Innsbruck to Vienna

Wednesday 26th September, 2007
Thursday 27th September, 2007

Wednesday 26th September, 2007

Salzburg Old Town photograph

Old Town, Salzburg, Austria

Drop Cap oday was a very long day. We started out at 0730 after getting up at 0530. We drove through misty weather to Salzburg where we had a city tour with a local guide.

We saw the lovely Mirabell Gardens, where the "Sound of Music's" Do-Re-Mi was filmed. They were laid out by a Prince Bishop (who was a Borgia) for the palace he gave to his mistress and their children. Sounds like a Borgia! But the gardens, in classic French style, were lovely, lots of statues and fountains.

Mozart's birthplace photograph

Mozart's Birthplace, Salzburg, Austria

Drop Cap e went through the lovely little arcaded alleys to the Old Town to see Mozart's birthplace, the house he lived in for seventeen years. On the third floor with no running water! Then we visited the Cathedral with its five organs (seems a bit excessive). It was semi-Baroque but not so OTT as the two we have seen lately.

Drop Cap hen we were given a couple of hours to explore and lunch, while most of the others went on a Sound of Music tour to sites shown in the movie and the real life of the characters.

Drop Cap e found lunch in a little coffee shop which had the distinction of the only No Smoking signs we have seen here. Mac had bratwurst and sauerkraut, strudel and hot chocolate and I had a mini quiche and salad, cheesecake and hot chocolate. Cost about the same as lunch would cost at home.

Drop Cap ack on the bus, it was a long and very uncomfortable ride to Vienna, getting glimpses of the Danube and several castles and churches, including the ruined castle and Baroque Abbey of Melk. Very impressive. The Abbey is still a going concern and runs schools and all sorts of programmes.

Drop Cap nto Vienna into heavy traffic. We arrived at the Hilton Park Hotel at about 16:40 and had to be ready for our highlight dinner at an ancient wine keller by 17:10 Most of us were. It was a fun night, a tasty buffet, free wine and an accordion player. Roberta (Bert) Smith of our group was celebrating her birthday and Elmar had organised her a piece of the famous Sacher torte with a firework on it instead of the inevitable strudel the rest of us had. It was an hilarious night and a lot of fun.

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Thursday 27th September, 2007

Schonbrunn Palace photograph

Facade of Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

Drop Cap he first tour was mostly Schonbrunn, the fabulous summer palace of the Hapsburgs. We met a local guide, Christa, and she was very good. We entered the great wrought iron gates between the columns topped with gilded eagles and crossed the wide entrance yard. Inside the palace we climbed the Blue Staircase and made our way through a series of spectacular rooms, large and small.

Schonbrunn Palace photograph

Stable Wing, Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

Drop Cap he facade of Schonbrunn is classic and clean lined, but the interior is mainly rococo and riotous. However, there are oriental rooms covered in lacquer or painted silk, and children's paintings. (Very good ones, really, not front of the fridge jobs) The Empress Maria Theresia had sixteen children, raising ten of them. We saw her huge and ornate "levee" bed, in which she received people, ambassadors and envoys etc., and conducted business. We generally enjoyed the tour. Obviously we could not see all fourteen hundred rooms! Many of these are now used for offices and apartments. When the Hapsburgs were thrown out at the end of WW I, the eight hundred or so servants were allowed to stay and keep their jobs and apartments. Their descendants still live in Schonbrunn while the descendants of the Hapsburgs had to beg for a place in the family crypt.
We went into the gardens briefly but it was getting very wet so we did not hang about.

Hapsburg treasure photograph

Some of the Hapsburg Treasury

Drop Cap ur next tour was the optional "Treasures of the Empire" at the Kunsthistoriches Museum. This included fabulous crowns, sceptres and robes, particularly those of the Holy Roman Empire. There were reliquaries, ecclesiastical robes and regalia, all sorts of medieval treasures, including a chalice carved out of a single huge emerald. Incredible stuff.

Hapsburg Crypt photograph

One of the Tombs, Hapsburg Crypt, Vienna

Drop Cap hile the others broke for lunch Mac and I enquired the way to the Kapuzinerkirche and the Imperial Crypts. It was only a block away so easy to find.

Drop Cap his was There were shelves and niches and full blown rooms filled with sarcophagi of the Hapsburgs. Some of the older ones were quite plain metal boxes, while others were a riot of rococo, with crowned skulls, bones, angels, weeping statues etc etc.. We saw the tombs of Maria Theresia and her husband, and the Franz Ferdinand (so many of them had the same names)who died at Sarajevo and started WWI, Maximilian of Mexico and Franz Joseph, finally finishing with the last Empress, Zita, who had to beg for the privilege (of being entombed here), having been long exiled. Her husband Charles was commemorated by a bust, he is buried elsewhere. But it was a very interesting exhibition and we took a lot of photos to show Neil, our Hapsburg fanatic.

Opera House photograph

Boxes in the Auditorium, Opera House, Vienna

Drop Cap e met the rest of the group at the Staats Opern (State Opera House) for our tour of the building. It was beautiful and grand, with some lovely places for an intermission drink and a fabulous auditorium with ground floor stalls and a horseshoe of red velvet draped boxes. The electricians were setting up the scene for tonight (a different opera every night is their boast) and it looked good.

Drop Cap e met Elmar and the bus and came back to the hotel. Not having had lunch we decided to indulge at the hotel Lobby Bar so we had a late lunch of Chicken wings and spicy potato wedges and a club sandwich with chips, both of which we shared. Very nice too, but no need for dinner tonight.
Most of the others are going to a concert tonight but we decided not to. You can't do everything.

It was probably the weather, but I can't say I took to Vienna. It was too big, too monumental and too many people.

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