On Wednesday it was time to clean up our apartment, pack our suitcases, say goodbye to Gwyneth and head to Vienna, with an overnight stop in Lisbon.
In the airport, the attendants would immediately speak to us in English and finally Michael asked how they knew. The young woman smiled shyly, drew a circle around her face with her hand, and said “it’s the shape and look of your face”!!
We arrived in Vienna at about 2:30 on Thursday afternoon and checked into our hotel, the Pertschy Palais Hotel. From the information provided by the hotel, there is evidence that the building is very old, as early as the 1400’s. In 1605, it came into the possession of Count Cavriani who turned it into his personal Palace. After World War I it changed owners and has been run as a hotel since 1964. It currently has 55 rooms that are slightly irregularly shaped, but with delightfully creaking floors, chandeliers, and wide stone stairwells connecting the floors. It is located in the center of Vienna and, although a bit loud at night, has been a perfect base for our wanderings!!
We were hungry when we arrived and asked the woman at the reception for a suggestion of where to go, preferably somewhere that locals would go. She sent us to the perfect spot (Brezl Gwölb) and we started our meal with soft, salted pretzels…..
We followed that with a Salad, Weiner Schnitzel and Potato Salad……..
The biggest surprise of the meal was the Potato Salad. It was served cold, and flavored with an oil and vinegar dressing…..
Naturally, we had to finish things off with a traditional Austrian dessert….Apple Strudel and Apricot Schnapps….
Now our tummies were full and it was time to take a walk and get our bearings….also known as getting COMPLETELY turned around and lost!!!
The main plaza in the old town is called Stevenplatz and was surrounded by old, architecturally wonderful buildings and LOTS of tourists….
We wandered our way down the Plaza, eventually arriving at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The first views were exciting……
….especially as the bells started ringing to signal the arrival of 6:00pm.
The view got even better as we walked further around and could view the marvelous tile roof…..
We walked the perimeter of the church, gawking at the amazing architecture….
We passed open carriages, drawn by bored horses…..
….each with it’s own “poop catcher” bag following behind them.
We decided to head further down the road to see the Opera house, only getting there with the help of a nice woman who stopped and asked if we were lost…..how could she tell??
The outside of the opera house is fairly non-descript which could be one of the reasons that we couldn’t find it. There is a large screen outside and an equally large group of people sitting around watching it……
We continued on down the road, arriving at the edge of one of the Palaces. We stopped to get a drink and I was given a Coke “Life”….not “Lite”. It actually tasted more like a Diet Coke than any others that I have had.
It was relatively hard to get a good photo of this fountain as there were SO many people standing around it!!
A look skyward told us that we needed to head back to the hotel and start again in the morning…..
The first move for Friday was to climb up the North tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The 300+ stairs were narrow and went around and around and around and around…..you get the idea….
Although I didn’t get a great photo, I loved this gargoyle keeping watch over the staircase….
We spent a few minutes watching a workman walk along the top of a five or six story roof with no harness…..
He was walking as if he was strolling down the street!!!
Meanwhile, outside the church, this artist was getting set up to throw himself into his work……
We walked toward our next destination, passing this group of wee students on a field trip…..
While walking we passed one fountain that I failed to take a photo of. However, I did take a close up of one of the attached statues. I love the look on her face…..
We made our way to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, located across the first ring road (Ringstrasse), and part of the “Museum Square”…..
The exhibits were organized and we not only gawked at them, but also at the ceilings in the various galleries…..
Of course, I did a bit of floor gawking as well……
This piece was about 10 inches wide and the detail and depth were impressive!!
I appreciated the detail designs in this metal work bowl…..
I have said it multiple times on this blog, but I am astounded at the way an artist can make marble look like soft, flowing fabric……
I appreciated the shape of these tiny vases….
We entered a room filled with heads……carved ones. The carvings were spectacular, but the show was stolen by the striking manner in which they were presented…..
We entered the “Egypt” room and I was confronted with the largest collection of Sarcophagi that I have ever seen in one place……
….and this photo shows only about 25% of them!! They were collected by the Austrians over many years but finally Egypt put an end to them being removed.
I appreciated the intricate beading on this one…..
We quickly skirted thru the gallery of Italian Baroque art….
By this time we were tired and hungry, so we wandered around until we found a Cafe that looked promising. Michael enjoyed a wonderful salad while I noshed on a Spaghetti dish that reminded me of the yummy Cacio e Pepe that I had in Italy.
Yes, that is pepper sprinkled liberally on the spaghetti!!!
Since we were once again revived, we decided to go for a walk into the government district, including the “City Hall”…..
….and this building that we never figured out……
Obviously, you never walk alone!!!
We passed thru a glorious Rose garden, many with a sweet, alluring fragrance….
I wish that this blog had smell-o-vision!!
As you can see, I REALLY like the Schnapps….
That evening we met up with Harry and Cristina Meimberg, a couple that we had spent some time with back in 2009 when we were in Porto previously. They took us to a “typical” Austrian place….a Biergarten located in the middle of a large carnival!! The food was great…..
…and I especially enjoyed my ORIGINAL “Budweiser”…..
We enjoyed the ambiance…..
….and delighted in the company of our old friends…..
The evening ended with a typical Austrian desert, although I have NO idea exactly what it was called. It was a thin crepe filled with a Sweetened Cream cheese and was SUPER rich…..
So that makes day 1 and 2 in Vienna……more to come!!