June 12, 2010 Budapest Hungary

19 07 2010

Sleep came pretty quickly when I went to sleep.  As usual, Mrs D was up and about before I was (of course she went to sleep 2 hours before me too 🙂 )  With breakfast not included in the stay at this hotel, we were on our own to forage for food.  We went for the granola bars that we had packed in Vancouver.  It was a nice quick, light breakfast to get you going.

Maggie was the first up and awake from the other room, so she came and visited for a while as we waited for the others.  By around 0930 we were up and off.

We headed out to the “Great Market Hall”.  It was a few metro stops away on the M3 so we made our transfer over at Deak Ferenc again before long we were off the train and walked up the stairs.

As we came out of the metro, I thought we had arrived at a train station.  The large Quonset style building looked, on the outside, very much like I thought the main train station would look had I turned back when we got to town.  I had heard that it was a large “Farmers market” style place and that there would be a lot of produce etc.  By 10:30 when we entered the building, it was a hive of activity with many locals carrying bags of produce while tourists mingled in and about soaking up the “atmosphere”. 

The market hall really was “Great”.  There were probably 20 different vendors selling Hungarian Salami and at each vendor there were probably 20 different types to try.  There were butchers and produce vendors and it was all laid out in a series of corridors that you could wander up and down to check out the shops. Then, there was an upstairs! The souvenir vendors and artisans seemed to be concentrated on the upper Mezzanine.  They ringed the hall on the second floor and you could see down into the bustling area below.  Our group went into shopping mode.  I dutifully kept along with them but I was really wearying of this whole shopping thing. While the downstairs was hot, the upstairs was even hotter and with the crowds it really made it quite uncomfortable.  Some vendors had fans that blew onto a light jet of water to help cool via the “swamp cooler” effect and other sections felt like the same hot air had been there all morning – the air just didn’t want to move.

Along the upstairs were also various delis.  We stopped at one and put together a lunch that was quite good and relatively inexpensive.  The primary drawback being that while you ate lunch people pushed by you in the narrow walkway, constantly bumping you while you ate. Not so enjoyable.Food good. Price good. Atmosphere poor. 

We shopped for a bit more, but shortly after lunch we headed out.  We were going to Buda Castle today. I looked up onto the cliffs above the river and asked “There???”  “Yup.”

We decided to wing it a bit on our way to the castle.  We hopped on the first tram that took us across the Liberty bridge and followed it all the way along the route toward the castle until the tram seemed to diverge from the castle direction at which point we hopped out and figured “It’s just short walk up the hill and we’ll be there.”  The heat would have us thinking otherwise pretty quickly as we hiked up the stairs from the bottom of the castle hill.  We came across a bevy of tour buses which had obviously dropped off their charges earlier in the morning.  The drivers were hanging out in the shade, smoking and eating lunch.  I approached one and asked “Castle?” while pointing in the direction I figured the castle was.  He pointed further up and over.  We weren’t TOO far it seemed but boy were we hot.

Not long afterwards we summitted onto the road that ran through the castle complex.  The area was quite large and I really didn’t get the feeling that I was in a castle area.   The actual palace (Palace vs Castle is a long discussion apparently) is on the eastern end of castle hill.  The building has been rebuilt more often than you can count.   It has undergone a LOT of changes and most recently had the interiors finished in 1980 despite the fact that the castle first started out there in the 1500’s.

We walked over to the top of the funicular and overlooked the Danube river and Pest on the other side.  We hid in the shade and rested.  These past two days in Budapest must certainly be the hottest of all the days!  We along the fortification wall high above the riverside and enjoyed the view.  We weren’t the only ones enjoying the view… A wedding party came up to take pictures of the bride and groom overlooking the city below as well.   Probably made for some really lovely pictures.  We headed into the main palace building and found that it was actually a museum.  Most importantly, it was Air Conditioned!  There was a small cafe so we stopped in and had ice coffee.  It was a delightful treat on this sweltering day.

