Author Archives: Nicole abroad

All things “hairy” – where to go for your next haircut!

One of the many  challenges in moving to a new city/country (aside from figuring out how to grocery shop and drive!) is finding a good person to cut your hair! Here are a few recommendations of fellow expats in Vienna who searched high and low for their favorite haircutters and stylists!

If your fabulous stylist isn’t on our list, leave us a comment!

1st District:

  • Bundy & Bundy – multiple locations; Marietta in the 1st district speaks perfect English; she does excellent up-do’s as well as cuts.

4th District:

  • Hair Affair – By Karin.  I love my hairdresser Claudia at Hair Affair. She’s great with color, does nice cuts, does beautiful up-dos for balls, speaks great English, is very friendly, and is not expensive. The shop is on tram line 1 by the stop for Johan Strauss Gasse in the 4th district – just about a 10-12 minute ride from Schottentor. Today I had a color, cut, and conditioner for 65 euros. She gets that I want color that is natural. She gets that I don’t want to spend 25 extra euros to dry/style my hair on a warm sunny day. I would love for her to get some new clients – she’s a very hard worker and someone I will truly miss.

9th District:

  • Hair Wolf – many of the staff speak English, stylist Jacky is especially recommended (also speaks Turkish), store carries Redken and Bumble and Bumble products.

18th district:

  • Salon Tampier (no website; English spoken, Tel: 4799920), Bastiengasse 16, 1180 Vienna

19th district:

  • Sandra Fischer’s salon (limited English spoken; bring a picture! Reasonable prices e.g. wash, cut, blow around 50 Euros)
  • Hairbusters – multiple stores but the location in the 19th comes recommended, particularly the hairstylist Oxana (no English; reasonable prices – wash, cut, and blow dry about 40 Euros; she also cuts kids’ hair)

Multiple locations:

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Wien Museum at Karlsplatz

The Wien Museum at Karlsplatz is a great little museum that offers a glimpse of Vienna’s history. There are changing exhibits but the permanent displays include an impressive collection of knights and war exhibits from the Turkish occupation.  Of course, there are lots of paintings to enjoy and kids (and adults!) generally like examining the two miniature displays of Vienna.

Bet you didn’t know:

  • that there is free admission the first Sunday of every month (yes, it’s true – just walk on in!)
  • that there is a kids’ play area right next to the museum’s cafe on the ground floor. Although certainly geared towards the younger kids, this is a great rainy/cold day activity especially since access to the cafe and play area is free – any time and day (it might be closed during special events though). And, on the weekends from 11am on, staff people bring out additional toys for the kids!

For more information:

Escape from Vienna: Baden bei Wien

A few weeks ago, we headed to close-by Baden bei Wien for a night away. By car, it’s about a 40-minute drive but there are also public transport options such as taking the train (20 minutes, train station Meidling) and the tram (about 1 hour, departing in front of the Vienna opera house).

Baden bei Wien is a small and cute town, easily walkable, and literally bordering the Vienna Woods. In fact, we ended up taking a nice hike through the hills since the weather was so unseasonably warm. There is also a big casino which draws a big crowd (just make sure to bring appropriate attire).

Casino at the bottom of the Vienna Woods

Casino at the bottom of the Vienna Woods

Hauptplatz downtown Baden bei Wien

Hauptplatz / main square – downtown Baden bei Wien

Other points of interest include the Beethoven Haus, one of the composer’s many residences that has been turned into a small but interesting museum, the famous Roman baths, and a modern art museum honoring the works by Arnulf Rainer (if you’re not into modern art, visit the museum for its Roman bathhouse architecture).

Beethoven at his house

Beethoven at his house

We enjoyed a great meal at the Italian restaurant “San Marco” right across the Beethoven Haus. There are a number of nice hotels to choose from – we enjoyed our stay and the great breakfast at Hotel Herzoghof, right across the casino and entrance to the park and Vienna Woods. During the warmer weather, there are also a bunch of Heurigers to visit (we sampled great wine at the one closest to the Roman Baths).

All in all, this is a great little get-away from Vienna!

