Friday, May 30, 2014

Vienna - Day 1

We slept well last night.  I made it to 6:30 am local time, and Jim a little bit longer.  After breakfast there was going to the grocery store for bottled water.  Check out is interesting.  The checker sits and runs your items across a scanner.  The food buyer then puts the food back in the cart.  After paying, you take your cart and bags to a table and then bag the groceries.  It speeds up the process tremendously.  One lady was just hurling her stuff into a cart because she had a very fast checker.
Then we decided to walk to the old part of town, the walled part.  On the way we passed the Church of Votives.  Wikipedia tells us:  Following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, the Emperor's brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian inaugurated a campaign to create a church to thank God for saving the Emperor's life. Funds for construction were solicited from throughout the Empire. The church was dedicated in 1879 on the silver anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Empress Elisabeth. 

It was pretty dark in there, so most of my pictures did not turn out.  It's an interesting congregation, they've installed a lot of avant garde art in the church.  I'm not sure why, the expository information was in German.  This is the place where the priest stands.

This is city hall.  Pretty amazing, eh?

Tomorrow they are having the Life Ball.  It is a very big deal.  The amount of stages and stands and what not being constructed is just extraordinary.  Too bad we forgot to bring our formal attire.  Check out their web site.

This the entrance through which the guests will enter.  There will be a red carpet and everything.  I hope it does not rain on them.  Last year they had Elton John and former president Clinton at the event.  It's every year, and is an AIDS fund raiser.

This is one of the massive old government buildings in the old city.  After perusing the internet I have discovered that it's the Hofburg Palace.

This is Parliament.

I knew their weather had been bad here, but I didn't know it was so bad the rose gardens were not safe.

That's city hall on the right and a statue of somebody foreground.  The clouds were pretty spectacular, but the camera didn't really do them justice.

Jim forgot his knee warmers, and given how cold it was today, we decided new ones must be acquired.  We stopped in a travel agency, found someone who spoke English and inquired about bike shops.  Miracle of miracles, someone in there was able to direct us to a shopping mall with an enormous sporting goods store.  They did carry them, and they were on sale.  I enjoyed giving Jim a bunch of static about his bad packing until I discovered I'd forgotten the charger for my point and shoot camera battery.  We located a camera store, and they sold us a universal battery charger.  It charges everything   It was much cheaper than buying a new camera.
As I am typing this, I can hear protesters chanting something in front of the US Embassy, which is just next door.  It's not in English so we don't know what they're saying.  I tried to take a picture of the building this morning, but the Austrian police told me it was forbidden. It's a lovely building.  They've put up a stout fence around it, two guard houses and vehicle barriers that can move up and down.  All cars must stop, open the hoods and be inspected.  They use the mirrors on a pole to check under the cars.  It's fairly elaborate.  It's odd, there are no Marines, security is provided by Austrian police. This picture, taken while walking away is not great, but gives you a flavor of the place.

Here is a much prettier picture taken before the scaffolding and the security measures went up.

Our feet are tired.  We walked a long way today.  It didn't rain on us, so that was good.