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Tim Foolery

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A Night In Vienna

The return home from my 68 Hours in Singapore afforded me the luxury of a night in Vienna.  While I could have found an alternate route home, it would have cost more miles and eaten into my time in Singapore (or added a day to this trip). I love Vienna.  This Vienna layover was short.  I had 15 hours from the time the door on my inbound flight opened until my outbound door closed.

What would I do with this time?  I had a a beautiful suite at the Hotel Bristol, so just relaxing in luxury was an option.  There were no shows at the stunning Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), so that was out.  I wasn’t in the mood for fine dining experience (shocker, I know!), so what is a guy to do?

The Wiener Staatsoper / Vienna State Opera House.

The Wiener Staatsoper / Vienna State Opera House.

The hotel recommended that I hop on a street car and head out to a huge park on the edge of the City. That’s where the Viennese go when it is hot (and it was 33C when I landed at 19h00).  Splendid idea.  The street car took about 25 minutes to reach the end of the line.  The park was beautiful, very natural, with trails in various levels of manicure which led to a large lake. When I arrived it was getting dark, so not many people were left hanging out.  I spent about 45 minutes walking around, enjoying nature in a fabulous city.  It was starting to get dark and I was afraid I’d get trapped out here in the pitch black – there were NO LIGHTS in this park.

Vienna Erholungsgebiet Wienerberg

Sunset from the Erholungsgebiet Wienerberg

Vienna Nature Preserve

The verdant nature preserve offered a cooling refresh from the heat of Vienna

Heading back on the street car, I rode past my stop up to the Rathausplatz – City Hall Plaza. I figured I’d just walk around and make my way back to my hotel.  What do I hear, once I’m off the Street Car? Music. Laughter. A crowd.  Was this, what Chicagoans call, a Street Fest?

Rathausplatz Vienna

The entrance to the festival – Big Crowd for a Sunday night.

It was! But it wasn’t like a normal Street Fest.  This Platz was not only lined with food and booze vendors, but there was a large screen strung up in front of the Rathaus.  Surrounding the screen was bleachers.  On the screen: A 2002 production of Swan Lake. Yes, a 16 year old recording of the ballet had drawn several thousand Viennese out at 22h00 on a Sunday night. The Platz was electric.

Rathausplatz Vienna

Such a crowd for a Sunday night!

I’m not a huge ballet fan, but I do love warm weather, beer and dining al fresco.  I grabbed a lager, walked around the crowd, yes, even watched part I’d the production.

The most fascinating food booth called to me.  Wienerschnitzel. Made fresh while you watched.  This culinary assembly line kept the crowd as enthralled as the ballet.  It had been about 4 hours since I had the prelanding meal on Austrian, plus the beer, I was famished.

The Wienerschnitzel and Potatoes were amazingly perfect.  Usually I think if this as a cold weather dish, it paired perfectly with the heat, the beer and the fresh air.

Wienerschnitzel or Wiener schnitzel

Wienerschnitzel and Beer!

I had no plans for my time in Vienna, but stumbled upon this absolutely perfect evening.  Music, dancing, food and drink.  Who could ask for anything more?  Have you ever come across a surprisingly great event like this before?  What would you have done with your handful of hours in Vienna?  Would you have relaxed in the beautiful suite or would you have gone out to explore?

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Hotel Bristol: A Luxury Collection Property

After flying all day from Singapore, I found myself in Vienna at 18h30. I had booked myself a room on points at the Hotel Bristol right across from the Opera House. This is the only hotel I’ve stayed in while visiting Vienna. I love it. I even used Suite Night upgrades which cleared a week in advance. These upgrades moved me to an Opera Suite. I’ve been fortunate enough to ONLY stay in the beautiful Opera Suites at the Hotel Bristol.

I arrived straight away from the airport at 19h00, timing on transfers were perfect. Upon check in, the man working reception attempted to down grade me to a normal room because “you are just one person here for one night, you dont need this much space, it is too hot.” He was accurate, it was very hot in Vienna (33C), but I didn’t follow, nor like his logic. After a bit of discussion, he allowed me to stay in my original room.

Opera Suite

This time, my suite was on the third floor, with the same stunning view of the Wienner Staatsoper (Vienna Opera House).

Bristol Hotel Vienna - Opera House

The summer view from my Opera Suite at the Bristol Hotel Vienna

The room was quite warm and being in the room for less than 5 minutes a knock came at the door. It was hotel maintenance. He came to check on the air conditioning. Evidently these large suites don’t cool down as efficiently. He was here to make sure certain doors and windows were closed to ensure the bedroom area was as chilled as possible.

Ah…so that’s what the guy at reception was trying to say…

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Main seating area – a Formal Affair

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Seating and chandelier in the main room

Bristol Hotel Vienna Coffee Service

Coffee Service for a Coffee City

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The romantic fireplace in the Opera Suite

I didn’t spend much time in the room, since I had a flight home before 10h00 the next morning. Plus, I wanted to explore Vienna in the summer.

