A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 118 - Wednesday 26th August - Maishofen to Salzburg

'The Hills Are Alive, with the Sound of Music'

Yes, yes, yes, today is the day...today is the birthday and christmas presents all rolled into one, today is the Sound of Music tour today and a luxury of a real bed!!! The only day in which i'm putting Ellie into a hotel room to crash out and enjoy the peace whilst i'm off doing a bus tour whilst singing a long to the tracks and re-enacting the scenes from the film. I think i may be a tiny bit excited!! First things first and thats heading to Salzburg and we are packed up and ready to get to the city for 12.45pm, where we will park up and get into our early check in time of 1pm at the hotel.

First though, long walk for Ellie to get it all out of her system the toiletry requirements and tire her out a bit before she's in a hotel room for a good 5 hours. The best thing to wake up to this morning was seeing the blue sky, we're going to get blue skies today for the tour so i'd take that over the cloudiness of yesterday for the Alpine drive. As we drove on through the mountain ranges once more i really could sing the hills were alive with the Sound of Music! We entered Germany....erm, am i going the right way?! Yep i am, just cutting through and back into Salzburg, they are right on the borders here these two! Which brings me to the film...if at the end they are climbing over the mountains to Switzerland then they've gone the wrong way as in fact they are heading over to Germany, the place they are running from and closer to enemy lines!! Switzerland, now that i know my geography doing this trip, is south and no where near the Salzburg border!

Well that's the geography of films for you and later in the tour i found out that in real life they got on a train with their backpacks on, all kids including the 3 that they had together (yes timescale of it all was shifted too!), pretending that they were going on a weekend break into Switzerland. As i was getting closer to Salzburg that's when i saw it...i saw the Mozartkugeln factory and luckily i didn't have time to stop!! Maybe tomorrow if the route i'm travelling takes me near it! To the hotel and i got an email yesterday, after asking them, where best to park and there were 2 discounted places and stated the underground one was 2.2m (i got them to check) and the other is outside. Both were a 5 minute walk to the hotel and i went for the underground one as slightly cheaper...but as i got there it stated 2.1m!!! I found the outside one and luckily i managed to get a space as it was really only a street with a barrier across it with about 30 spaces in total.

Van parked, the cases already packed are bought on out, well the Carrefour plastic bag of a suitcase. As it's a 4* hotel it isn't so bad if it were a 5* and i won't be expecting a porter to take this up to my room! Now which way in which we've parked...i try to look at the map i've saved on my phone but being at the other car park i wasn't expecting i'm trying to figure it out. Of course i went the wrong way!! Having this heavy bag and Ellie's lead over my shoulder it isn't the best time to be getting this wrong but we manage to find it, creating a 10 minute walk and not the 5! So here we are, just after 1pm and now i need to get Ellie settled with a kong (already full of treats) her drinks bowl and toys out. Not forgetting the TV on so there is a bit of noise from what's going on outside and keeping her settled on the bed.

Key got and we are off, its now 1.30pm and i'm out of the room and there certainly wasn't enough time to have a shower so i'm so glad that i stayed at a campsite last night to have one this morning! Once again what i thought was a tan turned out to be a bit of dirt thrown in! I head to where the bus picks you up in the square just a minute from the hotel but i can't see that stop in which i'm looking for. I head into the tourist information centre and they ask me if i put down for the bus to pick me up here as it was an optional request apparently. Erm no. Therefore that means, she says, that i have to walk for 10 minutes over the bridge to the main pick up point. Oh man!! With it being 1.40pm now i'm starting to cut it fine and by her hand action to her saying over the river ain't giving me much direction! Luckily i had that map of the other pick up, just in case (!), of where i needed to be and of course once more i was heading in the wrong direction...give me a town to walk around and i'll find my way back to the start again. Give me a map to follow and i always need to put it on the ground and step on it to the way in which i need to go, but its still always the other way! Its 1.53pm and i'm starting to sweat, not only as the sun is beaming down but also that i'm going to miss the bus!!

