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Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Most Instagrammable Places in Vienna

I recently took a quick trip to Vienna and while I didn’t have a ton of time to spend exploring this wonderful City, I did take the better part of an afternoon to just walk around. Vienna is a beautiful City with stunning architecture and a thriving art and music scene – not to mention the food and wine. I found some amazing Instragrammable views this quick afternoon.

After landing and checking into my hotel, I took a quick nap then headed out exploring. I started by heading off to the Museum Quarter and made a large circle around and through the Innere Stadt (Inner City).  Here are some of the more visually interesting places I visited.  These locations would be a great addition to your Instagram or Vero feeds.

Ferstel Passage

Freyung (or Ferstel) Passage is a beautiful shopping arcade constructed in the 1860s. During my visit it was filled with Easter excitement.  The ornate arches were stunning and ended up being my favorite part of this stop.

Kohlmarkt & Graben

The corner of Kohlmarkt and Graben is home to a wonderful pedestrianized roadway and high end shopping. You can spend hours window shopping and people watching.

Staatsoper

The Staatsoper is one of the most beautiful buildings in Vienna. Opened in 1869, this building seats more than 1700 patrons. Not only is this a beautiful building, but it is often surrounded by singers and other musicians.  We heard some amazing performers as we walked by each day.

Small Streets Throughout Innere Stadt

This residential building was near the Jesuitenkirche – Jesuit Church. The small balconies make a perfect living extension into the quiet street. This higher density building still feels like you’ve got your own space. Such a beautiful building.

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is located in the 1st District in Vienna. This former palace is located at the end of Kohlmarkt. I decided to stop off and grab a sausage (and a beer) from a local vendor for lunch as I made my way through the Inner City.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The ornately patterned roof at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna sets this house of worship apart from others throughout Europe. A visit to this cathedral is a must for anyone visiting the beautiful city of Vienna.

Jesuitenkirche

The Baroque style Jesuit Church or Jesuitenkirche was built in 1703. The exterior was quite simple, but the interiors were so ornate. Stop by this inconspicuous building and explore the exquisite ceiling frescoes.

Dominikanerkirche

The Dominican Church (Dominikanerkirche) is another gorgeous Baroque building. Built in 1631, this church is most famously known for his beautiful main altar and frescoes. I spent a while in quiet contemplation here last weekend. Such an amazing space.

Elevated Views of the City

The view from our amazing suite at the Hotel Bristol. We looked out on the Staatsoper / State Opera House along the Opernring. I love the hustle and bustle of the City streets, the clanging of the street cars and the occasional song from the opera singers performing on the streets outside of the Opera House.  You don’t have to have a beautiful suite to get these great shots – you can walk to the top of a church, a hotel or any other taller public space.

What are some of your favorite places to visit and photograph in Vienna? Where should I go on my next trip to this glorious City?

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Fun with Language – When One Letter Makes a Difference

I spent this past weekend in Vienna and while I didn’t exclusively speak German. I did push myself to speak the native language as much as possible.  Choosing to speak German almost exclusively while on the Austrian flights though – a flight attendant even commented that my accent reminded me of her grandparents, who lived along the German border.

I studied German in College for about two years.  I find that the Austrians are pretty easy for me to understand.  They speak clearly and slowly and if I know the vocabulary, I can get by pretty well.  A couple of times on the trip, I struggled with a few words I didn’t know, which reminded me of a Thanksgiving trip to Mexico, a few years ago.

We were heading to dinner in Polanco – a swanky district in Mexico City.  We took the subway from our hotel to the restaurant and as we were sitting down to eat, I decided I really wanted to wash my hands. I needed to wash the subway germs off before I ate dinner…so I asked the waiter.

In High School, I took three years of Spanish. I don’t practice Spanish as much as I do French of German.  I told the waiter that I’d like to wash my hands before dinner — “Me gustaría lavar mi mono antes de la cena.”

