July 6, 2011
Wednesday 6 July 2011
Thursday, July 6, 2011
Greetings from Austria!
Today we arrived in Graz, home to Manuela's family. Her parents, Angela and Willi, have opened their home to us for the next four days. While we're here, we'll visit with family and see the sights of the Styrian region.
We arrived in Vienna late Tuesday night. After getting settled in our hotel near the city center Maureen, Scott, Manuela, and I took the subway to Stephansplatz to see Vienna's iconic church, Stephansdom. We then spent an hour strolling along Herrengasse, an upscale shopping avenue in the city center
Hotel Pension Mariahilf, Vienna
We didn't get to bed until late our first night, but because of the time difference, Manuela and I were wide awake at 4:00 AM Wednesday morning. Our hotel, Hotel Pension Mariahilf, served a typical pension breakfast – rolls, jams, ham, and cheese. Pensions are usually small family run hotels and often include breakfast.
We took a strassenbahn (street car) from the pension to Schloss Schönbrunn, a 1441 room palace built in 1700. Fortunately, Maureen bought tour tickets on-line earlier that morning with reserved times, so they avoided the long ticket line. Manuela and I toured the palace when I visited in 2009, so we relaxed in the garden while Mom, Maureen, and Scott took the one hour audio tour. I'm not a classical music fan, but I was impressed by the Spiegelsaal (mirror room) where Mozart first performed publicly when he was just six years old!
Schloss Schönbrunn, Vienna
We had lunch at a cafe on Mariahilferstrasse near the pension and Mom discovered that Austrian milkshakes are made with milk, not ice cream. Manuela's friend Martina, who lives and works in Vienna, joined us for a brief visit. Afterwards, we collected our luggage from the pension and got on an afternoon train to Graz. We met a pretentious New Yorker married to an Austrian woman on the train. He liked telling us about his jet-set lifestyle and commuting back and forth between countries.
Our trip to southern Austria took two and one-half hours. Manuela's parents met us at the Graz Hauptbahnhof (main train station) in a small bus they rented to show us around Styria.
Meidling Bahnhof, Vienna
Angela and Willi have a beautiful garden. There are colorful flowers everywhere and an extensive vegetable patch; Scott picked fresh raspberries. After a tour of the family home, we got settled in. Manuela's sister Xandl stopped by with her husband Oli and their daughter Theresa. Manuela's other sister, Birgit, also came for a brief visit.
We’ll be in Graz until Sunday. Tomorrow we will visit the city center and Schlossberg, a historic fortress overlooking the city. Later in the week we’ll visit Austria’s wine country and climb a (little) Alp.