Refreshed, we walked back out and around the palace.  We saw the magnificent “Hunting Fountain” commemorating King Matthias and there was even a place where you could try your hand at archery (for a ridiculously expensive amount)  There was even a little set of souvenir stands that the women HAD to check out 😉

We headed over to the other side of the palace complex and found ourselves over at the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.  For about 700 HUF we got a ticket that let us into the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.  The church is undergoing renovations (like everywhere!) and so the museum area wasn’t open.  The actual insides of the church are quite lovely and have been rebuilt a number of times due to the various conquests that have targeted the area.  The cool interior of the church offered a welcome respite from the heat of the day.  I noticed that women who were “provocatively” dressed were given simple shawls with which to cover their shoulders…  Similar to mosques.  This is the first church on our trip in which I noticed this.

The Fisherman’s bastion is basically an elevated walkway between various little “turrets”.  From the walkway there was a beautiful view of Pest down below and the Gothic styled Houses of Parliament next to the river.  The view was lovely if a bit hazy in the heat. 

We completed our visit to the castle complex and took a tram down the mountain to the metro and back to our hotel in no time.  We had found a little corner store near the hotel and it was nice to be able to buy large bottles of drinks for cheap instead of “restaurant pricing”

Back at the hotel, we asked the desk clerk if they knew a good “inexpensive” place for dinner.  They suggested a place a few blocks away and said that it was quite reasonable.  We made reservations and headed up to our rooms for a couple of hours to rest and cool down in the A/C.

Dinner time had us walking down the way to a restaurant boasting a selection of over 100 Hungarian wines and “Live Gypsy Music”.  I had my doubts about the “inexpensive price” part.    The atmosphere was nice – you kind of felt like you were in a wine cellar, and the musicians were playing some pleasant background tunes that were up tempo enough but not so loud that they dominated the room.

We looked at the menu and soon realized that “inexpensive” at the hotel doesn’t translate to “inexpensive” in our minds :)  No worries, we were going to enjoy one of our last dinners out in Hungary and we had various fish, pasta and beef dishes that we shared (confusing the poor waitress again) and desserts.  The dinner was quite pleasant.  At the table next to us there were two Norwegian ladies who were visiting town and they were quite friendly and sociable.  One indicator of their “sociability” might have been the 6 or so empty glasses on their table :D  They had definitely been trying out smattering of the 100 types of Hungarian wines. LOL.

Even though dinner was expensive, when you split up 4 plates among 5 people it becomes much more affordable.  The overall per person price turned out to be quite good, and the food was very tasty as well as filling.  The entertainers were enjoyable and we had a good time.

After dinner we headed out to the shore of the Danube to get some night shots of the Buda Castle and the Chain bridge illuminated.  We wound our way down to the walkway along the river.  It was quite high, but definitely lower than it had been the previous days with all the rain.  We found a nice spot along the edge to set up the tripod.  Francis took a few shots and while he was shooting, we noticed a bunch of brass shoes cemented into the shoreline where we were standing.  Further lookup on the ‘Net – It was a memorial to the Jews that had been shot by “Arrow Cross Militiamen” during the second world war and left to fall into the icy Danube.  Eww.

As Francis finished a few shots we all noticed that there were swarms of mosquitoes along the river.  It seems the high water from earlier had left more than a few puddles around for the little blood suckers to breed.  They started landing and biting.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I set up the tripod and began to shoot, but the others had had enough.  They were practically running down the bank to escape the blood sucking swarm.  I got a few shots as I tried to keep up.  I would stop periodically and try a different exposure and while the camera exposed, I would dance my “anti-mosquito” jig to try and keep them off me.  Reviewing the photos on the PC back in the hotel room – I was glad I suffered a bit… Some of the shots were great!

We beat a hasty retreat to our hotel (while we still had some blood left in us) with Mrs D and I stopping to take a few night shots of St Stehpen’s Basilica.

