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Winter Trip To Europe

Winter Trip To Europe

Old Dec 12, 14, 5:30 am
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
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Winter Trip To Europe

My winter trip to Europe.

My previous TR's can be found below:

A Trip to Afghanistan
A Journey Through Kyrgyzstan
A Trip Around The Arabian Gulf
A Trip To Yemen
A Trip To Jordan & Israel
A Southern African Adventure
Road Trip to Saudi Arabia & Qatar
Five Days In Japan
Underground In New Zealand
A Trip To Iran
A Trip Around The Mediterranean
A Long Weekend In Paris
A Trip To Ukraine, Belarus & Russia
A Trip To Kenya & Tanzania
Beautiful Thailand
To Muscat For A Travel Magazine
Everest in Full Picture
A Trip To Bali & Dili
A Trip To Northern Iraq
DanielW is offline  
Old Dec 12, 14, 5:31 am
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I flew from Dubai to Zurich via a 5 hour stopover in Doha (DXB-DOH-ZRH), and flew back from Belgrade with a 12 hour stopover in Rome and a transit in Doha (BEG-FCO-DOH-DXB).

I travelled by train (and bus in Liechenstein) for the ~1,400 kilometre journey from Zurich to Belgrade, stopping in Zurich, Triesenberg, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.

Day 0.

At Terminal One at Dubai Airport to start the journey with the flight to Doha.

Hot chicken sandwich, cake and OJ for the 45 minute flight on the QR 787 to DOH.

Disembarking off the 787 at DOH at 9:30pm.

I had a 5 hour layover, so went to the new Oryx lounge to relax.

A tasty snack of middle eastern and western food in the lounge.

Day 1.

The 787 departed on time at 2:30am, and after another chicken sandwich, passed out for a few hours on the overnight flight.

Chicken sausage and omelette for breakfast just before arrival at Zurich Airport.

Immigration was quick and easy and as I only had a carry-on was through to the train station in no time. Got some Swiss francs and bought a ticket to Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Central Station).

The line for the trams outside Hauptbahnhof. It was about 8am, and a nice and cool 4C. My first real winter in a few years, but I was coping surprisingly well.

My hotel was only a short walk from the train station, and as it was too early to check-in, I dropped off my bag before heading out to explore Zurich.

Kälte (cold).

Frühstück (breakfast).

Walking the dog.

Swans on the Limmat river.

Some much needed caffeine to shake off the jet lag.

Grossmünster cathedral on the east side of the river.

Münsterbrücke bridge.

I then walked down to a farmer's market beside Lake Zurich.

Great place to walk around and see all the local produce as well as people watch.

Stocking up.


Mann und Frau. I then walked into the centre of town.

Fraumünster Church.

And the beautiful stained glass windows inside.

I then visited the Swiss National Museum.

Was quite an interesting place, covering both the history and culture of Switzerland.


I grabbed lunch at a cafeteria and had spicy beef and carrots for 21 CHF.

After checking into the hotel and having a nap, and walked up to the ETH University and looked out onto the city below.

Going down.

Central Tram Station.

I grabbed some Nussgipfel at a bakery for a snack for 2.9 CHF.



Roast Chestnuts.

The Christmas markets at Pestalozzianlage. Quite a lively atmosphere .

I grabbed some Bratwurst for 8 CHF at one of the stalls.

Bahnhofstrasse. The Swiss really know how to do Christmas!

At Hauptbahnhof with the locals enjoying the start of the weekend with a few drinks.

On my way back to the hotel I stopped at a supermarket to check out the famed Swiss chocolate. As expected lots of different types, including some Jack Daniels flavoured stuff (centre).

Day 2.

After having breakfast at the hotel, I walked down to Hauptbahnhof for the trip to Liechtenstein.

The famous Swiss train station clock design that Apple tried to rip off.

Platform 9 for the 9:37 train east to Sargans.


Passing Lake Zurich on the journey east.

Outside Sargans train station, about to catch the bus to Liechtenstein.

The new Parliament building at Peter-Kaiser-Platz in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein.

Vaduz Castle, the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world with 160 km2 area and ~37,000 people.

An old wooden covered bridge over the Rhine.

The river is on the border of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

I then went to a local restaurant for lunch and had some tasty pork with mushroom sauce with spätzle and vegetables.

I then caught the bus again for the journey up the mountain to Triesenberg.

At my hotel for the night in Liechtenstein, Hotel Kulm, complete with a Christmas nativity scene outside.

My room.

And the amazing view from my balcony, looking over to the Swiss Alps.

