Vienna: land of deep thoughts -- and ice cream

Trip Start May 22, 2005
Trip End Aug 09, 2005

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

June 19
We slept in because the bus did not leave until noon. We made our way across the Chain Bridge and to the lovely park by Deak Fernec Ter (one of the main intersections). Even though the bus was a bit late in arriving, we only had a four hour ride to Vienna and made it by late afternoon. We checked in to our room at Pension Hargita, which is in a great location, about 10 minutes walk to most of the major sights. There are ice cream parlours about every fourth store on any major street in Vienna, and it is all cheap and delicious. So much for our diet! After strolling around our neighbourhood to orient ourselves we headed for some rest.

June 20
Today we went to the Hofburg, which is one of the royal palaces of the Hapsburg dynasty in Austria. The palace was lovely but most of the interior was museums, and since we are averaging about 2 museums a day, we decided to walk around the city and enjoy the beautiful weather. We visited Stephansdom, the major church in Vienna, but the catacombs were closed today so we continued on to Am Hof, another large square. After a light lunch we visited the Freud Museum, which is located in the home that Freud lived in before leaving for England at the outbreak of WWII. It had a lot of interesting bits and pieces, including some of his personal library and ancient artifacts he collected. Our tired feet drove us home for some rest and gelatti.

June 21
We made our way back to Stephansdom this morning to catch a tour of the catacombs, which date to the 1500's and still hold the skeletons of plague victims as well as the preserved (in metal jars) innards of many of the Hapsburg clan. The rooms had a distinct odor (K: of DEATH) and were generally quite spooky. They have a chapel in the catacombs where they still hold mass and the graves of all of the bishops and cardinals of Vienna are located in a crypt down there as well. It was a great tour but morbid. After such a cheerful start to our day we made our way to Hoher Market, which has a large clock which has been running since 1914. There are 3 metre figures that are supposed to parade around at the stroke of noon. However, apparently we are bad luck as quite a crowd gathered to witness the clock's keepers put up a "Not in Service" sign to a chorus of boos! Lunch lifted our spirits and we visited the Historical Museum of Vienna, which is quite fascinating and has artifacts from the pre-history of the city all the way to modern times. There were some interesting original scores by Mozart as well as models of the city from all the major settlement changes, showing how it expanded over time. This was a great museum, well worth the admission, though sadly empty of tourists. After about 10 days, it was laundry night (what fun!) and then time to get packed for our next stop.
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