But first, the end of Budapest. The City Park, also built for the millennium celebration, is home to the Szechenyi Baths, the city zoo & botanical garden, the Museum of Fine Arts. The east entrance is marked by Her Heroes’ Square, which is full Magyar chieftan statues and other important Hungarian leaders. The playgrounds were new and clean, and right next to the big playground was a trampoline park … naturally we spent time at both. Then we walked to Gundel Restaurant (thank you Papou) and had a beautiful lunch in their café that backed to the zoo.
We boarded the 5:40 to Vienna. Train travel is so darn civilized. Seats are big, lots of leg room and outlets for charging. Our train even had waiters bringing drinks and snacks. In 2.5 short hours, we arrived at the Vienna Central Terminal and took a light rail type train to the Opera House, and walked two blocks to our hotel. Demetri needed to get a jump on sleep, because once he starts café hopping and enjoying the Vienna mélange, he’s not going to sleep a wink.
We found Vienna Unwrapped, a super web site written by Vienna Native Barbara Cacao. Our first morning, we embarked on her old Vienna walk. We saved going into the museums for another day – we can’t ‘attack’ cities the way we did pre-kids; touring with a 5 and 7 year old requires park stops for playgrounds and wrestling or café stops for drinks and sweets. I won’t recount the walk – can’t do it better than Barbara does – but we sure loved her narration & directions. I think we stopped in 4 cafes for coffee or a sweet or both. Sacher torte might be Vienna’s most famous dessert – Chocolate with apricot jam. Second famous is strudel – apple or cheese are the most common. But the café displays are all artful and gorgeous – colorful tarts, fruit layer cakes, chocolate layer cakes, rounded crème brulees with various sauces on top – each one is art. I didn’t know until this trip that both coffee and puff pastry were ‘gifts’ the Ottomans left after their various sieges across Europe. Europe sure made a fair amount of lemonade with those, eh?!
In the evening, we walked past the Parliament Building, the Rathaus, Burg Theater and then sitting in the Volksgarten on the Hofsburg Palace grounds. (I should clarify that Demetri and I sat; Michael and Peter wrestled in the grass). The garden is full of roses –shrubs and trees and it smells awesome. Then we walked through the castle grounds to another park where we all laid down and listened to a kids book on tape. We ended the day eating street food (sausage, mustard, beers) near our hotel.
These boys are troopers.