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Vienna, Tuesday 21st June

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The Gloriette

We have a short list of “must-do” things to see and do while we are in Vienna. Some are catch-up things, some are trying to fill the gaps from the last time we were here. Even living here for six months we still walked away with things unfinished. In a week we will hardly scratch the surface. On top of that, after tomorrow the weather is supposed to be closing in for three days of thunder and storms. Good for museums and so on, not much good for gardens and outside walks.

 So today we tackled Schonbrun. This was the Vienna palace of the Habsburg rulers. Its rather nice.  We took a look at the queues to tour the inside of the palace and gave it a miss. Too many people, bumper to bumper through 45 palatial rooms isn’t much fun, we figured.

 Outside there are acres of gardens to wander through.

For a long time after the empire collapsed the palace grounds were neglected. No emperors to pay for upkeep, the State didn’t really know what to do with it. Fortunately they didn’t take the Australian standard solution and sell it off to private developers to bulldoze and build apartments.

The gardens have been reworked, and are now a major tourist attraction, a must-see for most visitors to Vienna.

Glamorous walkway at Schonbrun

Last time my favourite was a massive, espaliered hedge that was some 25 metres high and about 30 cm wide, and it ran for about 400 metres in a straight line. I saw it in winter, bare. This time, three years later, it has grown a bit, in width, and is now a different, thicker hedge.

Also, elsewhere the high hedges have been allowed to grow into each other from above, but they are now being pruned to form a “natural” (as in, no frames forcing the shape) arch. The gardeners use a three story wooden frame with a curved edge as the cutting frame.

The grounds have a natural hill, at the top sits a “gloriette”. Its now a café but it used to be a small house lavishly decorated with oversized sculptures celebrating the success and power of the empire. Off to the side is an unstructured forest, and we sat there and watched the squirrels run mad. A bird that must be called a tree-creeper came down and inspected us then climbed back up again.

There’s a fake Roman ruin, and a few more large fountains, all tarted up with make-believe significance. (For example, the pretend Egyptian obelisk has hieroglyphics that “tell the story of the Habsburgs”. But it was built in 1770 and hieroglyphics were decrypted in the 1820’s. And how would the Eqyptians know about what came after them?….etc.

Squirrel and accomplice

Getting there is via the amazing public transport system. Everything connects. If you miss a train it doesn’t matter…there’s another one in 3 minutes. On the way back we got off and walked halfway round the outer ringroad. Café Pruckel is one of the Viennese cafes we tried out a few times previously, and we gave it another visit. This time it was beer rather than coffee, and outside rather than the art deco/Jugenstil interior.

But I did go inside, to visit the gents and it made me laugh…I forgot the stairs to the toilets goes through the kitchen. Imagine trying to get that off the ground in Australia!

Two quick trains and a tram home, then chaos. The dinner plans had all been scrapped and I had to walk back to the supermarket for supplies, then make dinner. Sylvia and I were knackered by the time we sat down.

Austria changed over to digital tv while we were here three years ago, and I bought a receiver. I was a bit surprised it was sitting in the shed with the tv gathering dust. It turns out Sylvia’s parents, (who are here as well) couldn’t get it going.

I hauled it out and set it up, rebuilt the channel list but also couldn’t get it working. It needed an aerial. While we were out Sylvia’s father connected an aerial, and after dinner I had another go at configuring it. All working now, but I forgot how deaf they are, and even sitting outside writing this the volume is so loud I want to go inside and turn it down.

Not that there is anything on. I was hoping for the show “Wir Sind Kaiser”, a talk show with a fake emperor of Austria as the host. He’s bored with his guests and not interested in what they have to say. The rich and celebrated fall over themselves to be on the show and he ridicules them. I loved it. No sign of it. One channel has 6 episodes of Two and Half Men, another four of Lie to Me. Just dubbed American crap, with one or two news/current affairs shows padding out the Austrian content.

Tomorrow depends on the weather. Nice day, we might go up to the church that overlooks Vienna (and we look at from our bedroom window) and the surrounding vineyard/heurigan restaurants. Bad day, museums.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

June 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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