Saturday, March 3, 2012

Vienna (Wien) - The Prater, Sisi, Franz Joseph, and the Rest of the City

Day 5 (Continued) - We arrived in Austria; and, after all the walking we did in Budapest, we decided to get the 72-hour metro pass.  We considered the Vienna Card, but the person selling the various passes told us that if we didn't have children, then it wasn't worth it to get the card.  I must say that the 72 hour passes are very convenient as we only had to buy one for the whole trip, and we only had to validate it with our first use.  After arriving, we headed off to our apartment (once again obtained through  I liked this apartment very much, and it looked exactly like it did in the pictures, right down to the chocolate on the towels at the foot of the bed.  I especially loved the water pressure in the shower.  After the owner's dad showed us around the place, we settled in and then we headed off to the Prater to take a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel, which was featured on the Amazing Race (sometime in the past few seasons).  Just before we entered our Ferris Wheel "waggon", we saw them setting up one of the other waggons for a special event, and just before we exited, we saws the people who had reserved that waggon get in (and there were a lot of them - I didn't realize how many people could fit in one waggon.  Needless to say, I am not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling from heights.  While the waggon was fully enclosed, it was very windy while we were in Vienna, and being higher up, it was even more windy.  Let's just say the I enjoyed the ride down much more than I enjoyed the ride up.

A Catered Car on the Giant Ferris Wheel

 After experiencing the Giant Ferris Wheel, we headed downtown to check out the sights at night.  We started at city hall, where they had a huge area set up outside that included and ice skating rink, and ice skating track (for lack of a better word), and a curling rink.  We were excited when we saw posted on the curling rink that children and beginners could practice on the rink daily, for free, from 9-4.  As we had never curled before, we thought this would be fun, and put it on our list of things to do over the next few days if we had fine.  Unfortunately, when we did return a day or two later, we were greeted with the site of children and beginning skaters (not curlers).  It made me a little sad as I thought it would be fun to try curling, and the fact that we could try for free had been even more exciting.
Wien City Hall

A map of the skating track in front of city hall
After City Hall, we walked around some more and saw The Hofburg and several museums.  We took some pictures, but didn't go in anything (most of them were closed anyway). Afterwards, we decided to head back to the apartment and pick up something from the supermarket across the street for dinner.  Unfortunately, we learned that it closed a little sooner than we thought, so we ended up eating Poptarts for dinner.

Day 6 - The main part of Vienna
The next day, we headed back downtown again.  We started out by finding an information center, and getting a better map.  Then we went to the market, which was an outdoor market.  It primarily had meat, produce, and bakeries on one side, and restaurants on the other side.  There were a few food vendors on the meat and produce side - selling the cheaper items.  In the end, we did end up buying a pastry that was topped with fruit.  It was very yummy.  After we hit the market, it was time to see the tourist sites.  We saw Stephensdom.  I call this the "tie-dye" church.  You'll see why based on the picture I'm posting below.  The effect is from the stained glass windows.  My brother was not a huge fan of this church.
The Inside of Stephensdom -  Wien, Austria

We then hit a few souvenir shops on the way from Stephensdom to the Church of St. Peter.  My favorite was a little shop that had Cuckoo clocks.  The ones that I liked ran in the $400+ range, however, so I decided against getting one for now.  It did have some other fun stuff too, though, and we ended up buying a cowbell for my dad at the shop.
Inside the Churh of St. Peter in Wien, Austria

Things get a bit foggy after this, but generally, after we went to this Church, we checked things out at the Hofburg.  We did not go and see the Lipizzan Stallions, but we did go to the shop and saw some video clips of them.  He then bought the Sisi Ticket which included entrance to the Silver Collection at the Hofburg, the Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg, and exhibit on Sisi, and also entrance to Schonbrunn Palace.  It also included entrance to other exhibits which we did not decide to see.  These exhibits all included free audioguides, which I thought was great.  The silver collection (which included more than just the silver) was fine, but I'm not really super excited about looking at table settings.  The Sisi exhibit was very informative (as I had never heard of Sisi, and it was interesting to here her story, however overall she seemed like a very depressed person.  I think the only reason she became such and icon in Austria after her death was because of her beauty. The Imperial Apartments was fine, but much of the same information was presented at Schonbrunn, but I don't think you really need to go to both.  Having gone to both, I would definitely recommend the Schonbrunn Palace over the Hofburg.  The grounds at both places are large and beautiful, however.

I'm sure we did more this day, but I forget what, so I'll leave it at that.

Day 7 - Schonbrunn Palace, The Belvedere, Kunst Haus Wien, The Hundertwasser House, and the Johann Strauss Museum

As I mentioned before, Schonbrunn and the Imperial apartment tours had a lot of the same information, but I feel like Schonbrunn had more information on the Habsburgs besides Sisi and Franz Joseph.  The grounds were also beautiful, but unfortunately the maze was closed for the winter.  
The Gloriette at Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace
A fountain at Schonbrunn

 After the Schonbrunn, we went to the Belvedere.  We took "the scenic route" there (meaning we may have took a few wrong turns on our way to the site.  There are actually two building at the Belvedere - the Upper Belvedere and the Lower Belvedere.  They both now house the museums.  We did not go in the museums, but we did enjoy the exterior and grounds of the building.

The Upper Belvedere
The Lower Belvedere (with the Vienna skyline in the background).  How many cranes can you count in this picture?

After all the Classic Architecture, we decided to visit some more modern architecture in the city.  We went to Kunst Haus Wien and Hundertwasser House.  Vienna being a city with an impressive musical background, we also decided to visit the Johann Strauss House where he and his wife lived and where he composed the Blue Danube Waltz.  I randomly chose this museum.  I would not really recommend it.  Even though I didn't go to the Mozart museum or the Haus der Musik, I would probably recommend spending a few dollars more and going to one of these museums if you are into musik.  What I did like about the museum was that the method of the displays was unique, and I enjoyed being able to put on the headphones and listen to various song selections by Strauss (although I would have expected at least a portion of the Blue Danube Waltz to be one of the selection choices - which it wasn't).

Kunst Haus Wien
Hundertwasser Haus

Day 8 - Train Ride to Prague

We headed out pretty early the next morning to catch our train to Prague.  On our train ride we enjoyed the company of an importer/exporter from New York who primarily buys and sells expensive Italian goods.  Okay, so mostly my brother talked to him, but I eavesdropped as I played a game on my Kindle, and I added a comment here and there.  I also periodically looked out the window.  Let me tell you, I much prefer train rides over planes.  Well, European train rides.  Honestly, that is probably my preferred mode of transportation, although the slight rocking a cruise ships also makes for a very calming ride for me as well.  Day 8 will be continued on the next blog post, as it starts out our adventures in a new city.

1 comment:

Moo said...

Wow! Good job on all the pictures and commentary on your trip. I am jealous. I do understand why you call it the tie-dye church. Thanks for the bookmarks