Ahh Vienna, home of culture, fine wine and the only Ultravox song I know. After months of nature sight seeing and physical activity, it was time for Ruth and I to go on an art and culture extravaganza. As such, we pretty much hit every museum and gallery in town. We even went to the globe museum - the only museum in the universe dedicated to world and celestial globes and even then, it felt like one museum too many. It was a whirlwind of high art, bad art and more globes than you can point a stick at.
So much so that I even bought a Klimt Barbie doll for my collection. Even better than this, I discovered the work of Egon Schiele, another Austrian artist whose dark spin on art tickled my soul - his work was so beautiful and I wondered why I hadn't seen more of it. It is all murky contorted images, nudes and misery - strangely there was no Schiele Barbie doll. Sadly, I only had an hour with his work as the gallery where most of his major works are shown was being closed temporarily so a wedding could be held in the gallery. They had set up the registry and ceremony spot right in front of the picture below:
But then again, it seems that Austria has the weiner situation in hand.
We also got to see the opening credits from Desperate Housewives painting...
...and the freaky-ass children of Rome sculptures.
We went to the Museum of Modern Art which was absolute crap. I should have known from the German name of the gallery.
We also saw the Venus of Willendorf which is actually about the size of a one dollar coin. They certainly didn't tell you that in the history books at school.
This was at the Natural History museum where they had a never ending display of freaky stuffed animals. Even though this terrifying cat was stuffed and in attack mode, Ruth still tried to bring it home with her.
On that very day, we stumbled across a harvest festival which featured a lot of beer and lederhosen. However, this was the happiest guy of the day - a modern day Dionysus surrounded by buxom lasses feeding him wine on the back of a tractor. That dude was sooooo drunk...
We also went to a Gothic church in the heart of Vienna that was so huge that it was impossible to photograph.
Here's a rare shot of me praying that I never have to visit a large Gothic church in Europe again.
We then move onto Salzburg which is one of those towns in the running for the prize of 'most awesome old town'. The centrepiece of the city is a fort built in the 10th century that repelled pretty much everyone except Napoleon. When he rolled into town they just handed him the keys and said "go nuts buddy."
Here's a view of Slazburg from the fortress.
Unfortunately, the day we went up it was windy and rainy which played havoc with Ruth's hair...
...and made me embrace my inner-thug life.
We also visited a 900 year old catacombs carved into the side of a hill. This is me in deep contemplation on whoever could have done this...
I didn't know my brother had been here. On a side note: how well are Stoke doing at the moment - go the Potters!
Salzburg is also renowned for being the birthplace of Mozart who was apparently most famous here for his own brand of delicious chocolate.
From Salzburg, we made our way to the small town of Hallstatt which is one of the oldest continually populated places in the world. It's a small picturesque town of about 1000 people and 20,000,000 tourists.
On the Saturday evening, the local um-pah-pah band did a recital in the town square. It was amazing for everyone...
Except this guy who hates um-pah-pah music
One thing you should note if you ever go to Hallstatt is that it is impossible to get breakfast on a weekend anywhere. I'm sorry Mum but this was my breakfast on that fateful Sunday morning...
Ruth found a way around it by just hitting the booze straight away. I joke, I joke, she wisely waited until lunchtime and had break-lunch-fast.
They even had a Cafe named Cafe Zur Ruth which Ruth seemed to like. Anyhow, we ended our Austrian odyssey by going to Innsbruck. On the train there, it looked like it was snowing which got Ruth very excited because she loves snow. I assured her it was probably just sleet but it turns out that it was the first time it had snowed in the Innsbruck valley in a September since 1932. Ruth was pretty unhappy about that...
Oh the poor sad child...
As soon as we arrived in Innsbruck we caught a cable car up the mountain with what started as three day love affair with that snow. The first day we just went up and hung out in the snow.
On day 2, the weather had brightened somewhat so we could see the Innsbruck valley and played in the snow a bit more. On day 3, we decided to ditch the cable car and climb that sucker (apparently it is part of the Alps but I have no idea which one).
At the beginning of the walk we were feeling confident. I mean we were only walking as high as the cable car goes, how high can it be?
We started the slow march up the mountain knowing that we had about five hours to make it so we could catch the last cable car down. However, the walk was considerably longer than we expected. The snow of the previous days had largely melted at the lower levels.
Although you could find random chunks of it lying around much to Ruth's delight.
About half way up the mountain, we ran out of water which was of concern because even though we walking towards snow, it was actually quite warm.
The only solution was to start eating snow Bear Grylls style once we reached the snow line. I'm not sure if it's particularly good for you but it seemed like a sensible solution at the time. As we progressed we were worried we wouldn't reach our cable car deadline even though it was getting harder and harder towards the end.
However, (spoiler alert) we made it in the end. Here's our red faced victory poses.
We then sailed down the mountain in a cable car to our hotel. This is the view from our balcony. We sat there contented knowing that we had once again scaled another mountain without dying - YAY!
By the way, the town of Innsbruck is quite lovely and very picturesque as it surrounded by mountains on all sides. It does have a number of tourist shops that sell shirts that say "There are no kangaroos in Austria." I don't think anyone thought there was in the first place - weirdos...