Friday, July 31, 2009

Vienna - home of Grand Buildings

Day 21 Inner City and Hundertwasser House Vienna 28. July 2009
Today I went into the Inner City which is the original part of the city of Vienna. It is circled by the Ringstrasse which was originally the walls around the city. The opera house, palace and several churches are in this section along with a lot of shops, restaurants and hotels.

I started to walk around but it took so long to get from one building to another that after about an hour I decided that I needed to be on a bike.

Of course there are the cute cherubs that seem to be everywhere.

Then I decided to take the tram to see the Hundertwasswer house which was very cool.

I guess he has lots of apartment buildings of around the world.

There were all sorts of little details that one kept finding the longer you look at it and walk around it. I have no idea if this is the case inside as well since it is private apartments.

Then in the evening I went to the film of Opera festival. They showed a different opera every night on a big screen and had international food as well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Schonbrunn Palace Vienna

Day 20 Mon.afternoon
The palace was a short U-Bahn (subway) ride from my hostel. Since I thought most of the museums would be closed on Mon. this seemed like a good thing to do with my 1/2 day. Talk about BIG! People had described Vienna as "grand", mainly having to do with large buildings. They were no exaggerating!!

This is the front of it that I first saw and went in to see part of the inside. There was an audio tour that I listened to as I walked through the rooms and dodged the bigger groups of people on tours.

When I came out I wanted to go to the park part in back but first I had to walk down a looooooong pathway:

Then I saw it from the back, and there were multiple paths all over the place.

One path led to this fake Roman ruin that had been built, I think for atmosphere. Everything was so carefully placed that you knew it was all a plan.

This is a map of the place, so you can see all the paths. The top green one is only the upper part of the park where this other fancy building is.

There were these four guys singing french songs, really well and loud when I came which added to the scene.

I walked all over the place, up the hill to the fancy building getting all sorts of nice views and then down past the zoo which I didn't go into, to the labyrinth and maze which I did go into.

Then I had dinner in the cafe and then listened to the concert which was a mix of music, opera and ballet (duets).
It was nice but I could have skipped the concert, it wasn't anything I haven't seen/heard before.

Arriving in Vienna

I don't know if you can see from these pictures but remeber this one? This is Budapest - huge, cavernous building.

Then we have Vienna's rather small, clean, compact station.

I tried to get pictures of all the big backpacks I was seeing. About half the travelers have backpacks. But rolling suitcases are so much easier if you are going to be in any lace with a sidewalk or street. I wonder how many of those kids actually go somewhere rural?

This hostel is almost like a hotel and is a block from this nice pedestrian street a little outside the inner circle. It is a good location and quiet. Only a couple of U-Bahn stops and here I can get cheaper food, drinks etc.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bike tour of Budapest on Sun.

Day 19 Sun. 27.July
Today I decided to go on a bike tour. I was tired of walking around and thought it would be nice to ride a bike, and I thought it would be a good way to see the things I've missed and maybe learn a bit of the history of Budapest. There were just two of us, a guy from New Zealand who had just arrived and myself, with Marta, the tourguide.

There are these nice bike paths on some of the roads which we used, they had metal pieces in the road and cars parked outside of that so it made a nice protected path.

We passed the Opera House which has the 3rd best acoustics in the world. The 1st is La Scala in Milan but she couldn't remember which one was #2. Anybody know?

Then we biked past the House of Terror which is a museum about the concentration camps in Budapest and the communist rule. That is our guide Marta in the picture.
Then we biked to Heroes Square and learned about all the statues, who they were and the history of the development of Hungary - how seven chiefs of tribes who came from Asia settled in the area but continued their nomadic lifestyle, attacking neighboring areas until St. Stephan settled things down. (see day 2 for pictures and of the park). Then we biked through the park and I found out most of the buildings were built for the 1896 Exhibition that they had to celebrate their millennium.

These pictures are part of the same building - notice anything strange? The building is a mix of all the "best" types of architecture!

Then we biked back towards the river and looked at St. Stephan's Cathedral which has a mummified had of St. Stephan in that ornate box! When they canonized him they had to dig him up and discovered after 3 years that his right hand was still intact and perfect looking so they thought it must be something special and they cut it off and put it inside the church.

After that we crossed the river and biked to the top of Castle Hill which was strenuous but worth it. The views were beautiful and while I don't find the castle very exciting, the views of the Parliament are fabulous and the Fisherman's Bastion, these towers are very picturesque.

We ended the tour by biking down to the bottom of the hill and having lunch in a local restaurant (now English translation on this menu!). It is a type of restaurant known as "Grandma's Kitchen", it is supposed to be like eating at your grandmother's house. We had delicious Goulasch soup and this poppyseed dessert that is pictured.

After we biked back to the starting point I stopped by the synagogue that is near my hostel (which I didn't take any pictures of, sorry!). This sculpture is in the back but I don't know anything about it.

I finished off the day eating out with some girls from the hostel and then packing up and getting ready to leave for Vienna the next morning. I ended up spending an extra day in Budapest, mainly because the hostel was so nice - it is called Budapest Bubble.