Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wien (Vienna)

Our final day in Austria - as well as our last full day in Europe - we had an amazing breakfast on the 18th floor of the Sofitel - with a commanding view over the Danube Canal towards the city - with sights such as Stephansdom, the Hofburg and the Staatsoper all within sight.

After breakfast, we headed for the United Nations headquarters in Vienna - the principal home to five different UN Organisations - the largest among them the IAEA - the International Atomic Energy Agency. This was where all the fall out associated with Fukushima was - and where if anyone does a nuclear missile test anywhere in the world - the monitoring instruments in the labs here will pick it up.

The building is architecturally impressive - an Austrian design - and is leased to the UN at a yearly lease of 1 shilling (if it was given free - then after 99 years it would pass into ownership of the UN - which neither organisation wants).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Welcome to Slova(kia)!!

We had the night before bought some "fun-pack cereals" from a SPAR supermarket in Vienna, and with care we opened the packets so that it would form the bowl shape (the Australian version features serrated areas to do this - the Austrians are missing this, along with an "al"). So - in the surrounds of our luxurious white room we ate corn flakes! Hooray for the bourgeois life!!

It being a beautiful sunny day, we headed for the border between Austria and Slovakia (or Russia as Mum calls it) to Bratislava - the capital of Slovakia.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Salzburg to Vienna (via Linz & Melk)

Waking up in Salzburg to a snowy morning had Annabelle in heaven. Salzburg at any time of the year is pretty, but basked in sunshine (which we didn't experience) and covered in snow (which we did) are probably the two best times to visit.

Unfortunately, my camera failed on me - and refused to take any reasonable shots that aren't of blurred streetscape. So the memory of snowy Salzburg is just that.

However, as we drove to Linz (the third largest city in Austria - and an old industrial town - though it doesn't look it - on the Danube - or Donau as the Austrians and Germans call it).

Linz is home to Austria's largest cathedral - Neuer Dom (New Cathedral - how imaginative) - and the one condition upon the architect (who later designed Cologne Cathedral's later stages) was that the steeple should not be taller than that of Stephansdom, in Vienna. The cathedral has enough space for 20,000 worshipers - but looking at the tiny amount of seats - I'm sure that number also incorporates standing room only worshippers - making praying a bit hard...

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Sound of Music (Salzburg)

One of the principal reasons for coming to Austria was Mum’s love of the 1965 film - “The Sound of Music.” A family class - the film continues to inspire people around the world to visit Salzburg - and - like the kitschy tourists that we are - we hopped on an “Official Sound of Music Tour” - because we’re cool like that. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Auf Weidersehn Germany - Guten Tag Austria!!

Today was our last day in Germany - and after breakfast together in the hotel, we set off around 9:00am for Herrenchimsee - another one of Ludwig II palaces that he constructed. This one was inspired by Versailles - but with larger dimensions and a better quality of finishes and materials. Yes. This palace is better than Versailles. That's what we'd been told anyway. We travelled for one of the last times along the autobahn to the town of Prien, the port for the island of Herreninsel (Men's Island) upon which Herrenchimsee stands. Thankfully, we arrived five minutes before the hourly boat arrived to take us to the island - one amazing stroke of luck that really did help us out later in the day. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Today began rather leisurely - with each of us enjoying breakfast separately at our own pace - which was a nice change from the rush of the day before!!

We set off around 10:30 am (after Mum had done some washing) and explored Munich - taking a leisurely stroll around the place - and enjoying ourselves in the snow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bavarian Winter Wonderland (Neuschwanstein Castle & Hofbrauhaus)

We woke up very early today (6:00am) and quickly chomped down breakfast, before heading out into peak-hour Munich traffic to drive to the tiny town of Hohenschwangau (pronounced with a "v") where two of the fairy tale castles of Lugwig II. Ludwig is probably the most well-known of the Bavarian Wittlesbach Kings - who ruled (and still technically do hold the throne) since the 10th century.

The drive in the dark, cold and rain was probably one of the more stressful experiences of Mum's life - especially doing it driving on an unknown, windy, icy road and on the opposite side of the road. So I take my hat off to her - for doing something brave that I myself would not have done. Nevertheless, by the time we arrived in Hohenschwangau, the snow was falling!!!