Wie ist Wieners
Trip Start Jun 03, 2010
154Trip End May 28, 2011
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Where I stayed
We took some pretty small roads from Cesky Krumlov to Vienna, mostly through very green and pastoral high hill country reminiscent of Switzerland. We approached Vienna on motorways which was relatively simpler than small roads, and did not take too long to find the campground, Neue-Donau, just a quick little jog up from the Danube (Donau).
Later in the first afternoon we headed into Vienna for a first look around. We caught a bus and then transferred to the U Bahn… about 25 minutes once we caught the bus, which only comes every 30 minutes.
As it ws for Prague, it took an hour or so of exploring Vienna for us to really get delighted… we exited the U Bahn on the main shopping street, Karntner Strasse…
We picnicked on Stephansplatz, peering at the stones of St. Michaels, and trying to imagine what it would have been like for the workers who laid that first row of stones in 1450!
The weather is lovely and fine here, so as dusk fell, the sky faded to a beautiful deep blue, and the town lit up its golden streetscapes, domes and statues.
The highlight was arriving back at Michaelerplatz by way of the luxurious Kohlmarkt, to find a lone cellist sitting in the centre of the square playing soul piercing music.
Then back to th campsite by about 10 pm.
This morning, August 21, we biked into the city. It took about 40 minutes, but all was on bicycle routes, mostly along the length of the Prater park… about 5 km of park running north south along the Danube
After the tour we had our picnic lunch, then strolled the Nachemarkt, which is a long standing and well established street market selling everything from the best wines, cheeses, and gourmet foods, to the chintzy souvenirs t-shirts and euro-junk. Kind of a Granville Island, but stretched along a boulevard and with a tinge of 19th C ambiance.
Back to the campsite by 4 pm where we will freshen up and go into a concert this evening. It is a tourist special type concert, with the “top 20” of classical music… let's hope it is worth the 35 Euro each we paid
Okay, I have to apologize for my skepticism of the concert last night… it was really quite fun despite the touristy promotion schtik. The musicians… only 12 of them, were really very good… all were youngish, probably students, and so they had energy and enthusiasm which overcame the lack of power and cohesion. There was also a Soprano and a Baritone who were not half bad, and a pair of dancers to waltz to the Strauss. The audience was certainly 100% tourists, and we were shepherded like sheep, but what the heck…
Following the show we caught the Ubahn, with a bit of a search, and then discovered that our bus from the Ubahn to the campround quit at 11:05pm. Luckily we were there at 10:55 or we would have had to taxi.
Today our main goal was the Kunstmuseum, the principle art gallery of Vienna
Following the gallery we biked over to Rathaus for our evening at the Opera! What a lovely night… a nice dinner of teriyaki and beer, and a presentation of Carmen with some of the world’s best singers and the Zurich Philharmonic Orchestra, and front row seat… cost? $20 for the meal and the Opera was free! Oh… I forgot to mention, it was filmed and on a screen. But it was still a wonderful experience…. They set up a gigantic screen and speakers outside the city hall (Rathaus) and play something every night. There are seats for 3000, and a big food fair of tents with all kinds of cheap beer and food.
We only stayed until intermission because Pat was nervous about riding home in the dark, which it was at 10 pm! The ride through town was OK, though we did get a tiny bit lost at one point, and I enjoyed the ride along the 5 km long Hauptallee through the Prater. It was lighted, but still quite deserted, and then we had some riding under a totally dark highway, and through some totally dark woods on the Danauinsel (the island in the Danube)
Rode into town again, this time to the Belvedere Palace, a dramatic 18th C palace in its own right, but also filled with some extraordinary art expositions. It is especially famed for its late 19th C expressionaists, and indeed, some wonderful Renoirs, Degas, Monet, and a Van Gogh, but we were particularly there to see the Klimpt and Schiele gallerys. If you don’t know their work, have a Google. Both were brilliant and way ahead of their time.
Following that, we had time for a tour of the Opera house… certainly interesting, and it is a one of the top houses in the world, but really a bit disappointing because it had to be rebuilt after a 19th C fire, and they never did do it up in the majesty of some houses.
For dinner tonight we bicycled 10 kms north of downtown to the special “Heurigan” towns of Nussdorf and Grindling
This is also the area that Beethoven lived at times, and we saw two houses which he occupied at times, including the one in which he wrote the 6th and 9th symphonies.
It was a long ride home…maybe 15 kms, but it was all down through the centre of the “Donauinsel” park, so quite safe and scenic.
The weather has broken, and some rain is expected (we had some sprinkles while riding) so out timing has been great… we head off tomorrow to the Schonnbrunn Palace, and then will drive south, making some tracks toward Slovenia.
The rain has really set in, but timing was good for a tour of Schonnburg Palace out in the southwest of Vienna
There were some real annoyances about their organization… we had to wait in a line while a tour bus group went through the turnstile… why are single tourists second rate to tour groups?… and at the end everyone was forced to wend their way through the crowded gift shop to get out. But the audio guide was free, and the palace was splendid, with great insight into the lives of the Hapsburgs, especially the 19th C Franz Josef and his wife Elizabeth (Sisi), and the 18th C Maria Theresa and her family.
After the interior tour we strolled throught the magnificent (but damp) garden.
After a lunch in the parking lot we set off southwest, avoiding the autobahn and preferring the roller coaster secondary highway. It probably took twice as long, but much more interesting and relaxed.
We were going to try to settle in Graz for the night, but were frustrated by very poor signage into the Zentrum. We never did find the info centre despite circling the whole town trying to follow their misleading signage. We finally gave up, and headed out of town. We soon found a touristy little lake area with some signs for Camping, but even those signs were misleading. We finally pulled over in a pretty little woods alongside the airport area, and are free camping for the night. This will be our first foray into totally free camping…. ie in a spot not even designated for it, but the books say that Austria is tolerant of such business… we’ll see.