28.09.2017 - 04.10.2017 75 °F
A return visit to Vienna has been in the works since 2014 - Ray's 75th birthday to be exact! My oldest son presented him with a certificate for a "Romantic Crystal Dinner" on the Wiener Riesenrad - the giant ferris wheel originally built in 1897 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Franz Josef I.
We left the beauty of the Alps and changed to a Railjet train in Salzburg - love those fast trains!
A cold one for the ride
The beautiful Wallersee
Zipping along at 140 mph
We arrived in Vienna and to our hotel. The lovely folks at the Marriott made Shai her very own "Do Not Disturb" sign!
Dinner in the hotel restaurant - a yummy soup and their version of fried chicken!
==Day 2 - So Excited for the Ferris Wheel!==
After breakfast we headed to the Cafe Hofburg - Ray's favorite place and a great people watching locale. It was a beautiful sunny day so the cafe was crowded - actually a line waiting for tables outside. We took our place in line and shortly thereafter a woman who had seated herself and was told by a waiter she needed to wait in line joined us. She lives in a few blocks away and her husband works very near - they were meeting for coffee there. The waiter directed us to a table and then he sent the woman to one. As it happened our table was in the shade and hers was in the sun. We decided to ask if she would mind sharing her sunny table and she was happy to! We all chatted, her husband arrived, we ordered drinks and had a great visit.
Claudia who so generously shared her sunny table!
The cafe's outdoor seating in in the center courtyard of the Hofburg Palace. The statue in the background is Kaiser Franz I
I love the movie "The Third Man" with Orson Welles (Harry Lime) & Joseph Cotton (Holly Martins) which was filmed in post war Vienna. Harry Lime first reveals himself by stepping out of the shadow of this door at night.
After finding the "Harry Lime Door" we walked the city a bit before heading back to get ready for our evening.
The Riesenrad is in a large park called the Prater - The Wurstelprater - the oldest amusement park in the world is located in the Prater as well. I reserved our dinner for 6:15 to be able to see the views in daylight, twilight, and night.
Our first sight of the Riesenrad - also a pinnacle location in The Third Man!
We waited in a separate area from the line of people waiting to ride the Ferris Wheel and when our car came round we were escorted aboard. The waiter entered through the rear door, introduced himself, and gave us an overview of the evening. The champagne was poured, he stepped off and off we went on our first round.
Our car on the Ferris Wheel
The views were pretty amazing
The amusement park
Looking down through the ferris wheel
Enjoying the view
We came round to the bottom and the waiter entered again. He poured the wine for the starter course and served us the starter. The foie gras was very rich and very flavorful.
And off we go again!
Each trip round is about 15 minutes or so - after a couple we stopped again and were served the main and accompanying wine. This was amazing - the beef was melt in your tender, the shallots were wonderful, and the puree a fantastic sub for potatoes!
The waiter took our picture - you can see the kitchen in the background
Twilight was setting in - the light was gorgeous
I think we made 3 revolutions while eating the main course and the night lights were shining
We stopped again and our waiter served the dessert - oh my - so good!
We had two more rounds while eating dessert to enjoy the views.
While we were going round & round the Vienna Oktoberfest was going on below. We could hear the singing and carrying on from the top of the ferris wheel!
The view from the ground.
I have to say it was a tremendously magical evening!
==Another Third Man Pilgrimage==
We were definitely taking it easy this day after a late evening the day before. There was one more place I wanted to see - the building used for the exterior shots of Harry Lime's apartment. Google maps makes this so easy!
Such a beautiful building
After that and a bit of wandering we ended up at Ray's favorite spot!
This is in one of the entry arches at the Hofburg Palace
Who knew the Austrians made rum? I asked for Baileys & coffee, they did not have Baileys but this was suggested - I would have never thought to put rum in coffee.
==A Visit to Schonbrunn==
Schonbrunn Palace is the 300 year old, 1,441 room imperial summer palace. It's residents include Franz I, Maria Theresa, and the longest reigning emperor, Franz Josef, who was born there. The palace is huge and beautiful - but no photography allowed.
Maria Theresa - she had 16 children including Marie Antoinette who married Louis XVI and was eventually beheaded.
The Vieux Laque Room - the walls are covered with 18th century black laquered panels from China
Bergl Rooms - named for the artist who spent 9 years painting the murals for Maria Theresa. There were beautiful rococo stoves like this one all throughout the palace.
For dinner we headed to a place we ate at on our last visit to Vienna. It is called ¾ Takt – strange name until we read on the menu that Johann Strauss had lived in the house when he wrote the “Danube Waltz” thus the name ¾ Time.
We were told to look for Sturm when we were in Vienna
Definition:partially fermented grape must, that may only produced using Austrian grapes
Sturm may only be sold between 1 August and 31 December of the current vintage, and in a “state of fermentation”. The term “Sturm” is protected for use in Austria.
We found some at 3/4 Takt - it was very good - the white is really good!
We also had some schnitzel
==Bratislava? Why Not???==
Bratislava, Slovakia is only an hour by train from Vienna - a perfect day trip! We hopped the train and were off
The old part of the city is very charming with old churches, squares, and sidewalk cafes.
The Primatial Palace
Old Town Hall
St Martin's Cathedral - 13th-century Gothic/Romanesque Catholic cathedral used for coronations.
No stop is complete without a wine & nibbles stop!
I did try a local drink - the description sounded much better than the drink!
We were headed to Florence from Vienna which is a long haul on the train. By day it would be 11 hours on a train, then a bus, then a train - ugh - too many changes for our liking. I managed to find a night train that left the night before - 11 hours straight through. We booked a private cabin with ensuite bath. We spent the day getting ready to leave, acquiring wine & nibbles for the train, and had dinner at an Italian place that was recommended.
Shai still lovin' the windows
Of course one last stop to the Hofburg
Late lunch at Da Capo
Taking the Ubahn back to the hotel
We arrived at the train station a little early but we were able to wait in the OBB's first class lounge
Waiting on the platform
Here's our train
Our compartment before being made up
Shai was loving being able to be out of her bag on the train!
How great is it to go to bed in Austria and wake up in Florence???