I get to the square and i look around but i can't see the name of the company Viator anywhere?! I can see other ones I saw when googled for a tour but not this one...i ask a driver of another bus and he points to the white one that has nothing stated on it. Are we sure about this one. I ask the man at the front taking the tickets off those boarding and he says if you're booked for the tour then you must be on this bus. But all i could see of what people were holding were of this other tour company i could have booked it through but i didn't. As i took at my e-ticket i read the small print, that even though i've booked it through Viator that the tour is actually done by the company of which people are holding tickets off. Phew, this is it, i'm on the bus. Although ours is a plain bus and the other 2 have the whole Sound of Music graphics on it...oh well, i can't see the outside of the bus when i'm on it anyway!

The tour guide in the end i think was the best one to get as with this one full there were a few people behind me that had to squeeze on the other two behind. This tour guide knew his stuff, met some of the Von Trapps and was the main tour guide for the likes of the BBC when they came to town to do a documentary on the Von Trapps. The strangest thing, and one that i knew before i had arrived, is that if you ask an Austrian if they've heard of the Sound of Music the majority of the answers will be no. Those that have is only because of the buses in Salzburg that they will see, not that they've seen the film! Of course they know of the Von Trapps but they have read the autobiography and seen the film version, not the Gilbert and Sullivan musical film version. A lady lost 65,000 euros on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as they asked her which flower was the Sound of Music famous for and sang about, she went for the flower that's considered the national flower, which isn't Edelweiss!

Now i could go through how the lake of the Von Trapp house is different to that of the exterior so its shot in 2 different locations, how the gazebo was smaller in the grounds for the exterior shots than it was in the studio for the interior, how the age difference was 25+ years more between the Captain and Maria, how the real Maria is actually in the film, how they had 3 children themselves before they left Austria, how they ended up in the USA and the church interior was shot in another and not at the Abbey. I can bore you with it all but all in all we had a sing-sing, we had beer, we had ice cream, we saw the Red Bull headquarters with the largest bronze statue in the world and oh yes, where Mozart was born! The tour was 4 hours long and it didn't show you all of the areas in which the scenes were shot so tomorrow i've made a note as to where i need to head off to in the van tomorrow to see them. The main one is when Julie Andrews turns around to the opening of the film singing those famous words...need to re-enact that one before i leave!

I headed on back to Ellie, but before i did we went into the gardens where a lot of the 'My Favourite Things' sequences were shot which was the best solution as dogs i saw were not allowed in here. Ellie was relaxed as i entered the room and we went on out and saw Salzburg old town before the sun was setting and what a city this is. It still claims its independence, although part of Austria, but has its own rights. The Hohensalzburg castle is one of the largest and most well preserved medieval castles in Europe and the nunnery here, where the film was allowed to film inside for 'How to Solve a Problem like Maria' use to have in the day over 400 nuns, now there are only just over 20. Shows how times have changed. We walked past the Mozart museum which is where Mozart was born, on 27th January 1756. Then there was his residency where he wrote a lot of his masterpieces that we all know of at least one today, whether you know its Mozart or not is another question but you'll certainly know one if played to you. And you most probably remember it from an advert of some kind!

We grabbed some food from the food stalls here and headed on back to the hotel where i could catch up putting blogs on the internet, as well as some photos and just chill on a comfy double bed. I switch on the TV and what do i find...Starlings, Starlings is on BBC World entertainment that i worked on for Baby Cow!! Of all of the hotels and channels in the world i put one on in which i program i've worked on and my name on the credits at the end, and i find that in Salzburg!

Wish List - see Salzburg and Sound of Music tour: tick, tick, tick!

Posted by emmabrown1014 08:00 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

DAY 117 - Tuesday 25th August - Zee am See to Glossglockner

... Alpine Road to Maishofen 'I think there's a mountain here somewhere'

Its a main road so at 6.30am its time to get up and the car spaces that were next to me are all pretty much taken up! The village itself of Zee am See is an old beautiful looking one with horses and carts to transport the visitors around and it looks like extra works are being done ready for the Iron Man event in the next few days coming to town. We head to the other side of the lake as i saw a car park area next to the water with a toilet that i could use the other day. But better than that as when we turned up there was a fenced off doggie area of which i could let Ellie off the lead and use the agility courses set out...but with no training she went round the ramp and not up and over it, although it does seem more logical to do it that way!

