I am 1

Yesterday, WordPress sent me a notification wishing me a happy blog anniversary. Happy Birthday to Midlifewanderlust1965, you have turned one. In truth I had forgotten about it thinking it was not due until May.

Still this should not stop me from feeling a little pleased with myself. I have managed to keep the blog going for twelve months without ever thinking about stopping. In that time I have managed to collect ninety five followers. I have also made three trip to Europe. They have made up a bulk of the posts on the blog.

Time goes by so quickly as it only seemed like yesterday since I made my first post. Now I want to the blog further forward. The next step is to purchase the domain name. I will have the flexibility to control and do more with the blog.

Finally I want to say thank you to everyone that has taken time out to view the blog in the last twelve months. I am truly grateful for your continued support.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy, keep smiling and raise a glass of beer in celebration.

Steve

 

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Zentralfriedhof – Vienna

I know it is an unusual place to visit but I find cemeteries fascinating places to visit because they are full of history. Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) falls into that category.

The Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche
The Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche

Opened in 1874 the cemetery became unique in Vienna as one of the first multi-faith. This was very controversial at the time in a very catholic country. It is now one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. It has become renowned as the final resting place for the following people:

Brahms
Brahms
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
Schubert
Schubert
Beethoven
Beethoven
Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
Curd Jürgens
Curd Jürgens

There is also a memorial to this composer who was buried in a umarked grave.

Mozart
Mozart

What I found touching were the simple family monuments that had been looked after over the years.

If you are still wandering whether you should visit the Zentralfriedhof may I remind you one of the reasons why cemeteries were established. They were the original green spaces where people could escape from the city. In that respect it does the job as you can escape  with no problem. The quietness and stillness really contrasts with the bustle of Vienna city centre. It made me think of my own mortality and remember the people who I have lost in my life. It also serves as a reminder that life is short and we should make the most of it.

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Three musical greats.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Should I Be Envious?

As I am sitting in a coffee shop my mind was turning to thoughts about one of the people I follow on twitter. Sam Starling of Totally Sam's World is about to embark on her RTW trip. I could not feel anything but envy. She is doing the one thing that I always want to do. However, the question I should be asking myself is 'why be envious?'

What Sam and others like have done is got off their backside and acted to carry out their dreams. This has involved a tremendous amount of self-sacrifice. Meanwhile I am sitting on mine doing the same old thing. Travel has become a passion. I have enjoyed reading people's tales on their blogs. There have contained some tips that I have followed. During the past year I have undertaken three trips with another one planned for September. I do dream of giving it all up for a year to travel around the world. You can see on the bucket list post all the places I would like to see. Yet, I procrastinate too much and never get round to making a plan of action.

With that I have answered my own question. I should not be envious of Sam and others. They are living their dream. The feelings of envy are only because I do not have the balls to do something about it. This has got to change. I just discovered a note on my iPhone which was a itinerary with rough budget of a ideal RTW trip. Time to stop dreaming.

I wish Sam all the best on her trip. You can follow Sam on Totally Sam's World http://www.totallysamsworld.com, twitter @TravelSamsWorld. Sam also contribute to RTW Backpackers http://www.rtwbackpackers.com

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Photo of the Week – Trolley Car, Castle Hill, Budapest

This week’s photo is of the Trolley Car that takes you up the Castle Hill in Budapest.

The Trolley Car climbing its way up the hill.
The Trolley Car climbing its way up the hill.

This is the alternative way of climbing the hill if you did not fit enough to do so by foot.  I’m glad to say that I walked up Castle Hill.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Stadtpark – Vienna

Vienna is renowned for its parks. One of my favourites was the Stadtpark. Dating from the 19th Century it is popular with both locals and tourists.

 

Inside the park there are monuments to the composers Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert and Robert Stolz amongst others. In fact the Stadtpark is home to the largest number of sculptures and monuments than anywhere else in Vienna.

 

 

 

There are plenty of chances to admire the plants in the park throughout the year. However, visiting in March meant there was little to see in regards to flowers. There were plenty of birds swimming in the lake. It always relaxing to see them swimming carefree.

 

Stadtpark is the perfect place to visit if you are looking to escape the bustle of Vienna. I would suggest an ideal spot to have a picnic lunch when the weather is warm.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

The Next Trip – September 2013

You may have read in a earlier post that I had planned to visit the Balkans in September 2013. After much planning I am pleased to share my schedule with you.

Balkans 2013

Split 9 – 11 September

Dubrovnik 12 – 14 September

Mostar 15 – 16 September

Sarajevo 17 – 19 September

Belgrade 20 – 22 September

Ljubljana 23 – 25 September

Zagreb 26 – 28 September

There were plenty of places I wanted to visit. However, I did not want to get into the situation where I am forever on a train or coach. It was quality time I wanted to spend in these places.

I am looking forward to the trip and will be counting down the days until departure.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Hofburg Palace Museums, Vienna

The Hofburg Palace was once home to the Habsburg Family who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is now home to the President of Austria.

The reason for my visit was to look was the chance to see the three museums that are located inside.  They are ‘The Imperial Silver Collection”, Sisi Museum and “Imperial Apartments.”

Before entering I would recommend that you take a walk around the building. Whatever the weather or time of day it is a magnificent structure to view. Sadly my photographs does not do it any justice.

Hofburg Palace
Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg at Night
The Hofburg at Night

Imperial Silver Collection

This is home to a collection of dining services, glassware and silverware. There are certainly impressive collections of china that have been accumulated from around the world. I suspect that a lot of the pieces were used only sparingly. The most impressive exhibit must be the ‘Milan Centrepiece,’ It stands at thirty metres long. There is also the Grand Vermeil Service which could serve up to 140 people at one sitting. The collection is a perfect opportunity to take photographs as you marvel at the opulence of the Habsburgs.

