Monday, December 15, 2014

Shopping in Vienna (part 1): opening times

Virtually all shops are closed on Sunday and on public holidays. You should check if there is a public holiday during your stay in Vienna to avoid surprises.

Grocery stores in Vienna usually open at 7.30 or 8 am and close at 7 or 8 pm(19h/20h). Bakeries open even earlier, some as early as 6am. Other kinds of shops may open at 9, more rarely at 10am. Shops in general also close earlier on Saturdays.

So what to do if you have an emergency on a Sunday or holiday? There is one grocery store open in each train station and at the airport. You will also find bakeries and other food shops open those days in these places. If you arrive on such a day it may be wise to do some petty shopping at the station or airport before heading to your accommodation.

Museums, palaces and other attractions are unaffected by Sundays and holidays, but they do have some closing days that vary, so it is always a good idea to check beforehand.

Sound levels in Vienna (part 2): noise in apartment buildings

Tenants in Viennese apartment buildings are generally very quiet and they are also very keen on this remaining so..
Legally it is not allowed to make any loud noises like loud talking, laughing, loud tv watching or music or (horrible word coming, don't read if you are overly sensitive)...partying (yuck!) after 10pm (22h) and until 6am.
Importantly, noise made by small children or babies crying are not legally considered as noise, so no worries if you have a small baby or a pair of very active small children.. the latter should be in bed at 10pm anyway.
So if you are a visitor in Vienna and want to know the etiquette, here you have it: keep noise levels low and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while living in Vienna :-)

Air conditioning in Vienna vacation rentals and hotels

Why is there no air conditioning in our apartments? For that matter, why is there no air conditioning in 95% of vacation rentals or even in entire hotels in Vienna?

This is because the bulk of period buildings are protected and special laws apply to their general appearance. This includes a ban on satellite dishes but also the outside units of an air conditioning system. So that was that: no outside unit, no air conditioning.

Since global warming started to really make its effects felt, weather is unpredictable and there are every year a few days with quite high temperatures (35°Celsius or very rarely, even more) in Vienna. Usually totaling about one to two weeks and generally occurring in July or late June.

What to do? Did you know that we have dozens of kilometers of fine beaches in Vienna and that we do swim in the Danube river? Go to the Donauinsel, the Alte Donau or the Gänsehäufel (my personal favorite) for a swim. Water is generally warm 23-24° Celsius. This is totally out of the beaten track (for tourists, there are thousands of Viennese there...)

Sound levels in Vienna (part 1): construction sites

Vienna is much quieter than most big European cities I know. The general noise levels are way lower than in Paris or Rome for example. This is especially the case at night. Generally there is no noise at all at night; streets are starting to empty as early as 8pm (20h), traffic being very reduced.

However, Vienna is also a city that wakes up early in the morning. At 7am there are way more people and cars in the streets than at 8pm... 7 am is also the usual time when workers start their day on construction sites. And of course they will start first thing by doing the noisiest thing possible, especially if you, dear visitor, are sleeping in the building next door :-)

Vienna didn't get that beautiful and clean by chance: there are dozens, hundreds of construction sites all over the noble districts (1 to 9) from April-May to September-October, every year, everywhere. Yes, this is also the season when one likes to sleep with the windows open. There is no escaping this.

What to do?
1/ go stay in an ugly place full of 50's buildings where no construction works occur. Ever.
2/ get some earplugs from a local pharmacy if there is a construction site near your lodging
3/ do what Viennese do: wake up early and get used to it

Wrap up:
- Vienna is generally way quieter than most cities
- if there is noise, it is more likely to happen in the morning and in the summer

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to get a ticket for the New Year's concert in Vienna?

This is a question that many of our guests ask and I didn't have a clear answer until Sara D. an amazing British lady stayed in Concerto and went to the New Year's concert. She was so kind as to give us all the details of the process that she successfully went through.

The New Year's Concert is arguably the single most popular classical concert event in the world. It always takes place in the Großer Saal of the Musikverein, featuring the most famous conductors from all over the world (a different one each year).  Check the Wikipedia page for more information.

First of all, the "official" way of getting tickets involves registering for a lottery: check here the official page of the Wiener Philarmoniker. The probability of winning the lottery is vanishingly small.

Now to the real world possibility to get a ticket, real world meaning deep pockets of course.
There are ticket agencies who work as a middle-man between individuals who want to resell their tickets and the buyer. Sara, after an extensive research, went for But there are other agencies out there; just make sure that they are legitimate (check for reviews, call them on the phone..).

Here is the relevant part of Sara's email:
"The process was very smooth.  Viennaconcerts guarantee that the tickets are authentic and I made a direct bank transfer to the individual selling her tickets.  Even though the tickets are ridiculously expensive, the prices were stable for each category and didn’t keep increasing like they do on bidding sites like ebay.   We also had the option of collecting the tickets from their office, getting them delivered to our hotel, or getting them posted to us by secure courier."

Prices range from 2,200€ to 3,300€, per ticket (!).

I saw Sara and her family the day after the concert and they confirmed it was a once in a lifetime experience; they even managed to get an autograph from Daniel Barenboïm ;-)

This is a steep price to pay for one concert, no matter how good it may be; however Vienna does offer a range of extremely good quality classical concerts the whole year through at very affordable prices. Virtually all Viennese go regularly to concerts and the Opera.

What is your feeling? Have you been to the New Year's concert? Was it worth it?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Great apartments in Salzburg

Going to Salzburg? Check this link to the great apartments of Gabi!

Several of our guests have highly recommended these accommodations.

Tell Gabi we sent you for an extra good welcome :-)