I left you last in the middle of a wooded park in Vienna next to an equestrian facility where an old horsey lady kept popping by to tell us we were forbidden to park there. We just wished her a good day and went about our business as we had read about her on our Park4night App, just in slightly more unfavorable terms.
Funny enough after 2 and 1/2 months of travelling, we have only met one other Kiwi and that was only briefly in the ticket queue at Auschwitz. Here in this parkover there were 4 vans parked up and 3 of them, us included, were Kiwis. I think Doug was quite wrapped to be talking to some good old kiwi boys for a change.
We spent our first night in Austria, playing cards, eating homecooked roast chicken and drinking Austrian Beer and it was great just to relax, however with the clock always ticking, we are mindful there are places we need to see so the next morning saw us bright and early at the bus stop Vienna bound.
Vienna sounds amazing, just the word sounds amazing even. Its a very sophisticated city with fantastic architecture and concert halls everywhere with men dressed up like Mozart selling concert tickets.
We bypassed the concerts opting for all the free things to do in Vienna. We started the day at The Naschmarkt Markets. Once you get down past the tourist cafes, you will find the wonderful displays of hummus, olives, stuffed dates and dried fruits on display. I now know what a dried Hibiscus Flower tastes like although I much preferred the chocolate coated almond.
Vienna for me is about wandering the streets, I’m more of a back street kind of girl, looking up at all the fancy statues atop the buildings.
Talking of fancy, we’ve seen a few churches by now, but The St Stephens Cathedral actually made me gasp, however it was crowded with loads of pushy tour bus people which made enjoying it more difficult. Some of those old ladies on those tour buses sure have sharp elbows.
For the afternoons entertainment we bypassed the normal things in favour of visiting The Hundertwasshaus. For those of us from NZ, we’ve all probably sat on a Hundertwasser loo in Kawakawa at one time or other so he needs no introduction. For those that haven’t he was an architect that didn’t believe in straight lines and loved colour and mosaic. The Hundertwasshaus and Village is an excellent example of his very different architectural style and a lovely way to end our day in Vienna.
I did feel we cut things a little short in the city, possibly so as not to overdo things, but the next morning after the farrier at the equestrian centre arrived at the crack of dawn to start hammering shoes, we headed back into the city for an early morning whip around the Castle.
Its not ostentatious like some castles although it massive, but its typically Austrian with the decoration on the roof. The great thing about this castle, abandoned when the monarchy was overturned in 1919, is the gardens and grounds, which were originally used as hunting areas for nobility. Set in over 186 hectares, the gardens are lovely as is The Gloriette which sits atop a distant hill overlooking the Castle below. The Gloriette is like a garden house where I imagine Mozart came to entertain Royalty.
With Vienna done and dusted we pointed the motorhome in the direction of The Autobahn and flew some 200 kms down the road to the alpine town of Bad Ischl where we discovered a free carpark that actually cost 4 € before you could leave, and a unbelievably gorgeous tearooms with a stunning display of cakes that neither of us could resist.
Problem was the lady forgot our delicious custard filled slice so we will never know whether they taste as good as they look but it gave me an opportunity to sit in the elegant tearooms on the plush pink velvet couch for half an hour.
After wandering around Bad Ischl, not sure how you pronounce this properly but we kept referring to that “bad itch” town, we headed to Gosau for a night’s camping on the edge of a lake. Turns out the lake was a fish pond where people actually came to pay to fish. So in this square inch of pond were all these fish and people were actually catching them. Sadly the area was not big enough to accommodate our motorhome but sometimes these things have a silver lining because just up the road we found a mountain view with our name on it and an alpine village to wander around.
We even made it to the tiny church at the top of the ridgeline just as the two other churches in the town started tolling their bells in perfect harmony so it was quite a special moment.
Doug even went as far to say Gosau was his favorite town so far on our journey. That was until he discovered Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is the prettiest town that you ever did see. On the edge of Lake Hallstatt, this alpine village sits poised on the edge of a mountainous cliff. With typically traditional Austrian housing, you know wooden shutters and planter boxes filled with bright red geraniums, and wooden shingled roofs its just a sight for sore eyes.
If that wasn’t enough right bang smack in the middle of the town, up a few twisted lanes, is the most glorious church and cemetary. If anyones listening out there please take note – bury me here.
The only negative here was for the people of the town. As we were wandering through the upper streets an old man was hanging out his window and I wondered what it must be like to live in a village where busloads of tourists parade past your doorstep everyday. Never a private moment to lean out your window or wander around your own town and then I thought, its the price you pay to get to heaven.