For the rest of the afternoon I went for a walk around Triesenberg, taking in the great views.

I went to the hotel restaurant for dinner, which was suitably decorated with lots of Christmas stuff.

And had the Chicken Cordon bleu for 29 CHF.

Day 3.

The view from the breakfast buffet in the morning.

Church in Triesenburg.

And about to catch the bus to Feldkirch, Austria.

Crossing back into Switzerland at the motorway tool booth on the border with Liechtenstein.

And about to catch the train to Vienna at Feldkirch station, Austria.

It was only 10 euro's extra to upgrade to first class cabin for the 6 hour journey.

Taking in the beautiful alpine scenery on the way to Innsbruck.

At Innsbruck station at 12:21pm, where I changed to a Railjet train for the trip to Vienna. The train was 8 minutes late leaving Feldkirch, and although I had a 4 minute connection in Innsbruck, the train made up the time and we arrived on schedule to Innsbruck.

The Railjet train was abit more modern, with wi-fi and a top speed of 230 kph.

Chicken masala for lunch in the dining car for 9.90 euro's.

Stopping at Salzburg Hauptbahnhof after passing through Germany.

And arriving at Vienna's Westbahnhof.

Only 4:30pm but already dark!

I then caught the metro to Rathaus (Town Hall) to see the main Vienna christmas markets.

Bratkartoffel (Sauteed Griddle Potatoes).

Lots of people enjoying their Sunday evening in the markets.


I then caught the metro to Praterstern to my hotel for the next two nights, Hotel Vienna.

The room was small but was cheap and had a cool, kitschy vibe.

Dinner was at a great Mexican place called Restaurant Pancho where I had Chicken Fajita's.

And some tasty chocolate chimichanga for dessert.
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DanielW is offline  
Old Dec 12, 14, 5:31 am
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Day 4.

At Taborstraße to catch the metro into central Vienna.

Outside the Burgtheater.

A deluxe croissant and cappuccino for breakfast at Café Central.

Café Central is a traditional Viennese café, and was opened in 1876. It was a great change from the usual hotel breakfast buffet.

Former clientele at the café include Lenin, Trotsky, Freud, Tito and Hitler.

Inside Katholische Kirche St. Michael on Michaelerplatz.

Graben, one of the main shopping streets in Vienna.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Stephansplatz.

The beautiful interior.

And the view from the north tower, looking north with the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel on the horizon.

At the Hundertwasserhaus in Landstraße district. Built from the idea's and concept's of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser with architect Joseph Krawina.

It features undulating floors ("an uneven floor is a divine melody to the feet"), a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows.



The Belvedere.

Lunch of Austrian deer stew with dumplings and cranberry sauce at the restaurant Skopik & Lohn in Leopoldstadt.


At the Wiener Riesenrad at the Prater amusement park.

It was built in 1897 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I.

I then went for a walk through the Christmas markets in Spittelberg. Much less busy and a bit more relaxed than at the Rathaus markets.

Back in Graben with all the Christmas Lights.

Dinner at a restaurant called Figlmüller, the top pick in the LP guidebook for a decent Schnitzel, and they certainly delivered!

Day 5.

At Café Prückel, another iconic Viennese coffee house.

With the original 50's styling and waiters in jackets and bowties, it was a real treat to have breakfast there.

At Wien Hauptbahnhof to catch the train to Bratislava, Slovakia.

Plenty of room in the cabin for the 50 minute trip.

The scenery was flat farmland with the occasional wind turbine.

A welcome to Slovakia at Bratislava hlavná stanica.

Unfortunately the rain had followed me from Vienna however.

I then visited the indoor markets of Tržnica.


And got some tasty štrúdľa for 80 euro cents.

My hotel room at the Bratislava Crowne Plaza. Very modern, clean and friendly, courteous staff.

I then went to the Slovak Pub which was recommended for some traditional Slovak cuisine. Cabbage soup.

And Halušky. Potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon.

I then went for a walk to explore the city.


Bratislava Castle.

Grassalkovich Palace, the official residence of the president of Slovakia.

After relaxing at the hotel for a bit, I went for a walk into the old town.

At the Christmas markets in the town square.

Very picturesque!

The locals enjoying some of the tasty food on offer.

A delicous and decent sized steak sandwich for less than 3 euro's.

I was still hungry though, and went back for seconds and got a pork and onion sandwich too.

Live music adding to the festive atmosphere. The Bratislava Christmas markets were my favourite of the trip, just the right size, great vibe and not too commercialised.

Day 6.

