Sunday, November 29, 2015

We had to be ready to leave by 5 am from Jibou, so that meant we were up about 3:30 to get ready. We didn't have any breakfast there, even though Cami volunteered to do so.  We got a breakfast on the plane from Cluj to Vienna.  The plane was delayed almost 2 hours which meant that Scott had to call ahead and make arrangements for a later pickup from the airport in Vienna.  Our breakfast consisted of almost the same thing as lunch on the plane from Vienna to Cluj:  a hard roll, several slices of cheese, salami, some slices of ham, a couple pieces of dried fruit, a red pepper slice, and a cookie bar.  When we got to Vienna we had to pack up all of us in two vans along with all our luggage.  The drivers weren't too happy.  When we got to the hotel we got checked in and went up to our rooms for a few minutes.  Scott had us all come down and gave us a brief orientation.

We walked to the Karlsplatz station and everyone went their own way to get a quick lunch.  I went with several to a place that had sandwiches and pastries.  I got a flatbread with cheese and bacon on it.  I looked at the pastries, but decided to wait until later--guess I should have gotten something then as I didn't have a chance later.  Scott had purchased 24-hour passes that were good on all the subways, trains, busses, etc.  We went out to the Schonbrunn Palace and toured it.  Some of them went inside, but I opted to go out into the area behind the palace.  Wende and I even hiked all the way up to the Glorietta which is a monument at the top of the grounds.  The grounds were beautiful, and I bought a series of postcards showing the inside.  It reminds me a lot of Versailles in Paris.  

We went back to the hotel and had a little break and then met together to go out to a restaurant for supper.  Scott thought he had reservations, but for some reason they hadn't made them.  We had to wait a little, but finally got in to two different tables.  Most everybody got the Wienersnitzel, but I chose the Cordon Bleu instead, along with a salad.

It was a very good meal.  Afterwards we walked through one of the main shopping districts in Vienna.  It is where all the big. expensive stores are located.  We also walked by the opera house.  By the time we got back to the hotel, everyone was ready for bed.  It had been a long day.

In the morning after showering, we went down to breakfast.  The hotel has a big breakfast buffet.  We had a big selection of breads, yogurt, cheeses, fruits, cereals, and beverages.

Then Scott took us on a walking tour of Vienna in the morning.  We started with a visit to Karls Kirche.  They are doing an extensive renovation on the building, so even though the scaffolding on the outside took away from it, the elevator inside was worth it.  

We got to take it up inside the dome.  Then there were steps up all the way to the very peak of the dome.  This allowed us to get some very close views of the paintings in the dome that we wouldn't have been able to see otherwise.  I was very impressed with it.  

I think I liked it even better than St. Stephen's Cathedral which we saw next.  I teased one of the men in our group, Dr. David Bush, of writing his name, but purposely misspelling it so he wouldn't be caught.  

These are some views of St. Stephansdom Cathedral.

We had walked by it the night before and seen it lit up at night, which was impressive.  But I don't think the inside was as beautiful as Karls Kirche.  I will say that the stained glass windows were prettier.  The vaulted ceilings were beautiful, but made it seem colder than those in Karls Kirche.  The outside reminds me more of the great cathedrals in Paris.

We walked by the Judenplatz where there is a memorial to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were killed during WWII.  Later in the day I went back with several of the group who wanted to go to the museum.  It was interesting, but not as impressive as just looking at the memorial outside in the plaza.

Then we continued down Graben, which has some of the top names in stores.  On the way we stopped at a bakery and some people bought pastries.  I looked at the prices, and decided to wait until we went back where we had lunch the day before--again a mistake, as I never got back there.  Oh, well, I can make some myself I guess.  Then we went to where the Hofburg palace is located.  There are a lot of beautiful buildings there around a central plaza.  A lot of the government buildings are located there also.  That is also where the Lippenzauer stallions are located.  We got to see some of them in their stalls.  And even saw some walk through the hallway from outside to their stalls.  None of the pictures I got were good enough to share--they were too blurry.  

These are a few scenes of the city as we walked quickly through it that morning.

We ended our tour with Scott by taking a ride on the trolley which circles the city where the walls of the city had been located.  He went back to the hotel to catch up on some of his paperwork for the trip and left us on our own.  I decided to go with some of them to the outskirts of the city where one of the men wanted to look at nativity figures.  He found one, but they were all too expensive for me.  I did get a small one in a slice of wood, kind of like an ornament.  

We stopped at a small restaurant and had lunch.  I ordered the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and fried onion strips.  It was good, but had the consistency of Vienna sausages--kind of pasty-smooth.  I got one and a half down, but couldn't manage the other half slice.

We took a chance and rode the trolley and bus back, even though our passes had already expired.  If we’d been checked, I think there would have been a fine.  Then we looked for and found a shop we’d passed earlier in the day where I bought a Christmas ornament with Vienna and a scene painted on it.  It will be my reminder of my trip to Vienna.  

We walked back to the hotel and past to the NightMarket, which ironically is open only until dark.  I did buy a scarf for Ann there, and some candy that we’d tried as we walked through.  By the time I got back to the hotel, I decided to stay in for the night.  This was my side of the room in the hotel.  I shared it with Scott.  

My legs were all covered with a rash that I learned later was caused by the amount of walking I’d done.  Next time—and this year in Alaska—I’ll wear some support stockings.  When I went to the Doctor when I got home, he reminded me that I’m not getting any younger!  All in all, it was a great trip.  One that I would like to repeat, but probably won't be able to do.

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