A Travellerspoint blog

Vienna to Zagreb

17 August 2015 Monday

rain 20 °C

The weather finally changed today, and I gaher many Europeans are happy. Storms overnight, and rain for most of the day, with a top temperature of 18 C, although the rain stopped just as we arrived in Zagreb, and the temperature rose slightly.

Today we had breakfast in Austria, lunch in Slovenia, and dinner in Croatia.

From what I could see of the countryside through the rain, Slovenia looked quite beatiful. Although both Slovenia and Croatia are part of the European Union, they both have their own currencies, although they accept Euros. We also had to leave the coach and have our passports stamped when leaving Slovenia, and then have Croatian police board the bus 100 metres later to inspect our passports.

Got to our hotel (The Westin Zagreb) at 3:15pm and quckly checked in before joining our local guided tour at 3:30pm. Zagreb is attractive, but many of the buildings are in a bad state of repair as a result of neglect during the communist years and war. The buildings are slowly being repaired, but graffitti is also a problem. Had a short coach tour of the lower city, followed by a walking tour of the upper city (Zagreb used to be two separate cities but they are now combined).

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Dinner tonight was a group buffet in the hotel.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 13:16 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Vienna

16 August 2015 Sunday

sunny 32 °C

Another fine and hot day. We have been very lucky with the weather so far, and we are told that this is unseasonably hot period for Europe.

Started the day with breakfast on the outside verandah of the hotel, beside the Danube River. Perfect.

This morning, did an optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace, home of the Austrian emperors. Did a tour of 40 of the rooms, although no photography was allowed, followed by some time in the gardens. The interior of the palace was opulent and spectacular, and words cannot describe the grandeur of the rooms. Unfortunately, we only had 2 hours at the palace, and there was insufficient time to see much of the grounds, which are quite extensive. This place needs at least half a day, or probably more, to do it justice.

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After the palace, a brief driving tour of Vienna city, followed by free time to walk around the city. Unfortunately, without a map or directions, didn’t get to see everything that I would have liked to have seen, and didn't get to photograph some of the places we saw from the coach. This afternoon had a few free hours at the hotel prior to going to the next optional tour. Got to say that whilst Vienna is nice, I found it a little dissapointing.

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One of the places we visited was Hundertwasser Krawinahouse, an initiave by a local artist to beatify an old building by removing all straight lines. The following photo shows part of the original facade and the revamped building, which is now a major tourist attraction.

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At 4::45pm, we left the hotel for an optional "authentic" Austrian dinner at a local restaurant. What an experience. The restaurant is exotic, with different rooms with different themes. The restaurant has been popular with celebrities for many years, with all many of celebrities having dined their over the years. The staff were outside waiving flags as we arrived, and rolled a red capet across the street for us. There are many different rooms, each with its own theme. The photographs and memorabillia in each of the rooms, including the toilets, has to be seen to be believed. There was another optional tour after the dinner, being an opera house orchestra and soloist performig at the city's concert hall, but I chose to skip that tour.

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Tomorrow, we leave Austria and pass through Slovenia before reaching Croatia for our overnight stay.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 12:24 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Salzburg to Vienna

15 August 2015 Saturday

Rained overnight in Salzburg, but the rain stopped before our walking tour commenced. Overcast gradually cleared, and became another hot day.

A change in routine today, as our bags did not need to go out for collection until 8:00am, when we commenced our walk with a local guide. Today is a public holiday in Austria, and as a result the city was relatively quiet during the walking tour (see photo of the market square which is almost empty). Saw many beautiful sites, some locations from the Sound of Music, and Mozart’s homes (birth place, weher he lived, where he died etc).

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Left Salzburg at 10:45am and had a lunch stop at a road side restaurant and truck stop. then watched (on the coach) the 1960 movie Forever my Love, which is a Hollywood recreation of the life and love of Emperor Franz Josph & Sissy. The Hollywood story is not an accurate reflection of the facts.