We are coming down to the end of the trip. One more full day and that’s it.  It seems like it’s been so quick and yet sometimes it seemed like it would take forever…

Good Night.





June 11, 2010 Vienna to Budapest Hungary

13 07 2010

After a good night’s sleep in our COOL room we had our little buffet breakfast with Francis, Maggie and Iris in their room.  The little hotel gives you trays to take the food back to your room and eat since there isn’t much of a lobby and definitely no dining area.  We were aiming for the 10:05 train out of town, so we had to be up and going a bit earlier.  Vienna has a number of train stations and ours was a couple of metros to transfer until we were at the Wien Meidling station.  Travelling at rush hour with our luggage proved to be quite manageable.  The train we were travelling on was a “Railjet”  train.  It was comfortable, modern and well equipped.  There were status screens (two or three in every car) updating you with the GPS position of the train and the scheduled time of arrival at the next station vis. the actual estimate based on train speed etc.  It was interesting and helped pass the time. 

Due to the seating availability in the train, Mrs D and I sat up a few rows from where the other three were.  While the seats were comfortable, it wasn’t really the greatest position in which to sleep, so for the duration of the trip I drifted in and out of sleep as the train made its many stops along the way.   The windows were Mylar coated to keep out the sun (the train had A/C!) which was great as it was going to be another hot day. The problem is that the SPOT can’t track through the window then.  This means that we’re going to see a big jump from Vienna to Budapest when we get another track point in Budapest finally.

There was no fanfare, no announcement that we entered Hungary as we went along in the train.  There may have been a sign, but I missed that too, so at some point the various signs in towns became illegible and I figured we were in Hungary.  Kind of anticlimactic crossing boarders in the EU where the Shengen Agreement is in place.

The ride to Budapest was about 2:45 long. We arrived in the train station just about 1300.  The station was a classic old station with a HUGE arching roof and the platforms being all open to the elements.  Basically it was a stop and start point for trains covered by a large half cylinder 🙂

Mrs D and I went to the bank to get take some money out.  The smallest denomination the ATM gave me was 20,000 Forints!  We then went into the bank to get some smaller denominations.  That was a slow process.  Bankers are the same everywhere I guess.

After blowing off that 30 odd minutes to get money, we went back to meet the other three that were waiting in the station.  We had gone back and forth a few times on whether to take the metro, and use the Budapest card or to take the Taxi.  We had settled on metro before we left.  When we had returned, it had swung back to “Taxi”.  I guess I was getting tired and sounded a bit gruff because according to Mrs D, I kind of snapped along the lines of “WHY?  Why are we changing our minds AGAIN?”  Thankfully the group didn’t just leave me there and they reverted to “metro” and getting the Budapest card.  Another 25 Euros…  We’ll have to see if this fares as well as or better than the Vienna Card did.

We went out to find the metro and realized that they were very subtle about these things in Budapest.  We couldn’t FIND a metro station.  Hmmm. Check the map.  Check the street.  Check the map again.  After a bit of that, we found it to be just around the corner.  They use a funky stylised “M” to indicate the metro and it’s really not that obvious.  Unlike Vienna, the way down into the metro involved STAIRS.  We had to haul our luggage down the stairs to the platform.  We were greeted by two ticket checkers that verified that our Budapest Card was dated correctly and valid.

The metro felt old.  the platform was nice enough and the walls were tiled nicely.  The benches and booths all matched and seemed to be of a maple. It was all very quaint.  Then the train rolled in.  It was a dingy grey-green colour.  There was some graffiti on the cars (what subway system DOESN’T?) and when you got in you felt like you joined the subways of the ‘70s collection.  Budapest is in desperate need of some spruced up subway cars.  Sigh.

