Hello from Rome, Italy

Hello from Rome, Italy
Monday evening September 1, 2008 (tenth travelogue of this trip)
As has been the case with several of the travelogues, I am starting this one while traveling on the train. This time we are going from Vienna to Rome. This is an overnight train departing Vienna at 19:15 on Sunday and arriving in Rome Monday at 9:05. We have a reserved sleeper compartment (extra cost). The compartment is about the size of a small bathroom. It can be made up with three bunks, but we made sure that each couple had the room reserved for two people.
Our “hotel” in Vienna was Pension Nossek. It was a great arrangement right in the center of old town. Our rooms were fairly large and decorated with very old style furniture. You would think you were in a hotel in the late 1800s. Our room had a very nice queen size (or bigger) bed with two duvets (every place we have been has had duvets), a couple of large upholstered chairs, table and old fashioned small chair table combination. There was no TV in the room, but we did not miss it! The ceilings were probably 10-12 feet high. We were on what was labeled as the second floor, but it was actually the fourth floor since the numbering started after the first two floors that housed shops. Each floor had the tall ceilings, so there were a huge number of stairs to get to our floor. Fortunately, there was a lift that got us there. The lift looked like it was more than 100 years old. It was very small and had a sign that said “capacity 4 people without luggage”.
Our rooms overlooked the Graben which was a very large plaza without vehicle traffic. We were surrounded by resplendent old buildings. Very close to us was a complex of buildings that made up the Hofburg/Imperial Palace. Just past that, were two huge buildings that housed the Natural History Museum. All of the buildings were beyond impressive. Everywhere you looked was what you would picture in a fairy tail book.
Saturday night we went to the Redoutensaal Hall in the Imperial Palace for a Mozart/Strauss concert presented y the Wiener Hofburg Orchestra. While the concert was quite formal, the presentation was somewhat lighthearted at times. Parts of the concert were opera based, but the presentation made it enjoyable. The concert’s final presentation was Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz. They did return for two encore presentations at the request of the enthusiastic audience.
Sunday morning we had a great breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast was included in the cost of the room (a bit over $170 which is moderately priced when compared to well over $300 for name hotels).
The Birts went exploring while I went to Starbucks (yes there are Starbucks, McDonalds, and Burger Kings everywhere in Europe). I would not normally go to Starbucks, but they offered free Internet which allowed me to get mail and up-load the blog.
We then all went to St. Augustine church. They are famous for their high mass that includes a great choir and pipe organ. We did not stay for the whole service, but were impressed by what we heard.
In the afternoon, we explored the historic area. In addition to walking around the Imperial Place, we visited two additional churches. The first was St. Peters. It has carvings and sculptures on what seems like every square inch of the interior. At first glance it overwhelming, but then it begins to look way too “overdone”. The second church was St. Stephan’s Cathedral. This was among the most impressive cathedrals that we have visited on this trip.
Update: I did all of the above travelogue on the train (unfortunately twice, because my battery went dead and I had not saved the document). We did OK on the train. We all slept pretty well, but we are quite tired today. We had a bit of a challenge to get to our apartment, but that story will have to wait till the next blog.

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