Saturday, June 12, 2004

Vienna, Austria--Day 133

Today we woke up pretty early despite the jet lag and headed to the zoo. We first stopped at this outdoor market (which we took the subway to) and it was really neat because it was a mixture of what seemed like an old flea market with people selling everything from old shoes to old street signs to specialty foods and wines. We had no problem perusing the different stalls and picking up a few foods to snack on while we looked!

After the market, we got on another subway over to where the Schoenbrunn is, which is the old national summer palace of the Hapsburgs. The zoo just so happens to be on the same grounds--what a luxury! So we walked around the open square of the Schoenbrunn over to the zoo where we bought our tickets and headed into find the hippos, or as they say in German, Flusspferd. :)

We found the flusspferds and boy did they have a huge place to live! Not only did the three hippos have a large outdoor grassy area and pond, but they also had a huge indoor "Flusspferd Haus" where there was a large exhibit devoted to the hippos, and to the zoo's previous hippos. It was great, and I could not believe it!

The three hippos at the Vienna zoo are Ali, Aka and Kimbuku. (Ali being the father, Aka the mother, and Kimbuku the baby). Luckily we arrived just in time for feeding time and the hippos were anxious to eat, which meant a lot of getting out of the water, which is perfect for the photos! I think that Kathryn and my other friend Sarah (who is from Tucson, where I grew up) thought it was quite the sight seeing my run (literally) back and forth and getting the pictures. I found them being there quite handy because I was able to throw my bag and papers at them to hold while I darted around taking the pictures. We spent quite a while getting the hippo pictures and Kathryn was great in asking in her fluent German what the names of the hippos were. The zoo keeper she was talking to was very enthusiastic about the project. All I could do was just smile and nod!

We stayed at the zoo a while longer looking at some other animals (Kathryn is a giraffe fanatic and Sarah loves anything cute and fuzzy) and ate lunch near the Flusspferd Haus before heading back out of the zoo. Since we were on palace grounds, we decided to walk around the glorietta by the palace, which has wonderful views over Vienna. We then took a tour of the palace where we got to have neat audioguides take us through the different rooms (and through the hoards of school children and tour groups) and learn all about the Hapsburgs. Afterwards we headed back to Kathryn's apartment, stopping by the grocery store on the way to pick up stuff to make knodel for tomorrow. We then went out to dinner with Kathryn's FANTASTIC roommates Anke and Martin, and their next door neighbor Bertyl (Harry Paaatter..heehee) at a Heuriger, which is a fresh wine restaurant type thing, frequented by the locals. It was a lot of fun--you mix the fresh wine with sparkling water and its just great. We got heaps of food there and apple streudel, and afterwards headed back to continue the festivities (and schnapps tasting) back at Bertyl's apartment next door to Kathryn's.