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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Quite close to the Hotel, just by going down one backstreet, we were in the residential area and the sports field and mini golf.
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.
Nevertheless, we were all exhausted, so much on foot and the heat. Much needed sleep.