With an opportunity to attend an aviation conference in Athens, Greece we were lucky to fly and transit through Vienna in November 2003, so stopped to have a look around for a few days.

It was so very cold when we arrived rather early in the morning.  Coming from warmer Sydney it was a shock and we were not prepared with warm clothes. It didn’t stop us getting out and about to see some sights of a beautiful European city. The Christmas markets were on so it was a fun and interesting time to visit.

Austria’s capital was intriguing and is famous for its cultural events, imperial sights, coffee houses, cosy wine taverns, and the very special Viennese charm. Vienna’s history dates back to the first post-Christian century when the Romans established the military camp.
We found the city to characterised by the abundance of baroque buildings that apparently were created mostly under the rule of Empress Maria Theresia and Emperor Franz Joseph, who was largely responsible for the monumental architecture round the Ringstraße.
We visited Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence, as it is one of Vienna’s most popular sights. The sumptuous palace with its beautifully tended formal gardens, the Gloriette monument, Palm House and zoo attracts hordes of visitors each year. Then there is the huge Hofburg (Imperial Palace), which was the base of the Habsburgs for over six centuries.  Vienna’s prime landmarks are the gothic Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral), the giant big wheel in the Prater (Vienna’s old recreational park), and the Spanish Riding School with its famous Lipizzaner horses.

In the heart of Vienna, 200m from the State Opera, you’ll find a unique, tropical oasis – the Imperial Butterfly House. In one of the world’s most beautiful Art Noveau palm houses you can admire around 400 live, free flying butterflies all year round. Absorb the colours and grace with which they float through the air, past waterfalls and exotic plants, in an environment as true to nature as possible.

Vienna owes much of its international fame to the many celebrated composers who lived and worked here, including Strauß, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the world’s best, the State Opera amongst the leading opera houses, not to forget the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir.

It was easy in Vienna, to find the old coffee house culture and rustic wine taverns standing alongside top restaurants and shops. All of this, plus plenty of greenspace and recreational areas including the Wienerwald, the Prater and the Danube Island make Vienna a very special city to visit.

It was time to move onto Greece and some warmer weather.

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