Austria October 7-10, 2005
Oct 13: I am finding this the most difficult of all the updates to write. It is not because of anything related to our time in Vienna , which was great, nor is it related to it being the shortest stay, 3+ days, of any link on our website. Rather it is the fact that I am writing this from Kathmandu , Nepal . Even though we arrived from Vienna less than two days ago, it absolutely feels like we are half a world away. Given that this update will be posted on our website under the " Vienna " link, it seems inappropriate to go into too much detail about Kathmandu . What is notable, however, is the contrast between going from a very beautiful and westernized culture straight into third world Asia . That is where the foundation of my writer's block lies. So, for those of you who enjoy brevity you are likely in luck. For those who enjoy more detail then go to Vienna yourself because it truly is a wonderful city. Although our stay was brief, it seemed to us that Vienna possesses many of the core characteristics that make a city "World Class" in stature. It has excellent public transportation, possesses a variety of high class museums (an inherent benefit of being the nation's capital), low crime, a very walkable downtown area, good culinary cuisine, nice parks, and exceptional history. It also appeared to be very bicycle friendly as noted by nice bike lanes and bike paths. There is excellent mountain biking as well which is within close proximity to the city.
We were exceptionally fortunate to stay with another warm showers contact in the heart of the city. Helga was not only a great host, but a beautifully warm person who made time to show us the city and share stories of cycling in Australia , her favorite cycling haunt. We were able to view the city from its' highest point with views of local vineyards, the Danube River and Vienna in nearly its entirety. The fall foliage was in beautiful bloom. This was most striking when we visited Schloss Shonbrunn, the summer castle of the Habsburgs. The Royal Gardens sported leaves with a multitude of brilliant colors including reds, purples, greens, and yellows. The internal tour of the residence itself was quite incredible. Even though it was only part of the first floor, the size, scope, furnishings, and history were fascinating. The most interesting room to both of us was the Grand Ballroom because it was the location of the historical meeting between President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev.
We visited museums highlighting Austria 's history. How the vestments and other pieces of clothing have retained their color, quality, and shape over the course of hundreds of years seems quite intriguing. St. Stephan's Cathedral is the most prominent building in the city which was built in the middle of the 12th century. No building construction within the city can exceed the height of the steeple, which is said to be the third tallest in the world. There is a nice memorial to Austria 's Holocaust victims where it states that it is "Dedicated to the more than 65,000 Austrian's killed by the Nazis" during WWII.
All in all, our time in Vienna was no less than fantastic. We once again lucked out with great weather for the time we were there, and this no doubt added to our enjoyment. Yet another place to come back to!