I slept well, albeit not very long. The hotel is really wonderful. The rooms are so perfectly appointed and the service is always on point. Plus, the views cant be beat!

Bristol Hotel Vienna - Master Bedroom

The Main Bedroom – Luxurious

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The perfectly appointed bedroom in the Opera Suite

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Twin Vanities in the Master Bath

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The large soaking tub

Bristol Hotel Vienna

The separate shower was a bit small, but still quite luxurious.

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Le Chemin Bath Products

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Small Guest Bath in the Opera Suite

Bristol Hotel Vienna

Small Guest Bath in the Opera Suite

Bristol Hotel Vienna

A second bathroom is a lovely luxury in a hotel.

Have you had the opportunity to stay at the Hotel Bristol? How are the standard rooms? What is your favorite hotel in Vienna?

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

I travel to Toronto for business at least once a year. Each of these trips, I am surprised at how expensive hotels are.  It’s tough to find a decent hotel in downtown Toronto for less than $400CAD.  For this trip, I searched and searched and the most inexpensive Marriott I could find downtown was the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown, on Yonge Street.  I’m just a few more nights away from retaining Platinum Status for 2019 with Marriott – so I had to choose a Marriott Property.

I’ve stayed at this hotel many years ago, during a loud and frustrating renovation.  I’ve never heard of a hotel renovation starting before 06h00, but it did. It was torture.  The renovation is now complete and the hotel is quiet again.  I arrived at 11h00 and waiting behind several people attempting to check in.  Each of those guests were reminded that check in was 16h00 and they’d have to come back.  I approached, expecting to drop off my bags and working in the lobby before my meetings.  Without missing a beat, the woman working reception told me my room was available and I could check in immediately.

The groups in front of my, who were denied a room, were still milling about the lobby and became very frustrated and pushed back up to the check in desk, demanding a room.  I quickly headed toward the elevators to the relative peace of my room.

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

The main room of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

The small but utilitarian bathroom of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

I haven’t seen Paul Mitchell products in years

My room was a standard king room on the eighth floor. My view was of one of the dozens of construction sights in Toronto.

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown

View of one of the many construction sites in Toronto

I hadn’t stayed in a Courtyard Marriott in several years. I’d been focusing most of my stays with Starwood, but now that the merger is complete, I’m open to branching out across the super chain.   I slept remarkably well the two nights I was in Toronto – probably the best hotel sleep I’ve had in years.

Have you stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown before?  What is your favorite Marriott property in Toronto?  Where should I stay on my next visit?

Why I Love Toronto

I spend a bit of time each year in Toronto.  Coming from Chicago, Toronto is a very easy city to navigate.  While I do find the comparisons between these two cities to be pretty accurate, there are some things that I think Toronto gets right and Chicago fails.  Here’s why I love Toronto.

Both cities have really great food scenes.  From fine dining to casual street food you can’t go wrong in Chicago or in Toronto.  Canoe, in Toronto has an amazing view that is only matched by the food itself.  The Michelin Guide doesn’t visit Toronto, so you can’t find any official Michelin Starred restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have great options.

The transit in both Cities is great.  I don’t have a car in Chicago and I’ve never needed to rent one in Toronto.  I get everywhere I need to go by foot, streetcar or subway.  Worst case scenario, taxis, or ride share options are plentiful.

Why I Love Toronto

The 3D Toronto Sign in Nathan Phillips Square

Why I Love Toronto

The one thing that I love about Toronto, much more than Chicago, is the diversity.  Both cities have a few million people and a strong immigrant community.  When walking around Toronto, I often hear several language.  Not only do you frequently hear English and French, but it isn’t uncommon to hear Arabic, Hindi and Mandarin.  While these language exist in Chicago, I never hear them when I’m walking around in the central business district.  This worldliness gives Toronto a more cosmopolitan feel than Chicago.  This is really why I love Toronto.

What do you think about Toronto?  Is there just one thing that you really dig about the City that you can’t get back home?  What’s the one thing you suggest to people visiting Toronto?

Need Advice: Argentina Trip

Each year, we travel somewhere for Thanksgiving.  We find it a great time to leave the country as no one is traveling for business that week and most Americans are traveling domestically.  We’ve traveled to Ireland, Mexico City, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Colorado, and Oregon for Thanksgiving.  This year, we are heading south to Argentina.  This will be my first visit to the country, while it will be Mike’s second.

Thanksgiving in Argentina

Thanksgiving in Mendoza, where to go?

So far, we’ve book airfare down to and back from Argentina as well as flights inside the country.  We’ve chosen our cities to visit and the hotels in which to stay.  We’ll be staying in Cordoba, Mendoza and finally a few days in Buenos Aires.  I’ve only made reservations for one meal while we are there too – our final night in Buenos Aires, we are hitting a lovely fine dining restaurant as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I need your help though.  I’m looking for advice from travelers and locals who can tell us great places to eat and wineries to visit.  Frequent readers know that I love a good bike tour, so any recommendations on who to ride while while in Argentina, let me know.

What is the one thing you wish you had done while you were in Argentina?  What about the one thing you wish you hadn’t done?