Another beautiful sunny morning found us on the banks of the Danube awaiting our vessel to Wien (Vienna). Time again for me to clarify a little, as technically we weren’t waiting for the boat, as the boat was already moored at the dock.
We were early however, and aside from a fairly rotund man in a singlet (who minutes later through the application of a shirt with epaulettes, became an official looking member of the crew) there were few people around.
It wasn’t long however before other passengers began to arrive so they actually allowed us to begin boarding significantly early, the biggest challenge for us was where to keep our packs so that they wouldn’t impede any passengers or block any seats (as most people were day trippers, we appeared to be the only ones laden with luggage).
I was not surprised to find beautiful views from the outset, with Bratislava Castle immediately visible once on board, and shortly after we were underway we had views of that other wonderful castle, Hrad Devin.
While the duration of the trip was only an hour and a half, there was certainly no time we were lacking for a view or a bit of excitement. Many old medieval towns, beautiful green woodlands and these cute little fishing huts all along the banks (summer holiday retreats I am led to believe).
Not far shy of Vienna, we also had the novelty of experiencing a lock (well it was somewhat exciting for me at least). The challenge actually lay in finding a position where i could actually see the action (in truth, watching the water rise is about as exciting as watching grass grow).
The skyline of the capital had immediate appeal, our first sights being oddly enough what appeared to be a Buddhist temple followed be an enormous church (or cathedral, I’m no expert on the matter).
As we left the boat, i unintentionally gathered an entourage (or so it looked), as being the first to spot the sign to the metro, Sarah and I had a posse of people following our path.
A short metro ride (where a young American asked me if I was “packing through”. I’m still not sure what he meant) and walk later and we were at out hostel ready to check in.
We were however a few hours earlier than the check in time, but we were able to leave our bags their until our room was ready. As a nice touch, we were offered a complementary beer (or wine, we both chose beer) as we filled in the necessary paperwork.
As usual braving the heat to see the sights, we took in the impressive St Stephen’s Cathedral before deciding it was time for lunch. Our friends in London had recommended a place, so we tracked it down and I lived the dream, dining on the biggest Wiener Schnitzel I’ve ever seen. Simple sure, but delicious (and another day when I’m fairly certain we waived on dinner due to the size of this meal).
The rest of the afternoon was a sight-seers dream, as I’d have to say Vienna is the grandest, best preserved imperial city I’ve seen to date. Everywhere you wander are grand buildings, beautifully manicured gardens and lawns, all in beautiful condition.
Barely scraping the tip of the iceberg, I really couldn’t have asked for more until late in the day, the legs began to ache with a bit of that fatigue we’d copped from time to time.
Still we soldiered on, eventually figuring we’d earned ourselves a reward, so began to seek a specific destination. After all, we are in the Austrian capital, so why stop at one cliche when you can have more?
Cue the hotel Sacher, home to (well at least one of the homes of) the famous, Sachertorte, that Viennese specialty chocolate cake with layers of apricot jam within.
In truth I was unfortunately underwhelmed. I’m normally not one to eat whipped cream, but I found that I had to with this, as the cake itself was quite dry, and the apricot jam layers, barely there.
It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t great (not like that Ginger Gelato in Budapest)!
We have found one way to see a place in a new light, is to literally do that. See it in new light, and that was our plan for the evening. Re-visit the royal palace when the sun had set.
We found an outdoor bar nearby, and with a bit of good fortune also found ourselves a table, ordered a round a relaxed as night took over.
With only one day here in Wien, we hadn’t a lot of time, but I felt I’d gained a good feel for the place.
We were also very fortunate that the pick-up point for our shuttle bus into the Czech Republic was a mere 5 minute walk from where we were staying (it really was just dumb luck).