Tag Archives: kids

Day trip to Kahlenberg

One of the most visited day trip locations near Vienna is Kahlenberg. It has a vast view of the city and lots of easy hiking trails for the whole family.

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The drive to the top is also easy or you can choose to hike.

 

For more information see: Heavenly views from the Kahlenberg

And http://www.kahlenberg.eu/en

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Waldseil Park

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Waldseil Park in Kahlenberg is a great place for a family day trip. It’s almost as adventurous as Zip Lining, but well organized, and quite safe.

They have a English language website for the latest information: http://www.waldseilpark-kahlenberg.at/en/

 

 

 

Everything you will ever need to know about Garden Village Bled

Garden Village Bled provided the backdrop for our first time “glamping” experience this past week. It falls somewhere in between hotels and camping, with wooden treehouse living and large “glamping” tents at its core.  Garden Village Bled is located a mere 5 minute walk to Lake Bled and the Pletna boat landing that takes you to Bled Island, making it a prime location.  I would consider it an eco-tourism resort and you will see why.

The receptionist welcomed us with a free drink in the restaurant.  The tables have square plots of grass planted into them.  The restaurant has a series of bridges crossing over small streams.  Every morning a bountiful all you can eat breakfast was served to include eggs or omelets made to order, croissants, Italian meats and cheeses, bread, cereal, coffee and juices.  This is included in the price of your stay.  Dinner is not included, but they cook traditional Slovenian cuisine.  If you catch fish in their stream, they will cook it for you.

Grass anyone?

Grass anyone?

The receptionist guided us through the outdoor area adjacent to the restaurant which included an infinity pool that looked like a pond, a play area for small children and a fire pit surrounded by a cushioned bench as well as largeglamping tents (6 total).

Infinity pool/pond with a treehouse in the background.

Infinity pool/pond with a treehouse in the background.

 

The fire pit was enjoyed by all when the temperatures dropped during our stay.  From there, she led us down to the pier with its rushing stream of water (quite pleasant at night) where you could see various smaller tents (9 total). And up above, six wooden tree houses filled the sky.

Stairway to Heaven

Each treehouse has either a staircase or ramp that takes you up to the house.  A large wooden key opens up your castle in the sky. A balcony encircles the treehouse with a table and chairs for you to enjoy the outdoor environment.

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Inside is a small two-story living area.  The first level includes a bed situated within what I would call a cubby.  It was large enough for two adults.  There is a TV, a table surrounded by wooden benches, a small bathroom with a shower, and a small “kitchenette” (more on that later). WiFi was available and there were many plugs concentrated in certain areas in case you needed to charge your phone or other electronics.

1st Floor - Bed within a cubby. The bar is removable.

1st Floor – Bed within a cubby. The bar is removable.

A ladder leads you to the second level of the treehouse where a hammock/net stretches out above the first floor.  Our children were more than thrilled and I have never seen them read so much in their lives.  I attribute it to that nook created by the net. A bean bag chair sits adjacent to the net and another bed for two people is found around the corner from the net.  There are plenty of shelves available for storage.

Very happy kids in their loft area

Very happy kids in their loft area.

The kids marveled that many aspects of the house were made using the science of simple machines.  The windows open and close via pulleys.  The lock on the bathroom is not on the door, but rather it is a wooden lever that you pull down from the wall creating a wedge that keeps the door closed.

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Even happier kids on their hammock/net.

The treehouse was clean, towels and basic kitchen/dining supplies were provided.  Natural light was abundant from all the different windows with shades provided for privacy.  Village staff was friendly and helpful.

Wow, that sounds great!  Was there any downside to staying there?

Highway to Hell

Not exactly, but for some, it may seem that way. While a unique experience, it may not be “heaven” for everyone.  If you do not like living among bugs or cramped spaces, you may not enjoy this experience.

Smaller glamping tents on the pier have a bed within the tent, but not much else.

Smaller tents on the pier have a bed, but not much else.

