Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vienna to Bratislava - One day in Vienna

I found these two images of Vienna, that I took when we arrived.  As I said before, I had no tripod, so this image was taken by putting the camera on top of a crate!  Lots of renovation work going on which is why there are wooden crates everywhere...

And this is the torte we shared in the cafe before heading back to the hostel.  It was cold as well, so I also had a hot chocolate.  Very nice, but a bit rich after our stomach problems!!
As we only had one day in Vienna, we picked up a self walking tour of Vienna from the hostel reception.  So we stuck to that.  Anne was up fairly early - I took a little longer to get moving, but we were out the door by 8.00am.  We took the U4 to Schonbrun Palace which the walking tour recommended, especially for the gardens.  Both Anne and I were blown away by the beauty and sheer size of them, and Anne mentioned they were the best Palace gardens she had ever seen.

Being Autumn made it even more beautiful in my opinion. We wandered down pathways totally covered in a canopy of autumn leaves...
 One pathway, after another...
And another - it was hard to choose which path to go down.  Did I mention it was really beautiful?  There were lots of local people walking, running and wandering through the gardens, and a few tourists like ourselves as well.  If I lived in Vienna, I would be wanting to visit this place on a regular basis.
We came out of the pathway to the back of the Palace.  Very imposing, beautiful and large.  Imagine living here!  Which room would you take?  You wouldn't like to drink to much the night before, you may forget which room you were in!
Opposite the back of the palace was a sweeping avenue that takes you to the Gloriette.  I would have liked to go up, but my foot was too sore and it would have taken too long.  Plus it was steep.  Anne did ask if the horse and carts took you up, but it was even too steep for those.
At the bottom of the hill to the right was the oldest zoo in the world.  Unfortunately it wasn't open as it was too early so we didn't get to see it, however we did walk around it a bit.  We didn't see the labyrinth or the exotic palm house, or the rebuilt 'roman ruins' in the park - it was simply too big to see everything!
Back under the canopy, we stopped here and had our schnitzel that we had saved from the night before, for breakfast.  Very yummy in a lovely place.
Which path to take?  You can see about 5 different pathways going off in different directions here...
Through another path to a fountain completely surrounded by a double row of fir trees..
An arbor taking you to another part of the palace garden..
Then around to the front of the palace.  Lots of horse and cart rides you could take around the grounds. Quite pricey too so we didn't take one!
We decided to do a tour of the palace, but first I had to use the public toilets inside the palace.  They were rather posh with painted leaves on each door...
And my view of the cubicle from inside the loo!  I know - very unconventional but I couldn't resist it was amazing!
We did he tour around the palace and Anne ordered a wheelchair for me to save my foot.  I didn't realise that you weren't allowed to take photos.  This was he third one I took before I got told off.  But it shows you the beauty, wealth and art within its wall. Very 'palatial' and grand.
The front of the palace as we were leaving.
Back to the metro line U4 to catch the metro to Karlsplatz.  Here we saw the Opera House and we were approached so many times to get tickets to see the opera that night.  We said so many times that we weren't going to be in Vienna that night!!!  I forgot to take a photo of the Opera House!!

We walked across the square then strolled along Karntnerstrabe.  Along here were lots of stores from the most expensive and posh clothing chains to souvenir shops and McDonalds.  Unfortunately for us, everything except the souvenir shops were closed because it was Sunday.  (Or maybe that was fortunate!)

A beautiful new building on the corner reflecting the old St Stephens church in its windows...
St Stephens Cathedral.  Very imposing and the highest religious building in Vienna.  Once again it was Sunday and a service was in progress so we weren't able to get the guided tours.  We could have climbed the 343 steps up to the top of the cathedral to see the most glorious view of Vienna.  Alternatively we could have got the elevator up on the other side which wasn't as high but still amazing.  I decided I wasn't up to the 343 steps but we did enquire about the elevator.  Unfortunately that was closed until the afternoon so we carried on...