Milan Centrepiece
Milan Centrepiece
Grand Vermeil Service
Grand Vermeil Service
Impressive piece of china
Impressive piece of china

Sisi Museum

Next up is the Sisi Museum. This is dedicated to the Empress Elisabeth who is a revered figure in Austria. This may be down to the tragic way here life ended. The museum revolves around Sisi’s private life and contains plenty of personal artefacts belonging to her. Sadly, you are unable to photograph any of the exhibits.

What the Sisi Museum does well is that it is not a shrine to the Empress but will point out all her flaws. The impression that I was left of her was that she was a vain selfish person towards the end of her life who neglected her husband and country while she went off on her travels. I suppose the nearest person who I compare her with is Princess Diana.

The Imperial Apartments

The final museum to visit is the Imperial Apartments. These were the private apartments of the Habsburgs. It is the chance to see the offices, private quarters and bedrooms. Like the Sisi Museum you are unable to take any photographs.

I found the museums to be of good value especially if you hold a Vienna Card. You will get a discount of between 7-9% off the normal admission charge. It is the perfect opportunity to surround yourself in the decadence of the Habsburgs.

Hofburg Vienna, Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna.

Nearest U-bahn stop – Herrengasse U3 line (Orange)

Opening Hours 09:00-17:30 (September – June), 09:00-18:00 (July – August)

Admission with audio guide €11.50, with Vienna Card €10.50

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Photo of the Week – Statue of Ronald Reagan in Budapest

This week’s photo is of the Statue of Ronald Reagan in Budapest.

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The statue is located in Freedom Square not far from the old Soviet Monument.  The recent death of Margaret Thatcher has reminded me of the time they were both in power. The Cold War was at its height. Their role in ending the Cold War meant that whole of Eastern Europe was opened up to travellers to explore.  I did not agree with their politics but as a wannabe traveller I am grateful to the pair of them.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna

One of the best attractions in Vienna is St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  It is the most important religious building in Austria.  There has been a church on the site since the 12th century.

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When you arrive do not be surprised to see a lot of scaffolding and cloth covering the building.  This is due to pollution turning the limestone exterior black.  Restoration is currently underway.  There is a scale model outside where you can get a perspective of what the cathedral looks like.

Model of the cathedral.
Model of the cathedral.

First thing to do is tour the outside of the cathedral.  There are plenty of photo opportunities.

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Inside the cathedral you can purchase an all-inclusive guide tour.  This costs €12.90 and includes an audio guide, a tour of the Catacombs and access to climb both the North and South Tower.  The tour of the cathedral with the audio guide follows a set path with twelve points of interest.  This takes about one hour to complete.  This tour can be purchased at a cost of €5.00.

Wiener Neustädter Alter
Wiener Neustädter Alter
Tomb of Emperor Frederick III
Tomb of Emperor Frederick III

The Catacombs can be toured separately for €5.00. Also known as the Ducal Crypt it holds the bodies and internal organs of over 70 members of the Habsburg family. The tour lasted for 30 minutes. Photography is not allowed.

I would love to tell you about the North and South Towers.  However, I was visiting on Friday and the cathedral was closed for a lunchtime service.  I could use my ticket for later on in the day.  But I missed out as later in the evening as another service was taking place.  My tip is to avoid visiting on Friday and Sunday.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Wombats City Hostel Vienna – The Base, A Review

For my stay in Vienna I chose to stay at the Wombats The Base. Wombats have several hostels across Europe including 3 in Vienna. This was the original Wombats Hostel in Vienna.

The hostel is located on Grangasse which is close to the Westbanhof railway station. The hostel is located in a quiet part of the city away from the main tourist areas.  There are plenty of supermarkets and cafes nearby.

I arrived early in the morning long before the advertised check-in.  The staff on reception offered me the chance to purchase breakfast which was gratefully taken. Breakfast itself was an all you can eat buffet which costed €3.80. It consisted of cereal, cold meats, fruit, salad, toast with juice, tea and coffee.  This is a perfect opportunity to fill your belly before the day ahead and it represents good value for money.

The dorms are comfortable. Entrance is by key. There is fresh bedding for you use. You just bring it down to reception when you check out. There are also lockers available to store your belongings.  It is operated with a key which is on the same fob as my dorm key. You leave it at reception every time you leave the hostel.  My only gripe would be the lack of plug sockets.  There was one for six people to share. We were lucky that somebody had brought a multi-plug with them.

There is a small rest area in reception. You cannot miss this as there is an old-fashioned British telephone box in the middle. I believe the phone inside still works.  If the rest area gets full you can always sit in the kitchen or bar to use access your email using the free wi-fi.

Always something to remind me of home.
Always something to remind me of home.

The kitchen was a popular area.  All the equipment you needed to cook a good meal was provided for you.  Otherwise you can purchase cooked from the bar.  The meals themselves were basic but again represented good value.  The bar offered plenty of drinks.  I thought the bar was a little quiet but I was staying in March.  During the day there is access to a roof garden from the bar.

All the staff were friendly and helpful.  This always adds to the experience.  While the hostel was not the best I have stayed it does represent good value and is a good base to explore Vienna. Overall you get everything that you would want in a hostel.

Wombats City Hostel Vienna – The Base, Grangasse 6, Vienna

Tel: +43 1 897 2336, email: office@wombats-vienna.at, http://www.wombats-hostels.com/vienna/the-base/

This hostel was booked through Hostelworld.com.  The views represented are my own.

Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve