Sunday, June 29, 2014
The morning began so peacefully in the ‘castle’. A sumptuous breakfast was waiting for us on the patio looking up at a magnificent mountain. We desired an early start so we could put forward best efforts to avoid the rain. The wedding revelers were sleeping off their night music and so we sat quietly marvelling at this place that God created. We were stricken with how this natural wonder can consume us in our frailty. We feel vulnerable in the middle of this Austrian national park – Gessause.
Reluctantly after spending time reading about Job and being reminded of God’s mighty hand, we left Schloss Kassegg for a winding ride through the last leg of the Alpine tour. Vienna marks the end of the Alps. We passed through more charming Austrian villages. They are masterful with geraniums in flower boxes. It is so beautiful – moreso than any other place where we have seen these flowers.
Nearing the end of the Alps, we realized we had travelled about 200 (or more) kilometres in tunnels! That is about 15% of our entire journey since we left Frankfurt. We had one final mountain to climb before the autobahn and there was a bridge suspended from the sky – even my beloved said ‘we don’t have to go up there’ I was not convinced. Sure enough – the road twisted, albeit gently, higher, higher and it felt that we were suspended in air – like a ferris wheel. Fro as much as I DO NOT LIKE heights – I have to say, not to sound cliché – it was breath-taking.
Austrian road building took some planning as the twists and turns are gentle on the bike AND the brain. No fear – just fun. Time for the autobahn to Vienna. As we sped along, unrestricted ( I noted 140, but stopped looking), I remembered people would refer to the autobahn as a place. However ‘autobahn’, for those who still think of it that way, it really means highway….so any highway is autobahn. The bahnhop is the train – a favoured form of travel. I dozed a little and before I knew it, I was taking a photo of ‘Welcome to Vienna’.
Traffic was light as everything is closed on Sunday in Vienna (and most other parts of Germany and Austria). We were settled in our hotel before we knew it. We decided to do some advance work on touring the city and figured out the subway quickly. We attempted the ringstrasse tram once, got sidelined, backtracked and did it successfully. The ringstrasse is a streetcar that goes around the city repeatedly in a ring….so stay on it and get off where you want to – there are a few different rings. It’s a brilliant way to see all the important and magnificent buildings of Vienna. We located a beizl in the heart of Vienna and dined heartily on liver and goulash. Since we had a 24 hour pass on the trains, we did our own ‘hop on hop off’. We hopped off at the Vienna Film Festival. What a find! The massive screen and hundreds of chairs set up for a dance and opera evening.
When we saw all the food vendors we were so happy we didn’t patronize the sour servers at Reisthaler Beizl for one more euro! We shared a delectable waffle with banana and caramel sauce and drank Viennese coffee – just soaking up the lovely evening.
While walking in the city centre, we discovered St. Peter’s Church (fine baroque architecture) offers a free organ concert so we found our way there via a side trip through luxurious Kohlmarkt (think high end shopping) and to the Hopsburg Palace. Once inside the church – the music transported us in time and space back to Mozart’s time. To be surrounded by the sights and sound was a sensory delight.
We hopped the underground like newly minted locals and crashed in our comfy room. A long day of adventure from a wilderness park high in the Alps to the majesty of Vienna! Our total spend was E71.00! This includes everything spent except hotel (and to be clear the rental of the motorcycle). Food, gas, entertainment of the richest level – ALL for E 71.00. Remarkable.