A Whirlwind Vienna Adventure …

By the time you read this I’ll be in Vienna!

I’ve been invited by Austrian Airlines and the Vienna Tourism board to join them on a whirlwind “highlights” tour. A kind of wet-your-appetite-we-know-you’ll-be-back, kind of thing.

I’m looking forward to a fun few days. It will be three-night, whirlwind adventure. Wheels hit the tarmac in Vienna around 8am, local time, and we’re off. But I’m not worried because I have my jet-lag strategy all worked out.

I leave New York at about 6pm ET, with a duration of  8.5 hours. I want to be as fresh as possible when I land in Vienna, therefore I will forgo the in-flight entertainment (which is a bummer because I love watching all new movies), take a sleep aid and hit the sack. (Which, by the way, will be in a fully reclining seat because I’ll be in biz class. Score!)

I’ll probably be a tad groggy when we land but I’ll be more in sync with Vienna time, which is the goal, and less likely to feel jet-lagged later.

I’m staying as a guest of the Ritz Carlton, in the city center on the Ring strasse, a circular boulevard that runs that is a tourist attraction all on its own, with many of the city’s historic landmarks, palaces and museums along its route.

The benefit of staying at a lux hotel, is that my packing got a lot easier. I’m leaving my hairdryer, shampoo and conditioner at home, knowing my room will have them, and of a quality that won’t make me wish that I’d brought my own. Plus it cuts down on the bulk in my small carry on.

Gloriette at Schoenbrunn-Photo: Harald Kalasek

I’ll be working on some client business too, so I’m bringing my computer and my Roost—a collapsible travel stand for my laptop. It raises the computer to eye level so that I’m not looking down at the screen. Before the Roost, a few hours of that and my neck and shoulders were a mess.

My itinerary is pretty aggressive, but I do have a few hours here and there on my own, so if you’ve have any recommendations, I’d love if you would put your suggestions in the comments below.

Here’s a brief overview of the main attractions:

A walking tour of the Ring strasse: It’s supposed to rain so we’ll see how this goes. I packed my waterproof poncho and prepared to make my handy-dandy SLR cover if necessary.

I’m going to learn how to waltz at the famed Elmayer school. Not that I see the need to waltz anytime soon, but I think it will be fun to learn.

Photo: Vienna City Tours

On Wednesday, I will visit the renowned Spanish Riding School. Home of the world-famous Lippizan horses. I. Can. Not. Wait. Little known fact: I had a horse for seven years. A gorgeous Swedish warm blood named Mikado with the personality of a puppy dog. I studied dressage (think ballet on horseback), which is a highly skilled form of riding, of which, he and I were just novices.

The Spanish Riding School is THE epicenter of classical dressage. For me, this is like watching Spielberg in action if you’re a movie fan. The School’s white Lippizan stallions are absolutely gorgeous, superb athletes and spectacularly graceful. The riders aren’t half bad either (wink). I am beside myself with glee that I’ll be able to see them in person. The school offers public performances on the weekend but since I leave on Friday, I’m going to see a training session which, as a former rider, that is just fine by me.

Susan Portnoy camera bag for Vienna

5D Mark 3 with 24-105mm lens attached; 16-35mm, memory cards, external hard drive (2TB)

The Schönbrunn Palace is on the schedule. It’s like Versailles if you’re in Paris, the White House if in D.C.; It’s a must-see. There I’ll view a special exhibition: “Franz Joseph – Man and Monarch.” I know next to nothing about Viennese history. This should give me a little primer, along with the rest of my visit. Here’s a blurb I was sent about the exhibit.

“The 21 November 2016 will mark the centenary of the death of Emperor Franz Joseph, who ruled over the Habsburg Monarchy for sixty-eight years.

The focus of the exhibition will be on Franz Joseph as man and monarch. This part is dedicated to Franz Joseph as an individual. The focus of the displays in the impressive temporary exhibition space on the ground floor of Schönbrunn Palace (the Bergl Rooms, White and Gold Rooms and the Crown Prince Apartment) will be on his ancestors and descendants, his childhood and upbringing, and the major events in his life, particularly his ascent to the throne in 1848, his betrothal and marriage to Princess Elisabeth in Bavaria (better known as Sisi), and the Compromise with Hungary and its consequences.”

I’ll also partake in the coffee-house culture at Café resident at Schöbrunn, which should be a hoot since I don’t drink coffee. Starbucks is just a place I go to wait with friends when they want a super-duper latte, skim, know whatever.

And, of course, I look forward to eating myself silly. I’m going to pretend that all the walking around that I’ll do will justify the glutton I’ll be later. I have reservations at the Dstrikt Steakhouse at the Ritz, Lugeck Figlmüller, and Wolf.

On my last day, I’m going to walk around a bit—let serendipity be my guide. For anyone that read my “How to Pop Your Travel Bubble and Get More Out of Your Adventures,” you know that taking making time to walk around and explore is a great way to better connect with a destination and the people who live there.

danube-canal Photo: Harald Kalasek

This is not a photo-centric trip like Cuba or my safaris in Africa, but I’m bringing my Canon 5D Mark 3 and two lenses anyway. Considering I’ll be inside a lot and on the street, my 16-35mm f2.8 lens should do nicely for rooms where I’ll need a wide-angle. On the street I’ll use it at 35mm. I’m also bringing my 24-105 f4 as a backup. I have a small Lowepro backpack that I’ll use to carry everything.

I’ll share more when I return.

Until then my friends,

Auf Wiedersehen.

(P.S. I don’t speak any German, and I don’t have an ear for it like other languages where I can at least mimic the pronunciation pretty well. It also takes me twice as long to remember how to say hello and goodbye and thank you. But it’s important I try, no matter how much I butcher the language. To all the people I meet in Vienna, I apologize in advance. )



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