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AUSTRIA | Wednesday, 30 April 2014 | Views [680] | Comments [2]

We made good time to get to the train station early and settled in for the three hour ride to Vienna. The rail jet trains are more comfortable than the other one we tried, and reached speeds of up to 160kph. So the countryside zoomed past us for most of the way. The mostly flat farmland was broken up by small rolling hills, and the occasional wind farm which looked like an alien invasion of marauding three-pronged giants standing silently awaiting orders to attack!
The Westbahnhof station was a veritable shopping centre of all things possible, providing everything anybody would ever need, except possibly for money exchange. It's a pity it was the wrong bloody station! Due to massive reconstruction and redevelopment works of the main station, Hauptbahnhof, we ended up several klicks away and had to taxi to the hotel, which as you might have guessed, is opposite the construction site!
Notwithstanding the disorientation of our first few hours here, we managed to Metro into the city centre and walk around for a couple of hours. Once again, the sheer assault on the senses of the magnificent buildings in the old town left me gawking like a gringo! Not good, especially when one tries to fit in nonchalantly with the locals, but I guess if I wasn't wearing Gucci or Amarni or Versace, I didn't stand a chance anyway!
But we stumbled around and took in the busy sights and sounds of St Stephans Cathedral (whose 137m steeple makes a good landmark for finding one's way back to the Metro), before coming across the Spanische Hofreitschule where they train horses, probably to pull tourist coaches without dropping too much poo in the street because they were very clean, the streets that is, not the horses, and the really old St. Michael Church. 
We boarded a city sightseeing bus the next morning and had a great tour around the famous Ringstrasse, Vienna's main boulevard, but once again the names of all the absolutely beautiful buildings blur into a collage of museums, national theatres, the opera house, parliament buildings, and hotels where the rich and famous have stayed. The jewel in the crown today however was Schönbrunn Palace, once the residence of Queen Marie Teresa of the Hapsburgs. Once known as the mother-in-law of Europe (for marrying off all of her 11 children to other royal families, including Marie Antoinette to Louis XVI of France) she enforced compulsory education for all children and did away with serfdom and slavery, and for her efforts, she lived an opulent if not decadent life in the palace. This was the time of Mozart and it was easy to imagine the palace grounds and gardens a buzz with the chatter of young dames and masters, the clip clop of horses' hooves, and foreign dignatories in gilded coaches.
After the tour we pushed our legs to walk some more and marvelled at other fabulous buildings around the Volksgarten before deciding to head back to the hotel. But we ran into something different, the Time Travel - Vienna History Show, which is an experiential attraction including a 5D cinema, animatronic figures, a reconstructed bomb shelter and various multimedia shows. It was really a great way to explore the city's history with a light, fun twist on the usual interpretation methods.
Needless to say, Vienna offers so much that there was no way to explore it all in a couple of days. Tired and sore, we now turn our minds to a Villach in the south, but not before having delighted in Wiener schnitzel, sachertorte, Viennese coffee and more than a few wines :)

Tags: sightseeing



Your lovely blog on Vienna gave us goosebumps and we want to go back xxx

  Trudi and Jeff May 1, 2014 12:03 PM


Thank you both so much for sharing yet another spectacular day sightseeing. I'm exhausted just reading about your adventure. Mum how are the legs holding up ?
take care and stay safe.
Anna xx

  Anna May 2, 2014 9:21 PM

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