We took the train two stops and then transferred to another.  After one stop we got out – we should be fairly close to our hotel.  Even though we may have been fairly close, we were also sweltering and as such the walk seemed interminable.  We dragged our luggage along the sidewalks and sounded again like a wagon train coming to town.  It was with a sigh of joy that Iris pointed out our hotel, just two more blocks away.  I felt the heat lessen a bit at that moment and felt like racing to the hotel.

We had walked through some very non-descript streets with offices and some that just didn’t seem to have any spark on our way to the hotel. Imagine our surprise when, like the hotel in Prague, we looked in the front glass doors of the hotel to find a luxurious, modern, steel, leather and glass furnished hotel – completed just 3 months earlier.  And it was Air Conditioned! :)  We got our rooms (Mrs D and I were on the 1st floor while the other three were on the 5th floor)  How hard can it REALLY be to put two rooms near each other?  After settling, we went out for lunch. It was a late lunch but better than not eating!

We stopped in a restaurant that we had seen while walking from the Metro.  Wow… the prices in downtown Budapest were a bit more expensive than we had expected.  As we ate our food the restaurant staff were installing new TV’s for the World Cup.  It had started already and it was good to be able to watch a game while we ate.  No tap water available here either.  “Sparkling or Still?”  “Beer please.”

We finished up our Lupper and went over to see St. Stephen’s Basilica.  Our hotel is about a 5-10 minute walk from the church so it was going to be good to get out and shoot at night (Already planning).  We got into the Basilica just as they were preparing for a Mass so we didn’t have a lot of time.  By now we had the church shooting thing worked out pretty well.  It didn’t take us too long to cover the whole building.  We just barely squeaked into St. Stephen’s chapel

where the Holy relic of his right hand was preserved.  After us, they stopped letting people in.  Mass preparation.  JUST  in time!  I moved right up to one of the barriers to get a picture of the ceiling of the church in one of the side halls and was admonished by a gentlemen in quiet Hungarian.  I sheepishly backed off and apologised.  He then smiled and pointed past the barricade… As long as I was quick and quiet, he was happy to let me shoot.  Politeness goes a long way.

The Basilica is a lovely structure and probably one of the most modern churches we have seen during our trip.  The use of red/pink marble really gave it a warmer tone than many of the other churches we had seen.

With a warm evening ahead of us Francis led us off to the Square of Heroes.  Exciting! Well – at least interesting ;)  I have to admit…with this being almost the last day of the trip, my touring desires have been pretty well satiated.  We’ll see what the square holds.

We walked over to the local metro and went down into the station.  I really couldn’t shake the quaint kitchen fell of the station.  We took the metro to Deák Ferenc tér where the M1, M2 and M3 lines all cross.  We then took the M1, the Yellow line, up to Hosok Tere.  The stations along the M1 line are divided for each direction.  To go the other direction on the train, you have to go up to the street, cross and go back down into the station. Weird.  The M1 line was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It has been running since 1896!

We climbed up the stairs and found ourselves across the street from a great open plaza with a magnificent column and two quarter arches embracing it.  The style was similar to the one we saw in Vienna.   I wondered if there was a commonality.  The arches around the monument had 13 statues.  They are representative of the Magyar tribes that came together after being converted to Christianity by the Archangel Gabriel and formed Hungary. King Stephen was the first King of Hungary and he was crowned on Christmas day, 1000AD.

In a more modern vein, the square seems to be a bit of a hangout for the skater crowd.  While we were there, about a dozen skaters were practicing their tricks.  It made for a fun diversion to try and shoot them while in the air.  I got a wicked shot of one “d00d” as he was grabbing some air coming off the edge of the monument.  Nice to see that it isn’t ALL stodgy old stuff 🙂

Behind Heroes’ Square is the Budapest City Park. It was one of the first European parks opened to the public for the purpose of relaxation, while most parks at the time had been purpose built for specific activities.  We walked across the bridge of what would have been the lake (it was drained) and over to the park.  We could hear a brass band playing in the distance and the evening was cooling off as the sun lowered in its trip towards the horizon.  We wandered over toward a castle.  The castle, Vajdahunyad Castle, was originally built of cardboard and wood for the Millennial exhibit in 1896 but it became so popular that it was rebuilt from Stone and Brick. These days it’s a museum and since we were pretty late in the day it was closed.  It was still a pretty cool place. 

