Friday, April 9, 2010

Austria—Perfection in a Tiny Package

April 6, 2010

This post somehow got lost in the shuffle and never made it onto the blog. Here it is, out of order.

By Claire
Austria is at the same latitude as Minnesota and Washington State and is the size of South Carolina or Maine. No wonder it feels a little cool. It’s supposed to get down to 3° tonight (36 F).

There is one thing for sure about this gorgeous country, it is CLEAN. We are surprised, amazed and even a little intimidated. We finally saw some graffiti, somewhat hidden under an autostrada overpass. Our campground back in Villach was pristine.

Ossiacher lake, morning

How is it that this country can keep their litter so contained? We began searching for signs of trash on the side of the road as we headed to Vienna. Chuck says he saw a piece of an orange peel. They have trash cans and multiple recycle bins lined up in numerous locations all around the Rest Stops. Even the fuel station area is clean and includes a long handled wind shield squeegee, something we could not find anywhere else. Their version of the Italian Autogrill is uniquely designed in an Austrian style, slightly different at each stop.

Autogrill Austrian

The motorway is the cleanest, smoothest I’ve ever seen. Really now, how do they do it? Much as we loved Turkey, there are plastic bags strewn everywhere, many attached to trees like waving Christmas ornaments. Garbage is dumped anywhere and everywhere, even close to a garbage can.

We arrived in Vienna this afternoon, staying at a campground 10 km. outside of town, Donau Park Camping, €15, in Klosterneuburg. Donau is German for Danube. We are right next to it. The town is lovely and pristine, of course.

The woman at reception suggested we visit the local Abbey and since we were losing the day, we decided to give it a try. We walked across the street, through the town and up some steps. Only tours were available and the next one was at 4 pm, 30 minutes away. No problem, we went into the café and ordered a café mélange each. This is the same thing as a cappuccino but with Vienna Roast coffee. We sat outside in the sunshine taking in the Abbey surrounding us, noticing how good everything smells. I noticed this at the last campground too—even the bathroom smelled good.

Crown of the Abbey—King Leopold's Crown

We went back to the meeting place and found to our surprise and delight that we were the only ones on the tour! The nice young man took us around this enormous place, explaining in patient detail and very good English, all the important dates and events, beginning in the 11th century. This does not count the Roman ruins underneath. We really enjoyed the tour and were particularly wowed by the Baroque church and the original organ with 2,000 metal pipes. It can authentically play the compositions of classical composers such as Beethoven and Mozart. Again, I was puzzled by how perfect everything was. We looked at things that our guide told us were originals and they looked like they had just come out of the box yesterday.

We are now planning an itinerary for the next several days. There is so much to see! Unfortunately, we have limited time for this leg of our journey, due to the Schengen Agreement. We are trying to fit Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Germany, more of Austria and Switzerland into 50 days. We also don’t want to kill ourselves racing from one place to another. More than likely, some things will have to be put aside for another trip. For now, we are so happy to be here!

What impressed me particularly in Vienna was the strict order everywhere. No mob disturbances of any kind, in spite of the greatly increased liberty and relaxation of police regulations. ~ Fritz Kreisler, Austrian Composer (1875-1962)

1 comment:

Karin said...

Austria sounds so lovely and refreshing! When visiting Germany, it also impressed me with it's cleanliness and's just German! Ha,ha! Looking at your list of places to go....would be hard to have to start eliminating. You will find Prague different from Vienna...but let you discover that yourselves. While they want to be known as being in "Central Europe" the "Eastern Europe" flavour still comes through. Also, the Czech Republic is STILL coming out from under Communism, so in Prague, there will be lots of that kind of architecture as well as castles and palaces! Yes indeed, sightseeing can get very tiring - can you imagine Michael and I went someplace different every day for 3 months! We came home tired but every night at dinner we were planning what to do the next day! Love the photos!

Karin on Paros