Wednesday, November 21, 2007
We left rainy Salzburg and headed out again. Highways in Germany and Austria were in excellent condition and Bob did a great job of driving. I was able to snap some good pictures while we motored along.
We were leaving the mountains of Austria behind and heading east to the capital city, Vienna.
Another scenic view as we drove along.
Where in Canada can you see a castle and a farm in the same valley?!! Nowhere!!
An Austrian wind farm.
This was the scene on the highway between Salzburg and Vienna about 2:30 in the afternoon. Yes - you are seeing it right - bumper to bumper traffic that's not moving! We weren't sure what the problem was - we were just very thankful that it was traffic going in the opposite direction of us!
We arrived in Vienna mid-afternoon and with some careful navigating, found our pension which was quite close to downtown. We parked the van and used public transit, since parking (not to mention navigating) in the historic core would have been a nightmare. Our guide book had nearly 100 pages on Vienna and we had less than 24 hours in town - remember we had "Tyler, the student" with us! We barely scratched the surface but tried to pack in some of the highlights. It helped that Melinda and Tyler had spent a long weekend here last year and they were excellent tour guides, once again!
A city of 1.6 million people, there are many beautiful statues of famous Austrian citizens like Mozart and Strauss.
From the tram window as we rode along and saw some of the important city buildings. I didn't get a picture of the Rathaus, or City Hall, which is a huge Neo-Gothic structure. During Advent, it becomes a huge Advent calendar, with 24 windows opening - one each day, as Christmas approaches.
The Vienna Opera House - truly a landmark of the city, rebuilt since the war! If you are a music lover, this would be "one of the planet's premier houses of music" (Rick Steves) Our tour guidebook said to drop by halfway through the performance and see if there were standing room tickets left. Alas, this day was a sold out performance but! We were able to beg some tickets from people as they left the performance early - way to go, Tyler!! We ended up with 3 tickets so took turns going inside to hear a bit of the performance and see the inside of this splendid, historical building. Mel and Tyler scored tickets in the top most balcony so they had an awesome view of the whole interior. Bob and I shared the one on the main floor so we enjoyed more of the performance and less of the view. I think next time (when we have a few days here) we'd buy tickets ahead of time and enjoy a full show. The performance did have English sub-titles displayed on a screen so it wasn't too difficult to follow the storyline.
The imposing front facade with its double rows of statues. At night each alcove is lit and the whole building seems to glow.
You needed to see the side view of the building in order to realize just how big it actually was! I think it covered the entire city block, which explains the spaciousness inside.
I never got tired of the architecture and there was always another photo op calling me!
Statues were everywhere!
After walking through the gates and up the driveway, this view of the Hofburg Palace greeted us.
A closeup of the statues set into recesses along the curved wall of the Palace.
I think I have one very favourite picture from each of our major stops during this vacation. This is the one from Vienna. I love the spires, the statue and the tree tops. Sometimes I surprise myself by capturing these little vignettes!
The Red Gate, according to us. And I can't find any information about it. If you know what it's proper name is and its significance, please tell me. For now, it's just a beautiful gate.
A spectacular dome over the covered walkway that connected buildings on the Hofburg Palace site.
When we considered things we could fit into a quick morning in Vienna, the Spanish riding School, at the palace, where the Lipizzaner Stallions are trained was a recommendation. After buying tickets to the morning training session, we watched while horses and riders practiced individual routines, steps and warmups. The arena had 3 of the biggest and grandest chandeliers imaginable hanging over the performance area. Tickets to performance events are sold out months in advance so you will have to plan ahead for this when you come to town.
This mime played a tune of Mozart's when you dropped a coin in his box. I thought these characters added so much to the historical experience whenever I saw them. Plus you have to admire someone who can dress up with full makeup and stand in the street for extended periods of time to entertain tourists!
There were so many amazing roofs - with statues, sculpture and amazing details. We saw more gilded statues here than any other place we visited in Europe.
I love how it all comes together in this picture - the curves of the Burgtheater (Austria's national theater), the red trolley and Mel and Tyler walking. It just seems to be an interesting photo.
The "votive church", built in 1853 to thank God when an assasination attempt on the Emperor failed, as seen from the transit center - which explains all the lines and cables!
Nearly a quarter of Vienna's buildings were destroyed in WWII so alot of restoration work has taken place. Tomorrow I'll show you some of the street vignettes in Vienna!