Vienna – Day 2

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This morning’s exploration of Vienna commenced with a ride on the Reisenrad, Vienna’s large ferris wheel which has operated since 1897. It is a wonderful old machine and must have been considered an absolutely spectacular attraction when it was first built.

There are other fun park attractions in the centre, but as we were there early in the morning there were very few people about. I imagine it gets busier in the evenings. The sign indicated that it was open until midnight. We then returned to the magnificent Schoenbrunn castle. I was keen to get a good photograph for mum and dad. They have tickets to an Andre Rieu concert in Brisbane in December, the backdrop for which is a reproduction of the castle, so I wanted to give them a view of the real thing.

We returned to our hotel for lunch and a rest before heading out for the afternoon’s activities. We caught the “U” into the Museum Quarter to try again to visit the Natural History Museum. It was open and we made our way through the grand entrance hall with a lavishly painted vaulted domed ceiling and lined with marble statuary. A magnificent staircase led to the upper sections. The downstairs exhibits were live displays of fish, insects, and amphibians.

We then moved on to the vast crystal and rock collection which filled display cases in several large rooms. There was an equally impressive display of dinosaur skeletons and fossils, and on the upper level were stuffed birds and animals of almost every species in the world. We spent a couple of hours wandering through the wonderful displays. The most famous exhibit is the Venus of Willendorf, a small 7cm high stone carved figure of a woman which is thought to be the earliest carved statue of a human being. It was discovered 100 years ago and to celebrate its centenary, it was on tour! We were quite disappointed to find that the room where it is usually displayed was closed. Joel checked out the souvenirs at the museum shop and bought a soft toy woolly mammoth for Callum.

We met Peg Ertmer and Tim Newby from Purdue for dinner and an evening walk around the city.

We were due to meet Peter at the conference venue about 5 pm, but we still had enough time to find another music store that Joel had spotted in one of the tourist brochures. It did not live up to expectations, so we headed down to the University. Peg Ertmer found us before Peter did and we spent time catching up on news since our last meeting at our home in 2004. We were dining out with her and another Purdue colleague, Tim Newby. Our group finally all arrived and we headed to the “U” to go to Stadtpark, on Peg’s suggestion. It was a pleasant park with a beautiful floral clock and attractive gardens. There was one restaurant there but the menu did not appeal to Peg, so we continued strolling. We finally settled on an outdoor cafe-style restaurant and enjoyed a delightful meal in the cool of the summer evening.

After dinner we walked through the main shopping area, with the Americans searching for souvenirs. We were entertained by a cheerful young man with a masterful skill at spinning diablos. We watched his show for about 15-20 minutes before making our contribution and moving on. We found a chocolate shop that I had seen advertised in a guide book and had on my list of “must go to” places. I bought some chocolate coated gingerbread and Peg and Tim also made purchases to take back home. We finally left them at the station, said our farewells and headed back home to sleep. Another busy day.