We are all having a great time (mad if we weren't!!!). When I left you last we were on the hydrofoil from Budapest to Vienna, a great trip, not that scenic but time to relax, put our feet up (oh, how they need that!) and watch the world go by for 6 hours...the highlight was the 2 locks each taking 30 minutes and raising about 30 feet in 10 minutes or so....amazing!!! The Danube has been totally tamed by modern technology and flooding now seldom occurs and as many towns and cities lie on her banks this is a good thing.
So we arrive in Vienna, a lovely cosmopolitan city, after Budapest it is very revealing to compare communist emerging cities to ones that are all 21st century. I have decide I like the touch of old world, but give the others a few years and all that is old will be new again! Or at least modern (not sure that is a good thing?) Maybe they will learn from our mistakes, but I doubt it!
Vienna is the city of music, concerts are advertised on every corner, all sold by Kosovo immigrants on commission and dressed in 17th century attire (as it was 30+ degrees they deserved their money!). The other 4 went on the opera house tour & a concert of opera, ballet & Strauss but Kev & I had already done these so we just wandered the city. Kev had sourced us a 3 bedroom apartment smack in the middle of all there is to see, and once you saw past the embroidered lounges, lace doilies, marble & brass candlestick, crystal chandeliers & totally out of tune piano it was very large and very comfortable (don't worry I am not thinking about redecorating Hope Island!!).
We had 3 days wandering the city, the "Hop on Hop off Bus", a wonderful service in most cities throughout the world and takes you most places you need to go, and if the feet are too sore, you just stay on and see everything from a short distance, another franchise I wish I had thought of!!!! Talking about the Danube above, it is unfortunate in this city as they have decided to control flooding by dividing it into 4 channels, but the main one through town is now basically dry, which doesn't make for a pretty picture and after Budapest, where all life, fun and transport was connected to the river it was a bit disappointing...the locals want it changed and we all said give us the petition to sign!! But they do have their great coffee houses and apple strudel, so onwards and upwards (and outwards when it comes to waistlines!)
We ventured out to Schonbrunn castle (Andre Rieu fame) on our last day and that is an amazing structure!! The rooms are still beautifully furnished and you get a real idea of what those luxurious days of old were like (as long as you where royalty or wealthy!!). The gardens are also spectacular with an amazing fountain (huge) at the end of the grand walk, a zoo and a maze for losing the children, one of the ladies who lived here had 21!!! We followed this up with a visit to the Belvedere Palace, where luckily for Kev, they were holding a Gustav Klimt (Kev's favourite artist & we have 2 prints on our walls) exhibition to celebrate his 150th birthday (no not Kev's!). We were able to see both the originals of our prints and many others that we know.
The actual palace was built as the home for an army officer who basically ran the country years ago, so military life did pay in those days!!! It was very grand and a Japanese couple were having their wedding photos taken inside, heavens knows what that cost or who they know!!! We weren't even allowed to take any photos in the palace & the camera police were everywhere. Many hours later we were exhausted but satisfied we had done "Vienna" before our next adventure to Prague in the Czech Republic....