Thursday, May 5, 2016

May 5th - Travel Blog

Hi, it’s Christina –

I'm sure these looked really cool at
night, but I fell asleep before the
lights came on.
Greetings from Dürnstein; we just docked. We are here for a few hours, then we are off to Melk, so today’s blog of yesterday’s adventures will be coming in snips and snaps. Hopefully I’ll have it finished before dinner (lunch time for you).

Just so you know, I’m not one to hold a grudge. The woman who I was so annoyed with upon our arrival, Renata, I have been talking with, and it turns out she is a lovely woman. Our initial meeting was unfortunate, but all fences have been mended.
Unless there's something really cool
at one of the next 9 locks, this will be
the last one you'll be seeing.

We went through another lock yesterday, which I found out was number two of eleven. I took a few pictures, but I was not going to bore you with detailed accounts of all eleven locks. The one difference between the first lock and the second lock was we had another ship in there with us. It was a little scary watching them try to squeeze our long narrow ship alongside of their fat one, so I snapped a couple of shots, then went back inside, trusting the captain knew what he was doing.
Sorry, no clue what the middle left
one is, but it was pretty.

Right after breakfast, I ran down to the cabin, changed into jeans, and grabbed my coat – if I had had a hat and mittens, I would have grabbed them too. It was so cold and raw yesterday, it was really miserable. One bonus was my sneakers seem to be waterproof, so I was not walking around with wet feet all day – YEAH!

As usual, by 8:30 I was on a tour bus. Although the sites we are seeing are lovely, and the history lessons we are getting are beyond compare, this is not a very relaxing vacation. It is going to take me several days, upon my return, to recuperate.

From the bus we were able to catch a glimpse of the Jubilee Church, it’s cool because it looks medieval. We also drove past the park with the oldest working ferris wheel in the world. It was built in 1880 (I think). If you look closely, the cars look like tram cars instead of just seats like we picture a ferris wheel. You can even rent out individual cars for special occasions. Each rotation takes 20 minutes, so if you rent a car for a romantic dinner, you make your rotation, when you stop at the bottom, the waiter brings you your next course, refills your wine, and then you are off for another rotation.
Silvia (center)

Our guide through Vienna was Silvia. She was sweet, and funny (in a much better way than Katerina), and informative. She also seems to share my sweet tooth, because she pointed out all the good pastry shoppes on our journey.

We visited the outside of Helden Platz – the Hofburg winter palace. I did snap a ton of pictures (it was a challenge cropping all the umbrellas out of the shots). Don’t ask me what’s what, because they all kinda blended together. What fascinates me is even your average building has ornate things – scroll work, statues, paintings – not just the palaces or opera houses.

I don't know why, but
this clock made me think
of Ben Franklin.
I kept this picture separate from the others because I wanted to point it out to you. This tower (I don’t know what else to call it) has 3 clocks. The clocks are all run on solar power and have been since way before I knew people even were able to harness solar power to use as energy. The ball in the middle, that is a lunar clock.

We did manage to catch a glimpse of the Lipizzan horses. We lucked out. They had had a performance at 10:00 and were being brought back to their stable while we were passing. They are such beautiful creatures. I didn’t know they were all born brown, and as they aged they turned white. No, that doesn’t mean they are old, they usually turn white within their first few years. Think of Dalmatian puppies, they are born completely white, and then develop their spots over several months.
The crown in the bottom row
is actually a cake.

The one in the stall was so funny. He was munching on some hay, not paying attention to anything much, when he noticed me, he stopped chewing, his ears perked up, his head came up, and he posed for the photo. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but then I did the same thing a few minutes later, and he reacted the same way; and I watched as he did the same for another tourist. The horse was a total ham.

Bottom right is a carousel.
Well, while in Vienna, one must stop at a coffee house, so I did. Aïda was charming, but honestly the cake was dry and the coffee was bitter. Jagna, our waitress was very good though. It was so crowded, I squeezed onto a bar stool by the window, but then noticed Janet and Trevor at a nearby table and asked them if I could join them. It was nice to get in out of the rain and just sit and chat. When the bill came, Trevor grabbed mine as well and insisted they pick up the tab for my coffee and cake. How sweet was that? Three cups of coffee and two pieces of cake was 19€! Good grief!

The one cathedral I was looking forward to seeing was St. Stephen’s in Vienna, but when I got inside, I was so disappointed. It was dark and cold (meaning sterile not temperature) and uninviting. I snapped a few photos before I noticed the no pictures sign, so I have them to share with you, but honestly you’re not missing much. The church is much more impressive from the outside.

All and all, I was not overly impressed with Vienna, but then again, I’m much more of a country mouse than a city mouse. Big cities make me nervous. For the next few days we will be in quaint country towns, so weather permitting, I’ll be a lot happier.

Unfortunately, my foray into the market with the chef yesterday was cancelled. Only one other person signed up, so it wasn’t worth the trip. That’s okay, because if I was being honest, I was bushed. I went back to my cabin and took a nap. Being outside in the rain and the cold and the wind while exploring Vienna sapped my energy.

After dinner, mom went to see the Mozart / Strauss concert, and I crawled under the covers. I think I was sound asleep by eight o’clock last night, and I pretty much slept through until five this morning. I guess I needed it. I haven’t seen mom yet today, so I have no idea how she liked the concert, but overhearing others’ accounts, I’m sure she had a good time.

Okay, I’m off to explore Dürnstein on my own, I just have to grab my coat. Until tomorrow, have a WONDERFUL day & happy writing.