So when I go away for a city break I can usually build an itinerary in my head. Paris? So the Eiffel Tower, definitely, Arc du Triomphe, probably and possibly the Louvre. Barcelona then the Sagrada Famila or for sporting fans the Nou Camp. And I would have no difficulty thinking of things to do around London. When I think of Austria, however, what immediately comes to mind are apple strudel, Niki Lauda and raindrops on kittens (sic) and none of those are likely to figure in a weekend away in Vienna. so, basically, we landed at Vienna airport last night with a blank canvas.
Our introduction to the citizens of Austria was via the taxi driver that took us from the airport to the hotel. He spent the whole journey muttering to himself as I had the temerity to suggest that I might pay for the trip on a card. As it was we weren’t with him very long as he was clearly as keen to get the journey over as we were and he went like a rocket to get us to our destination. He thawed slightly when I produced cash and a tip that I’m not convinced he really had earned.
The hotel room provided the next surprise when, along with all the usual items left in the room were two sets of ear plugs. This was accompanied by a short note apologising for the building work going on opposite hence the offer of ear plugs. Fortunately there wasn’t any work being carried out over night but I was alarmed!
Following breakfast we made our way, via the efficient underground, to the Schloss Schonbrunn with its palace and gardens. We didn’t go into the house, we never tend to, and instead walked around the very extensive (and free) gardens. These were laid out in a very formal style with high hedges alongside gravel paths. We did pay to go into the palm and dessert glasshouses which were an interesting interlude from the garden. The dessert glasshouse contained the most vicious tortoises I have ever seen – they were really going for each other with teeth bared.
We spent a couple of hours walking around the gardens before coming back to the house. It’s a vast but soulless looking place which wouldn’t have looked out of place on a film lot. The place and grounds are the number one attraction in most guide books but I couldn’t get that excited by them.
Back in the city itself we followed a prepared walk around some of the highlights and there the buildings were architecturally more interesting. We ended up outside the Rathaus a beautiful building but why is it whenever we travel the best buildings are either shrouded in scaffolding or have something camped in front of them spoiling the view?
Tomorrow I might get a kiss…