The rain started and then poured...think we are on for rubbish weather and one in which i'm meant to be climbing up and down steep mountains with amazing views to behold. Shall i go for it or do something else....but it's really now or never as i'm not coming back this way. After using the best free poop brown paper bag ever (took some too!) we head on into the van to warm up after the soaking we've just received. First of all i went to McDonalds to check in on the weather report and it stated medium rain now but then clearing later but still cloudy with possible rain to come. Hmmm not really helping! Again as i drove i see more of these scarecrows dressed in original Austrian clothing in the midst of roundabouts and by the side of the roads but apparently i can't use that as part of the challenge to find people wearing them...getting that bit closer though!

We head on down to the toll road and not knowing the prices i was shocked when i saw a sign that pointed out that we were 5km away from the ticket booth...33 euros?!!? Hmmm again i'm in a conundrum, do i pay it and maybe see nothing with the low clouds or do something else....but there is nothing else really to do until i'm off to Salzburg tomorrow for the hotel and Sound of Music tour. I stop and turn on round going to who knows where, then i stop and get Ellie out for a walk by the stream. The clouds are lessening, the rain has at least stopped, do i chance to see what's ahead. I am never going to be in a position to do this again, and what's 33 euros when i'm already here...and the write up is good for me to visit.

We head back to the sign stating we are 5km away...as i'm here i may as well see what i can see. At the ticket booth i pay the money and i read a leaflet that they have done so very well. As they know the weather today is one in which i can't see or use the facilities they offer here to its full capacity then they will allow me to return next year for a discounted price at 11 euros if i have the same car. Although in my case, a) i won't be here next year and b) if i am then i'm definitely not in this vehicle; but all the same it was a gesture that they've thought of for those coming in rubbish weather.

We head on through the booth and so far, getting up to 1250m i can see the valleys below and the waterfalls across the way...then the cloud cover came and there wasn't much more you could see. Luckily you could see the road ahead and the hairpins coming but the full distance around you was covered. Up to the highest point of 2504m and there is definitely nothing you can see around here other than clouds and the lights of other vehicles coming your way, and there was a sign up here say it was 2.5 degrees....2.5 degrees!!! Can't remember the last time it was that!

There were parts as you headed over one mountain that you could see something across the range so not all was lost and there was as stunning lake with a waterfall behind in which i've now got one of my favourite photos of Ellie. When taking the photo she was sniffing and zoning into something and that's when i realised later seeing a sign of this animal that there were these beaver kind of things living on the hillsides and if she had spotted one of them she would have been off!!

There was a dam in which you could see and then the main attraction for when you got the the very end of the toll road, the last stop, was the massive Hohe Tauren mountain range, Franz Josefs-Hohe is famous across Europe for its spectacular views...not on this day!! All we saw was cloud, nothing more than cloud about a few meters away from you! Grossglockner stands at 3798m high and we saw nothing of it...so it was there but like Harry Potters invisible cloak there was jack s**t to see! I can say that it is one of the most thrilling alpine routes in Europe but only of what i could see! In the end i'm so glad that i did the extra trip to Altenmarket im Pongau as i got to see some of the other side of this Austrian Alpine range then. There was one thing at the top of the toll road that i could see, and could take a picture of, one that will give me some form of prize for the challenge i'm undertaking...there were men in lederhosen!! So i've not gotten one of the two, just need the lady now!! The women they were with must have chickened out of their outfits with the cold and rain...or the guys might just general wear it on a daily basis, who knows! I didn't ask, just took the picture pretending i was taking one of the mountain range...of which you couldn't see so not exactly subtle about it!

That whole trip in the end was a return trip to the ticket booth of around 4 hours long and that's without stopping properly at what you could see in the sunshine. It was disappointing in one respect but you still got to see how nature was in the midst of the mountains when not in sunshine. I'll take that with me! I realised that even if i did it yesterday when the sun was shining that i wouldn't have been able to fit it in with it taking me this long in cloudy weather. After that knocking me out with the concentration of it all we headed to a campsite to park our heads for the night as before the hotel i needed a shower and 2 loads of washing done. Reason for shower now? Its been nearly a week since the last one and after dropping Ellie off at 1pm to the hotel room, settling her, me showering and then getting to where i needed to be by 1.45pm there wasn't enough time to do it all and shower fully with the amount of dirt on me. Also being on a full bus i didn't want to smell the whole small enclosed space up!

