Apple Strudel and street parties!

Apple Strudel and street parties!

Well we’ve had an adventurous couple of days and no time to write any blog posts since we left Prague! I’m writing this sat on the bus to Belgrade – it’s quite a smooth journey with no traffic as it seems that not many people want to go to Serbia. Great for us as there will hopefully not be any traffic jams!

We’ve just left Budapest after a two night stay but before that we were in Vienna so better tell you about that first!

We had high hopes for Vienna as we’d heard so much about it. We were expecting to be blown away by its beauty and fascinated by all of the city’s history – I mentioned in my last post that it was apparently like a living museum and that is mainly down to the exploits of one former ruling family – the Habsburgs. The head of this family was intrigued by everything around him and brought art, sculpture, science and anything else he was interested in back to Vienna so that he could explore it ‘all under one roof’. This meant that over time Vienna built up an enviable collection of multi-cultural arts, buildings and cultures that quickly gave the city its reputation for cultural significance. The Habsburgs were a huge family and had influence not only in Vienna but other countries in central-eastern Europe (such as Budapest). They had a unique way of growing their empire – instead of through war, they grew their empire through marrying into other empires and increasing their ‘reach’ across Europe. Unfortunately one unruly son (Maximillian) took this a bit too far by encouraging marriage within the family itself. He ended up destroying the Habsburgs empire through his own greed and thirst for power.

Lots of Palaces in Vienna

The history of Maxamillian and the Habsburgs all sounds a bit weird and involves lots of interbreeding (his attempt to keep the Habsburgs name going!) but it’s quite interesting to take a walk around Vienna and think about all the different buldings there and what Maximillian used them for. Apparently Vienna was like his playground, and you certainly get that feeling as you wander around.

If you like architecture then Vienna’s stunning Baroque Palaces will be real treat. The whole city feels like it has been purpose built for people to admire – every building is extremely intricate, however we did sort of feel like the ‘spirit or soul’ of Vienna had been sacrificed for these buildings. We didn’t get a real sense of Vienna’s heart or modern culture – just its past. Which was fine, but after a while, you tend to want more from it.

We went to have a look at the Opera House pretty much as soon as we got there (Again, because we had heard so much about it) but I wasn’t really that impressed. Yes, it was a nice building but it didn’t blow me away.

Vienna Opera House

I think the museums in Vienna were definately the most impressive buildings there. The ‘Old Town’ was where we spent most time walking around – this is probably the best place to go to ‘take in’ Vienna and it’s absolutely massive. St Stephen’s Cathedral is also really nice – but we had a hard time trying to get a photo of it as they were doing some sort of work on it and half of it was covered up!

St Stephens Cathedral Vienna

It seems like we are walking around the world rather than just busing it! Poor Richard’s feet are really suffering and he has quite an impressive blister on his little toe. That’s one good thing about these uber long bus journeys – they do give us time to rest our feet!

Any way, back to Vienna… In our bid to do all the ‘cliches’ the main thing I wanted to do in Vienna was have a Schnitzel (which is actually of Austrian origin rather than German as most people think) and to have some apple strudel and ice cream. Well we had a schitnzel sandwich (close enough) and discovered that despite its intriging name, a schnitzel is literally just as escalope! Well I never expected that. We had a chicken one but I think that pork is more traditional.

Our apple strudel experience was much more mind blowing – there was a restaurant just round the corner from the hostel and although quite expensive for the portion sizes, it sold the most gorgeous hot apple strudel, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. Wow, best thing we’ve eaten on this trip so far! The restaurant was called Mariahilferbrau on the street with the same name.

Apple Strudel and Ice Cream.

Outside of the city itself is the River Danube and Danube Island, a really cool, chilled out place where people from Vienna can go to and relax. It was a couple of metro stops from the main centre and was a lovely retreat from walking around. We thought that it would be great if instead of getting the Oz Bus to the next city (Budapest) they should start doing it by boat down the Danube – that would be much more fun!

River Danube Austria

Towards the end of our last night in Vienna we took another wander (as painful as it is I think we’re addicted to walking – we’ll never have to do another cardio session ever again!) down to the Nasch markt, a bit further out than the hostel. Now this place in itself was lovely – al fresco bars in the middle of the street, but the best thing was that there was some sort of street party going on there at the same time! The side street was packed full of people, tables and chairs with food and drink stalls, live band and the obligatory one man and his guitar! It was brilliant! We asked an Austrian man what the occasion was and he just shrugged and said “there doesn’t need to be an occasion” Now thats my kind of street party!

We sat and had a beer and bought some food from one of the stalls – no idea what the sign said but recognised the word falafal – don’t know what that is either but we ordered it anyway as the stall smelt gorgeous. There was some kind of yoghurt or sauce with specks of mint in it as well as really juicy sun dried tomatoes – all packed into a huge slab of bread. Couldn’t eat it all though. Stayed at the street party for a couple of hours then headed back to the hostel.

Street Party in Vienna

Something else that we did in Vienna was visit the climbing walls in Esterhazy Park. Leighton had told us about them the day before so we decided to check them out. I had done some ‘rock climbing’ on one of these sorts of walls before (go Girl Guides!) but Richard hadn’t, so decided to give it a go. We bumped into Leighton there who had already been on the walls earlier that day but he came in with us and showed us how to start off. It as 8 euros to get in and there were about 4 walls that you could spend as long as you wanted attempting to climb. The one we went on had this big overhang which I couldnt get over – Richard nearly got to the top through swinging his legs up and clinging upside-down – don’t know how he did that, i thought my arms were going to fall off! It was tough going and we were starving so didnt have much energy! Will def try climbing again as it’s very addictive attempting to get to the top!!

Were pretty shattered after Vienna as its involved so much walking – we had much more of that to come during our next stop in Budapest however!…..

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