The Top 10 format is entirely self-explanatory, a list of Top 10 sights that are must-sees for any first time tourist in a given city or country. Depending on the destination, the Top 10 lists become increasingly more detailed and may include, for example, top 10 churches, museums, children's attractions, festivals, events, restaurants, cafés, pubs, parks and so on. In the second half of each book, the information is effectively repeated but organized by neighbourhood, so the prospective tourist might make the most effective use of limited time touring a given area in a city or country without missing anything of interest.
The information is all linked to beautiful photographs and allows a potential traveler to make sensible choices in advance according to his or her personal tastes. Most telling is the fact that each Top 10 title makes no attempt to be comprehensive. It is absolutely, positively aimed at the first time tourist attempting to do a one shot overview of a city or country. If that is your objective, there is little question that the DK Eyewitness Top 10 series is the hands down winner against all the competition - Blue Guide, Green Guide, Rough Guide, National Geographic, Frommer or Michelin.
As a pre-planner, Top 10 Vienna proved itself to be invaluable. My limited time was well spent and I felt comfortable filling my day with a thoroughly enjoyable selection of attractions that were well matched to my personal tastes and those of my traveling companion. There was not even a single instance where we felt we were misled by the guide into choosing an event, a food, a pub, a hotel, a church, an attraction, a park or a café that was not to our liking. And it was the ideal size to be easily carried around during our travels to keep handy as a pocket reference. High praise, indeed.
And yet, there were still minor - and I stress, minor - quibbles that irritated me when I compared the reality of Vienna to the expectations I had based on the guide. The map of the subway system is now inaccurate in that the U2 line has been extended. In the description of the "heurigen" wine bars in Grinzing on the outskirts of Vienna, no mention is made of the fact that the town is virtually a dead zone until late afternoon and nothing, I repeat, nothing is open over the noon hour. With respect to transportation, I purchased a 72 hour subway ticket and used it for the electric tram system, the S-bahn high speed rail service and the surface bus system. I realized, to my horror, afterward that I had assumed that the subway ticket was all inclusive. To this day, I don't know if that was correct or not because the guide fails to point out whether separate tickets are required for each system. The guide also fails to caution the unwary traveler of the ubiquitous petty larceny that many of the museums indulge in. After you have paid admission and entered, you are advised that for security purposes you MUST check your backpack. All well and good, except that there was always an additional charge levied which was often as much as 1 Euro. A blanket suggestion should be made that walkers in Vienna should always carry a small amount of change in their pockets. There is nothing so disconcerting as struggling to find a public water closet and discovering that there is also a 0.50 fee to enter. Ouch, that hurts in more ways than one, doesn't it! And, last but not least, having searched high and low for Kaisermelange, a coffee concoction including strong black coffee, egg yolk, honey and cognac that was recommended in the guide, I was finally advised by a kindly, sypmathetic waiter that because of salmonella concerns, a food with raw egg was no longer available in Vienna (I don't know if he was right and I didn't check on the availability of steak tartare but, to my dismay, I never found the Kaisermelange!).
Perhaps Eyewitness DK would take these suggestions under advisement for future editions.
Highly recommended for all travelers, real world and armchair alike.
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