The treehouse does have two stories, but it is cramped.  We brought two duffel bags with us and had to place them on the benches around the table because there was no space on the first level to hold our bags without creating movement barriers.  The kids had plenty of space in their loft area, but for adults it was not much space.  If I had to do it again, I would have packed several small bags and kept them in the car, swapping them out daily to create more space.

The “kitchenette” had a small sink and a hot plate that we could not figure out despite trying all kinds of button combinations.  It was not that big a deal since we had coffee provided at breakfast and did not plan to cook any meals while there. There is a small refrigerator typical of most hotel rooms.

The bathroom is very small without much storage space for your toiletries.  The shower is standard, but being the eco-friendly place that this is, the hot water runs out quickly and you must wait about 15 minutes between showers for the water heater to get back to normal. The staff was up front about this when we arrived and by doing so helped manage our expectations.

It did not help that fall (including a thunderstorm in Bled and snow in the Julian Alps) arrived a day after we did.  The treehouse is not insulated and there was no heating system.  Garden Village Bled does provide a space heater on each level which worked well when we slept, but the bathroom had no heat.  It was freezing.  We found creative ways to warm it, like running the hair dryer aimed at the shower to warm ourselves or placing our towels near the heater and having one of us hand the nice and toasty towel to the person in the bath.  In the spring or summer, a cold shower may be welcoming, but definitely not between October and April.

The fire pit was a nice way to warm up in the evening.

The fire pit was a nice way to warm up in the evening.

You may find glamping to be much more tolerable than camping. However, you are in the woods and everything that comes with being in the woods (like bugs and weather related phenomena) will affect your stay here as we learned very quickly.  We had our share of bugs who were trying to find shelter from the changing weather pattern.  Our second night there, a thunderstorm (Bled)/snowstorm (Alps) swept through around 2am.  Lightning was visible through the windows. The windows popped open, the wind howled and we could feel the treehouse sway.  I should also say that the only thing holding the door closed was a small hook.  The treehouse is only truly locked when you leave and take the key with you.  There was a lot of rattling and very little sleep.

Overall, though, the pictures on the website are an accurate representation of what to expect aesthetically, but perhaps not logistically.

Things to Consider

Timing Your Visit

I would strongly suggest waiting until spring or summer to visit.  This tip is not necessarily weather related, but tourist related.  Lake Bled is a summer resort town.  Being there during the off-season, it felt like a ghost town albeit with many busloads of Japanese and Korean tourists who came, saw and clicked their way through before disappearing on their buses.  Restaurants were empty with the exception of a few families.  There is much to do there in season including white water rafting, an adventure tree top park for kids, horseback riding and much more for any outdoor enthusiast.  While we attempted to go rafting, the temperature drop forced us to cancel the trip.

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Reservations

Also of note, when we initially tried to reserve for a three-day weekend last spring, we were told that there were no tree houses available.  We ran into the same this time around, but, when we increased our stay from 2-3 nights, it became available.  It is not a large resort so book in advance.  The staff was very helpful and answered many of our questions via email. You must prepay 40% of your stay via bank transfer prior to arrival and they ask that you pay the balance within 45 days of arrival.  There are no fees for a SEPA credit transfer between Austria and Slovenia because they are on the Euro.

Small Children

Young and school age children will think of this as a dream come true.  However, you may want to wait until they are at least school age.  The net floating above the first floor area is secure, but as with most nets, it has gaps that little feet or arms can slip through.  There is also the ladder they will have to climb to get up and down from the loft which may be a problem for young children and a hassle for parental piece of mind.  Our children, ages 8 and 12, were independent and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall, it was a great place to stay and we highly recommend it.

For more on Lake Bled and other parts of Slovenia, please visit Nicole’s post from 2013.

Navigating Vienna’s Public Transport with a Stroller

There is no doubt that Vienna’s Public Transportation is nothing short of amazing. No matter where you are, you are bound to be close to a bus/tram/train stop and it generally is efficient and on schedule. This previous post gives a great overview of the system.

However, now that I cruise around town with two toddlers in a double stroller I have realized that I often need to do a bit more advance planning. After speaking with some parents, I know that I’m not the only one who was initially overwhelmed with how to get from A to B while pushing a stroller/Kinderwagen. If you’re traveling with one child in a small, easily collapsible stroller, this may not be a big challenge for you. But, if you have multiple small children, a sleeping child, or a stroller full of groceries and shopping bags then things become a little trickier.