A BMW i8 outside my hotel, a plug-in hybrid capable of 0–100 km/h in 4.4 seconds. Don't see these in Dubai!

Back at Bratislava hlavná stanica to catch the train to Budapest. When I went to take this photo, I realised I had forgotten one of my camera batteries back at the hotel. My train was delayed by ~60 minutes, so walked back to get it.

By the time I got back to the train station after getting my camera battery, the delay was now 100 minutes, so grabbed a coffee at the station café.



The delay eventually stretched out to 130 minutes. Although there was a train to Budapest at 11:53 also, this was cancelled.

The train finally pulling into the station just after 12pm.

The cabin was clean and modern, and only cost 16 euro's for the 2hr 40m trip to Budapest.

Chocolate pancakes in the dining car for only 1.9 euro's.

Arriving at Budapest-Keleti Staion just before 3pm.

And just outside after getting my ticket for the following day to Belgrade.

My hotel room, the Bhudda-bar Hotel in an old historic building which was has been completely refurbished with an Asian style interior.

Catching the metro for 350 HUF (~1.2 euro's).

Outside Terror Háza, or the House of Terror.

Terror Háza is a museum and memorial for the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in 20th-century Hungary.


Padded cell in the basement.

Hammer & Sickel.


I then walked down Andrássy Avenue towards the city. Outside the Budapest Opera house.


The Christmas markets in front of St. Stephen's Basilica.

Erzsébet bridge across the Danube, linking Buda (west) and Pest (east).

I had dinner at a local restaurant, with rosé duck breast with camembert muffin and orange and pepper sauce. Very nice!

And returning back to my hotel.
DanielW is offline  
Old Dec 12, 14, 5:32 am
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Day 7.

Coffee and cheese pastry for breakfast for 580 HUF (2 euro's).

Looking across the Danube to the Royal Palace on top of Castle Hill.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge.

Walking up to Castle Hill.

Looking over to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and Pest across the river from Castle Hill.

Sandor Palace on top of Castle Hill.

Magyarország zászlaja (flag of Hungary).

Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion.

The Országház, or Hungarian Parliament, across the river from Fisherman's Bastion.

The building was built in 1904.

I got to the Parliament building just in time for the 1pm english language tour.

It was built with 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 40 kilograms of gold leaf.

The main debating chamber.

The Museum of Ethnography, just opposite the Parliament building.

I then stopped for lunch and had a traditional Hungarian dish of chicken paprika and dumplings.

Next stop was St. Stephen's Basilica, with an amazingly ornate ceiling.

And the great view from the top of the Basilica.

I then went for a walk around the Christmas markets just in front of the Basilica.

And then caught the metro on the #4 line to Gellért.

The Szabadsag bridge reaching across the Danude at Gellért.

Outside the Gellért Thermal Bath's.

Great place to defrost for a bit from the cool winter weather!

I then walked over the Szabadsag bridge back to Pest.

The Christmas markets at Vörösmarty tér.

Where I got a good feed of Hungarian black pudding and grilled chicken with potatoes and bread.

Back at Budapest-Keleti Station to catch the overnight train to Belgrade.

I had booked a sleeper cabin for the overnight trip, except there were only 3 carriages on the train, and none were sleeper. I asked the conductor and he just told me to grab a space in the first class car.

Luckily I managed to find an empty row of seats to lay out for the overnight trip.

Day 8.

The train crossed the border into Serbia at 2am, where I got my passport stamped and we swapped engines (the Hungarian engine took some carriages back to Budapest, while a Serbian engine took our 2 carriages on to Belgrade).

At about 5:30am the train started to fill up with passengers for Belgrade.

Crossing the Danube into Belgrade.

And arriving at Belgrade station at 6:30am.

Some interesting 'artwork' on one of the Serbian trains.

I then walked up the street to the former Ministry of Defence Buildings.

The buildings were bombed in 1999 by NATO as part of the Kosovo war.

They still lay in ruins as a kind of memorial.

The Serbian Parliament Building at dawn.

My hotel room in Belgrade. I had originally booked a room at the Rezome Diamond, but they had rebooked me at the Rezime Crown with a 'luxury apartment' which was closer to the city centre. Decent sized room for 50 euro's anyway!

With oak desk and crystal glasses.

And a cavernous bathroom.

After a shower and shave, I headed out to get some breakfast at a local café. I got an omelette, toast, yoghurt drink and a cappuccino for only ~$5.

Pigeons feasting on some bread from a dumpster.

I then walked through the park at Kalemegdan Castle.

The confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

A Humvee outside the Military Museum, captured during the Kosovo war.

