Hanging with the Habsburgs in Vienna


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September 1st 2016
Published: September 2nd 2016
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Prague to Vienna


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Horse and Cariiages waiting for tourists
Day 219 Wednesday 24th August 2016 – Prague to Vienna



Yahhhooo, we are finally getting out of this hell called Prague. Shelley refused to let me blog whilst in Prague (except for the transport museum), but now that I am let off the leash, let me say I will never ever set foot in this town again. If it wasn’t for the fact that my backpack was laden down with so many books I would have skipped to the bus station. Got there early just to make sure we didn’t miss our bus, and just about did a dance in the aisle as the bus made its way out of town. Travelling with Regiojet again so the bus was fabulous except we had a couple of idiots behind us that liked to put their knees into the back of the seat and grab onto the headrest. Was going to turn around and have a go at them but Shelley keeps telling me to chill and it was only a short journey, so we endured.



Got to Vienna at 5 in the afternoon and walked the short distance from the bus station to the
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The Habsburgs Summer Palace
metro station, picked up our tickets and as we arrived on the platform a train turned up and we jumped on. Had done my homework this morning on where we needed to go, and to be honest the metro system is so good it wasn’t hard to work out. Had to change trains at one of the stations but within 20 minutes we were at the doorstep of our hotel. It was so effortless and easy it almost felt like we had just stepped off the bus.



We dropped off our bags at the hotel and went looking for a feed. We are right next to a large pedestrian mall, which is mainly clothes shops but further afield we found some other options but unfortunately most are fairly expensive. Ended up settling for a great feed of Asian noodles and a couple of beers before heading home. Soon discovered that nearly all the shops here close at 8pm including all the supermarkets so I couldn’t get a roadie.





Day 220 Thursday 25th August 2016 – Vienna



Both awoke feeling a bit wrecked this morning, which wasn’t alcohol
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St Stephens Cathedral Interior
induced as we didn’t have much last night but maybe the travelling is catching up with us. No breakfast at the hotel as they wanted 26 Euros extra for that privilege and so went up to the mall and got a fantastic coffee with large ham roll for half that. Decided today to take a nice long walk around town and check the place out and maybe see a museum or two but in the end we didn’t get to see any. Around the corner from our hotel is a huge concrete structure called a flak tower built during the war for anti-aircraft guns and as a bomb shelter. These things have 3.5m thick concrete walls so it is no wonder it is still standing and great to see it is now reused as an aquarium and as a climbing wall, a very, very high climbing wall. The Pedestrian mall we are next to leads down to the main tourist section that is loaded with fabulous old buildings and museums and choka block with history. Wandered through this zone taking photos as we went and then ended up in the shopping zone of the town and so spent most of
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Breakfast at Duran
the day wandering from one shop to the next. Did stop and look through the St Stephens Cathedral, which is an absolute Gothic masterpiece, inside and out. You could pay to have a tour and to go to the top of the bell tower but otherwise it was free to enter which made a nice change after Prague.



Vienna is so bloody fabulous after the mad house we had just escaped, that after just this one day of being here we decided to stay longer and so midafternoon we made our way home and arranged with our hotel to stay an extra night. Shelley then left me to do the blogging and homework whilst she went off shopping. For dinner we decided we should do something more traditional and so had a feast of Schnitzel. Couldn’t afford no fancy top end place and so went what looked like a fast food chain, and got a huge plate of schnitzel each. I (Scott) wisely chose chips as a side order whilst Shelley thought she would go the healthy choice of a mixed salad – ha ha ha, salad drowned in a bowl of mayonnaise is what she got
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St Stephens Cathedral Exterior
and then proceeded to blame me for the lousy choice she made – you don’t make friends with salad.







Day 221 Friday 26th August 2016 – Vienna



Back to the cafe around the corner which is called Duran, we had actually thought it was called Duran Duran which had us terrified that we may encounter Simon Le Bon serving us or it had non-stop Duran Duran music playing but thankfully we were spared that excruciating pain. What this café specializes in is what I would call small open sandwiches but there is probably a better/proper term for them. Each little sandwich costs 1.3 Euro and they are divine, probably not exactly breakfast food but pretty good, and what’s more the coffee is perfect.



