We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I recently returned from 2 weeks in Austria and the Czech Republic. We were taking a trip to Prague to see my niece compete in a Under 18 international hockey tournament. Since my sister lives with her family in Vienna, we felt the best solution was fly to Vienna, stay a few days, rent a car, drive to Prague, take in some sights. We left the boys at home to care for the dog, watch the house and earn some income before heading back to school, and jetted off to Vienna.
Upon arrival, we were told to take the CAT (City Airport Train) into Wien Mitte station, and grab a cab. Not knowing the city, this was our solution, and it paid off. Cabs are expensive, but our cab driver gave us great information about using public transport, and helped us figure out what parts of the city to see. A wonderful fellow, he was a graduate of U of Cal Santa Barbara and spoke perfect English. Gave us insight on how cabs operate, what to be careful of so we didn't get ripped off, etc. It's amazing how much information can be shared in a 15 minute cab ride. I didn't think a picture of the subway was enticing, so I'm opting for a view of the city from the high swing at the Prater (I wanted to ride the ferris wheel from The Third Man, but that took too long, so we hopped on the swing):
Vienna's subway, like many in Europe, operates on an honor system. You purchase a ticket (single ride, daily, 3-day, weekly - various tickets are available) and as you enter you voluntarily get it punched with an activation date. If you are caught without a ticket or an unvalidated ticket (known as 'riding dark'), you can be subject to a 100 Euro fine. They particularly like catching tourists, I'm told (though I never saw any of the ticket checkers). We were only there for 3 days, but for some reason the weekly was cheaper than the 3 day pass. I'm not sure what the reasoning behind that flaw in pricing is - but it works for me.
These tickets work on all public transport. Vienna has a subway (U-Bahn), trams, and 'fast trains' - which are just standard commuter trains which run between cities and towns, but happen to make multiple stops in Vienna itself, so can be utilized as part of public transport. The U-Bahn has U-1 through U-6, but only 5 lines. Apparently U-5 is currently being built (our AirBnb landlord clued us in to this anomaly).
The system is remarkably easy to use, as long as you know the end station of the line you're looking for. However, not all trains end at the final station, some stop beforehand. If you miss this finer point, you can easily hop on the wrong train (as I did once) thinking it's going in the right direction when it isn't.
What's more difficult is knowing where all the different systems (fast train, U, and tram) all overlap. There are no easy maps to sort that out. As you'd expect, my brother-in-law points out, there's an app for that. You simply put in the stop you want to leave from and where you want to go, and the app tells you which trains and connections, and how long it will take.
I'm a map fanatic, so naturally I carried my map of Vienna with me everywhere, and the small U-Bahn map resided in the lower corner of it.
What really intrigued me, as a New Yorker, was the simplicity of the subway map. New York is much larger and more complex than Vienna, yet I find New York subways very easy to use. Many people don't. I have also had lived in London and found that system remarkably easy to use. It seems the major difference in ease of use between New York and other cities like London and Vienna is the map. As easy as I find New York's to read and navigate, it's a disaster compared to many other cities.
Vienna, however, is a very walkable city. There aren't many points you can't walk to or from as long as you inside or near the ring roads or 'garter roads' which circle the city.
In fact, we rode our tram to the very end of the line for lunch, then walked back to take in some of the local environment. It's a fascinating city with a great history. I am not surprised that it is considered one of the best cities in the world to live in.
Austria is wonderful. I visited this summer, and was so impressed by the beautiful countryside, lovely cities, the history, culture, music, food, and great people. We travelled by car and it was easy enough to get around.
I love subway maps too. There is a nice iphone app called "Allsubway" which will show you subway maps for cities all over the world -- price is one dollar. Its fun to scroll through although the maps can be hard to read on a phone.
there is a wonderful small library in a building not far from the area around the large main library. This library is on the second floor of a smaller building and it is a private library open to the public--magnificent. Should be in the Fodor's book
Mrs. Bulldog was lucky to have my sister living there. I was lucky to have my brother-in-law.
My brother-in-law, like me, is a history buff and was happy to show me all over, to my wife's chagrin. However, he also arranged for us to go to the Vienna Derby, Rapid Wien vs. Wien Austria.
We were Rapid 'fans' - and they won 1-4 (they were the away team). Of course, our seats were right next to the small riot which occurred....so we had to leave hurriedly.
While we were at the match, my sister took my wife, and sister-in-law on a walk from the top of the hill where the Turks were routed by the Poles years ago. History was not their goal, though. Vienna is surrounded by vineyards, and they walked through the vineyards back to the apartment, stopping at each to relax and have some local wine (which I was told is quite delicious).
So everyone wins. So much to do there, so enjoyable.