The flightsuit from a F-16 that was shot down during the war, and a panel from a F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft that was also shot down.

The start of Kneza Mihaila, the main pedestrian shopping street of Belgrade.

Books and records.

Some anti-pesto at a café on Kneza Mihaila for lunch.

And I couldn't resist having some of the tasty looking cakes too.

The Temple of Saint Sava.



At the Nikola Tesla museum, with the sparking Tesla coil lighting up the fluroscent strips. I think it temporarily affected the electronics in my camera too (note the horizontal bands in the photo).

The ruins of the Radio Television Serbia building, where 16 people were killed when it was bombed by NATO in 1999.

Republic Square in the centre of Belgrade.

In the evening, I went to the restaurant, Mentalitet, after a good recommendation from hauteboy. Mini-beef pies, breaded roast pepper and rolled goat cheese for the starter.

And for the main, beef tournedo with red wine and orange sauce. Definitely worth the recommendation! Quite cheap too for a total price of ~$14 for everything.

Day 9.

Outside the main terminal at Nikola Tesla - Belgrade airport for the 7am flight to Rome.

A bag of goodies for the 80 minute flight.

And disembarking at Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

Picking up my Hertz rental car for the day. I had prebooked the cheapest car possible for 36 euro's, but got upgraded to a Ford Focus Diesel instead for the same price.

As I had visited Rome for three days back in June I wanted to do something different for my 12 hour layover. The plan for the day was to visit some of the smaller towns, hopefully making it to the town of Tuscania.

After getting used to the 6 speed manual, I headed north-west on the Autostrada.

At the first stop of the day, the town of Cerveteri.


80 euro-cents for an espresso, definitely not Rome prices!

The town is famous for its many Necropoli (tombs) which date from the 9th to 3rd century B.C.

Out on the Autostrada again.

I then parked the car in a carpark in the centre of Civitavecchia.

The town centre.

I then visited the local fresh food markets.

Frutta e Verdura (fruit & vegetables).

Pesce (Fish).

Carne (meat).

Driving on to the next town...

...of Tarquinia.

Lady & dog.


A ~300 year old aqueduct.

I then drove off the main road inland.

To the picturesque town of Tuscania.

The town was built around ~7th century B.C.

On February 6, 1971 an earthquake caused 31 deaths. The town has since been meticulously restored.




Apart from the odd Italian visitors, it was completely devoid of tourists and was a welcome change from busy Rome.

I then stopped at a cool café/bar in the centre of town.

And had some local cold meats with bread for lunch.

And chocolate slice for dessert.

Some Christmas shopping before the drive back to FCO airport.


Paying my last road toll for the day.

And arriving back at the airport.

Enjoying a good read on the flight from FCO to DOH.

And about to board the QR A340 at dawn for the final flight home!
DanielW is offline  
Old Dec 12, 14, 6:18 am
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Daniel, what a wonderful trip and report. Your photos are simply spectacular and so beautifully capture the feeling and people of every place you visited. Thanks for posting!
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Old Dec 12, 14, 6:32 am
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Thanks DanielW for another awesome trip report!

Which city is your favourite?
chongsss is offline  
Old Dec 12, 14, 6:38 am
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I love your trip reports. Wonderful journey, wonderful photos.
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Old Dec 12, 14, 8:55 am
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Daniel, whenever I read your TR's, I always wish you'd invited me to come along. Thanks.
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Old Dec 12, 14, 10:03 am
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I have not been back to Vienna since 1991. I had no idea they had a Metro.

The Wienerschnitzel at Fiegelmuler is pork, not veal. And it really makes a difference.
When I ate it I liked it but I suspected it was not veal as it is so much better.

Makes me want to return to Budapesht as they pronounce it.

I was there in 1972 and it seems so much nicer and more interesting now.

How was it like driving in Italy? I drove in Sardinia but on the Mainland I am a bit nervous to do so.
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Old Dec 12, 14, 10:18 am
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Wonderful TR. Thank you
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Old Dec 12, 14, 11:03 am
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Lovely trip report and beautiful pictures. I always enjoy reading your trip reports. The pictures make me feel like I am right there with you. Thank you for sharing!
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Old Dec 12, 14, 11:21 am
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What do you shoot with? Didn't see it under the about section of your website.

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Old Dec 12, 14, 11:40 am
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Great trip report and photos.
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Old Dec 12, 14, 11:52 am
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Beautiful pictures, thanks for doing this report
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Old Dec 12, 14, 12:05 pm
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Great trip and report! Austria and Switzerland in one row with Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Afghanistan
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