We continued our meander and found ourselves at a Wine Festival!  I tasted a few Hungarian wines.  Some, I wish I hadn’t but others were quite tasty.  We stopped for a while and enjoyed the atmosphere before going back to our metro (on the other side of the street) and heading back to our little bit of luxury in the middle of Pest.

Another long day in the books.  We are heading up to Buda tomorrow and the Castle district.






June 10, 2010 Vienna Austria

5 07 2010

We woke up and talked to the reception.  We said we NEEDED to have another room.  I had no desire to sleep with a fan blowing hot air across me for another night.  We were assured that we would have another room when we came back. Also, our laundry came back while we were having breakfast.  It was a little damp, but nothing that a little hanging couldn’t fix.

Today we headed out to see Schloß Schönbrunn.  The imperial residence of of the Hapsburg family.  We took a metro to about 2 blocks from the palace.  The weather was getting hot already by 0930 when we arrived.  This was tourist mecca.  Yuck.  Everywhere you turned, there were tour buses unloading and groups of tourists filing into the palace.  We pondered for a while as to which ticket would be best for us and settled upon the “Grand Tour”  The whole thing isn’t too terribly clear about what gets you what, but we figured that with the discount of the Salzburg card that the Grand Tour would be a reasonable price and it got us the 40 room tour as well as entry into the “Gloriette” and the “Privy Gardens”.  We got our tickets and were told we’d have to check our packpacks.

“WHAT?”  With all my photo equipment in my bag, I had no desire to leave it to some part time student with a summer job to ensure that my bag would have its original contents when I returned.  I rearranged various stuff with Mrs D and managed to get my lenses into her smaller bag which WAS allowed.  Being much heavier now, I carried that bag.  It was about 10 metres later that we saw the “No photos” sign when we really sighed.  Grrr.  Another place trying to make sure it had a monopoly on its images.  It would have been nice to know BEFORE we headed out.  This kind of stuff should be listed on websites and tourist books.

We got our audioguides and began the walk through the palace.  The tour took us through the different rooms of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Maria Theresa.  It was interesting to learn about the Hapsburg dynasty and the effect they had on all of Europe.  The rooms were lovely and the palace resembled a “poor man’s Versailles” The direct comparison was not kind to  Schönbrunn as Versailles outclassed it totally.  I think that had they not tried to be an “Austrian Versailles” it would have been better.  One serious drawback to the tour was that there were many HUGE tour groups going through.  It really made it difficult to enjoy the small rooms with groups of 20-40 people milling around you all the time.

After the inside tour we went out to see the gardens after getting back our backpacks.  Wow, was it hot.  We planned our walk up to the top of the gardens based on the availability of shade.  That’s how hot it was!  The flowers in the garden didn’t seem very bright or full.  Perhaps we were in between blooms?  There was a massive shelter being constructed in the middle of the gardens so that the view of the garden from the palace or the view of the palace from the garden was obstructed.  I’m not sure what they were building but my guess is some sort of “summer concert” area.

We walked up to the “Gloriette”, a strange sort of monument.  I’ll let the palace website describe it for you. Our “Grand Tour” included admission to the viewing platform so we figured we should go up and check it out.  We climbed up the stairs and enjoyed the slight breeze that wafted over us.  The view of Vienna was nice although the heat induced haze made photos less than spectacular.  I tried a panorama of the view.  We’ll see how it turned out.  What you COULD notice from up here was that the garden flowers had been arranged in the form of the Austrian Coat of Arms.  Cool.

