Sun - Sep 15
First, before we start the day, an observation. When we do 80mph, down the 35 extension loop, it feels like 80mph. But somehow kilometers don't feel as fast. At 130 to 135 kph, 78 - 81, we get passed of course, but it also feels slower. Our car, a Ford C-Max, has a really efficient engine, we're getting about 34 mpg, and has never shown any sign of strain going up hills nor zipping along the autobahn.
So, we woke early, this time me at normal 6:30, but Karen at 7 as we had to get the car returned by noon in Vienna when the office closed. Good breakfast, but no dilly dallying.
So we exit the village onto the B3 and there are 100 people unloading water bottles, setting up tables, etc, all along the roadside. A cop stops us and says we can't go left or right because there is a marathon that started along that road and all traffic is blocked or detoured. We have two choices. So back out some back roads and spend at least 1/2 hour plus getting over some mountains, or cross the road to the ferry station and take the ferry across the Danube to the other side where we can pick up the road towards Krems to get the autobahn to Vienna.
No choice really, but we lucked out in that we were number 4 in the car line, it was 8:30, and the ferry's first trip of the day was at 9am. But he saw he had a full line of cars so he started loading and we cast off at 8:50. First, this is a small ferry and only holds 7 cars, if they're all small. We were 4th in and parked at the far left against the front railings. This only means that when they unload the guys right in front get off first, then the three guys in back, then us. But it really wasn't as bad as we imagined. We were on the road at 9 and made good time arriving at the Hilton at 10:15am.
We dropped our bags as the room wasn't ready yet, but they said when we came back they'd have them in our room. It's good having a working wife who frequents Hilton. Executive floor, Executive breakfast, afternoon snacks in the lounge and free water and chocolates in the room, and free Internet (forget that most all of our other hotels also provided free breakfasts and Internet. But this Internet connection is like FIOS.
Helga got us to the Avis return, then a short bus from there to the Bahn station and a short train ride and we were on the go again. We bought a 72 hour ticket and just from the usage today the rest of our train rides are free.
We took a short lunch break, simple, just some Chicken Schnitzel and Fries and drinks.
We followed Rick Steve's walking tour of the major sights, including the Opera house. There was a performance on this afternoon and the opera has erected a giant LED screen on a plaza to one side of the opera with loudspeakers arranged behind and to the sides. They also have set up seating, for about 150+ people, though standing room is unlimited. So we stood at the rear sitting on some high planter boxes and watched Carmen, or at least it was excerpts from it. They do this on a regular basis for almost all of their performances. Really cool.
By the way, weather here was cloudy with bright spots, but no rain and temperatures running about 68F, very comfortable to walk around and we were back to short sleeves.
We walked the city, including Gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral (1300-1450), and especially the immense pedestrian street there, the first in Europe, and then, for a really poor man's tour got on the tram, also free with the 72 hour ticket, and rode the Ring that circles the city, changing just once to continue the other half of the ring. There's a good writeup of what to look out for and which stops it comes after, and sometimes you have to be quick, but it covers a lot of ground and you can then go back to see anything that really struck your interest.
A quick stop at the Spanish Riding School, just to look, as there were no performances, and a break for drinks in their cafe terrace.
Back on the tram for a few stops to put us close to the Stadtpark and a short walk to the hotel. Unpacked, organized and rested until 6. Then it was time to get out and find someplace to eat. We took the train back to St. Stephen's area and found a nice Italian place just off the the immense pedestrian street to eat. Karen a Lasagna and Mike a fish filet with vegetables and potatoes, a shared salad, billed as small, but more than enough for two, wine, water, and bread. That was it for eating, though we then walked around scoping out some of the recommended restaurants we had read about or been advised to try. One thing that is amazing is just how many pastry shops there are here and the array of ways to make cakes and cookies. It's not easy watching calories, even if you wanted too.