This campsite was just a few km's from Zee am See and about a 45 minute drive to Salzburg tomorrow, the nearest campsite we could get to on route. I get the washing all done and find that the wifi at only 1 euro 50 for the day was the best going! In fact it was one of the cheapest campsite, taking off my washing tokens from the final bill (!), that i've come across for a while and its still just in peak season at the moment. The showers, washing and toilet areas were one of the best yet too, very clean and modern looking! Glad that i made this decision, blogs are going up, photos are going up, washing done, i'm clean and i'll be set to relax onto the tour for tomorrow.

Wish List - drive through the Alpine region: tick

Posted by emmabrown1014 06:39 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

DAY 116 - Monday 24th August - Hallstatt to Eisriesenwelt to

... Altenmarket im Pongau to Zee am See 'Austria in HD'

Not the quietest road in the morning, seems like everyone in Austria are up and about from 6.30am, and as i parked side on to the road it that meant that during the night HGV lorry lights were beaming through the blinds giving me my own very up and close personal moonlight lamp! Now i could have stayed here all parked up and walked to Hallstatt but that was a good 2.5km walk and we had a few things to fit in today so off to the nearest car park please!

Hallstatt is a small village in the Salzkammergut region, famous for its salt production and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Salt in the olden days was worth more than gold as when you were on the pirate ships (well ships in general really, but like to think of them as pirates!) it preserved the meat and fish to last longer on the voyages, as well as provide flavour. Therefore Hallstatt has a long standing history of wealth and prestige of which the salt trade also transformed it into a glamourous baroque village. There is a cavern in subterranean salt lake to see a prehistoric man preserved in salt but strangely enough they don't like dogs in there! It runs 1174m deep and includes the Giant Ice Cave with its sub-zero summer temperatures and huge caverns with frozen waterfalls, not least its huge pipe-shaped galleries formed by an ancient underwater river. It is a unique place to visit and Ellie had a great time in the lakes there and one thing that i haven't had in all the times i've been in Europe...well Ellie was in the lake swimming there was a lady who asked me for permission to take a photo of her. Knock yourself out i said!

What makes me laugh is here in Hallstatt, like some other places i've visited, the Police have the best views from their station...think they positioned themselves there on purpose?! The sun was beaming out once more so you could see the views all around you in spectacular HD vision...well from my contact lenses of 20/20 vision! Again free wifi in this village so i took full use getting in touch with friends and posting pictures up to where i was that day, unlike the blogs and the pictures on here that are about 2 weeks later! From this i have a challenge on with the hockey lot from todays texting, seems that i have to find an Austrian man and woman dressed in their traditional attire! This place is heaving with tourists and i'm pleased that we made an early start as this village was only going to get busier...time to move on now me thinks! Just before i did i saw aprons with what looks like you could be wearing the female attire and men's Lederhosens...turns out it close but not quite right.

Off on route now to Eisriesenwelt and we went through one tunnel that was so tiny and curved above us that it felt like some stone underground passage to escape from the castle as it was being over seized with the enemy taking control of the drawbridge and towers. The kings escape...well that was what was going through my head! Up and out and its like the opening sequence to the Sound of Music as you just can't escape the beautiful mountains surrounding you with the deep green trees clustered together and the light green of the mowed lawn. Not that i've seen a lawnmower here but they have to be the most used gardening equipment ever as everything is so immaculate around here. Then we were crossing wooden rickety bridges once more and single roads for one in the midst of the trees shadowing you from seeing anything else. Isolated homes in the middle of no-where and the fast running streams by the side of which you drive next too as you are coming down from the mountains and into the valley's below.

Castles again being seen above as you drive and then we see the signs for Eisriesenwelt of which if the Bongo makes it through here then we are definitely going to the Grossglockner Apline Road which gets up to 2500m high...come on Bongo. The road ascends with a steep climb, round the hairpin to then put the foot to the pedal again for another steep climb to another hairpin....we keep on doing this until eventually we are at the top. Again i should really do some research properly as we could walk to where the cable cars are but with a dog we couldn't go any further but at the top of this mountain there was still a view to behold and see how nature is so much more than what we are capable building. The Eisriesenwelt is a world of the Ice Giants, which is the largest system of ice caves in the world covering some 30,000 square meters and caved by an underground river in the Tertiary period. It was discovered in 1879, opened to the public in 1912 and to date an amazing 45km of the network has been explored.