We considered taking the little train back to the palace but decided that we could walk down in the shade via one of the side “alleys” in the bushes and trees.  Our walk took us down next to the zoo.  It would have been nice to visit but nobody really seemed to be too interested in that idea.  Down below the Zoo was the labyrinth(admission also included in the “Grand Tour”.  Actually 4 labyrinths.  We stopped for some cold ice cream and took a brief rest.  Mrs D and I tackled one labyrinth while the others looked on from the shade.  It’s surprisingly hard to walk through a maze when you don’t know where you are going. One maze was enough for us.  We moved on to see the Privy Garden next.

Upon arriving in the garden we were shocked to see that the first 1/3 of the garden was citrus trees.  In Austria!!!   There were lemons and oranges visible on the trees.   We walked along under ivy covered trellises that kept you shaded and cooler and afforded periodic glimpses out onto the garden.  At the far end of the garden was a viewing area where you could ascend and have a more overarching view of the garden and the palace.  The garden was very nicely kept and had a clean and very uniform design element.It had been a long morning/afternoon touring the palace.  We were now pretty tired and ready to move on.  We were headed for Hundertwasserhaus Wien.  It was a subway and a tram to get there and the neighbourhood in which we disembarked from the tram really didn’t seem like the kind of place that tourists would frequent unless lost. 

We got our bearings and headed up a few more blocks and then left into Hundertwasserstrasse. We were immediately greeted by the apartment complex.  It was multicoloured and had plants growing OUT of it.  It was really very funky.  There were strange ceramic inlays that tracked along the building in different places and each apartment had its own cube of colour.  The building was built in 1986 and has quickly become one of the “must see” attractions in Vienna.  Apparently even the floors in the apartments aren’t flat.  In the words of the architect:

"an uneven floor is a divine melody to the feet"

Yeah.  And not being able to put a chest of drawers anywhere is a pain for the movers 🙂

The building was nice and fountain nearby was a gathering area for the large group of tourists that were there checking things out.  Of course a tourist attraction would be nothing without a cluster of tourist shops to hawk their wares to you after you have seen the sites.  The group shopped for a while and I rested.  Walking around in this hot weather was really dragging me down.  I found a small shop that sold 2L of Ice Tea for 2 Euros. At that relative deal (most places 300ml of Coke was costing 2 Euros!) I snapped it up and worked at replenishing the liquids I’d sweated off at the palace.

Now that our various “out of town” visiting was complete, we returned to the center of the city.  We got off the metro at our usual stop, Stefansplatz. The cathedral is quite lovely.  We took some more shots but I was dismayed at the fact that it, too, was under renovations.  We had passed a Swarovski store previously and it was apparently well worth the visit.  I had my doubts.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a lovely store with three floors displaying different things.  The bottom floor was the one that I found interesting – it had the actual crystal ornaments that made Swarovski famous.  They also had some really esoteric stuff that was really cool but that I couldn’t really imagine myself owning.  Pictures of crystal don’t quite do them justice unfortunately.

The other item on our list of “must do” items was to visit Sacher Cafe.  While the other three headed directly to the cafe Mrs D and I dropped in on the info center to get our Budapest Train tickets.  Finally the ticket system was working.  Wow – it’s close and cheap. Only 2.5 hour train trip would bring us there.  Enough about the boring train stuff – back to the food! Some of us had been to the Sacher Cafe in Salzburg but we were going to go to the Vienna one so that we’d all have the chance to visit the Sacher Cafe.  While apparently the Vienna Sacher Hotel was the original, we found the one in Salzburg to be more “high end”.

Vienna

Salzburg

  • Seat yourself
  • Please wait to be seated
  • Tourist in T-shirts and shorts
  • Older local folks dressed for afternoon tea
  • Lively , almost boisterous
  • Quiet, refined – you could hear the pages of a newspaper turning
  • Staff: Friendly and cheery.
  • Staff: Friendly but in a formal way.
  • Atmosphere – cheap
  • Atmosphere – old school rich.

