Klosterneuberg, Vienna, Hainburg an der Donau
96 days away
41 miles / 66 km since last post
5,623 miles / 9,049 km total
On Wednesday we headed into the centre of Vienna, easy enough via the train and metro. Once in the city we took a casual stroll around. The first stop being St. Stephens Cathedral, the currently Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral and one of the city's most recognizable buildings. The interior was just as impressive as the exterior and we were pleased there was no charge to enter. A bit disappointing however, were the numerous attempts, when inside, to rob tourists of their money - 75 cents to light a candle, €2 to use the information kiosk, &euro4 for an audio guide, and yet more money if you wanted to enter the main area of the cathedral. It was a shame you couldn't walk freely through the cathedral free of charge, but thankfully there was still a nice enough view from the 'free' end.
We took a walk over to the Hofburg Palace, which has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, and it is the current official residence of the President of Austria. It has an awesome array of buildings and gardens, and has been expanded in recent years to include a chapel, museums, the Imperial Library, the treasury, and many others. As the weather was taking a turn for the worse we decided it was the perfect day for a museum visit, and headed into the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History) within the Hofburg buildings.
The museum is housed in an amazing 19th century building with a 60 metre high octagonal dome. The inside of the building is extremely lavish, decorated with marble, gold-leaf and paintings. We really enjoyed the museum. The Picture Gallery contained such works as Rembrandt: Self Portrait (1652), Raphael: Madonna of the Meadow (1506) and The Tower of Babel (1563). There were many other collections including Egyptian, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Coins, Ancient Musical Instruments and Arms and Armour. The museum is extensive and there was plenty more to see, but we unfortunately ran out of time. I think our favourite displays were the mathmatical instruments and the automatons. The only thing I wouldn't recommend is the cafe inside the museum. We struggled to get the attention of the waiter initially, almost giving up when we eventually got served. Then the waiter had the cheek to keep our change after we paid, assuming it was a tip. I don't think either of us could be bothered to try and get the waiter's attention again for the sake of a Euro, but was still irritating when the service was rubbish.
Thankfully the weather had cleared up during our time in the museum, so we took a walk over to the Karlskirche, an impressive baroque church located next to Karlsplatz.
Feeling like we'd had a full day on our feet, we headed back to the metro station, then got our connecting train heading back to Klosterneuberg. Unfortunately, Stu didn't realise that there were two train stations starting with 'Klosterneuberg' in the name, and insisted we get off at the worng stop - only realising once we were off the train. We decided to make the best of the mistake, and took a walk to a nearby Asian restaurant for dinner, which turned out to be very nice food and good value. The only oddity was the spring roll we ordered as a starter - it turned up looking more like a pasty! However, it still tasted pretty good so we can't complain.
We definitely needed a walk after our huge meal, so we walked the remainder of the way back to our motorhome, stopping briefly at the monestary which was lit up beautifully in the night.
On Thursday the sunshine made a welcome return, and we headed into the city of Vienna once again. We took a walk to the Hundertwasserhaus, an apartment block built on an idea by expressionist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Billed as a wacky, must-see building in the top ten of things to see in Vienna by our guide book, we were a little disappointed that it didn't live up to our expectations, especially as it was a 30 minute round-trip walk out of the way of everything else in Vienna!
We took a very casual walk around the rest of the day, making the most of seeing things in the sunshine. Vienna certainly has some amazing buildings, and is a bigger city than I expected. But I think we managed to cover what we needed to in two days, and we are ready to move on.
Today (Friday) we left our campsite in Klosterneuberg and headed east, in the direction of Bratislava, Slovakia. We decided not to cross the border today though, as we still want to work out the best way of getting into Bratislava. It appears from our initial research that there aren't many campsites in or around Bratislava, and the one we did find had terrible reviews and concerns about security. So we might not drive into Slovakia at all and just visit the capital city on the train from the edge of Austria. We will have a think about it today, and in the meantime have found a free camp stop in Hainburg an der Donau. It seems quiet enough and we are literally right next to the Danube with free WiFi from the cafe next door.
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