11.04.2010 - 11.08.2010 75 °F
We arrived in Vienna in the afternoon, just before sunset and quickly boarded the city tram. Immediately we were amazed by the transit options in the city. Train, air, light rail, underground, tram, bus, and well paved bike lanes. After realizing we had gotten on the tram in the wrong direction, due to our lack of direction without the sun and not understanding German, we quickly switched and headed to our stop, only 4 stations away. Following the directions that Kahlia and Rainer had left for us we easily found their apartment. Greeted by a cheerful 2 yr old, Acacia their daughter, or at least about to be two year old, her birthday being the next day we walked the 4 flights of stairs to our penthouse for the next 4 days. We use the word penthouse loosely; it was a beautiful old apartment that had been in Rainer’s family for years, in a prime location about 30 minutes from the city center, and on the top floor of the building. We spent a while in their kitchen while we chatted it up with Kahlia as she made dinner for her daughter and waited for Rainer to return home from work. She was from Adelaide, Australia and had been an au pair for a family in Austria and when she got home she realized she was pregnant with Rainer’s child so she returned and they got married. Kind of an interesting story, an Australian and Austrian getting married, two country’s names that are commonly confused with each other.
Once Rainer returned we headed out for a photography show by World Press photo. To get there we used some of the city bikes available for anyone. Only 1 euro for registration, the bikes were free to use as much as you wanted.
Check out my ride!
We had a nice uphill ride to the gallery…the girls had a hell of a time during the first stretch. The show was quite interesting and hosted some great politically driven photos. After we were there for a few hours we were all starving so we went around the corner to a traditional dinner of schnitzel and potatoes…a meal that we would repeat again and again. Jen ate so fast she burnt her tongue on her schnitzel…ooops. We had a nice downhill ride on the way home and stopped at a park for a swing in one of the many hammocks that were hung between every pair of trees.
Ahhhh, relaxing time.
After dozing off a little we all headed home and easily fell fast asleep.
The next day we headed out a little late, we were excited to see the city but had begun to realize that this trip was more of our life than just a short vacation. We needed to start paying close attention to our rest and not overdoing it. We had been under the weather too much already and wanted to enjoy the rest of the trip. We immediately headed for the market, this was our favorite aspect of every city, mainly because they were fun to just stroll, people watch, and you could fine cheap fresh food.
That's my good side.
We had our first taste of falafel and did some “window” shopping. It was Friday so Rainer got off work at 12, nice right? so we met him at the Stephansdom for a tour of the city. He always enjoyed taking his hosts to some of the spots around the city that he enjoyed and we were super excited.
We saw the cathedral and then headed down some streets, passing by a restaurant that was as old as the Columbia in Tampa, 1905, that had schnitzel bigger than the size of your plate. We also passed by some other interesting spots before meeting Kahlia and Acacia at the canal street.
Baby Acacia doing her own thing.
We walked a few more hours by parliament and some museums and then hopped on one of the many busses back to the apartment.
Officer on deck!
That night we headed out to a traditional guesthouse for some form of meat wrapped in a huge dumpling. Can’t remember what it was called but it was good…along with it some great sauerkraut. We walked around town for little bit and then hopped back on the city bikes for a quick ride home. We were really beginning to enjoy the bikes as a nice way to get around town, not having to wait for transit and just out right fun. We didn’t do too much this day but had a lot of fun just wandering the city. Vienna is absolutely beautiful and very friendly. We were lucky in that we were there during the “Witch’s Summer”, where every winter one week was comfortably warm. This year it just happened to be later in the year, according to Rainer.
The next day was Saturday which meant the weekly flea market, oh no, watch out Jen. We had planned to go to a show around 1:00 that afternoon but spent way too much time at the market. Jen bought a few more warm clothes and checked out all the little trinkets and items.
Hey, I have that one.
We next hopped on the bikes and headed around the ring road where all the museums and historical buildings faced.
Bird's eye view of the ring road.
It was beginning to cool down when we headed to a modern string quartet, a free show part of the Modern Wien festival going on in town. The show was interesting to say the least; the musicians seemed to be in a battle with their instruments. It was nice to see this part of the city though, even if we couldn’t understand a word of the intro as everyone was introduced.
That night as part of our stay we cooked dinner for our hosts, vegetarian black bean chili (without black beans because they don’t exist in Vienna) and a mixed green salad.
For dessert Rainer made a very nice treat that translated to “little black man in a shirt”. He was an excellent pastry cook as a hobby, which we enjoyed throughout our stay. We had decided to stay a few nights extra because we had been enjoying our stay so much, the city just drew us in.
Little black man in a shirt.
The next day we headed out to see the sites that we had originally planned, the Belvedere and the Schonbrunn Palace.
We ride in style.
Jen’s obsession with Gustav Klimt led us to the Upper Belvedere where we enjoyed many of his works among other Viennese artists.
