No Kangaroos in Austria
Today we are having a rest day. We are still in Vienna. We have a leisurely breakfast and stroll the decks of the Viking Lif (name of our boat). In the afternoon we wander in the direction of a ferris wheel we can see in the distance. We are strolling down suburban streets and seeing the local restaurants and markets – totally different to what we have been seeing up till now. We get to the ferris wheel and find out that it is in the Prater amusement park with lots of other rides. It hosts the oldest operating Ferris wheel in the World. We go on the Ferris wheel and then I decide that having a go on the rollercoaster is a good idea? Half way up the first incline has me wondering “WHAT AM I DOING HERE???”. The roller coaster at the top drops off straight into a loop, it then has two double loops with the last loop sending me straight into a death spiral. Anyway I get off the ride and I feel like I am having a stroke and heart attack all at the same time and I need to visit the WC to clean out my jocks. Least I’m getting value for my 1 Euro WC fee.
After I recover we make our way back to the boat in time for sailing. Tonight is the Captain’s cocktail party so we get dressed up and the get together is a nice night. Aleksander our Captain toasts and talks to everybody there. Viking’s ethos is a that a happy crew results in happy guests and Aleksandar definitely leads by example. Our boat manager and Sanya the Program Director and Aleksandar, all have a great rapport with themselves and the boats crew and it definitely shows in the service we get.
Anyway it’s goodbye to Austria and hello to Hungary. Tomorrow we dock in Budapest.
We are in Vienna or Wien as the locals call it. The first tour gives us an overview of the points of interest around the central area. Our guide regales us with the historical facts and figures for the monuments and buildings in this area. What do they say, you can’t fill a full cup? 5 minutes later I can’t remember any of it. Anyway there are lots of hazards to watch out for; other tour groups, as well as negotiating bike paths, dodging horse drawn carriages, trams and cars. On average though everything was going okay until we have a toilet stop. It is packed with a long lineup. The woman that runs it is ex-military or ex special ops or something. Anyway she has a ton of change but anyone who gives her the wrong money is scowled at. The woman in front of Judy does not have the right money and cops full fury (not even sure what language but it is not German). Judy offers the right money (60 euro cents) and the woman takes it, but then lets the first woman through anyway, and then just lets Judy through as well. Then she lets so many people in that the people that are inside can’t get out. It was traumatic, I could be in therapy for years. Tragically we are all so traumatised that we leave one of our own behind. Lest we forget poor Marlene – not sure how she did it be she manages track us down on her own amongst all the other groups and all that chaos. Bravo Marlene (P.S. I’m sure James missed you).
Before we know it, we are on free time and we wander down to the shopping precinct. Whoops, wrong move. The shops are all Rolex, Gauci, Givenchi and the like. They won’t even let us in the shops. I find a Bally shop. We have not been able to get Bally shoes in Adelaide for about 30 years. As I’m about to go into the shop I see a pair of slippers in the window for only 325 Euros ($AU515) and I reverse out immediately. I am happy to say though there is a Lloyd’s shop where I end up buying nice dress shoes on special only 99 Euros ($AU157). We go through and explore the obligatory next Cathedral. The guide had told us the best lunchtime eating spot is a pizza place. Pizza in Austria, huh??? We do go there and it is good. More window shopping and a few coffee breaks and then we hit the Underground back to the boat.
Who knew that holiday boat cruising is so tough!!!
Today we have left Germany and arrive in Melk, Austria. We visit the spectacular 900 year old Melk Abbey. It’s not till we get there that we realise that we have been here before. Last time we were here it was pouring with rain and freezing, but today is bright and sunny. The Benedictine Abbey is still in use and operates a school by the monks and as such is in pristine condition.
The decor of the interior of the building appears to be marble but is in fact stucco, but it is so well done that even when you touch it your still not sure. The ceiling of the great hall, through an optical illusion, appears to be a dome but is in fact a flat ceiling. The library is world renowned with manuscripts dating back over 1000 years. There is no heating or lighting allowed and so reading of the manuscripts can only be done in daylight hours and you better be wearing thick clothes in Winter. These requirements are to control atmosphere of the library to ensure preservation of the manuscripts. Anyway, the library actually is very interesting and we see exhibits of some of the more remarkable examples of significant documents. We have extra time so we forego the shuttle buses to wander through the town of Melk. We realise that most of the tourists walking through the town are Aussies, you can tell by their weird accents. Anyway when we get to the docking area we see that there are APT and Scenic boats there, which explains the presence of the Aussies.
We set sail and go through a gorge that has numerous castles standing guard. Just as we get to the end of the gorge we get hit by a Summer thunderstorm. One side of the river is filled with sunshine and a few fluffy clouds. The other side of the river is blowing a gale, with thick dark raging clouds, pouring rain and we’re expecting Thor, God of Thunder to appear any second. We get out’a there and head for our room. Phew, that was close.
We visit the Wachau Valley Winery and get to sample some fine vintages. We start off the tour with a 3D short film that shows life in the vineyard with amazing time lapse photography of flowers and vines, as well as the different animals that live in the vineyard. When the film shows us content relevant to harvest or vintage, they provide a smell component of an assortment fragrances associated with wine. It is an amazing experience. After the film our guide tells us that the vintners visit every single vine many times to prune the branches, cull leaves and shoots as well as the fruit to ensure the best quality fruit is available for harvest. We then get to taste the wines produced and they are very nice. Our guide takes all 30 of us into a large room where the whole floor is a tv screen. We are standing on a tv screen??? It has Google Earth showing us the town of Krems and the extent of their vineyards. The guide says it is in real time and he has updated it to show us were our ship is??? Our guide is extremely enthusiastic and passionate. I would have sworn that he is the owner, but no he is not. If your need a salesman, this is your guy.
Once again we have had a big day out. Time to count those Zees again.