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Arrived at Vienna at 3:30pm. The Hilton has very large rooms, and I look out my windows at the Danube River.

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This evening, had an optional tour to a local vineyard and restaurant on the outskirts of Vienna for a delightful 3 course meal with locally made wine, in the outdoor garden area of the restaurant, with 3 local musicians, playing music for us. A great evening, which we all enjoyed, and returned to the Hilton for a follow up drink in the bar.

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The hotel is an old grainary that has been totally gutted and renovated as a deluxe hotel, Many old buildings in Vienna have been completely gutted and coverted to hotels or residences.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 12:07 Comments (0)

Lucerne to Salzburg

14 August 2015 Friday

overcast 32 °C

Rained overnight in Salzburg. However, overcast and hot throughout the day. Top temperature of 32 C.

Depart Lucerne at 8:00 am and drive to Vaduz, capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein. This is a tax haven for many multi nationals, and the prince is the 4th richest person in the world. Saw his castle above the town, and although it is unimpressive on the outside, it is apparently very luxurious inside, and recently had a 200 car garage added to house the prince’s collection of Ferrari’s. Short stop at Vaduz before leaving Liechtenstein and briefly re-entering Switzerland.
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Then moved into Austria. Today we passed through many road tunnels through mountains. The longest in Austria is the 14.5km Arlberg tunnel, which we were supposed to travel through. However it was closed for renovation, so we detoured through the ski fields which are undergoing large development ready for the winter ski season.

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Lunch break just outside Innsbruck, where I had apple strudel and a torte, plus a freshly squeezed fruit drink.
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Into Innsbruck where we had 2 hours to walk through the old city. Saw Emperor Maximilian’s gold roofed balcony, and the impressive cathedral, as well as numerous old buildings dating back to the 1400’s.

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Left Innsbruck and headed to Salzburg, where we were to have a farm cooked dinner at a local farmers place. However, our coach developed a problem with the air brakes, which took our driver ¾’s hour to identify and repair. Got to the farmhouse around 7:30pm and enjoyed a beautiful 3 course meal of fresh grown meat and vegetables from the farm. Introductory home brewed schnaps, entre of cheeses, pastramai, bacon and something I’m not sure what (although it was delicious), baked pork, potatoes and carrots, with fresh salad, and a beautiful pastry desert. Due to being late, we had to leave the farmhouse at 8:30pm, and got to the hotel in Innsbruck for check in at 9:00pm.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 13:06 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Lucerne day 2

13 August 2015 Thursday

To day was our free day in Lucerne, and it is another day of blue sky and temperatures in the low 30's. The entire group decided to the optional half day tour to Mt Pilatus, a mountain of 2.134m overlooking Lucerne. Tour started on the cog wheel railway originally built in late 19th century, with a gradient of 48%, which took approximately 30 minutes to reach the summit. We then had 2 hours to do the various walks and climbs, before catching the gondola back to the base of the mountain. We all enjoyed the morning immensely, although the views were partly offset by a light haze.

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Got back to Hotel about midday, where I briefly updated his blog before heading out for a walk through the city. Started out along the lake foreshore, then found this wonderful cathedral (say the spires sticking up and had to investigate). The interior was beautifully ornate with lots of gold and statues, and the outside was surrounded by a walled cemetary with many old graves, memorials and plaques. Could have spent hours, but their was an entire city to see.

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Eventually found my way to the old city wall and towers, where I climbed the tower and walked part of the wall. Some great views of the city.

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Eventually back into the city and explored the rver and numerous foot bridges.

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Eventually got back to the hotel about 4:30 pm feeling hot and tired. Shower and rest before our group dinner this evening. Then a chance to repack the bags before tommorrrows departure for Lichenstein and Salzburg.

Today has been most enjoyable. Indeed, we all agree that the tour so far has been great, and our tour director (Ben) has done a great job in organising everything.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 12:34 Comments (0)

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