We spent most of the day sitting on deck and watching the beautiful scenery as we made our way to Vienna where we arrived just after 4pm.

forested hillsAn example of some of the scenery we saw

We were really excited to be in Vienna for the first time and, as we were not due to sail until the following day at 6pm, Trevor and I decided to get a Hop-on Hop-off bus ticket which is valid for 24 hours. When leaving the boat to go ashore each person is given a Shore Ticket which is retained by the passenger and returned before the ship leaves the dock. This is how to ensure that all are back on board. We waited for the bus at a stop on the quay where the boat was berthed and when it arrived after about 15mins we found that this particular bus did not have a card machine. We changed our minds and went for a walk within a reasonable distance of the boat, starting with a walk across the Reichsbrücke or Empire Bridge, a double-layer bridge – above was for vehicles and the lower for cyclists and pedestrians, each with their own demarcated lanes.

ReichsbrckeThe Reichsbrugge 

Vienna view from bridge to islandView from the Reichsbrugge

As you may know, cycling is very popular in most of Europe and sidewalks are usually demarcated with 2 distinct lanes; sometimes 3, of which 2 are for cyclists in opposite directions. The cyclists frequently get quite annoyed when a pedestrian is in their lane. With lots of bell ringing and, if you don’t move, coming up close behind you and then making a close sweep around you. The most common mistake tourist pedestrians make is to step to the side for whatever reason and so be in the cyclist lane. Also, if you wish to cycle anywhere you can collect a bicycle at any one of a number of pick-up points, usually by swiping your credit card. When you have completed the task for which you used the bike, it can be returned to any bike ‘terminus’, not necessarily the one from where you had collected it.

We walked up the ramp (there are ramps everywhere in these cities), on to the lower section of the bridge and soon found ourselves on a busy main street. We had no particular plan in mind though we had been told that we should visit The Wheel not far from the boat. After walking down 2 blocks we chose to turn left to see if we could find The Wheel which we didn’t and later learnt that it was another couple of blocks further down. What we did find were some beautiful tree-lined streets. We strolled along these passing various shops, one which offered a mutton schnitzel, definitely not a Viennese special. We were told that the best is a veal schnitzel which was part of the dinner offering onboar that same evening. Quite delicious.

Avenue of treesOne of the beautiful tree-lined streets

Although it was only around 5pm all shops were closed and there was little sign of activity in the area. What was in abundance was graffiti of every colour and design. This seems to be something found all over the world now. After about an hour we came to a small park where there were a number of mothers and children enjoying the lovely sunny evening. I gave a wry smile when I noticed that the park was in Mexico Square with the RC Church of St Francis of Assisi and all the folk were Muslim. Interesting combination.

Church entranceEntrance to the Church of St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of AssisiSculpture of St Francis on side wall of church

Rear and spire of church St Francis of AssisiRear of church of St Francis with its beautiful spire

The Square is called Mexico Square as acknowlegement that Mexico was one of only two countries which protested aagainst Hitler’s takeover of Austria in 1938. We walked around the church, taking a number of photos. It has some of the most beautiful spires I have seen. I love spires and took many photos of these and so many more along the Danube. Unfortunately the church was closed so we were unable to see what it looked like inside but I would imagine that it was as beautiful or even more than its spires. Both the church and the area around it were spotlessly clean which could not be said of the some of the streets we had just walked along. As is found almost everywhere these days there was plenty of graffiti of every colour and design but none on the church or in the square.

Church clock tower and old castle on the hillA clock tower and spire that we passed

2 churches onion domed and bell tower in Krems2 different spires for churches

From there we walked back towards the quay but about 500m from our boat we came upon the Donau (Danube) Square where there was the building which housed a Customs and Tax Office, the offices of the Donau Services and a very large restaurant.

From there we had a beautiful view of the island created by the people of Vienna about a hundred years ago to reduce the effects of the Danube flooding. It is a little over 20kms long and divides the River itself from what is now known as the Alte Donau or Old Danube. This is a branch of a dead-end river off the Danube which has been created into a shallow lake. The island has been developed into a recreational paradise with 42kms of beach plus parks where local families spend weekends and holidays in the summer. There are a number of bridges joining the island to the mainland – the main one being the Reichsbrücke (Empire Bridge) described above. We visited the island on our 2nd day in Vienna so will include more detail in the next blog.


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