Back to the van and back down the mountain and the next destination is Altenmarket im Pongau where we are going to rest our heads for the night. Again we go through gorgeous villages of which their window views are of the mountain ranges and hills of trees and grass fields, again its like seeing something in HD but your eyes are doing it, not the pixels in the TV screen. In fact the TV screen cannot pick up the beauty of all of this as clearly as you can see it with your own eyes. The way in which the sun light hits the mountains at various angles, picking up areas of the mountain sides and the greenery below. Austria is just stunningly beautiful. We cross a working wooden mill taking the waterfall from the mountain above in which it has been built, there is a sheep i'm not too sure wanted to be on the side of the fence it was as a foot more and it was a sheer drop! As you went over the mountain with waterfalls cascading right next to me it felt like you were going to another land, somewhere like Oz in bright Technicolor!

On route we stopped off at Lidl and a guy try to talk to me but i asked if he was able to speak English. There was silence for a while and then he spoke, think he was trying to remember the English words to ask me bless him. With 10 tins of dog food on the convertor belt he asked it that wasn't all for me, he hoped that i had a dog! Getting to Altenmarket im Pongau it turned out it was a campsite to pay for and it was more expensive than what the guide led me to believe. Also when i put in the Hohe Tauern, which is on the Grossglockner Alpine Road (toll road), i had to go via where i had just come past, half an hour up, a place called Zee am See! I thought that there would be a road going West from here but there is only one road that goes through to here and thats North and South. Keep forgetting sometimes that with mountains there are sometimes only one way round them! So knowing i needed to go via here i drove back on up and found a free place by the lake to park on up...but the views weren't so bad so i'm not complaining!

Well when i said found a place i wasn't entirely happy with it and as i looked to the villages across the lake it looked like a long way round to see if there was a spot there. Decided to have a little drive and as i did all of the places that i wished to park had signs that no motorhomes or tents allowed and in the end the lake wasn't so big as 10 minutes later i found myself at the exact same spot i left and parked myself up there once more! Oh well, got to see what was across the other side! The rain was coming as you could see the dark clouds ahead...hopefully they'll have good weather for the Iron Man event that they've got here at the weekend. That's why i've seen so many fit people on bikes and running everywhere more than usual. Good luck in Austria as the climbs are a bit steep here weather you are running or cycling!

Posted by emmabrown1014 05:45 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

DAY 115 - Sunday 23rd August - Aggsbach Markt to Melk to

... Hallstatt 'The Stick Challenge'

At 6.30am I'm wide awake and with not able to sleep get back to sleep then I may as well get on up and start the day early. Ellie it seems could sleep in longer if required as she's spread eagled on her back snoring away but with the sun shining already its time to wake her and take advantage of it.

Added bonus to this place, which wasn't mentioned in the guide, was that I've got access to the log cabin style bar/restaurant here on the lake of which the conservatory seating area has entrance to the toilets by a sliding door which is unlocked to access. May not be for the campers but I'm taking advantage of it!

Off to drive once more by the lake and its only 20 minutes down to Melk Abbey which is one of the most famous monasteries in the world, high on a cliff looking over the Danube River. It's was previously a castle of Leopold II but it was given to the monks who transformed it to a place of tranquillity and learning in 1089, so been around a while! It houses also the remains of Austria's first ruling family, the House of Babenberg.

We park by the river where we sit and have breakfast as we didn't have a river view at the place this morning with them all being taken by other motorhomers. This way we can have breakfast with a view and get stared at by two local boys already fishing before 7.15am. Think it's the van they are trying to figure out and I suppose it's different having a single woman with a dog coming out of it eventually also.

Breakfast eaten and its so sunny and peaceful with the town of Melk having only a few locals walking their dogs and a cafe is open already before 8am. A Japanese man on his own asks me how to get up to the Abbey thinking I'm from around here. To be fair if I saw someone walking their dog I too would think they were and I get that quite a lot! I told him I didn't know but as its high on the left of us there has to be stairs somewhere and I'm just following the three OAPs ahead. They could be heading to the post office to pick up their pension but seems a good a plan as any to follow them.