After breakfast we stopped at the post office and picked up a box so we could send some stuff home and got a quote which seemed reasonable and decided that tonight we would pack up what we had. From here we headed down into the “old town” and got some history into us. Vienna is loaded to the gills with museums and
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Altar in the St Stephens Cathedral
you could do some serious brain damage trying to absorb it all so we opted to pick the best and leave the rest. Today we picked the treasury museum which as expected contains all the bling and shiny things from the countries past. I am no expert on the history of Austria and in fact what I know I could probably write on a postage stamp. I do know that it was once part of the Holy Roman Empire and then the Austria Hungarian empire and the ruling Habsburg Family was one of the great Royal families in history. In this museum was exhibited all the great treasures from these periods and it was a fabulous collection. Some things were a bit gaudy but most was well made and sophisticated pieces that were a pleasure to look at. Amongst the collection were also the prized religious relics like pieces of the true cross, John the Baptists tooth and another “spear of destiny”. This one of course has now been dated to the 8th Century AD, so is now classed as fake as a louis Vuitton bag at “Paddy’s markets”. The two pieces that got me laughing were a piece of
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Habsburg Bling
the tablecloth from the last supper and a piece of the loin cloth from Christ (which surprisingly looked like the same fabric). Cannot wait till I am a revered saint and have pieces of my underwear on display in a golden display cabinet. The jewel encrusted crowns and gowns worn by the kings were as expected amazing but what was perhaps the standout pieces were at the end of the exhibition. The last pieces were religious vestments worn by the leaders of the religious order known as the “order of the Golden Fleece” and were hand embroided with religious scenes. From a distance they looked like any dusty religious cloaks but on close examination the fine detail was incredible and it was hard to believe that someone actually stitched this work by hand. Had to be seen to be believed.



After this dazzling display we went on a long walk through the shopping districts picking up some souvenirs and getting a set of golf balls for Michele’s Mum and a pipe for mine, just so glad the two ladies are easy to buy gifts for. On our walk back to our room we went past the post
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Close up of the golden detail on a crown
office and discovered that unlike the post offices in the city centre, the one near us isn’t open tomorrow so we went into panic mode and raced home and started packing our box. 30 minutes later and we were back at the post office and sending it on its way, all 14 kilos of it. Once this was done we had a couple of beers at a bar and then went back to the Asian restaurant for a spicy feed. Discovered that both places along with most of the town will be shut on Sunday so we may have issues. A strange and interesting thing about Vienna we were told today that a lot of places close over Summer or have shorter hours because most of the locals are on holidays and leave town. Seems strange that places are open longer when it is colder darker and miserable.





Day 222 Saturday 27th August 2016 – Vienna



Breakfast was back at Duran and while I went the Hungarian Salami for breakfast Shelley went the Sardines – no amount of brushing or chewing gum will get rid of our bad breath today.
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Detailed close up of embroidery work
Another day in Vienna and another museum, and todays was the royal residence of the last Habsburg rulers. The cost of entering was 12 Euros each which is expensive but ended up being well worth it and comes with an audio tour that gives heaps of interesting details. The museum starts with all the kitchen stuff and loads and loads of dinner sets, you truly cannot believe that they created so many bloody plates and cups. It is a bit boring but I found it interesting how there was no silver sets prior to 1808 as they melted them all down to fund their war against Napoleon.



The museum then moves onto the residence of Franz Joseph I (1830 – 1916) and his wife Empress Elisabeth. Once again knew nothing of the two which is a great way to enter a museum especially when you come out the other side with your head marveling and questioning. Franz Joseph is well loved in Austria and if the museum is correct was a hard worker, and we were surprised how basic his bedroom was, fairly small with a basic iron framed bed. The guy apparently worked from 5 in
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The Climbing Wall on thee Flak Tower
the morning and would see over a hundred people a day. His wife Elisabeth (Sisi to family) was his cousin who he married in 1854 and the poor dear was ill prepared for the duty of an empress and from all accounts may have suffered from depression which she struggled with all her life. It was actually really sad seeing the personnel items of the pair and where they lived and hearing and reading their story. He was caught ruling an empire that consumed his whole life but his study was filled with paintings of her, his children and grandchildren. She lived separately and her rooms were filled with paintings of a poet she admired her parents and siblings and only one of one of her daughters. Her life was mostly spent away from the public because she struggled with the attention but yet devoted most of her day on her appearance, and apparently her ankle length hair took a whole day to wash. Tragically in 1898 she was assassinated by an Italian anarchist who missed his chance on murdering another royal and chose her instead. I loved this museum as it left you with the feeling that you almost
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Part of the Royal Palace
knew them but also left you with the yearning to know more – need to buy yet more books.



From this dizzying story we went for a long walk through the town past one incredible building after another till we found ourselves at a display of vintage cars in front of the Rathaus (Town Hall). Some sort of car rally was in town and it was great looking over a collection of shiny classic cars that seemed over represented by E type Jaguars. On the way back to our hotel Shelley stopped to buy yet another pair of shoes and I then used that as leverage to get a beer at an Irish Pub. Dinner was once again back at the Asian restaurant and we then went looking for a music festival that was apparently in town. Been really craving some live music but we never found it and later discovered we hadn’t walked far enough. We both really love Vienna, it has a great vibe but is sadly lacking in any nightlife and even find that the restaurants and bars don’t even play music. All around our hotels there are old punks begging for money and
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Statue in the courtyard of the Royal Palace
it makes me feel like the good times rolled out of town in the 80’s and they were left behind. They saw me in my Ramones T shirt yesterday and they all stood aside as if I was Joey Ramone (god maybe I am starting to look like him). If I could speak German I should ask them where the music scene is (other than Mozart) - maybe the fact that they are parked on the kerb tells us there isn’t much of one around. We did spot a memorial to Falco of “rock me Amadeus” fame near a train station and realised it is 18 years since he died, but still haven’t found one to Ultravox.





