November 12, 2017 – Day 58 & Nov 13&14

Venice to Vienna – 580 km (train &  9061 Fit Bit steps)

  &  33109 Fit Bit steps

Our previous itinerary had us riding through Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania. Reviewing options now for travelling by bus and train made that route look less desirable. As our present objective is to head to warmer climes in Greece (!), we decided that the best route, avoiding air travel, is to take a train north to Vienna and then south again via Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia.

We didn’t see much from our train window during the 10-hr trip, as the mist hanging over the Veneto gave way to night as we crossed the border into Austria. A few degrees colder than Venice, the Austrian capital appeared quite wintry, particularly as Christmas lights and a Christmas market were just being set up (but didn’t open before we left). A stately and elegant city, its imperial architecture reflecting six centuries as the seat of Hapsburg rule, Vienna is a place we would like to visit again. Paul was first here as a university student in the 60’s, when he and his friends slept in the luggage racks of an overnight train from London!

We caught our first sight of the Danube on our morning walk around the Ringstrasse, a ring road/tramway which replaced the old city wall. Further along, we came to the Holocaust-Denkmal, a memorial to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were murdered. Designed to look like a bunker, the sculpture depicts a library of books with their spines turned inward, representing the lost knowledge of the Holocaust victims.

Long famous as the “city of music” and amongst the numerous fine Baroque and late 19thC buildings there are statues and monuments celebrating Vienna’s heritage. Mozart watches over a park near the Heldenplatz, and Mahler, Berg and Schoenberg are commemorated outside the Vienna State Opera House. A visit to the Haus der Muzik, a museum of sound and music with a range of hi-tech interactive and multimedia presentations, including exhibitions about composers that worked in the city and the story of the Vienna Philharmonic, was interesting, but perhaps failed a bit in execution. It  didn’t help that the App for the museum didn’t work. Much more inspiring was a visit to one of Mozart’s residences. The composer stayed in many places in the city but only one building remains where he lived from 1784 to 1787. It was here that he composed the Marriage of Figaro. Standing in the apartments where he lived and composed was a privilege. We ended our visit with an enjoyable concert of chamber music by Mozart and Beethoven in the Annakirche.

Coffee notes:
Jonas Reindl 9.5/10. Vienna’s coffeehouse culture was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2011. We visited one, the historic Cafe Leopold Hawelka, which was full of charm and atmosphere. More recently a newer generation of coffee shops akin to those we frequented in Vancouver and Victoria have arrived. The espresso of Jonas Reindl matches Moja in Terra Breads!

Eastern Europe Actual Route
Lisbon to Auckland Actual Route

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