Views from hiking around the Vienna Woods

Views from hiking around the Vienna Woods

Suggested by Nicole

Parents’ Survival Guide for Vienna – Top 8 Reasons to be an Expat with Kids here

*note: this post was originally published at expatsblog.com for its annual writing contest*

Although you may have heard that Austria is not a great place to live with kids because Austrians tend to be “kinder to their dogs than to their own children,” I am here to tell it’s not true. Not true at all. Ok, so maybe some Austrians are a little too lovey-dovey with their dogs and may not absolutely love children (there is always that one grumpy person to give your child a reprimand or that look) but rest assured, Vienna is one of the best places to live with kids! You don’t believe me? Well, read on for the top eight reasons why expat families will thrive here!

1. Online resources: Everything you need to know is at your fingertips – literally. There are a number of fabulous websites dedicated to helping parents navigate fun discoveries. Some of my favorite sites include wienextramamiladequax, and sunny (German only) as well as the following English sites: wien.infoviennababiesclubtrivienna, and citykids. Note that you can sign up for email alerts or RSS feed for many of these.

2. Public transportation – the “Öffi’s” (Austrian abbreviation for “öffentliche Verkehrsmittel”): Vienna is not only a beautiful city but also extremely safe and easy to get around. The public transport system is simply wonderful and quickly gets you where you need to go and as an extra bonus, kids six years and under ride for free. Older kids receive big discounts when using public transport and if you are worried how to get your big stroller onto a tram, rest assured knowing that tram drivers are required to step out and help parents get their strollers and cargo inside (and it’s not uncommon for other passengers to help out).

3. Childcare: While there is some difficulty in finding subsidized childcare for the very young ones, there is an abundance of affordable childcare for “Kindergarten” (preschool/daycare) options for kids aged three to five. The city agency MA 10 governs the public providers and offers subsidies for expats showing proof of residency in Austria. Check out these (German) sites to learn more: kinderdrehscheibekindergarten. Instruction at most of the preschools is in German but there are a few private providers that offer bilingual (German/English) options as well (see the Vienna Babies Club website for more information.

4. Parks, playgrounds, and pools galore! Vienna does not just tease your eyes with its stunning architecture but also has beautiful and fun green spaces for little ones to enjoy. Some of my family’s favorite parks include Türkenschanzpark, Stadtpark, Währingerpark, and Rathauspark. Viennese parks usually offer multiple playgrounds and often a duck pond. A word of caution: be prepared for your hearts to stand still as you watch your little ones navigate the high rope courses on these “adventure playgrounds.” Also, you will need to anticipate (and embrace) the joyful mess that ensues when your kids discover water fountains that pump water directly into the sandpits.

While you will most likely always find kids playing outside, no matter the season or temperature, there are also a number of fun indoor play options scattered around Vienna.  Even though there is generally an entrance fee, these venues help break up those grey, rainy or snowy fall and winter days when you are stuck at home with activity-craving little people! Some of my kids’ favorites include Monki Park, Lollipop, and Family Fun.

And if you want to hit the water, then Vienna is certainly the right place for you! The Danube offers plenty of beach space to allow splishing and splashing during the hot summer days and there are also a number of “family swimming pools” that only allow entry to people with children. And then there’s Dianabad, a real “Erlebnisbad” (experience/adventure pool) in every sense of the word that guarantees a fabulous time for kids of all ages with its many slides, wave pool, floating rivers, and playgrounds in the water!

5. Things to see: Sure you can spend your days here simply wandering the city admiring the beautiful architecture, gazing up at the many church towers, and stepping back to give a horse-drawn carriage the right of way. Or you can do all that in addition to visiting the many interesting museums this city has to offer. Best of all, nearly all encourage young visitors by providing free admission or offering greatly reduced prices. Many museums offer special tours and events for kids and most offer excellent deals for yearly tickets (valid from the date of purchase) so don’t be surprised if you soon find your wallet bulging from all those annual passes.

Some of my favorite kid-friendly museums include the Natural History Museum (with the moving dinosaur), Schönbrunn Zoo (an all-time favorite literally in the backyard of the Schönbrunn Summer Palace), the Technical Museum (aside from trains, planes, and automobiles, there is a big indoor playroom and the exhibits are very hands-on), ZOOM children museum (an interactive museum with changing exhibits and shows), “Haus des Meeres” (the aquarium housed inside an anti-aircraft tower from World War Two), and the interactive “Haus der Musik” (sound museum) that allows visitors to compose their own music and conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra.

