13. Wien(er Schnitzel)

Trip Start Apr 19, 2011
Trip End May 25, 2013

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Wombats at the Naschmarkt

Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wien. Vienna. City of 1000 palaces. Blair has boldly declared Vienna to be his favourite big city, 100x better than Auckland and professed his desire to move here and wear lederhosen and speak crazy Austrian German for the rest of his days.

Leaving the Czech Republic, prostitutes lined the road leading to the border - it's much cheaper for truck drivers to buy their services there than in Austria. I had high expectations for Austria. And once we crossed over, the level of cleanliness and standard of the buildings noticeably improved. We arrived in Vienna around 5pm at our hostel at the Naschmarkt - awesome brand spanking new hostel in a great central location with stalls full of fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, meat, and nuts right on our doorstep.

At 6 we met our Viennese guide Ulrich for a 'walk and fork' tour around the city - and what a beautiful central city it is! So many amazing buildings (thanks in large part to the incredibly wealthy and incredibly ugly inbred Habsburg family) around the Museumsquartier and a beaaaautiful Volksgarten (People's Garden) full of roses that have all just come into bloom. We strolled past the Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner horses, through the pedestrian area around Kärntnerstrasse, had a squiz at St Stephans, and even saw an 20-tonne mosaic of The Last Supper commissioned by Napoleon, now residing in Minorite church. We finished off of course with the "fork" part of the tour - a very large Wiener schnitzel followed by a sweet cheese strudel which was absolute deliciousness.

The next day was INCREDIBLY hot, with not a cloud in the sky. Full of breakfast salami and cheese, we headed to Schloss Schönbrunn (Palace of the Habsburg family) with our Australian friend Tom and wandered through the beautiful gardens, drinking the delicious Vienna water (tastes just like home), in the direction of the Vienna Tiergarten/Zoo! AND WHAT A ZOO! The world's oldest zoo - it houses giant pandas, polar bears, tigers, leopards, black panthers, artic wolves, capybaras, bison, lions, orangutans, hippos, six elephants including a baby.... Probably the coolest zoo in the world. Never have I been in a zoo where you can get so close to the animals, you could literally walk into the enclosures if you wanted to... not a place to take a crazy person. But it was great because the animals had really natural living spaces and we got to see the tigers swimming and ripping apart little white bunnies!

We finished off the day at the Naschmarkt, buying fruit and veggies, freshly made ravioli pasta and pesto sauce to cook for dinner in the hostel kitchen. That evening Blair went out on the town drinking with the bus driver while I tried really hard to fall asleep before everyone else in our dorm came home and started snoring.

Today the weather was a lot cooler and threatening rain, so we didn't make any grand plans. We started off retracing our steps from the walking tour so we could take a few more photos and enjoy it at our own pace. But we got a little bit lost and ended up at the Vienna beer festival. Blair couldn't look at another drink after last night so it was just a quick passing visit and we carried on into town. There, Blair decided he desperately needed to go back to the hostel and lie down. He headed off and I took the time to have a look in the shops before catching the U-bahn (metro) out to Donau Insel (Danube Island) where I was going to hire a bike and cruise through the bush along the river. But then it started to pour - so I walked in the direction of the Hundertwasser house and got horribly lost.

A lovely elderly Austrian lady saw me with my map and tried to help me and while she babbled away in German I nodded a lot and made agreeing noises as she directed me left and right and past something else and then over something and ... I didn't want to let on that I didn't really understand what she was saying so I thanked her profusely and went around the corner and got out my map again ...

Anyway I eventually found it and that was interesting to look at for about 2 minutes. But then I just got the metro back to the hostel again ...

Tonight is our last night in Vienna. We were due to stay 5 nights but changed our itinerary a bit so we can have 2 nights in a tiny village of 200 people in the countryside - a village called Gruenau im Almtal - google it - amazing pictures!

No plans for this evening because it's POURING with rain and thunder and lightning ... although an old friend from school Gerlinde (exchange student) lives here and we need to catch up!

Rating out of 10: 9
In a word: Liveable
Something Interesting: The ZOO!!!
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