Yep a few hundred yards up there were stairs to the left heading on up and even though I lost sight of the OAPs, as I was town sight seeing and taking photos, I did see them half way up these steps i was now on. The monastery was huge and considering the age of it it has been well looked after. Dogs were allowed in one part, not inside it as i wouldn't have expected anyway and on the other external area it required tickets with no dogs allowed.

In the bit we were allowed two American ladies came to ask if they could stroke Ellie. I asked if theirs was at home as its always the same as the reason why they come over is because they are missing theirs and I'm right, she has a Goldendoodle. Not exactly sure what that is but she said hers doesn't bark, never heard it, do some dogs not bark?!

Melk done and next was Hallstatt which was a three hour journey down the road going through one of the national parks and a drive once again I'm not disappointed in. We see mountains high, wooded edges to the roads to wind on through, tunnels to get to the other side of mountains, with castles and churches high above which make you wonder how on earth you get up there, streams rushing on through, motorbikes in gangs, lakes and so much more. 1.5km before Hallstatt we come to a small parking area by the lake to have a look at.

Once parked on up I see a sign that I've not noticed before in any other country and one which states that this area is a Dogs WC and another with a picture that they can swim in the lake, official permission and everything! What's more strange is that it's small and i can see why there are other tourists / locals here, a popular place but they have been warned that if this one wants to shake water over them that dogs are allowed.

There are a few on this small beach cove but there's good space to the left where it's empty as even though it's allowed you still don't want to be shaked upon by a wet dog. A tour bus not long after, not a stop I thought would be on the list but it is cute, shows the lake in its mountain surrounds so beautifully, it's clean if you fancied a cool down in the lake and there are toilets. Seems the tour were more interested in Ellie having a swim and not listening to the tour guide as cameras were pointing at her. Back to the van and I get doing some DIY done of which I achieved fixing the door to the storage area under the sofa which broke when Del was here. Then I took off all plastic coverings that didn't quite come off around the doors (hoping it was plastic covering and not the glue!!) and the fridge. Tucked a wire in which was on show by the passenger door and feel like I've achieved something in the home and its not even a Bank Holiday but it is a Sunday!

Ellie gets another swim and as she brings out her stick that I've thrown for her she suddenly gets back in without looking at me to throw it again and without her normal shake shake. I look confused but then i see it, she's seen a much bigger stick right by the shore that she wants which the end of it is bopping about in the lake and drags it on out. It ain't a stick but a massive branch as it turns out! I throw it in but this is a mistake but not because of the arm muscle strength that you need in order to do so (!), but because it sank. Whoops!

As Ellie is swimming around looking for it so I find a small stick to replace it in which she gets but she stays out there a bit longer to find the better one. Feeling guilty I spot another near to the shore and entice her over by throwing stones at it so she can see it. She swims over and soon discarded the one she's holding in her mouth and grabs the other out. She takes her time doing so as this with one she's trying to grab it without putting her head in. She hates getting her face wet and so looks like some women you see in swimming pools that keep their head above water so not to smudge their make-up. They end up looking like giraffes with their necks high on out doing breaststroke only.

She has to do it, she has to sacrifice her head into the water if she wishes to get the stick, then i laugh as i wonder how she can see her way out as her hair is all over her eyes! She doesn't care now as she lays the stick on top of me whilst i'm relaxing on the grass just so she can lever it up against me and grab onto it better with her mouth to chew. Why do dogs always do this which then makes you covered in wood splinters?!

It's such lovely spot that we decide to stay and we'll see Hallstatt first thing tomorrow and then onto our next destination. As the night draws in so do other campervans and motorhomes to park up here. It's not an official one but in a group it becomes one I feel!

Posted by emmabrown1014 03:38 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

DAY 114 - Saturday 22nd August - Modling to Vienna to

... Klosterneuburg to Aggsbach Markt 'Capital city...disasters like Paris, Milan or Rome?!'

Up early, and not with the noise of the traffic you normally get with being parked by the side of the road, but with the light shining on through the blinds. Could it be...could it be the sun rising and with it being this early in the morning the rest of the day could be a sun out and not a wash out?!! Traffic was so minuscule also around here which made it a perfect place to park on up and right next to a park for Ellie to have a morning walk, the earliest at 7.30am. Joggers and dog walkers were already up and one jogger couldn't quite take his eye of the van, it's unusable yes, but it's still only a van!

