Our final destination would be a great finish to our trip. It took just over 3 hours to reach the city from Budapest and the separation of East (Former Soviet Block countries) to West was everywhere. Highways were developed and everything was green. Once in the city you could see a flourishing economic environment, streets cleaner, fewer homeless and workers using machinery not picks & shovels. One thing that struck most of the travelers was the number of homeless and beggars we saw in Prague, Krakow and especially Budapest. Of course they all new homelessness existed, but it was a stark awakening to the level we saw while traveling. Germany & Austria are doing much better then the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.
We started our exploration of Vienna in perhaps one of the most varied markets in Europe, the Naschmarkt. Every kind of fruit, both fresh and freeze dried, spice and food you can imagine. Most of us grabbed freeze dried fruit to snack on later, but some also grabbed meat and cheese. All kinds of restaurants and food stands abounded throughout the market. Some students had noodles, others falafel but many had some form of a doner kabob. While Turkish in origin, the doner has become a part of German culture. We had some in Berlin and now Vienna, both were delicious.
After lunch we headed over to the Belvedere Palace. The palace was the winter residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Eugene was French, but had been denied a position in the French army by Louis XIV and was welcomed in the Austrian army where he became an accomplished military leader defeating both the Turks and the French. The palace is now a splendid museum housing many of Gustav Klempf’s masterpieces including his famous painting “The Kiss”. Several other masterpieces are in the collection including paintings by Monet, Renoir, Caspar David Freiderich and Gustave Courbet to name a few. It was the gardens however that swept the traveler’s away. Both the front and back are magnificent, the rear gardens having several pretty fountains and stables at the end.
With the afternoon turning to evening Martina took us dinner. Travelers were treated to a signature dish in Vienna, schnitzel in this case chicken. It was a delightful dinner followed by apple strudel. EF made sure our restaurant was very nice and the dinner was delightful. After such a busy day we headed to our hotel which was splendid. Not too far from the city center it also had a magnificent view of a grand church across the street. Our rooms while not huge, were comfortable. Sadly as many times happens are WiFi was spotty putting this even further behind. The traveler’s settled in for the night and we rested up for our final day.