05/07/2011, Budapest, Hungary
We are safely in our hotel in Budapest. The last full day in Vienna was packed full of activities. First we climbed all 343 steps of the St. Stephen's Church tower for a view of the city from ahigh. Then it was off to the Winter Palace for a trip to view the imperial silver collection and view of Emporer Franz Joseph's royal apartment. We then had lunch at an Italian restaurant, followed by a trip through one of Mozart's apartments where he was most prolific in his composing. Dinner followed at a sushi restaurant where we were introduced to butterfish-a type with which we were totally unfamiliar-a pleasant and mild white fish. It was then to the Koncerthall where we enjoyed a Mozart concert. We finally returned to the hotel and crashed at about 11PM.
It was up early this AM for our drive to Budapest. Before hitting the motorway, we stopped by the Nachtmarket which was full of all kinds of food stands. We sampled some pastries and bought a baguette, cured ham and an assortment of olives to tide us over on the journey. It was then time for our first fillup in the new car as we were leaving Austria. I don't want to hear anymore complaints by Americans about fuel prices. We paid $69 Euros (about $100) for 10 gallons of diesel which is cheaper here than gasoline. Thanks to 36+ MPH it took a little out of the sting. Otherwise, the trip was uneventful except the difficulty in getting to our hotel due to road construction.
After finally finding a place to temporarily park and a bit of help from a receptionist at a hostel, we were able to find the hotel and check in. The hotel is a boutique one with 15 rooms and a restaurant on the first floor. We were re-directed by the receptionist to a nearby parking structure where the Audi will take its next break over the next 4 days.
We had a delightful lunch while sitting outside at the hotel restaurant now that it has warmed up substantially (high 60s). I had a delicious bowl of Hungarian goulash soup. Debra stayed conservative with a Greek salad. After lunch, we found the local walking tour and learned much about the city and things to do. We returned to the hotel where we were able to take a very short rest before going downstairs for dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed it culminated by what Debra stated was the best sorbet she had ever had (three flavors with raspberry sauce for dipping). We are now back in our room getting ready to crash for the night before more adventures to come.
Debra and Andy
05/05/2011, Vienna, Austria
There is much to bring you up to date since leaving Colorado. Left the house at 5:45 for the bus transfer, arriving at DIA at 7AM. Check in and security were a breeze. Arrived at Dulles and went to the Red Carpet Club for our 3 hour layover. The trip across the Little Pond was uneventful, arriving Munich right on time.
Audi picked us up outside baggage claim for the ride to Ingolstadt. Got to experience the Audi A8L, top of the line, at times over 100MPH on the Autobahn. luxury is overwhelming (individual recling seats in the rear with separate climate controls, radios, etc.). The two accidents and traffic jams ahead of us on the motorways called for detours, so our arrival was delayed. After signing all the papers, we were mated with our A3. We then did the factory tour-not as good as Volvo's but informative nonetheless. The amount of automation is now overwhelming as humans really don't get involved until the final assembly (interior, glass, engine, suspension). The computers necessary to run all the robots must be unbelievable.
After Audi, we found an electronics store to buy a European map GPS which has proven invaluable so far. Debra was feeling her jet lag so found our hotel and we had a short catnap. Returned to Audi to go through their car museum and then off to dinner where we ended up at a Spanish restaurant in the old city center. Back to the hotel to try and fully recover from jet lag.
Arose at 7:30AM to start our first leg to Vienna. After finding a coffee shop for Debra, we were on the road and on our first leg. Much of Germany was the Autobahn but being in a new car, speed was restricted to 130KPH (80MPH). The number of cars blowing our doors off at over 200KPH was unbelievable. Austria capped the speed limit to 130KPH so it was much more controlled. Stopped in Linz for lunch at an old Austrian style restaurant in that city's center and then on to the last leg to Vienna.
Arrived outside Vienna and found our hotel (thanks to the GPS). It is a very old mansion overlooking the city. It was rated 4 stars, but the rooms have not been kept up to that quality. Nevertheless, the location is very good with public transportation directly to the city center (one bus and the subway, called the "U"). Checked out the basic sights and found the concert hall where we will go tomorrow night for a Mozart/Strauss concert. Then explored along the Danube on foot before going to find our restaurant for dinner.
Debra is not fond of Austrian cuisine, so Lonely Planet recommended a Turkish neighborhood restaurant. They screwed up in locating it on their map so after going into a hotel and asking for directions, we were finally able to locate it (an extra subway ride and multi-block walk). It was Mediterranean style food (kabobs, mousaka, etc.) Nothing to write home about but filling. We backtracked on public transportation and are now back safely in the room. Tomorrow will be the real tourist day in Vienna with museums, palaces and churches.
That's all for now. We do have pics, but I am too tired to download and post them. We will get that done hopefully tomorrow.
Debra and Andy