Wien - cakes and coffee

Trip Start May 06, 2008
Trip End Jun 06, 2008

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Friday, May 16, 2008

"The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself." – William Least Heat Moon

Day 9: 16th May 2008 (Friday) Wien - cakes and coffee

We woke bright and early (not going to make the same mistake two days in a row) and checked my email first thing. Lobo Shuttle had replied, they were going to pick us up at 9am and it would cost us 1,100 CZK pp. So we had a quick breakfast at the hotel, checked out and were right in time for the shuttle. There were two other middle aged couples in the van, who yammered on and on throughout the 3 hour drive. The conversation was interesting at times, but for the most part, it was boring and I dozed on and off till we got the main train station Westbanhof. After paying the driver, the first thing we did was secure our train tickets to Salzburg the next day and then used the automated ticket machine to buy a 24 hour ticket that would allow us to use all modes of transportation - train, metro, tramway and buses. Then we made our way to our hotel for the night - Hotel And Apartments Shermin. We got room 19.The room wasn't exactly luxe, but it was decent enough for the one nights stay in the city. More impressive was the kindly old lady at the reception - Sophie. She was very friendly and once we had refreshed ourselves, she got out maps and plotted out where we should go and see and gave us lots of tips. There was a nice cafe at the end of the road where we had a quick lunch before making our way to the city center.

We took the that cirlces the Innere Stadt along Ringstrasse to get an overview of the city.We then got off near the Parliament building to take a few pictures.I liked the city, lots of interesting buildings, cute coffee shops, green parks and trams. I like cities with trams. After wandering about for a while we made our way to the Hofburg, which for centuries was the center of the Habsburg empire. The entry ticket entitled us to visit the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Silver Collection and there were audioguides to go with it. Godwin didn't want to listen to any more history, he was already museumed out, but dork that I am, I listened to the whole thing enraptured while he rolled his eyes and strolled about... It was really crowded but the palace is stunningly beautiful and the stuff on display is amazing - silver, porcelain, dinnerware.

Frankly, I had no clue who Sisi was, and I sure learned a lot, she was an interesting character. Who would have thought she was a fitness freak, washed her hair with brandy and egg whites, had a mother in law from hell. She saw many tragedies within her immediate family, and sought peace towards the end of her life - she had actually taken to wandering about dress all in black. She also famously said, and this I liked: "I am always on the march to meet my fate. Nothing can prevent me from meeting it on the day on which it is writen that I must do so." Ironically, she was stabbed by some Italian fanatic guy and was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.

After that massive overdose of Viennese history, it was time to refuel, and what better way to do it than to try famous Viennese cakes and of course, coffee... The sacher torte was divine and I learned ein kleiner brauner is coffee with milk... Satisfied, we headed towards St Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom). I mean, it basically dominates the skyline and you can't help but gravitate towards it... Unfortunately, they were cleaning up the roof tiles or something so there was a lot of scaffolding and I guess I didn't get to truly appreciate the details. But I love Gothic cathedrals, and of course we had to go inside and light candles. Where there be candles, light...  (for Euro 0,65)...

Vienna is such a beautiful city. You can just wander around and never be bored. So much to see. There are tons of street performers in this area. I was totally blown away by this guy who was doing paintings using a spray can. He was really good. I'd never seen anything like before or since. There were violinists and jugglers and people doing all sorts of other things. Eventually, we got back to the area near the Parliament Building, and there was some sort of protest being staged. There was a stage put up and a live band was tuning up for some sort of show. And then suddenly, lots of people starting showing up on bicycles. There was heavy police presence and then they were off, escorted by the cops.

It was getting late, and it was time to look for a place to eat dinner and crash. I was really tired and just wanted to sleep in but we had plans to go to the Schönbrunn the next day and we wanted to get there as early as we could before having to check out and catch the train to Salzburg. Really didn't want a repeat of the fiasco of getting to CK... I had great plans of attending a musical show, but G absolutely hates opera... so it wasn't really an option...

Steps walked: 13428
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