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“Europe Part 3…Verona to Budapest…”


Day 4…Sunday 12th June

After an epic day exploring Italy and Monaco on Saturday, despite my strict schedule for us to keep, I may have hit snooze a few times Sunday morning as we were pretty beat. It’s not like we slept in until midday, when I say I hit snooze, we were still up and out by just gone 7am. The plan for the day? Head to Austria to visit the beautiful Vienna.We were surrounded by hills either side of us on our way to Vienna. It was about a six hour drive and we drove pretty much along one road the whole way there, passing through tunnels admiring the countryside around us. So far we had driven approximately 1500 miles since leaving home on Thursday. It was about 450 miles from Verona to Vienna so 2000 miles in 4 days is pretty good going. The weather still felt like there was rain in the air but thankfully that is where it stayed.

Our first port of call was the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace. A stunning piece of Baroque architecture that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this palace is situated on the outskirts of central Vienna.It was magnificent and also huge! We had to stand way back to try and capture it all in one photo. There is a semi sort of roundabout that it is off of, the layout is rather impressive and we parked up a hill nearby as you couldn’t park anywhere near the palace.As you walked back to the ’roundabout’ that isn’t actually a roundabout, there were statues of lions as well as people, some were clearly older than others as the stone was either white or grey and there were lots of barriers for an event either upcoming or had past. There was even a cute little river running nearby.We got back to the car and arrived in central Vienna where the usual difficulty of finding somewhere to park began. The good thing about this city? Lots of street parking and lots of parking garages. Bad thing about this city? There was some sort of event happening Sunday evening so lots of parking was either cordoned off or full. In the end, somehow, we found a parking garage at the bottom of the Hilton hotel. Admittedly we didn’t really look like we belonged in the hotel as we surfaced. Exploring cities, or anywhere in my mind, is not a fashion show. One must be comfortable, especially when the mercury hits high twenties. Anyway, I digress.The towering spires of St Charles’ Church could be seen from almost everywhere in the main part of the city. The photos don’t do this stunning architectural masterpiece justice, mainly because of the position of the sun, however, it was magnificent. For those of you who follow my blog, you’ll know how much I love the architecture of churches and cathedrals and this was no exception. The other thing you’ll know is that whenever we find something as beautiful as St Charles’ Church, 99% of the time, it is covered in bloody scaffolding. Today was no different!!The City Hall was cordoned off via the road and the park in front of it unless you had tickets to the music festival that was going on that evening. We didn’t have tickets so just had to admire from a distance.

The Burgtheater is an impressive building along the Universitatsring and is the Austrian National Theatre which was built in the 1740s. Mozart and Beethoven operas have been performed in this theatre. From the front you can see the intricate detail and as we wandered into the Volksgarten, we could see how big it actually was and with the beautiful flowers from the garden in the foreground it looked simply picturesque. We continued to aimlessly stroll through the gardens and stumbled across the Hofburg Palace.Vienna was impressive. The buidings were so clean and white. Weird thing to say I know but honestly, everything just seemed to be so clean and clinical. (Yes I can see the bits of blue/green on the statue above).  The palaces were so intricate and so detailed too. The Hofburg Palace is the official residence of the President of Austria and was typically known as the Winter Palace, whereas the Schonbrunn Palace was knows as the Summer Palace.

Even from where we stood by the Palace we could still see the spires of the city hall and in the distance St Charles’ Church. There appeared to be one main thoroughfare where cars, bikes and trams travel along and where all these sites are set back from, but it made it easy to get around.It seemed like we had spent hours and hours soaking in the sites of Vienna, the palaces, the museums, the stunning flower-filled gardens, all in delightful sunshine. It was a very good day. We located the car and paid the eight euros to the desk at the Hilton (yes we had to go in looking like tramps) and no sooner had we got in the car did the heavens open.The journey to our next stop was going to take about two and a half hours and was roughly 150 miles. We were going to Budapest. The rain was so heavy that we ended up driving incredibly slowly, but then all of a sudden it started to clear and we were greeted by a double rainbow. I remember this day vividly because no sooner had we pulled over to take a photograph of the double rainbow, did I receive a FaceTime request from my best friends Tom and Danie, to tell me the epic news that they had gotten engaged. I knew it was on the cards as I was going to go ring shopping with Tom (it’s OK I have now just about forgiven you for going without me), but didn’t think it would be whilst I was out the country! Still, it just added to an already great day.

The rain gradually subsided completely as we approached Budapest. I managed to score an incredible deal on where because we book all of our hotels through there, we got a two hundred pound a night room (my pound sign isn’t working for some reason) for just twenty quid! Bargain. It was a beautiful hotel too. Lanchid 19 Design Hotel, situated right on the Danube overlooking the chain bridge. All lit up at night and it was beautiful.Famished, we ordered room service, after all, we had made a huge saving on the room so it would be rude not to.Burger and wine. Perfect end to a great day exploring.

Until next time…

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