The food was quite excellent but we were disappointed (or more specifically Francis was disappointed) that they didn’t have Kaiserschmarren.  The Ice Coffees sure helped though!

We split up again – Mrs Dan and I were going to go back to the hotel and rest (I was going to catch up on some blogging) and Francis, Maggie and Iris were heading out to the Secession museum.   I can’t vouch for what they did but I can tell you that we were happy to spend a bit of time moving into a new room with FUNCTIONING air con!!  I got the laptop set up and the the Live Sync was busy syncing again.   The rest in the cool air conditioning did us wonders. The temps had gone up to 35C and it FELT like it! We had until about 1800 to rest as we were going to meet for dinner down on the Naschmarkt street.

We had doddled a bit in the room (man that cool conditioning is addictive) and it was already 1815 when we realized we’d have to rush out to meet the others.  I brought the tripod with me as I had plans for some night photography after dinner!  We stepped out of the front door of the hotel and there were the other three!  They had been to the museum (and were a bit disappointed) and were wandering around the area with the plan to head down to the Naschmarkt but were sidetracked by some window shopping.

We stopped in a few shops near the hotel and then we headed down to the Market street together.  It’s surprisingly faster when you know where you’re going instead of wandering aimlessly 🙂

We walked up and down the restaurant zone a couple of times.  The choices were varied.  It seemed that the preference was heading toward seafood.  Of course, isn’t Vienna renowned for its seafood?? ;)  We managed to find a place that could shoehorn us into a little corner.  It was hot and the air wasn’t really circulating much so it felt hotter.  With the great luck that we had, we managed to be seated right next to a table of chain smoking business men who just kept lighting up one cigarette after another.  Disgusting habit that the Europeans haven’t got smart enough to ban from their restaurants yet.  Yeach!  When the wind DID blow, it blew the smoke right over to our table.  Sigh.

The menu items were pretty pricey.  We were wondering if we had made the right decision with the smoke and the cost of the food.  We saw a plate or two come to other people and realized that we could probably make do with 4 plates for 5 of us as the portions seemed quite large.  We had two sampler plates of seafood and one that had a tasty white fish of some sort (Hey – it was all in German!)  We managed to enjoy our meal despite the smoke and the heat.  The food itself really was quite tasty and between the sharing and large portions we also managed to enjoy the bill 😉

We were glad to get up and walk about and let the cooler evening air cool us down.  I led the group down towards the Russian Monument for some night pictures and we took a tram to Karlplatz where we caught the metro to Stefansplatz.  Stefansdom  was sitting quite gloriously lit as we came out allowing for a couple of cool night lit shots on our last evening in Vienna.

It was about 2130 when we arrived back at the hotel.  The others all went in while I had decided I was going to try to get a few shots of the Hofburg Palace with night lighting.  It was bound to be well lit.  I had seen a few postcards with it that way 😉

While out shooting, I noticed that there was a building in the distance with some beautiful spires.  I had assumed it was a church.  When I got home tonight I figured out that it was the Rathaus (City Hall).  The one scare in Vienna came this evening.  I was engrossed in getting my shots when all of a sudden a voice chimes up behind me.  I turn and see two guys and a girl eyeing my camera.  They start asking “what are you shooting with?” etc and I start to make sure I know where my backpack is (between my legs) and that I am aware of the rest of my surroundings.  It was a few minutes before I could ascertain that they were just locals that had been out having a few drinks and really WERE just trying to help the tourist get the good shot.  They turned out to be quite nice, but it was an important reminder to me that I need to keep my wits about me – particularly when shooting at night.

With my night photography adventure complete, I headed back to the hotel so that we could get everything packed.  I got home at about 2230.  Mrs D was repacking and rearranging all the goods as we’d be travelling by train tomorrow – you can’t just throw your stuff in the extra car seat :)  We went to bed around midnight.  Tomorrow we were heading to Budapest, Hungary!  Highs of 35C-38C predicted.  Yikes.








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