Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vienna Days One and Two

A Total Delight

I am not exactly sure where I came across a blog post describing Vienna as "having become dirty and far too expensive". The gist was skip Vienna and go to Prague or Budapest instead.

Well I had already booked our trip and remembering how much I loved Vienna 40 years ago, I allowed about 4 days in Vienna. But I'll admit after reading some blog posts I was having some remorse.

After our horrible train trip we needed to shower and take a nap. The temps hovered around 100° so we waited till early evening to venture out for a first walk in the historic center of the city.

What a joy! 

The Vienna we found was simply lovely, rich in history, relatively uncrowded and immaculate. It is filled with lovingly maintained architecture and laced with wide boulevards shaded by trees with space for both pedestrians and bicycles.

This is a city where its subway (the U-Bahn) and bus systems work just fine completely on the honor system.

And everywhere you go there is street food! In Phoenix we love our 24 hour taco shops, in Vienna they have 24 hour walk-up wurst and beer booths. 

All in all I fell head over heels in love with Vienna once again.

The Nationalbibliothek (Library)
On the Left is the Home of the Spanish Riding School 
Featuring the Royal Lizzaner Stallions 
Saved From Extinction by General George Patton 

During our first outing we window shopped and can confirm that every overpriced designer boutique is represented.

Serious Window Shopping 

St. Stephens marked the mid-point of our walk. Wow. What an amazing church with its soaring bell tower and mosaic roof. 

We stopped for gelato at the tiny Greisslers shop (look for the block long line) and went on to grab  a casual dinner (a big greasy and uber delicious wok full of shrimp and noodles from a walk-up Lucky Noodle stand).

Then it was back home for some shut eye.

Day Two:
In the morning we decided to visit make a visit to the oldest zoo in Europe; the Tiergarten. The zoo, considered to be one of the best in Europe, was originally part of the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace.

The grounds of the palace are simply breathtaking. I loved the "Palm House" which was being refurbished.

The Schonbrunn Palm House

The zoo collection is very comprehensive and does include giant pandas which were the high point of the day for me.

Feeding Time

The whole original zoo was laid out on a radial plan with a huge dining pavilion in the middle. Now of course the zoo has been transformed into a moder zooligical gardens with naturalized settings. It is one of the premier facilities for the preservation and breeding of certain endangered species as well.

Once we finished visiting the zoo we traversed the unbelievably beautifully manicured wide gravel paths leading throughout the Palace grounds. Amongst the grounds are fountains, stauary, special collections of plants (even a hot house for desert plants!) There is a museum housing the royal coaches, and a hedge labyrinth (no can do after The Shining....)

Mr. B and Ms. M
Schonbrunn (Fair Spring) Palace

Although initially a series of hunting estates and deer parks, the extensive 1441 room palace we see today was commissioned by Leopold I in 1693. By 1700 Schonnbrun's central section was complete. The design of the wings evolved and construction started and stopped for various wars. The responsibility of the development of the palace just passed from generation to generation. Development continued until the completion of the grounds and the hilltop Gloriette in 1775.

Directly Opposite the Palace is the Schonnbrun Gloriette
Destroyed in WWII The Original Dates Back to 1775

It was a great day of sightseeing. But it was pretty darned hot. So we returned to our hotel and took siestas. Then when the sun was down we ventured back out to get a Birthday dinner of schnitzel and beer for Mr. B. What we found was a city that had come alive in families out pushing strollers and walking their dogs. Street musicians were out and restaurants all featured outdoor dining.

Vienna at night is truly wonderful!

On our walk back to the hotel we passed the unique 1911 circa Ankeruhr clock at the Hoher Markt. Colorful and animated with life size figures this clock survived world wars.

The Ankeruhr Clock
At Hoher Markt
When we return to the hotel they had left a sacher torte birthday cake and bottle of Prosecco in Mr. B's room. Very Cool!

Roadboy's Travels © 2013

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