Friday August 21st was delightful and warm all day so we rejoiced as tourists and headed out!!! Staying with Gillian has been great as she has good insights into what to do and enables us to "colour in" the local background so easily. The flat is ideally situated - in the "Second district" (aka "few tourists") but literally just across the Danube Canal from all the action. The place is modern, liight spacious and airy ... a real find!
The heart of "Tourist Vienna" really only runs across a couple of blocks either side of the main drags through the heart of the "Old Town" in a quite concentrated area. This means that it is easy to escape the sweaty throngs of (mainly Eastern & Southern European people it seems although obviously Aussies, Yanks etc. but we don't stand out so much) and find a quiet place for lunch or a beer. Of course, if we come back across our bridge to "our" neighbourhood it is really only "locals" like ourselves, so it is quite charming!! Vienna is so "wedding cake" to look at - as someone said "Those Hapsburgs had some serious money!!" Every building has an art nouveau, baroque or Art Deco exterior and you eventually get overload but is is very lovely to wander around. It is almost completely impossible to comprehend the destruction of the various wars over the years. To those of us who have only known peace it seems llike it was ever thus!
Today, we decided to be common tourists and paid to climb aboard the "Big Bus Tour" which gave us a total of four hours moving much further afield than our little legs could carry us! This certainly enabled us to go out to the main River Danube (there are three actually!) and we could see where we will tie up in our boat next week - it made us very glad that we are spending these few days in this lovely place. The tours also helped us orient ourselves for tomorrow and took us up to the Palaces - The Schonbrunn and The Belvedere among these. We would need much longer to even touch these but were glad to have seen them at least and we certainly had a much better picture of the way the city is laid out and works.
We managed to book our tickets on the train to Budapest for Sunday (and to work out where the train goes from and how to get there!) and book for a concert tomorrow night. Lunch was beer, goulash and potatoes and in the evening, after doing a little shopping and coming back here for a rest, was fish and park schnitzel (and beer and potatoes ... & cigarettes) at a quite lovely, local restaurant recommend by Gillian and definitely far from the madding crowd. The smoking is quite extraordinary to us - even the classier places have ashtrays on the tables,.... apparently is is supposed to be a condition of being in the EU to ban smoking but the locals just don't give a stuff! We then strolled along the canal and around the backstreets to the Graben for an ice-cream before a short, leg-sparing trip home on the metro!
Did I forget to mention that we have eaten a few too many potatoes???