14 – 15 July 2010
On arrival in Vienna we had time to have a brief meal and quick walk of the inner city streets before we met up as a group and headed to the Mozart & Strauss concert (Optional excursion). The Mozart & Strauss concert lasted a little under two hours and everyone who went really enjoyed it. Live acts in my opinion are always worth the money and these guys did not disappoint. You have to admire the skill involved in playing those classical instruments, it’s far beyond me and I tend to be particularly amazed by how fast their hands work to put forth those sounds. The show lasted for roughly two hours with a half time intermission (wine break). To accompany the music there were singers (individual and duet) and dancers who mixed ballet with humour.
The following day we started out with a trip to Schonbrunn Palace before heading into the centre of Vienna with Ray pointing out significant sights on the ring road before giving us a brief orientation walking tour. My highlight from our subsequent free time in Vienna was a sausage, beer & bread in the park which housed the Maria Theresia statue – the real Austrian experience.
Essentially we had a busy day of activities planned so I hadn’t quite finished my beer before it was time to get back on the coach and head to the Old Vienna Schnaps Museum. At this family run Schnaps factory and museum we were greeted by the proprietor and walked through. Ray would have us believe that all Austrians are kind of ‘weird’, this guy was certainly an interesting character; no doubt he had consumed a little too much Schnaps in his time. We were shown the different ingredients used and he explained the difference between Schnaps and Liqueur (presence of sugar) and clarified that in Austria they spell Schnaps with just one ‘p’ and not two like I’m used to (Schnapps).
We had been told that three shots of Schnaps were included in our museum tour, however we had also been told by the proprietor that he wouldn’t be counting; he just asked that we remain sober enough to exit his museum afterwards. Predictably we were a merry group when we piled back on the coach and headed away. The plan had been to spend a little longer in town before heading straight to the optional Viennese dinner; however it had been 37 degrees Celsius at 8.30 that morning and no doubt had got hotter during the day (Europe was experiencing a heat wave). We were all sweating like pigs, exhausted and in much need of a freshen-up so we detoured back to the hostel for showers before heading out to dinner. We had another ‘interesting’ character hosting our dinner which was located in a farmhouse style building out in the Austrian woods. Our hosts kept us entertained by involving us in games and sing along songs; perhaps Ray was right, maybe all Austrians are ‘weird’. Regardless it was a fun worthwhile evening, however once again the food was not exactly cuisine and the money we paid is only worth it if you place large emphasis on the atmosphere.