Here’s what I  have learned in my travels around town:

U-Bahn

For the most part, the U-Bahn is a piece of cake. All of the stations are said to have at least one elevator or ramp and all of the U-Bahn trains have been updated to be disability (thus stroller) friendly. There are stroller designated areas on all trains just inside the doors indicated by round blue and white stickers depicting a stroller. The only challenge can be that the elevators seem to be serviced and repaired with regular frequency. If having access to an elevator is essential, you may want to check ahead to make sure they are not out of service. The Quando app for smartphones from Wiener Linien lists all elevator outages.

Buses

Buses are also very stroller friendly. Wiener Linien has updated all buses to low-floor models providing easy access. Each bus has one designated area for strollers on the second entrance from the front indicated on the door by the blue and white stroller sticker. This area tends to fill up with passengers, especially during morning rush-hour, but I’ve found that people are generally very good about making space for strollers.

One rule to note is that technically only two strollers are allowed in this area at any given time. I am on the bus all the time with three, four, occasionally even five, strollers crammed into this area and no one cares. However, I was kicked off one morning for being the third stroller to board, so there are some drivers who do follow this rule.

Trams

The tram system contains a mixture of old and new trams. The new trams are a low-floor style making for easy entrance and every car has a stroller designated area (indicated again by the blue and white stroller sticker). Large side-by-side strollers don’t fit well on these trams but it can still work. Just be prepared for some dirty looks from other passengers trying to squeeze by.

It is the older style, non-low-floor, trams that cause many of us stroller-pushing parents stress because of several steps required to enter the tram.

There is a stroller designated area in the front car just behind the driver and supposedly you can ask the driver to help you carry the stroller up the steps. I have not found this to be realistic as my German is very basic and I have two kids and a stroller to load. I do what many others do and wait around for the next low-floor tram. Stops with an electronic departure board show the time of the next low-floor tram indicated by a flashing handicap sign. This information can also be found in the monitor section of Quando as well as the actual Wiener Linien website.

S-Bahn

The S-Bahn system is similar to the tram system with a mixture of old trains requiring steps to enter and newer low-floor trains that are easy to roll a stroller onto. Unfortunately, the monitors in the S-Bahn stations do not indicate when the next handicap accessible/low-floor train is coming and I have not found a source for this information online. As a result, I tend to avoid the S-Bahn when I’m traveling solo with my kids. The few times I have had to do so, I have found the other passengers to be very understanding and helpful. In general, the S-Bahns spend a little more time at each stop than the trams do giving you a bit more time to haul you kid(s), stroller, and gear up those steps when necessary.

Hope this assists fellow parents in planning their trips.

Contributed by Kerry

Birthday Party Venues

Q. Does anyone have any recommendations for places to host a child’s birthday party? Also, has anyone invited Austrian children to their parties? If so, how did you do it? Unfortunately I speak little/no German and I don’t know how I would host a party with kids I can’t talk to. (Posted 3/4/2013)

A. Party places I’ve been to are Monki Park at Millenium City and Lollipop at Q19. Both have bouncy castle and obstacle course type of things kids love. I have also been to Minopolis but I think that’s more for school age kids. As far as inviting Austrian kids, the parents usually speak English and many times the kids do too. Plus, the staff at these party places usually speak both and can help in that regard. (Note: Read TriVienna’s reviews of Monki Park and Minopolis for first hand reviews of these venues.)

A. We’ve been to parties at Schonbrunn kids museum, Family Funland (they have a huge little-kids area and party rooms…plus they provide cake and drinks), Cobenzl petting zoo (where you get to choose to make pizza or cookies…they have bilingual helpers run the show), and the sand box at Turkenschanz park (free but more work). We tend to send email invitations in English and German if there’s a class list. (Note: Read TriVienna’s reviews of the Schonbrunn kids museum, Cobenzl petting zoo, and Turkenshanz park for first hand reviews of these venues.)