The cycle ride, from Tulln to our ship’s mooring that afternoon at Nussdorf, near Vienna, was only about 32km and we decided to ride on into Vienna to make best use of the day. I had discovered that bike trip computers were available on loan at the ship, so I was able to amuse myself with this gadget and can reliably state that we cycled 53km that day.
We made our customary early start and were on our bikes by 8 that morning, and the fact that we were moored right by a touring Ferris wheel was a bit of an omen
Almost immediately we disembarked we rode past the Nibelungenbrunnen (Nibelungen fountain).
This was not the prettiest day’s cycling for views and the part into Vienna along the Donaucanal was actually quite industrialised and grubby, but the views in Vienna amply compensated.
Mrs D had an ambition to ride on the Ferris wheel made famous in the Third Man film so we headed for the Prater amusement park. I guarded the bikes and took a cold drink in the shade while she boldly took a spin on the wheel.
This wheel was built in 1897 by an Englishman – Walter Bassett Bassett – to celebrate the golden jubilee of Franz Josef I. Walter Bassett Bassett also built wheels in London, Blackpool and Chicago, but he appeared to be a better salesman than a manager because when he died, in 1907, he was practically bankrupt. I am grateful to Mrs D for her picture of the Prater taken from the top of the wheel (and for some others in this blog; only the good ones she says!)
We took a bike ride round the rest of the Prater and were amazed at the variety and insanity of some of the rides available, many of which we could not go on because of age limits or possible pre-existing medical conditions, even if we had wanted to! One that looked particularly risky, even though it was only a swing, was the star flyer. This is what it looked like from the ground
and this is a link I found on Youtube showing what it is like on a swing, I don’t know when they switched to double chairs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47Wbl257w8A.
We rode back to the ship for our usual afternoon coffee and cake. After 3 days of riding through quite rural areas, Vienna seemed noisy, busy and fast-moving. There was also much more graffiti than I expected, almost all available surfaces were covered and we even saw one person at work in broad daylight with his spray cans.
Back at the ship there was a shortage of mooring spots, so our ship was double moored and we had to walk through another boat to get on board. We were very grateful for the aircon on the ship that late afternoon and evening because it was really hot and becoming humid. That night we had a thunderstorm. Dinner that evening was ham with roast potatoes and Sachertort to follow.
The next day there was an optional guided bike tour of Vienna but we opted for a DIY version and took a tram into the city centre. Our bums appreciated the rest from the saddle. We alighted near the Hofburg Palace and started our sight-seeing.
The Hofburg is vast and it was unclear to us how to get in. We tried one entrance but it turned out to be the offices of the Federal President! The policeman was quite abrupt but did point us in the right direction. There is just so much to see that we were really spoilt for choice and elected to go into the Hall of State and Library. Everything is lavishly decorated and, no doubt, designed to impress, which it does, in spades.
After this, we walked past the Lipizzaner riding school and into the city centre. There were interesting and awe-inspiring buildings at every turning. We headed for St Stephens Cathedral.
The Plaza was crowded and it was ticket tout heaven because we must have been accosted over 20 times in quite a short period of time. Just off this square we witnessed the robust approach taken to parking violations
Our next target was the Schonbrunn palace, a short ride away on the U bahn. Schonbrunn offers more splendour on an even grander scale. The grounds are extensive and we took a tourist train ride through the grounds; much easier on what was another hot, sticky day. We left our train at the furthest point from the castle and walked back.
On our way we passed the magnificent Neptune fountain commissioned in 1770 by Maria Theresa. In the background to the picture below is The Gloriette built in 1776.
We took a drink in the cafe by the entrance to the Palace and sat outside under umbrellas. It was quite a shock to suddenly be sprayed, from above, with water from a fine and cooling automatic spray; it was rather similar to the spray devices I have seen in French supermarkets for salad vegetables!
Back on the U bahn to the city centre and time to take in another palace: The Belevedere
and some more churches before we caught a tram back to our ship; too late for cake, for once! Wiener Schnitzel with red currant sauce was the very appropriate dinner that evening. Later, the ship sailed through the night to Rossatz.