Oh Vienna, you have captured our heart and you will forever have it.......
Austria is AMAZING......... The city of Vienna has all of the things that I wish Los Angeles had..... actual bike lanes that are separate from both the walking lane AND the driving lane. And this is actually all over Austria, not just Vienna. The streets are incredibly clean because there is someone whose job it is to pick up any trash no matter how small it is and put in the trash. We see these people 24/7. Everything is spotless, its absolutely beautiful. Hearing German, Slovenian, and Croatian all over the place is wonderful and refreshing.
Our first full day started by going to the Belvedere Palace where we were able to see artworks by artists such as Gustav Klimt, August Renoir, and MANY other Northern European Artists. THe palace and its gardens are beautiful. We started out early in the morning to get here, about a 20 min walk. I have never been in a palace before and it was so grand with the architecture as very Baroque which is how the entire city looks like frankly with elaborate, ornate, and BIG buildings.
After the Belvedere we were in need of some beer, but everywhere we looked all we could find was coffee houses which are huge in Vienna. Finally we came across nothing other then an Australian bar and drank Austrailian beer. The bar tender was so nice and he told us about VIenna's city bikes. In Vienna you are able to rent bikes where the first hour is free. There are bike drop off zones everywhere in the city so basically you get to where your going, turn in your bike and when your ready to head back you pick up another bike and drop it back off at your destination. Its awesome. So we registered and rode our bikes to Prater which is an area in Vienna that supposedly has this huge Ferris wheel. Riding our bikes through Vienna was fantastic. I wish everyday of my life could feel like that.
When we got to Prater we realized that the Ferris wheel wasn't really that big of a deal and the amusement park that it was in was more creepy then cool. Freaky clown rides and shotty carnival rides were everywhere and the place was pretty empty. But we did happen to find a great restaurant that had this pork specialty with cabbage salad and fresh grated horseradish that tasted so good, it made the ride to Prayer worth it. Everyone here is Austria is so nice and welcoming. People are willing to help us if were lost, answer any crazy questions we might have and are so great about our horrible to non existent German.
We capped off the night at Brewery 1516, an American bar (which apprently means classic rock songs, loud music and the menu in English) where they brew their own beer (which was very tasty) and right at midnight when Sean officially turned 33 we celebrated with two glasses of 16 yr old scotch of something that started with the letter L (but I cannot remember the name now, it was very good though).
It was a wonderful first full day of our trip!
Our second day (today) and Sean's birthday was planned and centered around him. We started a bit later then the day before (probably due to the drinking the night before) but the breakfast that our pension includes put us right back where we needed to be. Breads, meats, cheese, hardboiled egg with a runny center and Nutella. So so gut (good).
Today was our track to Burg Kreuzenstein, a medival castle in a town WAY outside of Vienna. I tried to ask people in Vienna about it or the town that its located in and most people had either never heard of it, or had but have never gone. We were excited to go somewhere that was not so touristy. Finding the train to take us to the town of Leobendorf was a bit difficult but due to Sean's navigation skills we were finally able to find the right train.
Thirty minute train ride later we see a whole new side of Austria. Vienna which is so urban we are now in complete country side with sprawling fields and tiny houses. After we got off the train we had to walk about 40 minutes, through the town of Leobendorf and then up the hill towards Burg Kreuzenstein. At first we were wondering what we were walking ourselves into, but soon we came to a clearing where we could see this giant medieval fortress up on this hill and Sean got so excited he could hardly contain himself. The town and the walk was wonderful. A workout for sure due to it being up a steep hill, but wonderful. Once we made it to the castle Sean and I couldn't wait to explore. However, we were still 30 min away from any sort of tour starting so we had some beer at the nearby tavern and enjoyed the view.
Once we were able to go on the tour we were told that the tour would only be in German and we were given a sheet that had the tour written in English for us. We didn't care at all and enjoyed listening to someone speak German in such an excited way. Plus, because of his hand movements and other guides knowing some English we were able to get the gist of what he was talking about. WIthout going into too much detail here, one thing to note about this castle is that it has the largest collection of weapons and armory in all of Austria. I loved watching Sean all through this tour. He was secretly filming the whole thing even though he wasn't supposed to and he was as happy as a little boy in a toy shop. It was great.
After we went back to that tavern and ate a great lunch, had some more beer and some great expresso
We were pretty tired coming back, but my surprises for Sean were not over. We got back to the pension, changed and took the metro to the Schonbrunn Palace and saw a Viennese Orchestra perform along with opera singers and ballet dancers under these gorgeous chandeliers. Vienna is known for great music and was the home to people like Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. It was a wonderful show and hugely entertaining. We were starving at the end of the show and capped off the night drinking some wine eating pasta and tasty ice cream for dessert. Sean said that it is his second favorite birthday next to when we got engaged.
Our time in Vienna has been completely unforgettable and beautiful. And Dad, we found a painting in Vienna that we couldn't pass up on and so we followed your advice and got it!