If you don’t feel like going to a museum, the kids will love visiting the beautiful Lipizzaner horses in their stables next to the Hofburg/Imperial Palace or spending some time at the Prater amusement park. Yes, there is a year-round amusement park in the heart of Vienna, containing the still operating “Wiener Riesenrad” (ferris wheel) dating back to 1897. Make sure you have some Euros on hand before you arrive, though, as it’s a pay per ride kind of a deal and it’s not cheap!

6. Winter wonderland: I am not going to lie. The Vienna winter days can be long, grey, dark, and very cold. But sometime around the middle of November right up until Christmas, something magical happens. The entire city turns into a Winter Wonderland. Streets, squares, and parks are filled with countless “Weihnachtsmärkte” (Christmas markets) consisting of stands selling anything from beautiful handicrafts and holiday decorations to sweets to food and, very importantly,“ Glühwein” (mulled wine) and punch to help warm up parents’ cold hands. For younger visitors, there are plenty of non-alcoholic warm punches as well as easy kid food (i.e. sausage in a bun or another Austrian favorite, “Langos” – fried bread) and many holiday lights to gaze at. Some markets (check out the one by the old AKH Hospital, Belvedere, and Türkenschanzpark) also offer carousel rides and the market by Karlsplatz has a petting zoo guaranteeing a fun-filled family outing.

And after the holidays, get ready to teach your kids how to ice skate on the “Eistraum” (ice dream) skating rink in front of City Hall from late January through early March. There is even a special rink for little ones and non-skaters that provide plastic penguins for new skaters to hold onto. And of course, if you don’t want to deal with ice skates, just head to your favorite park to build snowmen and sled to your (little ones’) hearts’ desire.

7. Coffee house culture: You can’t live in Vienna without visiting the beautiful traditional coffee houses (daily?). “Wiener Kaffeehäuser” were founded in the late 17th century and increased rapidly during the next 200 years. These Viennese institutions are spread around the city so if your kids are in need of a quick sugar-fix or you need to negotiate to keep them walking, not fighting, or happy for a little while longer, you can safely promise a slice of Viennese pastry heaven. It’s truly amazing the miracles a (huge) piece of “Sachertorte” (famous Viennese chocolate cake) or “Apfelstrudel mit Schlag” (apple strudel with whipped cream) can bring.

8. Beer gardens & Heurigers: Hands down, one of my favorite things about living in Vienna with kids is the abundance of Beer gardens and “Heurigers” (local wineries with restaurants). Did you know that Vienna is the only capital in the world that has vineyards within its city limits? I bet that just won you over to move here in case my top seven reasons haven’t yet!

Even better is that parents can visit these eateries at complete ease – during the warmer months, these places are quite busy and loud and kids can run and play outside among the many benches and tables to their little hearts’ content. And then there are those Beer gardens and Heurigers that provide a playground. You read that correctly; in Vienna we have restaurants that serve (excellent) beer and wine to parents while providing a fun and entertaining playground for little guests. Some of our favorites are Bamkraxler, Heuriger Sirbu, Feuerwehr Wagner Heuriger, and Buschenschank Nierscher just outside the Vienna city limits.

So, when can Vienna expect your family to move here?

Vienna Smartphone Apps

A big THANK YOU to Milcho and Judy who contributed this fantastic post on smartphone apps with relevance to Vienna!

A note to start: some of the reviewed apps come from the Austrian Apple store and others from the U.S. Apple store. To get access to the Austrian store, go to settings, iTunes in Apple store, Apple ID, then View Apple ID, then go to country/region and click change country/region, and find it under “Österreich.” Then you need to check off the credit card and change the zip code to an Austrian zip code (1090, where the Embassy is, for example).  Now you are assigned to the Austrian Apple store.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to have ongoing subscriptions through iTunes, for example, iTunes match, newspapers, etc.  If you have these, you cannot change the store until the subscription expires.

When you want to change back to the U.S. Store, repeat the same procedure and select U.S. instead of “Österreich,” and make sure that you put in back your credit card data and your address.

There is an opportunity if you put in your Austrian debit/credit card for you to purchase paid apps.  But, in general, those on the U.S. store are cheaper since they are in US$ not Euro.

