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Published: July 14th 2018
My apologies to anyone who receives this travel blog twice but some people have said they did not receive it in their mailbox. I am attempting to repost the blog as a "public" post and hope that my friends and family will now be able to read about my adventure so far. Thank you.
I have to start off by thanking Michael, Petra, Hannah, Maggie and Johannes (sorry Johannes but someone has to go last) for being so wonderful by allowing me to stay with them in lovely Klingfurth and for being so accommodating and generous with their time to ensure I am fully occupied and enjoying every single moment. Another special thank you to Hannah who has graciously given up her own room for me to stay in while here.
My trip started off with Noel dropping me at Sydney Airport and it was a weird sensation saying goodbye to him as he normally is dragged, kicking and screaming, on all my long overseas holidays. I was brave and didn't cry but it felt wrong somehow to leave him behind this time. My Thai Airways flight to Bangkok took off an hour and fifteen minutes late (this was a sign of things to come) but was smooth and the pilot made up time so we landed close to the 4.30 Bangkok time we were meant to land at. I had booked myself into a cheap hotel for my evening layover of ten hours and even though the traffic noise and the karaoke bar next door were loud and prevented a decent sleep, it was worthwhile to lie down for a few hours and take a shower and change into some cooler clothes.
Back to the airport just after midnight and when I boarded the plane (also leaving late) I was very excited that the plane was half empty and I had 3 seats to myself. I had the window seat and I was going to be able to stretch out and have another little sleep on the next flight to Dubai. But wait……..NO!!!! Two men came and plonked themselves down between me and the aisle. I thought they were sitting in the wrong seats because why, oh why, would they put 2 men next to a single lady on a plane that had HEAPS of empty seats???? I don't know either!!!! I thought they would get up and move but sadly no. They decided they liked to sit next to me and be all cramped up. I even asked a steward if I could move to another seat and he made a big song and Dance about everyone already being stretched out on the empty seats and that I could move to an extra leg room seat if I REALLY needed to. Seeing as "aisle man" had already pulled the blanket up over his head by this time (3.30am) I decided to suck it up and be squished for the 6 hour flight instead of upsetting the apple cart and making everyone move.
These pilots are fast drivers because we also arrived in Dubai not long after scheduled and that airport is MASSIVE. They parked the plane in the middle of this huge parking lot for planes and we had to get a bus to take us to our connection terminal. It was 6 am and it was already 32 Degrees!! The bus took 20 minutes to travel to our terminal. There were lots of terminals. My short 3 hour layover turned into nearly six hours and my last flight to Vienna was on an Airbus. I was in row 86 and this leg was a bit bumpy. They had cameras on board so you could see out the front of the plane and below it. I was watching the plane rumble down the runway as if I was sitting in the cockpit and I was sure we didn´t have enough speed to get off the ground. I honestly cannot understand how something that massive can fly no matter how many times Noel tries to explain the "simple physics" of the procedure. Six hours later I was finally in Europe.
My first night was spent in a hotel so that I could catch up on some sleep after 40 Hours on the go and then Hannah, Johannes and Petra called to collect me and drive me to Klingfurth, via a lovely Heurigen where we stopped for lunch. Klingfurth is a lovely village in a valley of beautiful green hills and forests. It is nearly an hours drive south of Vienna and it is so peaceful and sweet here. Even the cows moo quietly. There are approximately 200 People in the village. My first evening here was spent getting to know Petra and Michael and I was so humbled that some of the family called in to meet me. Hannah's grandparents, an aunt, an uncle and 2 sets of young cousins took the time to come and say "Hallo".
Since then we have been busy, busy, busy. On Friday evening we went to a large town near here called Wiener Neustadt which translates to Vienna New City. We walked around the city centre and into a beautiful old church. Not Australia old...but Europe old!!! We had wine at an outdoor bar then went to a restaurant for dinner and to listen to live music. Saturday we did a walking tour of Vienna. WOW just....WOW. What a beautiful city. You are all going to be sick of seeing me write the word beautiful but it truly sums up everything that I have seen and done whilst here. After the morning tour we met another tour group and headed to Schonbrunn Palace. This place is…...yep, you guessed it...BEAUTIFUL! The history, the splendor of the rooms, the gold leaf trimmings, chandeliers, magnificent gardens. There is just too much to write about in a short blog. I know it is NOT short but I could write about these places for pages if I had the time.
Sunday we had a wonderful lunch at Petra's brother's house only 100 metres away. It was a huge family gathering and everyone was so warm and welcoming to me and they were all making such an effort to remember to speak in English so I wouldn't feel left out. It was a special day for me with the family being so kind.
Monday morning we loaded up the car for a girl's trip to Budapest. This is a 3 hour drive away and Hannah, Maggie; Petra and I had a wonderful time exploring the city on the hop on hop off bus. We did a short river cruise. We did a walking tour of the city centre with a very entertaining guide called Thomas. Our accommodation was a lovely renovated house that had been converted into a hotel. Super nice and only a 10-15 minute stroll into the city. Budapest is very similar to Vienna but whilst Vienna is pristine, some of the buildings and roads/paths were in serious need of some fixing and a coat of paint. I also did not like the amount of graffiti that adorned many buildings. It made some of the properties look cheap and nasty. We ate good food and enjoyed each other's company. On our way back to Austria we made a detour to a quaint old style village on the Danube where the streets are still cobblestoned with a little plaza and winding alleys. It is a bit of a craft market place with shops selling lace and embroidery, trinkets and artwork etc. It was really surreal walking along such old pathways and buildings and I kept thinking how crazy it was that these places were ACTUALLY standing there hundreds of years before the First Fleet arrived in Australia.
On Thursday we enjoyed a lovely brunch at Petra's sister's house in Bad Erlach and Hannah took me for a tour of the rest of the village where she lives. Petra and Michael took me to a different Heurigen that night where I met some of their Friends and had a very nice meal and wines.
Yesterday Petra and I drove to Melk and did a guided tour of the magnificent Melk Abbey while poor Hannah had to work. 😞 Sorry Hannah. The buildings are magnificent and the actual church in there just takes your breath away when you see its splendor. What a thrill to be in such a place. It's high up on a hillside so there is a wonderful view of the town of Melk and the Danube and surrounding countryside. The tour was followed by a leisurely stroll through the cobblestoned streets of Melk.
To top off the end of a fabulous 10 days we visited Graz today and wandered through the lovely streets of the old town. We visited another church called The Dom which was also magnificent. I don't actually think that Austria has any ordinary churches. So far I have been blessed with wonderful organ music being played in every church I have stepped into on this trip! We also made a trip up to the Schlossberg which is an old Fortress and park land area in the middle of the city. More great views from here too. Our stroll was followed by lovely drive to an area near the border of Slovenia where we enjoyed good wine, good food and good company.
Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day for everyone, except Michael, who is off to climb a mountain again!!! Monday we four girls are off again on another adventure to Salzburg! So much to do....so little time. xxx
Unfortunately I am a dinosaur when it comes to technology, plus the Computer I am using has all the commands written in German so I don't understand what is being shown PLUS everyone who could help me download pictures for this blog is asleep!!! I will get some help tomorrow and will post lots of pictures for you to see. Sorry everyone.
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