Halfway there

Vienna Travel Blog

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Melk Abbey by day
We made it to Vienna! This is the halfway point of our bike trip and we've been taking a bit of a break here. But first, let me tell you how we got here. We stayed in Melk three nights ago, but we had arrived too late to check out their famous abbey. So, before we left there the next day, we decided to pay it a visit. The building is beautiful from the outside, coloured with bright yellow stripes, but it is just as nice inside. They have a museum containing various religious relics (including a alleged piece of the true cross), an amazing library with over 100,000 volumes, and a magnificent church. It also happened to be a Sunday when we were there so we were lucky enough to actually watch a mass in progress.
Castle Aggstein overlooking the Danube
The abbey's bells were ringing like crazy.

After spending two hours there, we biked a short distance and began to see a castle up on a nearby hill. We decided to check this place out too. We locked our bikes and hiked up a steep, steep road, while countless cars and tour buses flew past. By the time we got to the top, we could barely walk. Fortunately, the view from up there lifted our spirits and gave us some more energy. We explored the castle and took many pictures of the cute Austrian towns tucked amongst the region's hills and valleys.

We were very happy to have explored both of these buildings, but perhaps we weren't being very reasonable. That day we were scheduled to have our longest ride of the trip, 75+ km through the picturesque terraced vineyards of the Wachau region.
Checking out the Prater amusement park from the ferris wheel
After our two diversions, we were now at least 4 hours behind schedule. We biked like mad and didn't have any time to stop and appreciate the famous area we were travelling through. We did get to rest at one point, when we took a ferry across the river at the town of Spitz. Our ferry driver had to dodge the hundreds of people who, for some reason we couldn't figure out, were swimming down the river with flags, balloons, and inflatable pool toys. This was quite a funny spectacle, and we wished we could have joined them.

Instead, we had to continue biking through the hot summer sun. Only later did we find out that Europe was going through a heat wave. We tried to stop for something to eat, but we weren't very successful. Apparently every shop in Europe closes on Sunday and we ended up eating a gourmet meal bought from a gas station snack bar.
Putting on my formal attire
Finally, just before dark, we arrived at our guesthouse for the night. The man there was very nice and we could tell he had been waiting for us all night. We enjoyed our stay there, and I especially enjoyed breakfast the next day.

Yesterday we arrived in Vienna. By some miracle, we didn't have any delays and we actually arrived before lunch. Our time in Vienna has mostly been spent running errands and we haven't got out to see much. We did visit the Prater, an old-school amusement park with a big ferris wheel, which we took a ride in. Tonight we decided to see a show at the Vienna Opera House. This was quite an experience. First, they absolutely hate shorts for some reason. You can wear your Megadeth t-shirt and ripped jeans, but anyone in shorts is kicked out. Realizing this, I hid behind a dumpster and quickly zipped on my fancy pant legs.
Rushing outside for fresh air at the Vienna Opera House
Thus attired, we got some really cheap tickets (about 3 euros) and explored the exquisite interior of the Opera House.

It was an Italian opera, but we had subtitles to explain the silly plot. I really enjoyed the show, especially the set. Unfortunately, Vienna was like a sauna tonight and with so many people there, it was much worse in the Opera House. When they let us out at intermission, we almost ran over the old ladies so we could get outside for a drink. Quite an adventurous night, but we've decided to return here after our bike trip because there is more we'd like to see.
greg says:
The reason they hate shorts is that they are inappropriate. It's like going with a swallowtail to a football game.
The Opera is not primarily a tourist spot but a much valued cultural institution in Vienna. And appropriate clothing is part of this culture.
Posted on: Jul 08, 2006
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Melk Abbey by day
Melk Abbey by day
Castle Aggstein overlooking the Da…
Castle Aggstein overlooking the D…
Checking out the Prater amusement …
Checking out the Prater amusement…
Putting on my formal attire
Putting on my formal attire
Rushing outside for fresh air at t…
Rushing outside for fresh air at …
photo by: hellenica