Apple vs. Android: Please note that most of the apps listed here are from the Apple store and thus limited to Apple products/phones. However, Android’s play store has a number of similar app equivalents (sometimes even by the same name so search the playstore; also see the Androis Apps section further down this post).

Austrian apple Store

  • Bank Austria – the English version is not available in stores outside of Austria
  • Handy Parken – enables you to pay street parking fees from your smartphone. See our previous post for more details.
  • 48ers – for the location of the nearest recycling drop-off place, special waste disposal, etc. 

U.S. Apple Store

Transportation

  • Quando – this is a service of Wiener Linien and an even more helpful trip planner. It shows when the next tram is coming and whether it is a handicap accessible one or not  It links with Citybikes and car sharing (Car2Go); add an offline map of the city.
  • Wiener Linien – you still need this one for something else – which is – if you want to buy a ticket and you don’t want to go to the station or a Tabak, or, if let’s say, you are already in the U-Bahn and realize you need to buy a ticket, or you don’t have euros.  You can pay with paypal.
  • ÖBB – this is like Quando but for the Austrian National railway.
  • Bikar – lets you find CityBike rental stations in Vienna and displays live-data of current free bikes and boxes of the stations.
  • Park Zones – to find out if you need to pay for parking or not;  you can pay for parking with this app too but it is not as good as HandyParken. You can look at the small sign on the street, as well, but this more clearly defines parking hours, etc.
  • Westbahn – Westbahnhof trip planner, purchase tickets.
  • My taxi – this app is also popular in the U.S. Licensed private drivers book through smart phones rather than a company dispatcher. Shows real time locations of the nearest taxi, calculates  fare,  favorite driver option, schedule a taxi, and pay with paypal.  You can monitor the car approaching you. Your friend/partner can also monitor your location to estimate your arrival home. Earn miles on Lufthansa. You can request a taxi at a specific time at a specific location.  You can also enter the destination.  The app will show the car is on the way and provide photo and name of driver.
  • Vienna Airport– lets you know where  the shops and restaurants are; allows you to track flights, etc.
  • ÖAMTC – this is the Austrian motor club, like the AAA in the U.S.  Even with a vignette, certain bridges and tunnels require payment. It’s great for monitoring live webcams for travels during bad weather to check on delays, road construction, etc.
  • ASFINAG – same as ÖAMTC, but can also pre-pay for video tolling, locations of nearest rest and fuel stops
  • OMV – filling station finder. There is also a pay app for OMV all around Europe.

Dining

  • Vienna Eats – Vienna’s most comprehensive restaurant guide gives you an excellent overview and detailed information on restaurants, bars, pubs and even the world-famous “Würstelstände” (sausage stands) in Vienna and selected restaurants all over Austria. This is a free food/restaurant app like “Yelp”.  If you upgrade for $6 per year, you also get menus, directions and reviews.
  • Wurstlas -all the Wurstel stands around Vienna! They are mapped, rated, hours, photos.
  • Mjam – order restaurant delivery service and pay via paypal.

Other

  • iTranslate – speak English into the phone, press a button and the phone speaks German back. Written translation displays on the screen.
  • World Lens – point your smartphone camera at a sign or other text and it will translate, in real-time, to your target language on your screen.
  • Gretl goes: Vienna – partly free audio tours in English for major tourist sights in Vienna.  You can even plug your phone into the car and drive your visitors around on your personal tour.
  • Open times Austria – it’s 10PM and you are looking for the duty pharmacy, or you don’t know when the store or bank or bakery near you closes, check this app.
  • Weather.at – needs no explanation, check the weather!
  • Prater – shows where you are in the huge and magnificent Prater Park.
  • Cars2Go – smart car rental service within Vienna.  Register an account and then borrow a car using your smartphone to find an available car and unlock it once you get to where it is parked.
  • Routex – helps map and navigate. Note this is not an app, but you can save it to your desktop and it will be kind of like an app.
  • Vintage Vienna – if you want to know a little bit more about Vienna, this online book, part is for free, the whole book is $10 is a great deal.  It contains fascinating, historical, then and now photos of Vienna and descriptions.

Paid Apps

Android Apps

A final note: The Open source data of the City of Vienna offers tons of data, so new apps are only a matter of time away! Email us if you know of new apps or ones we may have missed!