Only 25 minutes away from Schonbrunn Palace, just to the West of Vienna, which can be compared to Versailles compromising of 1,441 rooms built between 1696-1712 at request of Leopold I and turned into the imperial summer palace by Maria Theresa. It has the oldest zoo in the world, maze, labyrinth, privy garden and marble summer house situated on top of 60 meter hill high.

We got to the front of the gates looking into the front courtyard and seeing the grand staircase to the front door and we...oh no, yep that was it for us!! We parked in the main car park for 10 minutes of which was nearly 4 euros for an hour...well that was short and sweet! I could see the security guard in the corner of my eye itching to say I wasn't allowed even through the gates and into the courtyard outside, only what we saw was on the street by the side of it but as I always do before entering somewhere I read the signs outside. Yep clearly stating no dogs, not even on a lead. Stand down security guard, that could have been your only action required for the day, I'll just take a photo from behind the gates and be like the paupers back in the day when asking for bread to survive whilst those inside are gorging on pheasants, duck, cakes and wine.

The centre of Vienna was a good 8km away and I saw on the way back that there was a train station behind where I parked and also on route a picked up an open top tour bus map to guide me around when we got into the city. As I'm already parked up then its just easier tp leave the car where it is and try to figure out the train and the allowance of dogs. A sign says dogs on a lead so that's a good start and then the ticket machine had a concessions section to touch on the screen with an old person and a dog symbol on it, so ticket for Ellie it is. The next stage was to figure out from which side of the platform I needed to head into the city and then as I saw a huge tour group come up from one of the platforms I opted for the other as they had to be coming from the city on out surely.

Train arrives and I remember we are on the green line U4 for the way back and the name of the stop is that of the palace. So we're on but are we going the right way?? So far so good I think as we are heading to the centre spot on the tube map that i could see in the carriage, that could only mean centre of town and the name of that stop was a church of some kind. Oh hang on, I need to change but it's only one stop from where I get off to do so before I get to the church symbol station and the only symbol on this map so must be something of importance.

The usual happens, Ellie gets stared at as its not so common I don't think with dogs on tubes but she's on her best behaviour which makes people smile. Now you remember all of the other blogs when i get to main cities, the disasters in Paris, Milan and Rome ... well something has to happen here right...but nope, so far so good! Off we get and the station walkway here underground is huge with so many exits you can chose from, bit like Oxford Circus.

I chose the theatre option but I came out after a 10 minute underground walk to something not looking so touristy as I couldn't see any. So instead I look to see where most people are walking to and then that's when I saw ahead an open top tour bus head on by, getting close to something! On the street in which it passed I saw a huge beautiful building and it was the opera house. I thought I saw one of the exits called opera and I should have really followed that and now it's easy to remember where I need to get the train if I get lost in the city, by just asking for directions to here. The opera house was stunning and the orchestra is recognised as one of the top in the world.

I get my map out but there are no road names on this thing, why is that?! So I just follow the crowds and cameras once more which bought me to a shop dedicated to my new obsession and that's Mozartkugeln. Luckily they don't allow dogs in otherwise it would be the Lindt shop all over again. They sell bags at supermarkets of the golden wrapped balls of heaven with Mozart's face on them, not sure exactly what Motzart has to do with them but they are seriously good. So every day I'm in buying bread so I'm also buying a bag of them and no wonder when I'm only paying less than a Euro for the bread that the bill comes to near 5 as they cost about 3.50 a time...but they are good! Diet needs to come as soon as home!

So crisis diverted to my calorie intake, although we will be stopping by at a supermarket on route to the next place (!), and we come to St Stephens Church which was the main tube stop I saw. Looking at the map it's not the clearest with no street names so I decide to follow the horses and carriages that were everywhere here to trot the tourists around. They go so quickly those horses! You think with their trot you can keep up with them but stopping for a photo later and I've lost them!

Next plan a tourist walking group so I slowly walk behind them for insight of this city but I wasn't really able to hear what was being said and I'm sure it was in English after a while! Map out again and as I was looking at it Ellie started barking...must keep an eye on the horses around here! She's okay when I'm in control and moving but not so much when left to her own devices when I'm concentrating on something else! Tour group definitely separating up from as we can't be inconspicuous anymore with fog horn Ellie next to me blowing our cover!

