Day 16: Prague to Vienna
Early to rise this morning as breakfast is at 7:30am and bags to the coach at 8am. We got down to breakfast which has been quite good by the way and had some food before we got on the bus headed for the border of the Czech Republic and Austria; home to the Sound of Music, Mozart, Strauss and Lippizanner horses. Breakfast was great although apparently we’re on a trip with many people who really want to claim their seat on the bus so many were out there by 7:30 which was different for me from any other trip I’ve ever been on. So, on our one month wedding anniversary we drove (well, Yan drove) for three hours on the bus and then stopped at the Czech/Austrian border to attemp to eat something and get rid of our Czech kroner that is soon to be a dead language. After strolling around for 35 minutes to find some lunch, we wound up settling with a supermarket an dI had a roll of bread, a banana, an iced tea and some m n ms for a secret chocolate stash. I didn’t feel well for a bit of the trip but it was much better when we finally made it to Vienna and jumped off the coach!
We first took a driving tour around the Ring Road and then hopped off to see the city on foot! We saw the palace of the Hapsburgs, statues of Maria Theresa who was the first woman to rule and the mother of sixteen children, the Opera House, the Lippizaner horses, Arnold Schwartenegger’s favorite chocolates and more. After a bit of a walk we headed back to the hotel to get dressed for tonight’s show. The hotel was really beautiful and had a pyramid on the top and was super big; more of a conference hotel but it included a spa, a pool, a gym and free wi-fi in the lobby which was great. We got dressed for the concert tonight which would include the first half as Mozart and the second of Strauss; a classical music concert housed in the Hapsburg’s palace and in the same room where Mozart played his first ever performance at the age of five years old. We headed to the restaurant first which was really fancy and filled with tablecloths, flowers and wait staff who looked like they worked at the fanciest steak house you could imagine. Dinner was beautiful; I had a gorgeous salad and then a dish with filo dough stuffed with spinach and veggies and some potato on the side and then there was apple streudel for dessert (supposedly the best in Vienna). We watche the concert which was a wonderful mix of classically trained musicians and some ballet dancers and opera singers too. It was a wonderful show and then we headed back to the major hotel to check some emails, chat to some fellow Contikiites and head to bed. Off tomorrow for a bit of Vienna and then headed to Budapest, Hungary (the place of my ancestors).
Contiki is wonderful to travel but boy it’s exhausting! Up early to rise and late to bed and that’s without hitting the clubs and bars. This is a trip of much more of a cultural experience and enjoyment. Most of the people wind up turning in after the last event of the night as opposed to the ones we used to do when we were in our early twenties and it seemed as if the nighttime drinking festivities were just as important as the daytime sight seeing events. The bus rides are fairly short; almost always less than 4 hours (except for the last one on the return from Warsaw to Berlin which will be about 9 in a row) and definitely more time to explore cities than any other tour I’ve been on. Apparently that’s the way the European ones are run as there are so many sights to see and everyone has different ideas of what to do and see; so what happens when we get near a city Todd hands out maps and does a bit of an orientation and some highlights of sorts and then we’re off. For the most part people seem to do the optional excursions but for those who don’t there are still things to do. Looking forward for more time in Vienna to spin around with my hands in the air as if I was Maria from the Sound of Music as the Von Trapp family castle is not far from Vienna. Perhaps there’ll be an Edelweiss lullaby from the television before we go to sleep. Hope you feel as if you’ve stepped a bit into Eastern Europe with us as we travel our way one kilometer as a time and cross the borders further into the old Iron Curtain.