Inside the cathedral a service was in progress so we couldn't walk around...
Outside - very gothic looking, the church was founded in 1137.
Adjacent to the cathedral on Stephansplatz, there is an ample road that almost looks like a square called the Graben which is another main street of the city.  We wandered down there passing a number of memorials and fountains.  We arrived at St Peters Church which is on the site of the oldest church in Vienna possibly dating back to the early middle ages.  St Peters Church was begun in 1701, the design was inspired by St Peters Basilica in Rome.
Not huge, but very beautiful inside with an amazing domed ceiling with amazing art.  Once again a service was in progress so we could not explore.
Back outside we came across some fun statues...

To Hofburg Palace.  In front of the palace where everyone was milling around, is an excavation site of roman ruins...
Vienna was built on top of an ancient roman city.
Hofburg palace currently serves as the residence of the President of Austria, but has housed some of the most powerful people in Austria.  It has been the documented seat of government since 1279 for various empires and republics.  The oldest sections of the palace date from the 1300s, and form a square, in which a gothic chapel from the 15th century is situated.
We didn't go on the Hofburg Palace tour seeing we had done the Schonbrunn that morning.  Instead we walked through Hofburg Palace to the other side onto Heldenplatz, crossed it and followed on to the two huge national museums which face each other.  One was the Museum of Natural History.  Turn 180 degrees...
And the other is the Museum of fine arts.  I'm not sure which was which though!!!
My foot gave up here.  Couldn't walk a step further.  We were in great need of sustenance as well and Anne wanted us both to experience the Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel.  So we caught the tram back to the Opera House area and got instructions from one of the ticket sellers where to go.  I walked on while Anne got instructions and when he found Anne was English he got her to help her with some English grammar on a play he was writing.  I wondered where she had got to!! 

We then queued up at the Sacher Hotel at their cafe (Cafe Sacher)  which I don't have a photo of but you can view it here.  It took about 20 minutes before a table became free.  We were ushered to a coat service where they took our coats, then we got a table for two and shared the famous Sacher Torte.  This is the worlds most famous chocolate cake.  Well worth a look and if you are in Vienna, this is well worth going to. If you can't get to vienna to try it and you want to try it, you can treat yourself by having it delivered to you through the website!!

After the Sacher Torte we headed back to the hostel where our car was parked, picking up a bottle of Austrian bubbly to drink in Bratislava, picked up our luggage, and drove to Bratislava which was an hours drive away from Vienna.  I took some grab shots out of the car on the way of some of the many wind farms we passed.  Actually everywhere we went in Europe were alternative methods of power - mainly wind and solar.  I even saw a 'solar' farm.  Even in greece most of the buildings had solar power and after seeing this, I think New Zealand is not as 'green' as they try to make out to be - we have a long way to go before we catch up to the rest of Europe!!

We arrived in at our hotel in Bratislava about 5pm - it was really nice, quite luxurious with a glass elevator going up outside the building, which we figured would be cold in winter!  Very modern.  We popped the wine in the fridge, then headed out to explore the town and get some dinner.

We drove into the city centre as we were a bit far to walk.  We got a bit lost but saw a policeman, so drove up to him to ask directions to where the carpark was.  He got a policeman who spoke english, and gave us directions to the carpark, then asked us for our passports, and proceeded to fine us with driving where we were.  Apparently the road we were on was only for taxi's and people who lived there.  I was a bit miffed about this as we were obviously lost, couldn't read Slovakian road signs, and we had actually approached them to help us!!!  He charged us 10 euros, saying that it could have been 60 euros.  Grrrr!

We then parked the car, and started walking - coming across a really neat little Christmas market.  We bought some handmade decorations.  We found a great place for dinner and ordered local dishes.  Anne couldn't decide what to have, so halfway through our meal, our waiter bought out a small plate of the other dish Anne was tossing up whether to have or not, for her to try.   Wouldn't charge us for it either, so we left a generous tip.

We headed back to the hotel and Anne went to the gym while I collapsed on the bed.  When she came back we drank the bottle of bubbly, and that's when we found our fridge was totally complimentary!!  We emptied it!!! So Anne has Slovakian beer on her dressing table in Amsterdam!

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