Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 6
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A Viennese whirl
Next day - 9.30 am and another glorious sunny day. We were
in the museum quarter of this UNESCO listed city centre. Two identical museums
face each other. The Natural History museum is full of ‘stones and bones’.
Today as a group we were visiting its mirror image.
The Kunsthisorisches Museum houses the personal art
treasures of the Habsburgs. Art for art sake. Why did they collect it all?
Probably because they could. Opened in 1891 it has become one of the world
greatest and richest collections of fine art. Too much to see in one visit. Our
private guided tour of the Kunstkammer was excellent. Free from crowds too
as Trafalgar had been given privileged early access.
We were all captivated by a gold salt cellar by Cellini -
sumptuous and exquisite and very expensive. My favourite was an automaton gold
ship. Its final flourish cannons that fire.
After the tour we had free time for a wander. The great
staircase, all marbled out was stunning. Upstairs there were some amazing
paintings by some amazing people - van Dyke, Klimt, Bruegel and Rubens to name
a few. In room 6 ‘Water’ by Guiseppe Arcimboldo (never heard of him) was
memorable because it was a painting of a face which looked like a bad case of
shingles. His other painting ‘Summer’ was even worse. A juxtaposition of
fruits found during the season. Peaches, onions, garlic, cherries. An
opened pea pod is supposed to resemble a row of teeth. I personally wonder
why he even bothered - if his ‘Water’ looked like a face full of Herpes then ‘Summer’
looked like a face full of impetigo! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder -
Next a drive around The Ring with Gabor and our guide Trudi.
In the 19th century Emperor Franz Josef created the famous Ring - The
Ringstrasse - Vienna's ring of confidence. Ancient ramparts and walls
surrounding the inner core of the city were dismantled to create this wide
and wonderful boulevard. The Ring houses the most impressive monumental
buildings in Vienna. Most things happen here so it's natural to head here and
start exploring. You can get the same experience as we did by taking the Ring
Tram. It too is informative and the views are superb. A 3D architectural
display from your window as the tram trundles along.
Back again to the museum quarter and across the road to the
opulent Hofburg Palace. This was home to the Habsburg monarchy an empire
strengthened and expanded by strategic marriages. A 640 year rule.
Hard to believe, looking at it now, that it started out as a
small 50 square metre insignificant fortress. Each ruler added a new palatial
wing to demonstrate and celebrate their hold on power. It has
become one of the largest imperial residences in Europe. 2600 rooms. And like
Prague castle, a city within a city. Now spread over 47 acres it houses the
President of Austria's office - at present vacant.
It is home to the famous Spanish Riding School and we were
lucky to catch a glimpse of the Lipizzaner stallions as we strolled
through the stables. Probably the most pampered horses in the world.
Prater sounds like an alien in Doctor Who. No it is Vienna's
wonderful amusement park home of the giant ferris wheel immortalised in
the movie ‘The Third Man’. Looking like a large bike wheel, with very big
stabilisers, with wooden sheds attached it has been doing the rounds since
1897. The view from 200 feet up is superb.
There are almost 2000 coffee shops in Vienna and if I had
the time I would visit each and everyone. Famous ones include Aida, Cafe
Central, Hotel Sacher, Cafe Mozart, Cafe Sperl and Cafe Landtmann. The cafe
culture is wonderful. Cafes full of laughter, voices filling the rooms. Full of
joy, full of life, full of cake. Sit all day if you wish, you will never be
asked to move on. It's like stepping back in time. Let’s do the time warp.
Marble clad, polished wood, mirrored reflections, coiffured hair, rustling of
newspapers. Pop in for your caffeine fix. Our waiter in Aida had so much gel on
his head that he looked like a walking advert for WD40.
If you are ordering coffee and you must, then here are a few
Fiaker - coffee refined with rum.
Einspanner - strong coffee with whipped cream on top.
Grosser Brauner - black coffee with a jug of coffee flavoured cream.
Melange - half expresso, half frothy milk.
Franziskaner - melange topped with whipped cream.
Verlangerter - as close to an Americano as you can get.
Back to the hotel to prepare for the highlight of our stay
here. A night of music and dance and dinner and champagne. A chance to get
dressed up, well some did, and mix with the great people of this wonderful
The Viennese have a lot of balls! It is not called the city
of the waltz for nothing. It is big business. There is at least one ball for
each profession. The pharmacists ball, the doctors ball, the teachers ball. A
ball for dentists for civil servants. I wonder if jugglers have more than one?
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Trafalgar
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 1 - preparing to travel
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 2 - a stunning city and new friends
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 3 - a guided walk and music by candlelight
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 4 - city wonders and cafe life
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 5 - Vienna bound
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 7 - having a ball
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 8 - Budapest bound
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 9 - Big bustling Budapest
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 10 - Goodbye Budapest
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