Our first night in Vienna we went into town to see an Orchestra playing classics by Mozart and a couple other composers. It was really good, no photos unfortunately, but it's something I had never seen before and it was a real treat. Most people there were old which is fair enough as I guess the youth of Austria don't particularly care for such things?
The next morning we went into town again and had a bit of a walking tour through Hofburg Palace grounds where Hitler first gave his rallies trying to recruit people to his cause.
We were also told about how the boy's choir back in the day was something that every parent wanted their son to join, and it was a very prestigious thing as the choir and their parents would travel around Europe all expenses paid to sing. Because of this the parents would sometimes castrate their sons, thinking this would stop their voices breaking so they could stay in the choir longer!
We went to the Cafe Sacher which is a very famous cafe that apparently perfected the chocolate cake. The story goes something like: in the 1800s cake wasn't all that good and only the rich could afford the good stuff. One day the head chef at the Sacher hotel went off sick, and the stand-in chef baked what was to be known as Sacher cake. Monarchs and people alike came from all over Europe just to have this cake. I had some myself, with a cup of special Sacher Tee. I actually enjoyed the tea more than the cake – I am a tea person – although the cake was pretty good.
We learned that the best way to see Vienna was to hire a bike and that was what we did. All you needed was a credit card, and the fee was a very steep 1 euro! Wowowowow! The bikes were pretty much the same as the ones you hire in Brisbane, except to slow down you had to pedal backwards, it was weird. Our first stop was the Mozart statue.
The parliament building with a tram passing.
This cathedral was under renovation and in typical fashion the company that was sponsoring it had an excellent advertisement.
The river that runs through Vienna is the Danube. It is famous because it's in a well known composition – The Blue Danube Waltz. Apparently if you are in love the river looks blue to you. It looked a dark-green to me, but then I saw this! A blue swimming pool.
After our nice bike ride our tour group went to the Schnapps Distillery. It's a fairly famous one that has won so many awards they can't display them all. This old man has been running it since he took over from his father, and he was a real laugh. Probably because he'd had a shot or two of schnapps before ;)
This was my favourite bottle he had, one designed by his son. I'll give you a hint as to why I enjoyed it – read the label backwards.
After that we went to another epic palace called Schönbrunn Palace. It was huge, and had huge grounds. It was so big, that there was a zoo inside, and about a dozen different gardens like a rose garden, a maze, a Japanese garden, etc etc.
We then got back on the coach and drove out of Vienna into the woods. After driving the wrong way up a one-way single laned dirt track for about half an hour, we arrived at a cool old cottage. This was our Austrian themed dinner night. There was a crazy old man that ran the place, and another not-so-crazy old man that played all sorts of traditional music on a piano. Some highlights: I got married, I had a shot done off my lap, and I sang the Zimbabwean national anthem all by myself (thanks Brett for not knowing a single word of it). I also sung the Australian national anthem with the other Aussies, in case you were wondering why I was singing anthems.
After that we headed back to the hostel and that's about the extent of Vienna! A pretty cool place that definitely had more to see than I had time for, but at least I think I had a pretty good experience. The next day we were off to Hopfgarten!!