So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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New Book!

Just before Christmas, I published the first volume of my memoirs, doesn’t that sound grand? But this is the book that has me most scared. Revealing myself, rather than playing with the people of my imagination.

However, as a Christian, I have prayed about this and am certain, that it the present situation, this is the main way I can witness to people. The whole of my life leads to God, despite fighting him for years. Maybe someone might learn from my mistakes and trials and find him too.

Blurb

Brought up by a warring Mother and Grandmother, Anna Rashbrook had to make choices that no child should have to.

In this first memoir, she begins the quest to understand the threads of faith, horses, and love, which weave and intertwine throughout her life.

Years of diarying help Anna in this frank and honest chronicle of her childhood and teenage, as she explores the scars and the disfunction that was all around her. Not to forget pony mania, the Tremeloes, David Bowie, some terrible teenage behaviour, travel, first love, and heartbreak.


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The Greek Orthodox Church

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We found this purely by chance not realising its in the guide books. Another frustrated photo opportunity as we didnt want to disturb the people worshipping. However, the road to it told a tale, the long lost link to StAugustine in the road and the old tavern, now an expensive hostelery. One of the most magical bits of our trip, with more time, maybe we would have found more. But this was special!


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Stadt Bummelling in VIenna

 

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We had decided to do the main bit of the city on our last day on foot and so hit the tube to Stefansplatz and the Cathedral. We had to fight our way though the crowds of school trips and guys flogging Mozart stuff. The cathedral was tall, dark and amazing. There were a lot of people, and I didn’t have my old trusty camera with me, so couldn’t do justice to it. I took enough photos as it was! I think early or late in the day would be the best time to visit.

We then just took off down the streets and found the Rat house, Parliament, the Museums quarter, the Hoffburg, and back to a major precinct.  We really got the feeling for the city, its tall neo-classical buildings, all white and covered in so many sculptures and Roman stuccoes. The place must have been a real boon town in the 18th and 19th century – only the Rat house was a bit gothic.

I enjoyed seeing the Fiakers and their horses, all immaculately turned out but we gave the Lippizaners a miss as I don’t like horses being used as circuses…….. After lunch we walked along the canal to the Prater- the main park and fairground. The canal footpath walls were painted with graffitti, some really good, with occasional cafes. It was green and so was the Danube. I wouldn’t like to walk there after dark though.

The Prater is iconic for Vienna but is just a fairground with some very old rides, but you wouldn’t get me on the ride that goes up in the air!  Tired out, we then took the tube to the Danubetower (Donauturm). The directions were bad for this, the book saying  was near the first stop, but if fact you need to get off at Alte Donau, not the International centre and walk through the park. Lovely park, near the Danube swimming pool. We hurtled up the tower and then sat as we slowly revolved around the whole of Vienna. absolutely a must do if you are in Vienna on a day with good visibility. Sit and enjoy, but tis quite expensive in the cafe!

We trotted back into the centre and wandered around looking for a reasonably priced schnitzel, which we found in a Greek restaurant in a back street. We also found the Greek Orthodox church, which was incredible and will get a blog of its own!

So we were Vienne’d out. We did all the major bits in three days and got the feel of the city. Yes, there were beggars and lowlife. Yet we came to the conclusion that its like many cities in middle Europe.  I’m not bothered about a re-visit, I’ve done my culture bit. The next day we were on the train home.

One last tip. If you are on a budget, buy your sandwiches and cakes in the railway station, Stöckl shops have the most amazing, cheap, but tasty stuff to keep you going!

My lasting memory of our trip? The scent of Lime trees in all the parks, we hit them just at the point when they were flowering and the delicious scent was everywhere.

 

 


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Schonbrunn, here Ve come!

 

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We were all so tired, that we slept deeply, and were refreshed despite some bright spark having a firework display during the night.  We breakfasted on the roof terrace – needed a bit of tlc I think. The semmels were huge, but no fruit juice but squash and no  fresh fruit.

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Off to Schonbrunn, this time perfectly leaving Stef to navigate, we piled out of the station with a walk of at least 500 m to the Schloss, what an inconvenience!!!! We queued briefly for tickets, some clever spark has put a restaurant right by the ticket office nice trick!  I don’t buy unto all this Sissi adoration in Austria, so we just had the basic tour, which had a start time for the tour.  So we went for a wander in the gardens, magnificent wells and fountains everywhere, lots of follies meant to look Roman but all made up!  A lot of local people were running and walking around the grounds- wonderful, that’s how it should be.

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We went for the tour, but there were so many tour groups it was impossible to really see the rooms, a lot of which were empty state rooms with occasional chairs, and a lot of gloomy Romantic pictures. And of course, having been spoilt by the National Trust in the UK, we expected to see more of the behind stairs stuff, and didn’t, different cultures of course.

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We snacked in the gardens and then went to the Maze, of course the daughter got to the middle first and laughed at the stupids being so slow!  We gave the zoo a miss – after all, Zoos, art galleries, museums are the same the world over, so we chose just the particularly Austrian stuff.

