Arrived in Vienna on Saturday afternoon. I again helped the bus driver unload the bags, I can’t help it… I feel sorry for them. Their day starts at 5am where they have to clean the bus before picking up the passengers, then they load the bags and drive all day. On arrival they have to unload. Helping also gets all of us off the bus quicker. Go figure it’s me… Live with it 😀
So we get off the bus and go into Wombats Hostel Vienna, it’s a new hostel opened in march, the inside is modern urban styled with “U” shaped seats in the windows. There was a bit of a wait to check in so I had a peek outside and found that we were across the road from the Nashmarkt, or Nash Market and that the buildings were reminiscent of those in Paris. The baroque styled architecture is to be found all through the city. I checked in, grabbed my allocated sheets and went up to my room.
The timber laminate floors through out the corridors of the hostel give a very modern feel to the place. I got to my room and found two bunk beds, a great bathroom that had a hotel feel to it and skylight windows on the angled ceiling. Obviously we were on the top floor of this part of the hostel. Very cool space. I dumped my bag and heard the door open. Three Aussie girls came in, also traveling with Busabout. We chatted as one of the girls that was on the bed below my bed started to make it. She pulled out the sheets and for some reason thought that it was weird that the sheet had to go over the mattress, I said to her are you sure that isn’t a doona cover? He’s confidently said no, they only have this and a top sheet with a pillow case.
She got the sheet on then said she needed a rest, wrestling with the mattress had taken it out of her.
I took the opportunity to make mine… So I emptied the bag of sheets that I picked up from reception, put on the pillow case, payed no attention to what the girl that was now resting had said and pit the sheet which was clearly a dolma cover made with the same sheet material onto my doona, then I pulled out the other sheet which was an immaculately folded fitted sheet and put it on the bed. I could understand why she had been so easily confused. Suddenly in a room full of girls I was the domesticated guy. I did feel a little victory as she looked on with red faced amazement and the other two giggled away. I had a tour to join so I was out of there.
I got down stairs to join the “Walk and Fork” tour. We started with the incredible nash market. As soon as we walked in i was reminded of home because there were stalls that sold curry powder and the smell was incredible. There were butchers, bakers, turkish kebabs and sweets, not to mention your usual market fair of touristy I love Vienna tee shirts. There were also coffee shops and a wonderful strip of restaurants. While making our way through the marked there was a young guy holding a snake, I stopped and asked if I could take a picture, and he was happy to stop. Then he suggested that I hold the snake and he takes a picture of me… Oh yeah! He handed over the gorgeous serpent and I held it up for a picture. Awesome… I got a picture with a snake in the Nash Market,
We continued Walking through the streets of Vienna with a wonderfully enthusiastic guide that told silly jokes and had lots of facts about the city. Apparently, a patron once asked her “why is there a clicking sound at the traffic light crossing”, she answered “Well that is for the blind people”.
The patron replied “That is amazing, blind people are just not allowed to drive back home!” There were many others that i could not possibly remember but I can say the tour was certainly worth it.
Apparently Vienna used to be a medieval walled city. The wall was later torn down and is now the ring road, or ringstraße. After the dismantling of the ring road there were a number significant buildings that were erected, the neo-gothic town hall, the Greek revival styled Parliament and the 19th century burg theatre. Without boring you with historical snippets I will simply say that Vienna is stunning! I would love to visit again and stay longer. The tour finished at a restaurant called Plutzer Brau. Included in the tour was a schnitzel and chips and dessert. No schnitzel is complete without beer so i couldn’t help but enjoy an Eggenburg with my schnitzel.
Being a Sunday the next day wasn’t too busy. The only places that were open were museums and art galleries. I decided to go to the Leopold museum as I knew where it was and I was able to spend a bit more time in the arts centre of the city. I got to see some of Gustav Klimt’s prized artworks but was disappointed to find out that his most famous work and possibly my favorite artwork of all was at the Belvedere. Oh well I will just have to go back and see it another time. Furthermore I found out that Vienna used to hold a larger collection of Klimt’s work but lost a legal battle to for them to remain in Vienna and they are now in America.
While strolling through Vienna, there were a lot of vendors selling tickets to different opera and classical music presentations held at the palaces. I gave in and since I was in Vienna, the home of Mozart, it was only fitting that I got to indulge in such things. I went back to the hostel, got into my best threads, white sneakers, jeans, striped shirt and a leather jacket and topped it off with my bright red day pack. It may as well have had a giant sign that said TOURIST, lit up and flashed with a big arrow pointing at my forehead.
Either way I was away and almost appropriately dressed.
I made my way by train to the Schönbrunn Palace. This was the summer palace of the Habsburg’s. When arrived I was quite early and decided to walk around the gardens. I spent at least 40 minutes walking around and taking photos and still only saw but a tenth of the property.
I returned to the performance hall and took in popular classical music, opera and even a ballet presentation. The show was beautiful and the soprano performer was just enchanting. I really had a great night.
The second full day was spent on a bike ride… Oh and it was a wine tasting too. I joined the tour outside the Wombats hostel where there was a bus waiting to take us to Austria’s Wachau Valley. A group of ten got on the bus, all quite varied in age and wine experience. While leaving a Vienna, the tour guide pointed out a few of the city’s highlights that I was lucky to cover the day before. Once we hit the high way, I noticed that they were playing both 90s hip hop and, to my surprise, a lot of Aussie hip hop.
Why they were playing this style of music baffled me because the majority of the passengers were from America and were over 40. I wasn’t complaining and spent most of the trip nodding my head to the beat while the others continued a banter of unnecessarily overly descriptive discussions of wine. I tuned out and enjoyed the view and the likes of Hill Top Hoods, The Cat Empire and Drapht.
We arrived in the Wachau valley and after picking up the trailer with the bikes, and soon entered the first vineyard. It became quickly apparent that the wine tasting was more of a wine drinking! The glasses were topped up and topped up again. After trying three varieties of wine, we kicked off with the riding. Although there were some rosy cheeks and some people were not as apt with the handling of a bicycle as they once were but most people were able to get the hang of it again. I did feel sorry for one guy who had bought a bottle of €30 wine, put it in the basket on the back of his bike and then when getting onto the bike, he accidentally kicked the basket off and shattered the bottle… Gutted… Well I know I would have been if it was me, but it wasn’t so I wasn’t.
We had the most amazing view at lunch but we had to work for it. Some people brought their lunch and while the rest of us had the catered light lunch.
Had with a bottle of Wachau’s finest white and a view of the Danube on a gorgeous sunny day, it was just incredible. I am not going to describe it but I will post pictures at my first opportunity. After lunch there was another wine tasting and we later went to a small town called Dürnstein. Atop the town and about a 20min hike up the hill sits the ruins of a castle. It is said that King Richard I Lion heart, was held in the castle because he trespassed on Austrian soil due to his ship being wrecked when returning from the crusades. Apparently he had a bit of a quip with Duke Leopold V over a land dispute. Great location though. The view was incredible from right atop the ruins. Tomorrow, on to Gruenau.