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Exploring Vienna, Austria


The trip started with a day and a half stay in Vienna, Austria. We stayed at the Hotel Beethoven which was very conveniently located near the heart of the old district of Vienna and near the Karl Platz U-Bahn station (underground subway station). The first evening we just walked around the old shopping district and the Hofburg Palace area with our friends.



> To the left is the Hotel Beethoven, our home base in Vienna. (it's the peach colored bldg). It was very centrally located near all the downtown attractions, provided a nice room, and had a good free breakfast.



V Below is the entrance to the Karl Platz subway station, the nearest U-Bahn station to tour hotel. I included the photo cause I liked the fancy architecture for a lowly subway station entrance.

Hotel Beethoven in Vienna
Karl Platz subway station

The next morning with a full day ahead of us, we headed off on our own. Nora and Duncan had tickets to the Lippizaner Horse Show that day.

First we took the U-Bahn up to the Prater where we stopped off to ride the Wein Risenrad (Vienna Ferris Wheel). It was built back in 1897 and it's about 207 feet tall. The ride lasts only one revolution. However, it takes a while since the wheel turns slowly and the ride is constantly stopping to let people on and off each gondola (each gondola can hold about 15 people). From the fairgrounds we continued north on the U-Bahn across the Danube River up to Danube Park where the Donauturm (Danube Tower) is located. It's like the Seattle Space Needle. It's about 806 feet high and affords a great panoramic view of Vienna and the surrounding country side. If you're crazy and stupid enough, they offer bungee jumping from off the observation deck. Many people might say I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid! While we were there we watched two people jump. We noticed they had a large 15 ft by 15 ft by 5 ft air bag on the ground below, similar to what stunt people use. I guess that was in case of a bungee failure. NOT very reassuring! Oh, by the way, if you're hungry, there's a restaurant above the observation deck.

Vienna Ferris Wheel

This is the Vienna Ferris Wheel in Prater Park.

Danube Tower in Danube Park

The Danube Tower in Danube Park. The lower most deck is the observation deck. You can see the bungee platform extending off to the right.

View of Vienna from Danube Tower

This is the view looking south from the Danube Tower. All of Vienna is spread out before you just on the other side of the Danube River. The long island running thru the river is of course Danube Island.

From northern Vienna we took the U-Bahn back south to the old shopping district to walk around again in the daylight. In one of the main town squares, Stephensplatz, we checked out Saint Stephen's cathedral which started construction back before 1258 AD. We also checked out the Hundertwasserhaus. A community residence building designed by a famous Viennese painter who disdained straight lines and flat surfaces. All the floors in his museum were uneven which made walking difficult.



> To the right is the Hundertwasserahaus, a residential bldg designed by some painter who didn't believe in straight lines or flat surfaces. Totally impractical from this engineer's point of view.




v Below are some shots of St Stephan's church in the center of the Vienna shopping district. The town square area surrounding the church was a pedestrian area, always busy with people and street artists at any time of the day or evening.

St Stephan's church interior
St Stephan's church exterior

After revisiting the town square we also revisted the Hofburg Palace again in the daylight. Then, since we still had time left in the day we headed further south on the U-Bahn down to Schonbrunn Palace, built around 1700 - 1750 as a home for Leopold I. The Palace was surrounded by massive gardens. However, like Boboli Gardens in Florence, they were mainly gardens of bushes, not many flowers. If you want to see large gardens of flowers, I'd recommend Butchart Gardens in Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada. From the Schonbrunn Palace we took the by now familiar U-Bahn system back to our hotel. That evening we packed up for our trip into the Czech Republic the next day.

The Hofburg Palace and Heldenplatz

^ Looking across Heldenplatz at the Hofburg Palace.

Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace from the "Gloriette"
up on the hill.

The "Gloriette"

The "Gloriette" built on the hill behind
the Schonbrunn Palace.

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last revised : February 12, 2006