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We then walked up to the Gloriette at the top of the hill looking back at the Palace. I read that there was a proposal to have a ski competition there. despite the snow melting we wondered how they would miss the fountain!   It really is worth a visit, but if I hd chosen I would go late or early in the season to avoid the crowds, August doesn’t bear thinking about

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We then did the Prince’s gardens and were creased. A hot day, dust and a lot of miles we had walked. We didn’t even get to the Strudel experience which was on the ticket. Still the restaurant we collapsed in sprayed a lovely cooling mist on us as we sweltered. Back on the train to the hotel, we ate early then went for a walk around the area.

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Quite close to the Hotel, just by going down one backstreet, we were in the residential area and the sports field and mini golf.

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It was just nice on such a hot evening to have glances into inner courtyards on the blocks and see people enjoying the weather, sitting at tables having a beer, enjoying life.

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Nevertheless, we were all exhausted, so much on foot and the heat. Much needed sleep.

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Oh BelVedere! Vienna visions

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On a hot afternoon we arrived at the Belvedere Schloss, Art Gallery whatever you may care to call it to do our Art bit. Stef wanted to see the Klimt pictures, and we were happy to see anything!

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Being late June, I don’t think the crowds were too bad, there were a lot of school trips about, and the usual Japs. We did have an altercation in the tube station when we didn’t listen to the Boss about how to get there, but we did eventually!

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Oh, these gormless tourists………

Typically of Vienna, this is a huge Castle, where in fact a certain Franz Ferdinand stayed here  just before a fateful trip 100 years ago…… We waltzed around the pictures, but it really wasnt possible to get a good look at the Klimts – badly lit and too many people.  I fell for the mysterious picture above by Emil Schindler, called Pax, and that really was better than the piccie above, but still badly lit.

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We only did half of the Belvedere – there being an upper and a lower. However, on the way out in the gardens, a bright spark had the idea of putting this mirror out for selfies and ordinary piccies- think we had the most fun here!

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Having wandered through, I wanted to see more and we went outside and discovered the Botanical gardens at the side of the Schloss, a little respite from the city and for tree buffs a real treat.

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Exhausted we made our way back to the Hotel. In its favour, there was a nice restaurant on the way in, we stuffed our faces and had an early night.

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We used a Vienna travel card which you can buy for 1, 2 or 3 days, you just activate it on your first mode of transport. I ordered it on the post because you cannot buy them anywhere on a Saturday. You really need to think about this as the extra discounts offered are a bit paltry – about 1 or 2 euros an entry, you really need to be shopping lots or doing a lot of entries.

DSCN2821A three day standard travel card isn’t much cheaper. But I guess we got our money’s worth out of it. We never had it checked the whole time we were in Vienna, shows what an honest lot they must be!  But the fines are huge if you get caught.  The travel system is amazing and efficient and people actually give up their seats to others, very polite!

 

 


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Visiting Vienna – viewing and vibes!

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Folks kept on saying we should visit the capital city, and at last we made the attempt along with our daughter who also bombed a lot of my shots, so she’ll have to put up with being on the blog!

We travelled from Unzmarkt and dumped the car at the station. Here you just leave the vehicle and collect it, no barriers or bills. We discovered the Austria Sparshiene, which is on the OBB website, and it really made a lot of difference, only costing us each 14 euro each way. We travelled on the day the day that the formula One was in Knittelfeld, so there was a lot of excited men wearing baseball caps on the way! I was of course, transfixed out the window, and was rewarded with glimpses of the river Mur and cornfields filled with poppies and cornflowers. We changed at Bruck and der Mur and the scenery changed and we went on one of the wiggly ways through the hills. The train even had a Tomtom on the info screen, and we slowed right down to about 40km per hour!  The scenery was amazing with deep gullies and a couple of castles on mountain tops. But once down on the flat, we hit fields and woods and the flatland around Vienna.

We arrived at a clean station, but someone (!) had read the underground plan wrong and we got on the wrong line. So we turned back and got the right one, arriving after our daughter at the Hotel. It wasn’t the inner area 17, a street of high buildings, with shops underneath, the road was Hernalshauptstrasse (why I say this will become apparent why later). We walked up through groups of tourists,muslims, locals, all sorts of things. We were hot and tired and the road wasnt a good introduction, Stef had come from the airport in a taxi and had noted we were right on the edge of the red light district…..

 

This goes to show how booking a hotel in an unknown city is fraught with dangers, But I had been looking for somewhere cheap, and read how it was only ten minutes from the centre, and it really was on the tube. Of course, this is the Austria scale of things, I think the centre of Vienna is about the same size as that of Southampton but with much bigger suburbs. To walkers, all is possible.

So we found  Hotel in  Hernals and our rooms. EEEYUK!  The bed linen had holes in it, the bathroom had lumps of plaster falling off, shower was dirty, it was dusty, no TV remote (though they did sort it). Stef was in a different corridor and floor to us, after our booking said we were in adjacent rooms. On asking we were told this would be quieter. We let it rest as we didn’t expect the Savoy  and we didn’t intend on being there that much. The beds were ok , but with the window open, although we didn’t hear the street, we could hear all the workers and deliveries in the mornings.

So we headed back to the tube station where we had spotted a MacDonalds – do remember we live in Austria and they are only found in the bigger cities!  We decided to do the Art bit, and took off to the Belvedere gallery. Stef took over navigating, and I was quite happy. Having for years been the organiser of trips, it was nice to be told what to do, AND she is a Londoner, so reading the underground map was second nature, doesn’t mean I didn’t argue with here about it though -typical mother!!!!!!