One of the most rewarding aspects of our travels so far has been the experiences that we discover almost by accident. The Flower festival in Chiang Mai was not where we planned to start our Asian adventure but we are very glad we did. The Hot air Balloon Festival in Chiang Rai, just happened to be on and turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole trip.
Our time in Vienna only came about because we found an irresistible air fare! Again it is turning out to be an absolute gem. First of all, it is a stunningly beautiful city. Yesterday morning when we arrived after a couple of days travelling and no sleep, we found that we could not check-in to our hotel until 2pm. So we set out on our normal approach to a new city and started walking. This is an easy place to walk around with lots of stunning architecture, little alleyways and arcades. We had a wonderful few hours just exploring and getting to know the place. What we found was that you could probably spend a couple of weeks here and still not see everything. What we needed was a plan.
We needed a Vienna plan
Top of the list for Suzannah were the Lipizzan horses at the Spanish Riding School. You can watch their training sessions between 10.00 and 12.00 on week days. After some chatting to the people there we discovered that they have Mondays off and they recommended missing Tuesday, if you can, because all the tour groups turn up then. So the tickets are booked for Wednesday.
The Palaces at Schonbrunn and Belvedere
Today the Palaces at Schonbrunn and Belvedere were on our hit list. Vienna has an excellent public transport system and for 8 Euros, you can travel as much as you like for a day. So off we head on the underground trains. When we arrive, we are presented with a bewildering array of ticket options and we choose the Grand Tour. Our tickets say that we can start at 09.53. We arrive at Gate A a little early and watch the minutes tick away and at 09.53, we are allowed through the turnstile. With our audio guide in hand, we start.
It is an impressive place and the audio guide is very informative. Out of all the information, I often find that it is strange little details that actually stick in my mind. So my favourite bit was the incredibly ornate heating system. On a human scale it seems a rather sad tale of power, murder and 15 year old children being sold into marriage for political gain. But you cannot help to be amazed by the sheer opulence.
Our second visit of the day was to Belvedere. The artist Klint is kind of a superstar in Vienna and this is where his famous painting “The Kiss” is on show. Sadly, it is surrounded by people taking pictures with their mobile phones. I can only assume that this is all they came for because as we progress through the other galleries the crowds thin out and we can look at the art in relative peace. To my untrained eye, “The Kiss” was far from being the most interesting art on display. So do allow yourself time and enjoy the rest of the exhibition.
You can buy a ticket for the ground floor which house the temporary exhibitions or the upper floors which house the permanent exhibition or you can combine the two. We chose to do just the upper floors and by the time we had finished our energy levels were flagging and it was time to rest.
Tomorrow there are horses and so much more to see!