As soon as you cross the border from Italy to Austria you feel like you are on holiday. The anxiety you have while driving just floods out of your body in an instant. Italy is a beautiful country with probably the best food in the world, apart from Krispies in Exmouth, with culture and art second to none and warm friendly people. However, it is a pig to drive around with the worst roads we have ever come across and the by far the worst drivers. Italians cannot drive. They are absolutely clueless and it makes visiting Italy a bit of a challenge. We survived by making use of the Autostradas more and more which is a shame because you miss out on the real country. Not a major problem for us as we had been there for a while and had seen everything Italy could throw at us.
Venice to Vienna The Journey 16 – 17/04/2016
It took us two days to drive from Venice to Vienna with a stopover just as we crossed the border into Austria at a small town called Wernberg. We wild-camped on a piece of ground near a water-park for the night and had a quiet evening before completing our journey. We cheekily bought a 3.5 ton vignette for the motorways and promptly drove across country. There is something about rural Austria that is unnerving. It looks like the roads are cleaned and scrubbed with a toothbrush every evening, driveways are hoovered of any leaves or dust, fields are mowed with perfect alternating stripes and cars gleam in the sunshine. Do these people do anything else apart from clean?
Vienna Day 1 18/04/2016
Ever since watching ‘The Third Man’ I have wanted to come to Vienna and now that I have bored Tracy endlessly about it I got the impression she was keen as well. I had told her how grimy the place is and how there are shady characters dealing in the black-market on every street corner and fat blokes who run around in the sewers. So, imagine our shock when we saw this gleaming up-market City with not a thing out of place. Everything has been designed and placed perfectly in the most orderly of fashion. The weather was not great and so we decided to have a walk around the city centre then pop into the Cathedral before heading to Figlmuller for some Weiner Schintzel. For the un-initiated Figlmuller in Vienna is the place where the Schintzel was invented and has been a staple on English School Dinner menus since.
It was delicious and to my complete surprise it came with a rosti on the side. Heaven. With the weather closing in and the forecast for tomorrow to be good we cut our losses and got the Tube home.
Vienna Day 2 19/04/2016
This was going to be the big one, a 25 Mile ride around Vienna on our bikes taking in all the major sites and ending up with a ride on the Big Wheel made so famous in ‘The Third Man’. But before the ‘grand finale’ we had palaces to see, art to gawp at and cakes to eat.
Our first stop was the KunstHausWein, an art gallery designed by Viennese artist and architect Freddy Hundertwasser. This building which out-Gaudis Gaudi is a playful mixture of uneven floors, colourful ceramics and rooftop greenery and houses a permanent collection of his works. This includes his paintings, graphics, stamps and architecture. The man was mad but we loved his stuff, so much we bought a print. We also visited a block of residential flats down the road architected by ‘The Wassmeister’ and an arcade of over-priced tat-shops, the man would turn in his grave to see. Some Pictures.
Texting is more important than life
Next stop was a whizz around ‘The Ring’ to see all the formal sites; museums, palaces, etc which we saw from the outside but declined to go in. We are only going for quirky and unusual after the classical tour of Greece and Italy that we have just undertaken. No more reformation art for us, no Temples, Greek or otherwise, no curly-wurly Baroque buildings, no bell towers and no churches.
Tracy by the Palace
Feeling peckish we headed to the Naschmarkt for a dollop of street food. The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s answer to Borough market in London but without the over-inflated prices. Good quality grub can be had at reasonable prices and although it might not be as diverse as London it still has an excellent range of foods to either buy or eat.
After lunch we headed out to the Summer Palace at Schonbrunn for a look at the formal gardens. Again we followed a dedicated cycle track alongside the river for this little adventure and credit must be given to Vienna for the breadth of safe cycling it provides. In fact throughout the whole of Austria there are cycle-ways beside every major road and through every town. Get off your arse Cameron and do something about it in Britain and we might make the nation healthier and cut the NHS bill.
The summer Palace is a fine building to look at from the outside and the gardens which are free to access go on for miles. They do include the Zoo which we thought about going into as they have a Panda. But then we thought they spend most of their lives asleep and so gave it a swerve.
Schonbrunn with Tulips
After all that exercise there was now only one thing left to do before going on the Riesenard at Prater, eat some cakes in Vienna’s most famous café, The Central. This legendary place frequented by Royals, celebrities and Freud, it is a must-do while in town. There are only two things to have; Strudel and Sacher Cake. We had both and they were yummy-yum-yum, and so they should be for 20 sovs.
So we headed to Prater for our ride on the Riesenard. The Prater is Vienna’s playground comprising of grassy meadows, woodlands, sports pitches and an amusement park known as the Wurstelprater. Despite Tracy’s insistence to go on every roller-coaster we only went on the one ride, the celluloid legend that is the Riesenard. Built in 1897 this 65m high Ferris wheel takes about 20 minutes to rotate offering unrivalled views over Vienna. Views to be fair that are dull. But that doesn’t matter because we have now shared a classic movie scene from a classic film with me starring as Orson ‘Plumpster’ Wells and Tracy as a rather sheepish Joseph Cotten.
We are going in there
Vienna with HuntertWasser Power Plant Building
The Third Man
So there we have Vienna. A classy picturesque city with plenty of formal things to see and do. We didn’t even contemplate the Spanish Riding school, we are not horsey. We did not contemplate The Vienna Boy’s Choir. We loved the HundertWasser stuff, so much better than the over-hyped and underwhelming stuff in Barcelona. It is a great city to visit if a little soulless.
Love to All