The Old European Power House

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
Trip End Feb 05, 2008

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Flag of Austria  ,
Friday, August 24, 2007

We made it to Austria! We took the train from Prague to Wien, which is apparently how you say Vienna in German. Austria does not have its own language, just German. We stayed in another nice hotel with my parents again and were able to walk to the city center. Our first day there we set out for the old town. In our meanderings we were handed a water bottle by a young man. After being thoroughly confused, we realized the water bottle was an advertisement for a modern art/photography exhibit in the museum across the street. The whole museum happened to be free on saturdays, so we went in. It was a pretty interesting exhibit. Not being a fan of modern art, I enjoyed more of the photography. Especially the 30x40 prints of old run down movie theaters. After spending almost 2 hours in the place, we set our sights on St. Stephens Cathedral. This was another large cathedral in the center of old town. The interesting bit about this one was that the roof was colored tile that formed the pattern of the austrian crest. It was a very elaborate and bright roof. The inside was very beautiful and elaborate, as the cathedrals have been. Having smuggled food from breakfast (they have trays of all different meats, cheeses, and breads during breakfast!) we found some steps and sat down to enjoy our packed lunch. Old town was beautiful. It had the same hustle and bustle as a major metropolitan area (which it is, i just had no idea), but will old historical buildings. What was even cooler was that there were a few modern buildings thrown into the mix that just made the place even that more amazing to just sit and stair at. We made our way to the Spanish Riding school where they train these horses to do some very impressive jumping and trotting. Unfortunately the whole place is more or less shut down in the month of august, so we did not get to see the horses in action. But this put us right in the center of the old imperial palace. We went into the treasury and saw all these crown jewels and coronation robes. There was even a crown in there that dated back to the 11th century.
    We continued on out the main gate of the palace to find the museums quarter and Parliament, but we really wanted to go and see the famous Nashmarkt. This was an open air market that extended for about 10 blocks, where each vendor had their own permanent structure to sell from. There was everything you could ever want, including a fine chocolate shop where Braden got some amazing truffles. We had arranged to go to a concert later that evening, so we strolled back up to the Parliament building where the concert hall was supposedly near. We happened to find a film festival set up right in front of the old town hall. It was very neat because it was all out doors and the huge screen was standing in front of this old beautiful building. We decided to give our feet a rest and sat in the stadium seating facing the screen until is was time for our concert. The concert was performed by the Vienna orchestra and there was some opera singers and ballet dancers that performed. We heard a collection of Mozart and Strauss in an hour and a half performance. It was very nice, but put me to sleep.

The next day we went to Scholss Schobrun Palace, the summer home of the royals. This was was were Marie Antoinette grew up until she was married to Louis and destroyed France. This place was AMAZING. The grounds went on forever and there was a hedge maze. We walked through the long rows of tree line paths leading to all sorts of fountains. The maze area actually had three different hedge mazes that we did. The first one was the most difficult and serious one that I am proud to say we figured out rather quickly. The second was geared for kids, so naturally my dad and I had a good time running around that one. The third was kinda boring. All it had was pole at the center you could climb up to ring a bell. I was able to climb about 2/3 of the way up, while Dad was able to ring the bell. Apparently I have to work on my upper body strength. We hiked up to the highest point of the grounds where one of the empress's had built a great building over looking all of Vienna. We enjoyed a lunch and ice cream there before going down to see the apple strudel show. The apple strudel show was in a over crowed basement where the oven hadn't been turned off for what felt like 24 hours. Thank goodness the show only lasted for 15 min, cause I was dying of heat and a small Asian lady was practically using me as a boost to get a better view. Having almost been smothered my heat and that lady, we ran out of there and toured the palace. The tour was great, letting us go through the entire bottom floor of the place. We say the many rooms dedicated to all the Emperors and their children and such. One Empress Maria Teresa had 16 kids, 11 of them survived until adult hood. Yikes! But the interior of the palace had the same over done feel of the British palaces, but did have some amazing wood work on the floors.

After our excursion through the palace, we headed back to old town where we sat in a lovely park near the town hall. We sat there playing spades, eating, and drinking beer (an amazing Austrian beer we all fell in love with called Ottakringer) until we were all too tired to continue.
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