Day 223 Sunday 28th August 2016 – Vienna



Slow start to the morning as it is washing day how exciting sitting watching the machines go around. We were undecided what to do today, we were considering an art gallery then at the last moment decided on the Schloss Schonbrunn the Summer Palace of the Habsburgs which is only 5 stops on the metro I (Shelley) saw it about 30 years ago and had
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View back from the Palace
vague images in my head so it was good to see it again. You can walk around the main garden area for free but the maze, zoo, private garden and of course the palace rooms cost. There are different tickets to choose from and we finally decided on the Grand tour that only includes palace rooms but a few more rooms than the Imperial ticket. You are given a timeslot for the “tour” which allows you to wander through with an audio guide at your own pace.



We had to wait about an hour and 15 minutes before our time slot so we wandered around the huge free garden section, seeing the fake ancient Roman ruins built in 1778 and the fountains.



We arrived back at the entrance to the Palace tour and left our bags at the cloak room you can’t take photos inside. There are 1441 Baroque rooms but tourists can only see about 40, some were beautiful and others very busy and stifling. There was a slightly different version to the Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth story and her relationship with her mother-in-law. After the tour we walked around the gardens some more looking at the beautiful glass house from the outside only as this also costs extra to see inside.



Headed back to the hotel and dropped off our bags and then walked over to the free outdoor film festival. The whole area around the Rathausplatz (City hall Square) is turned into an outdoor eating area with lots of food stalls and tables and chairs we grabbed a great feed and a beer and found a table. At 8.30pm we moved over to the huge screen in front of the Rathaus to see Anthony Minghella’s production of Puccini’s opera Madam Butterfly which I was looking forward to seeing. The setting of the festival is great and we both really enjoyed the night. There is a different film on every night and it is varied anything from opera to modern concerts that have been filmed. It seemed fitting to see an Opera (albeit on film) on our last night in this great town. A good dose of culture to send us on our way and hopefully one day we will return.


Additional photos below
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One of Christs Nine inch Nails
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Spear of Destiny
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St Stephens Cathedral interior
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Altar in the Peterskirche
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Interior of the Peterskirche
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Maria Theresia Memorial
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Piece of Loin Cloth


2nd September 2016
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Yum!
Tasty looking little sandwiches--I love little bites of different flavors. Curious that Vienna was so less crowded than Prague, since both are really beautiful, cultured, and fabulous. But glad you got to see some old autos and catch an opera at a fab, free, outdoor film fest. For me, there was a lot nightlife--operas (standing room) in one of the most gilded opera houses ever. And visiting palaces is such a lovely way to sense the players and take in history. So happy you loved Vienna!
3rd September 2016
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Oh Vienna
Both loved the place, and Shelley did want to do the standing in the opera thing but thankfully for me it didn't happen, but there is always next time. We probably should have pushed ourselves a bit more and seen a lot more but we just loved taking it at a slower pace, and Vienna to me was a joy to walk around.
3rd September 2016

The look of love...
Ok Scott, here's the deal - you haz chips, Shelley no haz chips...do you see where this is going? Hehe I had to laugh when I read about the soggy salad, I always go for the salad option and then end up eating half of Andrew's chips :) I don't at all understand the closing early in summer thing, but fabulous timing being there for the outdoor film festival. Loved this blog, and your love for the place clearly comes through in your beautiful photos!
3rd September 2016

The look of love...
Generally what happens with us is Shelley goes "how about we share this meal/drink" and of course you know who gets most of it and who goes hungry. Yes we really did love this town, and still cannot understand why millions trample each other to death in the streets of Prague when you have Dresden, Vienna and even Budapest so close, and they are all equally as beautiful and have a far better vibe.
3rd September 2016
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Ah Vienna
We walked down memory lane reading your blog. This is a town we really liked and sounds like you did also. We listened to music every night and were pleased at the variety. Lots of wonderful museums and foods. We went on a self induced tort tasting and found many to our liking.
3rd September 2016
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Ah Vienna
Before coming here I kept hearing that it was a boring town, and I could see how it gets that tag, but it also has heaps to do and if you scratch around it has a great night life. Unfortunately due to bad navigation we missed the music but I did listen to Ultravox Vienna every night to keep me in the mood. Absolutely love this town
13th October 2016

Wien!
I had no idea Shell's mum played golf, or your mother smoked a pipe Scotty....the pipe was for your mother right? Interesting.... Looking at your pic's takes me back to my time in Vienna, I absolutely loved it. It was the first European city I had ever visited and I was gobsmacked by it beauty and history. So glad you enjoyed it also x
14th October 2016

Wien!
Presents for the Mums was our subtle hint that they are impossible to buy for. As for Vienna, we agree with you that it was absolutely gorgeous and it had such a good vibe.

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