Ah yes...the Belvedere.
Glimpse of the gardens...a little dead though.
For lunch we headed to the restaurant with schnitzel as large as your plate. What an experience, schnitzel within minutes after arriving and enough to feed an army, or one hungry redhead. We sat and ate for a while. I was able to eat all but two bites, so disappointed, and Jen had enough left for dinner. I was fine with never eating again in my life. It was quite possibly the best schnitzel I had ever eaten, since I have had it maybe only 3 times anyways.
Armed with a full stomach we headed to the Palace just before sunset. We were blown away by its sheer size. The gardens stretched on forever, without an end in sight. We could hear the lions roaring in the zoo as we headed up the hill. We watched as the sunset over Vienna. We had really enjoyed our stay in such a great city and were rethinking our plans for the future. What if we moved to Vienna? We might need to learn German and somehow find jobs, but maybe Jen could work at the market, and I could become a tour guide of some sort, who knows. We have plenty of time to decide and were enjoying our time so far. We biked back home that night and ate leftover schnitzel and salads. Rainer had made strudel for everyone which we happily ate, Kahlia was really lucky to have him cooking every night. I am going through some sort change, every chance I have I’m eating desserts…perhaps Jen’s love of the sweets is rubbing off on me, not sure how to explain it. I have to believe it’s the quality of desserts we are eating. We packed our bags that night, ready for our next trip to Salzburg for the day.
Our wonderful hosts.
The next morning we were excited to riding Railjet again and headed on our way to Salzburg.
A quick stop from Vienna and we were in the hills of Austria. We stored our bags for the day and headed to see the birthplace of Mozart.
Honey do you know where we put the bike?
After grabbing a quick lunch we headed to the reason why we had stopped here, the Sound of Music Tour, a four hour adventure through Salzburg and the surrounding countryside.
She could barely hold in her excitement.
The tour was lots of fun, alongside 2 pair of Americans and one Norwegian couple. Our guide was full of information about the film and the area and escorted us on a private tour in the minivan.
Do, a deer, a female deer...
Ray, a drop of golden suuuuuuun...
She informed us about of the many movie magic moments involved to make the film. We headed outside of town for some nice sights where the film was shot.
The weather could have been better but it didn’t dampen Jen’s spirits as she sang along with every song while in the van.
Yoda Le Hee Who!
We got back that night and headed for the train station. We were planning an overnight to Venezia and didn’t know which one we were taking. We ended scheduling the 1:34 direct train. With about seven hours to kill we headed to the mall for some free internet until we were kicked out by the janitor after staying 30 minutes after closing. We headed to the grocery for a cheap meal of clementines, salami, bread, and cheese…our staple meal for the trip. With still time to kill we headed to a bar for a few hours. When they closed we headed to McDonalds for an eventful sitting. I sat there and tried to catch up on blogs while Jen researched hotels in Venice. Thankfully I had the computer open so I could document everything that took place.
McDonalds in Salzburg
So the wait for our 1:34am train to Venice was extra special. We went to McDonalds for some oh so tasty fries, and to use their free internet to post some blogs. We slowly moved from our first choice of seat…further and further from the homeless man passed out at a table close to ours, occasionally waking to sip on his empty cup of coffee. We sat as the staff removed another man who had been passed out on the bar since we got there, no telling how long he had been asleep. After that, a guy was eating a double cheeseburger at the table next to us when another highly intoxicated man sat down with him who reeked of alcohol. The first man yelled at him a bit and then asked the manager to get him to move. From our rough understanding of German…and I mean really rough…we were able to figure that he was upset about his smell and the fact that he sat right in front of him at the same table. After arguing for a while and threatening to call the police, the manager proceeded to watch the drunken man finish his cheeseburger. The upset man finally finished and left with extreme disgust. You think that’s all that happened…oh you are in for a treat. The place began to fill with over 20 people who had obviously just finished at the bar. Three men sat next to us and with broken English figured out we were travelling here on vacation and left us with “Take it easy man!” Before leaving though they managed to smash a barbecue sauce on the table, flinging it all over the passed out homeless man in the corner we had been avoiding in the beginning. Needless to say this was all before 11pm as we sat next to a nice pair from Brazil who happened to be on the same train to Venice.
Later we boarded the train after searching for a while because there weren’t any departures listed to Venezia, which was where we were going. To our great surprise the train only had couchettes even though we had paid for just a seat, opting for the cheaper choice again. Our room had a nice couple in it from Austria/Serbia but we ended up staying in the empty one next door. While waiting for the train to leave for about an hour a strange, zombie-like man kept walking back and forth down the walkway giving weird looks every time he passed. It was like clock-work, every 5 minutes he would leave his room and pace back and forth, return to his room…and repeat. Between the Brazilians, Austrians, and us we determined that he was exercising. We finally left the station for pleasant trip to Venice.