Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Friday, September 4, 2009

When we arrived in Vienna it was raining. We had to find another suburban train to get us to our Couch Surfers house. Okay, so couchsurfing is a program for travelers. You sign up and you can search for people that are willing to host you for free. In return you offer your couch when you can. Brian and I don't have a home, which means no couch, but people are still willing to host us. We found a GREAT couple in Vienna. Ilse and Harry. They live about 20 minutes outside of the city center by train but not too bad of a commute. Ilse was going to pick us up from the train but our bus was late. I tried calling her but had the wrong number. I was freaking out that she wouldn't be there and we didn't have her address or the correct phone number. Ahh!!! But bless her soul she had waited for us for over an hour in the rain. What a lady! So we all went back to her flat and met her partner Harry. He is taller then Brian, so that was a shock.

The first night, they took us to a neighborhood wine bar. When I hear the words Wine Bar I think expensive, but this was not at all - and we were in Vienna. It is completely a locals place so that's probably why. They have a big selection of local wines. Vienna is the only city in the WORLD that has wineries in the city limits. There really were wineries everywhere. Just walking to the wine bar we saw some - in the middle of a neighborhood. So cool. I finally got to enjoy wine again. I hadn't had any since Mom and Susan left us in Australia! Too long. At this bar they also have homemade Austrian food. They have small selection of dips and some hot food but all really fresh. You order like at a deli. Brian and I both got meatloaf with potato dumplings, sauerkraut and green beans. Delicious! Ilse paid for it too. With couchsurfing, the host is never expected to do anything like that. Some hosts don't even have blankets for you. So we picked up the wine tab. Great start to Vienna and great people to stay with.

The next morning we got up early and had a long breakfast with Ilse and Harry. It was a Saturday so they didn't have to work. We had a good Austrian breakfast of eggs, in egg cups (never used egg cups before) and lots of bread with tons of toppings, and wonderful coffee! After breakfast they took us to a park where there is a lookout over the city. It had grown pretty wild since the last time they had been there, but still good the vineyard. We then hopped on a tram that took us to the Schonbrunn Palace.  This was one of the Hapsburg's summer castles. Beautiful gardens and palace. We spent a couple hours here and took a tour of the inside. Really magnificent.

Other things we did in Vienna: visited a Clock Museum (for free), found a good brewery (1516 Brewery), saw St. Stephan's church - huge church in the middle of the town square, saw some monuments, went to Mozart's apartment, went to Beethoven's apartment, toured City Hall, saw the Hundertwassershaus Gallery building - the same artist that designed the famous bathrooms in New Zealand that are so popular, saw the Hofburg Imperial Palace (the Hapsburg's Hofburg blah blah) and gardens, spent A LOT of time wondering around the small streets and markets. We probably would do things a little different if we could. There is so much to see, its very overwhelming. Instead of trying to see everything, we would have slowed down a little. Every night we were completely exhausted. The palaces were unbelievable though. There are lots and lots of parks in Vienna, they are everywhere, very green space. The people are nice and helpful for the most part and there is great food!

We really lucked out with Ilse and Harry though. The first night was the wine bar, two mornings of delicious breakfasts, the second night they made us beef goulash that is crazy wonderful with flour/egg type noddles but not dumpling or pasta, the 3rd night they made us veggie soup with dumplings and after we had homemade crepes with lots of jams and powered sugar. After dinner every night we sat together and drank some wine. They introduced us to a lot of great Austrian things, like Sturm, which is young wine basically. Very refreshing and tasty - like a fruity gingerale but with alcohol.

The last night we were there, Brian and I made dinner. We made empanadas. You think we would make something from the USA but what is there to make besides hot dogs and cheeseburgers? Most of my family recipes are originally from Germany anyway. Besides, empanadas are tasty...but I forgot how time consuming they are. We ate around 10pm...on a work night. Oops. I thought dinner turned out great, hope they did too. Harry sure ate a lot of it, so that's a good sign. Next time, Ill definitely keep it more simple when I cook though!
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