The waiter looked at me quite quizzically.  He looked around our dinner table, obviously confused.  He responded with “El baño esta ahi….donde esta tu mono?” I was very confused…but then the waiter switched to English and repeated his previous statement “The bathroom is over there…where is your monkey?”

I misspoke.  Mano is hand Mono is monkey.  This poor waiter, who seemed genuinely confused by my first question, which was actually “I would like to wash my monkey before dinner.”

He was a good sport about it and didn’t make me feel foolish.  We did joke about bringing a monkey to dinner later on in the evening.  One simple letter dramatically changes the intent of the sentence.  Why indeed would I need to wash my monkey before dinner?

What language snafus have you made?  Did you have any truly awful interactions or were they just a little embarrassing?  Share your language struggle stories below!

Trapped in Vienna? Austrian Airlines Strands Thousands.

Yesterday I wrote about the strike by Austrian Airlines employees.  That strike caused Austrian to cancel more than 150 flights, impacting more than 12,000 passengers.  The only flight to the US that made it out on Thursday went to JFK, while the Washington/Dulles and Chicago/O’hare Flights were cancelled.

Evidently, it was pretty hectic and unorganized at the Vienna International Airport midday as thousands of passengers attempted to get rebooked and make it to their final destinations.  By many accounts, if you were going around Europe you were accommodated on other Star Alliance flights, but if you were heading to the US you were basically trapped in Vienna.  Chicago passengers aren’t getting out until the next scheduled flight to Chicago, which is on Saturday.  I will say, there are so many worse places to be trapped than Vienna.

I spent last weekend in that glorious City and do wish I had another day or two to explore.  The passengers impacted by this delay may be eligible for €600 in compensation  (EU Regulation 261/2004). Strikes can be considered an extraordinary circumstance outside of the airlines control,  but if other airlines were flying (which they were), you should file a claim and see what happens.

If you are trapped in Vienna because of the Austrian Airlines Strike, take a trip to Karlsplatz and snag some last minute Opera Tickets. Enjoy the music and the food of Vienna!

Worst case scenario, Austrian Airlines should be providing you accommodations – but do you really want to stay at an airport hotel for a couple of days? I sure wouldn’t.  I’d likely head back into the City, explore, eat wonderful desserts, drink great Austrian wine and just relax (or get work done remotely, if necessary) and file a trip delay claim with the booking credit card.

These types of occurrences are usually pretty rare, and there isn’t much you can do.  Don’t get stressed, sit back, try to enjoy an extra day or two in Vienna. Have you been impacted by the strike?  How long are you stranded in Vienna?  What are you doing to pass the time until you return home?

Austrian Airlines – On Strike?

UPDATE: Looks like the Austrian flights to Chicago and Washington/Dulles have been cancelled. The JFK flight did leave a little more than an hour late. Austrian is currently trying to rebook passengers on other Star Alliance flights. Based on the flight loads and the time of day they started this rebooking process, there will be many US Bound passengers staying an extra night (or two) in Europe. There are so many worse things that could happen on your trip though. If you are stuck in Vienna another night, go back into the City. Grab a coffee and some cake and listen to some of the amazing street musicians.

Original Post:

Those of you who follow me on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Vero) know that I was in Vienna this past weekend. Evidently the Austrian Airlines is having some employment and service issues today. Dozens of flights have been cancelled throughout Europe. It appears that their long haul flights are just delayed.

The flight back to Chicago was delayed two hours and was supposed to (but didn’t) leave at 12h10 (vs. 10h10) – and that announcement was made last night. People are at the airport now and the information presented is that the “Worker’s Council” is meeting and more information will be available in an hours time.

I’d much rather be sitting here drinking champagne than be queued up waiting for a delayed plane because of a possible employee strike.

The website outlining the Flight Status has been just stair stepping the delay. I’m not sure what the underlying issues are with the flight crews, but it is quite a frustrating situation for passengers though.

