Viennese encounters

Jen and Rachel on the Danube Island in Vienna

Jen and Rachel on the Danube Island in Vienna

I’m not normally one for a city break, but Jen and I have recently came back from a most refreshing long weekend in Vienna. This was mainly due to our wonderfully generous hostess, Rachel Olney (who was one of Jen’s bridesmaids). Oh and we somehow ended up at a bird reserve as well…

After a leisurely start, we visited the Danube island on the Saturday morning which gave an attractive riverside perspective on Vienna. Then in the afternoon Jen and I visited the Schönbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Habsburg dynasty in the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

It was originally conceived to rival Versailles but pragmatic reasons led to its being scaled back – but it is still most impressive – particularly now that it is open to the public!

The Schönbrunn Palace, built by the Habsburg dynasty

The Schönbrunn Palace, built by the Habsburg dynasty

On the Sunday we were able to visit Rachel’s church and then to visit one of the ministries she’s involved with. On Monday, however, we ventured out of the city…

In one of the guidebooks Jen noticed that there is a large bird reserve not too far from the city – along the eastern side of the Neusiedler See – so we decided to take a train and bus journey out there to see what it was like. We didn’t really know where to go so we joined up with two locals, Jonas and Isabella , who are very keen birders and know the area well.

Jonas, Isabella and Rich looking intently at a bird - possibly the red-backed shrike we saw

Jonas, Isabella and Rich looking intently at a bird – probably a Temminck’s stint

Rachel, Rich, Jen, Isabella, Jonas

Rachel, Rich, Jen, Isabella, Jonas

Black-winged stilt at the Neusiedler See reserve

My birding skills are not up to that of Jonas and Isabella, who were very quick at finding birds – and who were recently third-placed in a competition for the most birds seen on a particular day in the Vienna area! They departed to try to catch a guided tour they had booked on (which, they told me later, was an adventure in itself!). We took a path to Ilmitz and then to our bus and train trip back to Vienna. Near the end of the walk I finally caught up with one of the star species of the area – the black-winged stilt, a very elegant bird which is a rare visitor to the UK. It was raining at the time but they were still my best sightings!

The weekend was ideal refreshment prior to the installation to come this weekend…

2 thoughts on “Viennese encounters

  1. Sounds like a nice break. I visited Schonbrunn Palace about eight years ago with the best man from our wedding!!

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