishings are fascinating. I love learning about the great churches that I vist.
I will write more in a couple of days about the Lipizzaner performance, other sightseeing we enjoyed, and, of course, the food. I have done enough babbling for one time. But Vienna is a very enjoyable city.
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