Sunday, September 10, 2017

Vienna, Austria


(It has been a month since Sally and I last posted on this blog. During this time, we have finished our amazing trip in Europe and arrived safely back in America. We’ve been rather busy the past few weeks visiting family and working out logistics of life in America. We are also in the process of starting new jobs with AmeriCorps in Birmingham. All of these exciting things will be documented in this blog, as well as the transition back into life in America, but for now I will pick up the story where we left off in central Europe.)

After three days in Prague, Sally and I traveled by train to our next city destination, Vienna, Austria. This time we made sure to spend a few euros on securing seat reservations in the train and were able to travel comfortably without losing our seats to anyone else.
St. Stephen's Cathedral 
We arrived in the cultural city of Vienna on the 8th of August. Vienna has a well-functioning metro system that we used to find our hostel which was on a different side of the city from the train station. Our first evening was more laid back, and we enjoyed a nice experience at a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner.

We started our first full day in Vienna by traveling to the city center and visiting the iconic St. Stephan’s Cathedral which started construction in 1137A.D.  Sally and I climbed 370 steps of the South Tower to view the city and historic square.

We then walked a short distance to the house of Mozart where the famous composer spent the most stable three years of his traveling life. We returned to the Cathedral to take a tour of the catacombs. Some underground vaults were filled with bones of plague victims that had died 500 years ago.

Mozart's House

This day ended up being a day of Mozart, because in the evening we went to a nice classical music concert at the House of Music Museum. The musicians included a double bass, a piano, a viola, a cello, and two violins, so many of the pieces we heard were played with some of the original instrumentation. A number of pieces of opera were also played with signers who illustrated the power of the human voice in the small theater.

Late in the evening, we made our way to a Mozart’s café where we enjoyed traditional Viennese dumplings.

The next day we traveled to the south-western side of the city to visit the massive Schonbrunn Palace. The palace was built in the 1740s during the reign of Maria Theresa, mother of Maria Antoinette. It is elegant and enormous. Sally and I spent an entire day touring through the massive gardens and taking a self-guided tour through 40 of the most elaborately decorated rooms I have ever seen. The shear wealth of the former Austrian monarchy is awe-inspiring.

Top--Sally at the Privy Garden, Middle--View of the palace from the Privy Garden, Bottom--Sally in the center of the largest hedge maze in the palace gardens...yes there was more than one. 

After spending most of day at the palace, we traveled into the city and ate at the historical Café Sperl which was a favorite for the Archduke Ferdinand. We dined on a selection of sausages and schnitzel. After dinner, we returned to the House of Music Museum and toured the interactive displays.

Top--Sally standing before the beautiful Glorriette on the palace grounds, Bottom--picture of the rear of the palace
 Our third day in Vienna we spent at the Prater which boasts being the oldest amusement park in the world. The Giant Ferris Wheel in addition to being historically famous also makes an appearance in the Orsen Welles’ classic “The Third Man.” Sally and I enjoyed getting to spend a day at an amusement park.
Prater, Photo credit:
We concluded our day with a free video concert of Lang Lang on the piano. The concert took place in front of the Austrian Parliament building as part of a summer concert series where it is possible to enjoy the music of the most amazing musicians in a nice summer atmosphere with plenty of food vendors.

Sally and I both really enjoyed Vienna and realize that we will have to return. There are many things we didn’t get to do and a number of things we couldn’t afford to do, but it is an amazing city. I have drawn comparisons between Vienna and New Orleans, because it seems like the city embraces its rich musical history and culture. Every night in Vienna 12,000 people are attending musical performances at various historical venues.  

The next day, we left Vienna and continued our journey to visit the beautiful country of Hungary.


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