We’ll have to see if the delay is long enough to trigger a EU Regulation 261/2004 claim – where passengers could be eligible for up to €600 in compensation for a delayed flight.

You can keep up to date on these issues on Austrian’s website, and check flight status here.

Are you stuck in Vienna or an outstation trying to get on an Austrian flight?

Luggage Warranties – Useful or Worthless? My Briggs & Riley Experience

Nicer luggage manufacturers often include a lifetime warranty. Have you ever needed to get your bags repaired and use this warranty? I’ve had a couple of instances where I’ve needed to have some work done – varying degrees of damage and extreme variations of satisfaction.

We’ve used different sizes of Victorinox luggage throughout the years and have had damage pop up, everything from a broken telescoping handle, to a crushed axle and wheel well. For these larger suitcases we’ve had really great results. We’ve dropped the bags off at a travel shop (found on the Victorinox website), paid a nominal fee (usually $25 or $35) and then a few weeks later we get a call that our bag is ready for pickup. We’ve even had the damage bag completely replaced before. I assume the luggage company does a quick cost / benefit analysis and realizes that it’s better if they just replace the bag than doing a repair job, which may just lead to another issue and additional repairs.

I’ve used a Briggs and Riley briefcase for about two years and really like it. It’s been to work with me every day, it’s been on more than 150 flights and while it is a bit worn, it works great. That is until I was walking out of my office one day and the metal clasp that connects the bag to the shoulder strap snapped. Down crashes my bag with laptop, tablet, phone and a bunch of work stuff. Nothing was damaged, but my shoulder strap was useless. I get home and research how to use the warranty, which was really straight forward. Basically, you complete an online form (outlining the issues with your bag) and ship your bag off. Briggs and Riley then completes the repairs and returns the bag to you – the return shipping is on them.

Just two weeks prior a friend was telling me about his roll aboard suitcase that broke and Briggs and Riley did an excellent repair job. He said he’d never buy another brand of travel bags again. While I hated the idea that my bag broke, I was excited to get it fixed.

I sent my bag off and after about three weeks it was returned. Man, was I disappointed. The main issue – the shoulder strap – had been fixed. The clasp had been replaced, but with one that was a different style and a slightly different color. The handles that had started falling apart (which was noted on my repair form) were sewn, but done in such a poor and sloppy fashion, it looks like I sewed it myself. One of the soft overlays on the handles ended up being sliced (perhaps when they opened the box I shipped my bag in). I sure wasn’t expecting a new bag based on the small amount of repair work needed, but I was expecting a bit more care than was provided.

Really shoddy sewing work.

The handle returned sliced.

I repacked this repaired bag and brought it to work the next day. In the elevator a colleague asked what happened to my bag – he had noticed the different color/style clasps. Hmmm – disappointing. I used this bag for the rest of the week, then I had to be on the road – Denver, Dallas, New York, Hartford and back to Chicago. On this series of flights I had THREE people comment on the bag. Two people mentioned the Briggs and Riley lifetime warranty and I should send it off. These people were shocked when I told them this was the work of Briggs and Riley. The third guy commented on the different clasps.

You will notice from the pictures that they are different, but I just thought my frustrated and discerning eye was paying too close attention. I guess not.

Mismatched replacement clips. Surprisingly obvious when on the bag!

I decided to send a note off to Briggs and Riley’s customer service expressing my disappointment in the now mismatched clasps and the poorly sewn handle. Ten days later I got the following note:

Only one of my comments was addressed. I replied to their email. No response. I called  customer service.  The rep took my info and had to go do some additional research then call me back.  I’ve never heard back.  What a disappointment.

I guess at the end of the day, what I’m saying is, buy a bag because you love the bag and it is sturdy – don’t buy a bag because it has a lifetime warranty – you might just end up getting some real crappy repair work and dismal customer service.

Off to the store to find another briefcase.  Do you have any recommendations?