Next we found their equivalent to Bond Street with Prada, Tiffany etc on display. Next was the Albertina where we found a quiet spot up some steps to where there was seating and you could pick up free WiFi so we chilled there for a bit with a homeless guy asleep on the bench near to us. Not a bad place to hang out.

We come to a place in which a courtyard is behind glass windows and then I realised, as I hear the clippity cloppity all around us, we've walked straight into the Horse Riding School!!! Ellie is held onto and after a couple of growls she's getting use to them after having treats as a deterrent, she had to get use to them as we were surrounded! This riding school dates back to time of Emperor Maximilian II who was responsible for introducing the famous Lipizzaner horses to Austria in 1562. It's the only place where classical style of riding preferred by aristocracy is still practiced.

We walk ahead to discover Hofburg Imperial Palace next which is the official residence of the President of Austria. He gets a Palace, the USA president gets the White House and our Prime Minister gets a terraced house...not quite in keeping! It was Hasburg's principal winter residence while Schonbrunn Palace was preferred for the summer. They are only 8km away from each other, not really called getting away!! From 1438-1583 and 1612-1806 it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, there after the seat of the Emperor of Austria til 1918.

Onto the open grounds at the Natural History Museum where there was a guy showcasing his invention i think as he wasn't a normal street seller. Kitted out in his tennis whites he was hitting a tennis ball on an elastic string which returned back to him when he hit it. Basically like Swingball you had as a kid but instead of the string attached to a stand it was attached to a flat cone on the floor. Was tempted to buy one but thought that would be too cruel on Ellie to keeping chasing one end to another!! If she was really clever she'd sit in the middle and jump up to catch it but this is Ellie, she'd run back and forth, making it harder on herself!

Then we came to the next bit which was the best bit as it was by Rathaus where they were having a film festival of which there was a massive screen to view. Won't be around to see anything but it was great to take in that with the food and drink stalls which had food you could smell from all around the world. Great to do in the sunshine and I'm glad the sun keeps shining today for this exhibition unlike last few days. Grand looking theatre was next with a grand and expensive looking menu of a restaurant next to it. I'd prefer to eat at the all around the world food markets instead! All in all Vienna reminded me of a mini Rome really and one in which I'd love to come back and explore more without Ellie so I can experience the opera or the ballet and the grounds of the Palaces. Great place to return to. Tour done but two things with leaving now was a) will I get internet later to get the spurs result and b) not to cry with the cost of the parking ticket! Remember it was easier than coming into the city and trying to find somewhere to park like previous experiences!

Tube ride back was uneventful apart from Ellie getting smiles as she's the most well behaves dog and I got off to where needed. Have I actually been to a capital of a country and had no dramas...really?!! Something must be wrong!! Next to Klosterneuburg Abbey and the Verdun Alter which was only 15 minutes away where Leopold III is buried in the Leopold chapel. In a church close by there was a wedding going on and what a setting to have it with the cute village in which it resides. Oh and yes on route to here we stopped by a supermarket where Mozartkugeln was bought and the car is surrounded in golden wrappers everywhere. Help!!! I need something else of a more healthier option to take this addiction away. Who am I kidding, healthier?!!

The driving scenery on route was amazing as always, never tire of the woodlands, the trees, the flowing streams, the villages, mountains surrounding you, with families all out going for walks and picnics being eaten at designated picnic areas, just beautiful. I was going to stay here for the night but it was still quite early with not much to do for Ellie so we headed to Melk which is on a river so best to park our heads there. There wasn't parking at Melk but there was a free one about 10km away on route...and soon drove on as it was a restaurant car park and no other motor homes either. Also it wasn't by the river and the next one few km's down was. Now when I say few km down it would have been if someone had built a bridge to the other side of the river when i came to it!! I could see the spot but I had to travel 8km down by the river to get to a bridge and then come up 8km back up on the other side of which at the bridge you come to Melk so now no longer on route at this rate!

Oh well, it ain't that far back down in the morning to see Melk and better this way as a stick is thrown into the river and Ellie is getting some exercise in as the flow was quicker with it being a river. On the lake she can paddle at her own speed, not here! Swim done, dinner done and bed time early as its been a busy long day! Oh and yes, failed to get internet for football scores!

Wish List - see the capital of Austria: tick

Posted by emmabrown1014 03:15 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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