This year’s holiday took us to Austria. We travelled there by rail, which made the journey very enjoyable. Stopping overnight just outside Cologne, we arrived in Vienna very relaxed. On our first day, we took a cruise along the Danube to Bratislava. The day started with a quick breakfast at the hotel, then another on-board the river boat. It takes 4 hours to cruise across the border into Slovakia and then to the lovely city. A city tour on a trolley bus was a great introduction to the sights, followed by a short walking tour through some of the small streets. We passed a Tesco express and a Tesco home-delivery van, so looks like the Slovakians have adopted some of the UK tastes. The old town is very compact and on the Friday we were there, full of stag parties there to enjoy the cheap beer. They like their statues in Bratislava, not just the usual important people but also some quirky ones. Just like this chap down a manhole looking up the ladies’ skirts. The cruise took 6 hours to return back to Vienna, going against the current this time.
Vienna is a beautiful city, easy to walk around the main sights in the centre. Public transport is plentiful – buses, trams and underground trains. After a day of sightseeing through museums and other cultural highlights, we joined the Viennese at play on Sunday. We went to the Prater, where the Ferris Wheel from the classic film – The Third Man – is still in operation. We took a ride in the vintage carriages, with the windows wide open in the heat. A traditional cake in a local Konditorei followed. However the highlight of our trip was a concert at the spectacular Schonnbrunn Palace. Concerts take place every night, either in the Orangery or the Palace itself, we were lucky enough to be in the Palace. With a small orchestra and two singers, we were in heaven. There was music from both Mozart and Strauss, including a few duets and arias. They finished inevitably with The Blue Danube Waltz. Delightful evening and thoroughly enjoyed by all. The next day we left for Salzburg – more about this soon!