I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Last Day in Vienna

Brian and Danny helped push our dead taxi to the curb

the poor taxi driver calling for help in between apologizing profusely

The "chocolate police" who felt sorry for us and gave us even more chocolate

Opera where we boarded our hop on hop off buses

the Hop On Hop Off buses aka the "Snooze Buses"

the motto and inspiration behind Hundertwasser's art


I've never been in a "modern art toilet"

even the bathrooms are Hundertwasserfied

Inside St. Othmar church near Hundertwassenhaus

St. Othmar church

lunch at a cafe also designed by Hundertwasser

back on the bus

odd place for a swimming pool

The museum of Natural History

the cutest little elephant out front. wish we could see all of him, but Brian chopped him off

the front stairs

beautiful dome inside

lovely black and white inlaid floors

the reason for the visit...Sara Beth's quest to find the Venus of Willendorf

great dinosaur exhibit

this guy was animated and quite ferocious

this is a rendering of what this creature might have looked like

beautiful exhibit rooms

Sara Beth standing next to an actual dinosaur leg.

lots of impressions in rock

a beautiful piece of petrified wood

very cool thermographic image of sara beth, me, and ?

the meteor in the center if from Arkansas. I wouldn't want to get hit in the head with those things!

an entire room full of beautiful gemstones and rocks

exiting the museum is just as beautiful as entering it

coffee time

ready for a break

lovely little coffee shop not far from the museum

Schonbrunn...the summer house of the Habsburgs, literally across town

lovely grounds

the back of the house

the "back yard"!

we thought it was funny how they groomed these trees by cutting straight up the side of them to make corridors

the fake ruins and fountain at the end of the "back yard"

the train station

the corridor of the train was so narrow that a 25" suitcase barely fits

our cabin

welcome bag with water and champagne. You can't drink the tap water on the train.

we had a bathroom. Very tight quarters!

danny demonstrates the shower

our menu for breakfast which was included in our ticket

the porter folds down the beds from the wall when you are ready for sleep
Today we awoke to slightly overcast skies and we knew rain was in the forecast for the afternoon. We hoped it would hold off until we got on the train tonight and except for a little sprinkle, it did. We met the Howards for breakfast around 9. After breakfast, we called for a cab, checked out of the hotel and headed for the train station so we could put our bags in a locker for the day. The cab we were in was doing just fine until we stopped at a stop light. Some people dressed in police uniforms were handing out chocolate samples to people in their cars. They gave some to our cab driver and he appeared to get flustered enough that he killed the engine. No problem, we thought, he'll just restart the car. After several attempts, we smelled burning and saw smoke coming from the hood, and we realized the poor cab was in trouble. Brian, Danny, and one of the "chocolate police" helped him push the car to the curb and the cab driver called for another cab for us. The "chocolate police" felt sorry for us and gave us even more chocolate! The cab driver was apologizing and apologizing, but we weren't in a hurry for anything and it wasn't his fault and we were laughing about the whole situation. The next cab took us straight to the West Bahnhoff train station without incident. We found the lockers in the train station and as we have experienced before, the lockers were big enough for both of our suitcases (25") and backpacks and the same for the Howards. The lockers locked without keys. You closed the door to your locker, a display showed on a machine near the locker, you put your money in and it gives you a ticket to bring back to reopen the locker. Suitcase free, we left the train station by U-bahn (subway) to go to the Opera House to buy tickets for the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. The blue line bus that we rode took us to Hundertwasserhaus which was originally designed as a public housing project in 1985 by the creative artist, Hundertwasser, who we went to the gallery about yesterday. The building is a kaleidoscope of colors and materials, both eclectic and imaginative. Trees grow on the ground, in courtyards and on the roof. There are 51 apartments that are all unique. We weren't able to view the individual apartments, but the complex is wonky and reminded me of something out of a Dr. Suess book. It was really cool! We stopped into St. Othmar Catholic Church, completed in 1873, while we looked for some lunch. We ate lunch at the cafe in the KunstHausWien which is another building designed by Hundertwasser. After lunch, Sara Beth and Brian went to a photography exhibit by Linda McCartney as well as a brief spin through the KunstHausWien museum. Danny sat on a bench and took a short nap while I read. We rejoined the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus and then deemed it the Snooze Bus as many of the riders, including each of us, at some point fell asleep. I'm still convinced that it's a waste of money to get on one for that very reason! We did see and hear about a lot of things outside the windows that were in parts of town we didn't visit. We exited the bus again at the Opera and walked about 5 blocks down to the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum). It's located in a beautiful building. It houses the collections of Francois Etienne de Lorraine, preserved almost exactly as he arranged them. On the ground floor are minerals and meteorites from all over the world. I've never seen so many beautiful rocks in my life and there was even a meteorite from Arkansas! We stayed on the first floor and also saw fossils, reconstruction of dinosaurs and prehistoric objects. The star of the show and what Sara Beth drew us there to see was something very precious, the 4,000 year old Venus of Willendorf. Sara Beth had just studied about this little sculpture in school right before the trip and couldn't believe she would actually be able to see it. It is housed in a special little dark room in the middle of dinosaur bone exhibits. I will probably get this wrong, but Sara Beth tells me that it is the first piece of sculpture found from that time period that demonstrates a 3d image. We were ready for coffee at that point and stopped at a little cafe for coffee and a pastry. By the time we made it back to Opera to catch another Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, the yellow line bus that we wanted to take had stopped running for the day. We weren't quite ready to call it a day so we got on the U-bahn and went out to Schloss Schonbrunn, the summer palace of the Habsburgs. It was the favorite residence of the Habsburgs and was built from plans by Fischer von Erlach in 1696 and modified by Nicolaus Pacassi in 1794. We did not have time to go inside, but we did have time to walk around to the back to see the impressive gardens. There are 1441 rooms in the Ocher (mustard) colored castle. It's huge! The garden is designed with principles from the French and had a baroque Neptune fountain and mock Roman ruins up on a hill. We didn't climb up the hill as our feet had gotten pretty tired and decided instead that it was time to go to the train station. We had supper in the food court of the train station, collected our bags and waited for our train. The adventure has really begun now with our first ride on a night train. When I booked our tickets, I booked ours first to make sure I was doing it right and booked a double compartment with a shower and toilet. I assumed there would be more of those but when I booked the Howards, that wasn't available for them, only a private compartment with a sink. There is a big difference between our compartments in seating space, but our sleeping arrangements (bunk beds) are the same. If you are claustrophobic or get motion sickness, this may not be for you, but we are adapting. Meclizine is my drug of choice for this trip! We are off to Venice, Italy and will arrive in the early morning. Taking a night train was our way of maximizing our time there. We'll see if it was worth the adventure!

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