Though Reinhard lives about 4 hours from Vienna (the distance from Atlanta to Savannah), he has not been to his capital city since he went on a school field trip there in the 8th grade. He was excited to be a tourist there with me, as well as visit with his cousin Christian who lived in the heart of the city. Christian was nice enough to let us stay in his apartment. The only catch for the free room – no parking anywhere. So Reini and I found a garage at the edge of the city and schlepped our 3 large suitcases on and off the U-Bahn and through the city streets. In our typical fashion, we wandered around aimlessly for bit before finally reaching our destination.
We were rewarded with being a close walk to many of Vienna’s beautiful sites. Hapsburg Empire reminants and beautifully maintained gardens were everywhere. We used the high church steeples to (sort of) guide us from attraction to attraction, making stops to enjoy the occasional street performer along the way.
The weather started off nicely, but of course, turned stormy so we headed into the Natural History Museum. I was a big fan of the rock exhibit because it concluded with gemstone arrangements fit for royalty. I think Reini was more impressed with under water animals – giant crabs and whale shark.
Before we were to leave Vienna, Reini wanted to take me on a tour to the United Nations district. They have tour that we had heard great things about, but naturally, there was some holiday the day we picked that neither of us knew about… So we hiked over to their tall TV tower, the Donauturm, for coffees in their rotating cafe at the top.
Palaces and castles are what give Europe their regal feel. An exceptional example of an Austrian palace is the Schloss Schönbrunn, the summer residence of Vienna’s royal family. Upon hopping off the U-Bahn, we strolled along the yellow walls to the grand entrance and were awstruck. The royals back in the day clearly knew nothing about modesty. Though tours are only held in a small portion of the rooms of the palace, we found 3 dining rooms. Reinhard thought it was so silly that anyone would have 3 dining rooms. Excess was the name of the game during the reign of Maria Theresa (mother of Marie Antoinette).
The gardens are a huge draw for the Viennese. Miles of trails loop around the palace, shaded with trees and colored with flowering blooms. The real Viennese people were the runners, stopping at the occasional water fountain to splash their faces. Reini and I just strolled under the arches of vines. After taking in the sights of the grounds from the elevated vantage point offered by the Gloriette, we stopped for lunch by one of the lakes seemingly designed with ducks in mind.
Then the sky turned grey. We quickly made our way down and to the last attraction our Classic Pass tickets afforded us – a maze ala Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter Goblet of Fire. A little rushed for time, we gave up on that beast… and back to the safety of the U-Bahn.
I’m back at it. Traveling again! This summer’s adventure I’m in lovely Austria again (my first trip to Vienna) and visiting Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava. Just a teaser picture until I have time to make a better post.. Burgenland windmills. There must have been close to 500 windmills along our way from Vienna to Bratislava. Alternative energy sourcing is a big deal here!