“Wait, where’s her coat?” I could see the snowflakes curling softly through the trees to alight on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. Though I usually pack for every possibility—including an unseasonable April snow—my daughter’s winter coat was nowhere to be found.
My husband stared at me, eyes glassy from jet lag, “I think we left it on the plane.” I sighed. It was Good Friday, none of the shops would open until Tuesday. What would we do?
When I first added Vienna to my bucket list, I planned on long afternoons in cafes drinking weissgespritz (white wine spritzers) and eating every imaginable form of cake. I pictured dressing up in a ball gown and attending an opera in a hall with gilt chandeliers. I did not picture swaddling my jet-lagged 2-year-old in two shirts, one scarf and two blankets just to go pick up pastries and coffee – or having to race through Stadtpark to get a glimpse of the spring blooms before they became covered in snow.
Still, despite the jet lag, the language barrier and the weather, we enjoyed our family trip to Vienna over Easter more than almost any other we have taken so far. We realized we could be resourceful with our clothing, and our daughter had the opportunity to visit her uncle, whom she had met only three times before. I found that necessity could improve my dormant command of German. Our daughter expanded her culinary vocabulary and started requesting spaetzle and wurst. And without this trip, I never would have imagined at my 2-year-old sharing and playing effortlessly with local children, and sticking out her tongue to sample a Viennese snowflake.
Travel always seems to teach me something. Now it can teach my daughter as well. That’s a lesson well worth a new winter coat.
The ROAM Report: Vienna, Austria
- Travelers: Evie (age 2), her parents Maggie and Michael, her grandmother and her two aunts
- Date: April 2017
- Itinerary: We stayed for five nights at the Vienna Marriott. We also stayed one night at the Vienna Ritz-Carlton, where the bellhops and doormen kept stuffing candy into my bag, “for the little one.”
- Budget: About $7,000 for the trip for three, including airfare from Los Angeles via Paris.
THE GOOD STUFF
Riding on the Metro. Though my daughter generally does not like being in the stroller at home, I think she was a bit too tired to complain in Vienna. The stroller made our lives much easier. Public transportation in Vienna was very kid-friendly and featured designated stroller spots on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn.
Vienna Haus der Musik. Three rambling floors filled with musical inspiration. The museum even had an opportunity to virtually conduct the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as an interactive children’s concert in which the children stepped and moved their arms to influence the story.
Zoom Kindermuseum. We had to reserve our time slot about six weeks in advance and everything was in German, but our daughter did not want to leave! For her age group (Zoom Ocean), the museum featured a giant indoor playground with a ship and ocean theme. She could man the helm, stoke the fire in the furnace room, crawl into the bunks below deck, and walk among all the fish and octopi.
Easter Markets. Though we had heard extensively of the Christmas markets over the winter holidays, we had no idea Easter markets would be so popular. We visited one in the center of the city and one at Schonbrunn Palace. Both had children’s arts and crafts, gluhwein (mulled wine) or Aperol spritzes for the adults, and lots of local handicrafts.
Naschmarkt. Even though snow threatened while we ate at an Indian stand, all of us enjoyed seeing all of the different food stands (120 in all) and wandering outside.
Apfelstrudel mit Shlag. My best memory was watching my daughter eat apfelstrudel mit shlag for the first time. She tried a little of the whipped cream and apples, and her eyes lit up bright and wide. Even when she was tired, she was a food adventurer, happy to try new foods like griessnockerlsuppe or bratwurst. We could not get enough of the cafes and cake.
The International Language of “Toddler.” At the playground in the Stadtpark across from the Vienna Marriott, my daughter ran around with a huge smile on her face for almost two hours, playing with loads of local children even though she couldn’t speak any German.
THE NOT SO GOOD
Fertile Flowers. My daughter was stung by a bee just outside the Schonbrunn Palace, so we did not get to visit the gardens there. Too bad, I think she would have enjoyed the beautifully designed labyrinth and play area there.
Holiday Closures. Though many attractions were open over Easter (the Haus der Musik, Schonbrunn, Zoom Kindermuseum), shops were closed from Easter Saturday until Tuesday morning—and my daughter didn’t have a coat for the snow. We just dressed her in layers upon layers of other clothes and she was perfectly fine. Once the shops did open, we were able to find some very affordable and cute winter clothes for her.
Stephansdom. My daughter declared the cathedral “too dark,” but it really was beautiful. Maybe when she is older we’ll try the crypt tour. Boo!
Jet Lag Plus Expensive Tickets Plus Toddler. We had bought tickets to hear the Vienna Boys Choir sing at Easter Mass at the Hofburg palace chapel. Due to the ways that things happen when children and adults are jet-lagged, we arrived a bit late. My daughter was hungry, so she and I stepped outside to wait by the entrance to the chapel. I fed her some snacks while we watched the mass on the television.
GOOD TO KNOW
Stay Flexible Apart from the Zoom Kindermuseum, which required a reservation, otherwise, I had no strict “must-do list.” I kept a list of ideas of places to go and where everything was located. We did whatever we felt up to that day, and whatever worked with naps. Again, many shops were closed for the Easter holiday, but many restaurants were open. We checked with the hotel concierge regarding dining options.
Good Resources The most helpful information I found was on the Vienna Now website. I also bought a small Rick Steves map of Vienna, so we could find our way around and on the metro without needing the international data plan.
Maggie Torsney-Weir, February 2018
After volunteering in African hospitals and voyaging around the tip of South America, Maggie now stays closer to home as a doctor and mother of one. She and her husband focus on weekend escapes and one big trip a year.
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Keywords: family vacation, family travel, travel with kids, vienna with kids, austria with kids, family vacation to vienna, vienna for easter, spring break, spring break europe