Eastern Europe Trip – Day 16 – Vienna, Austria

Today I finished exploring Vienna. I woke up around 7:00am again and went to the nearby McDonald’s and purchased a coffee, and picked up a sandwich from the Spar grocery store below.

First stop today was Hundertwasserhaus, an apartment complex with an expressionist architecture style. The building was conceived by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertswasser and Jospeh Krawina. Friedensreich started his career as a painter in the early 1950’s, however became increasingly focused on architecture, and literature. In 1972 he had his first architectural models made for a telvevsion show called “Make a Wish” in order to demonstrate his ideas on forested roofs, “tree tenants”, and the “window right” of every tenant to embellish the facade around his windows. In these models he showcased his architectural shapes, which included “eye-slit” house and “high-rise meadow house”. In Late 1977 the federal chancellor Bruno Kreisky suggested to the mayor of Vienna (Leopold Gratz) that Hundertswasser create an apartment building to his own idea, however architect Joseph Krawina was invited to join him and help put his ideas to practice. Krawina presented his ideas to Hundertswasser in September 1979 with a Styrofoam model and rudimentary drawings. Hundertwasser was shocked and rejected them. In the end the house was built between 1983 and 1985 according to the ideas and concepts of Hundertwasser with architect Krawina as a co-author and architect Peter Pelikan as a planner. It features undulating floors, a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. Hundertwasser took no payment for the design of the house, declaring that it was worth it, to prevent something hideous from going up in its place. The apartment complex contains 53 apartments, 4 offices, 16 private terraces, 3 public terraces, and 250 trees and bushes.

Second stop was Schönbrunn Palace. Schönbrunn Palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburgs. In 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain on the Wien river. In 1548 the previous owner had erected a mansion called Katterburg. The emperor ordered the area to be fenced and introduced game such as pheasants, ducks, deer, and boar. Over the next century the area was used for hunting and recreation. Eleonora Gonzaga, who inherited the property after the death of her husband Ferdinand II. From 1638 to 1643 she added a palace to the Katterburg mansion. The name Schönbrunn first appeared in 1642. It also appears that the orangery was started by Eleonara as well. The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodeled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa, who received the estate as a wedding gift. Franz Joseph I commissioned the redecoration of the palace exterior in the neoclassical style as it appears today.

On site is Palemnhaus, a beautiful Art-Nouveau greenhouse, that was built in 1882 to showcase many exotic plants. The site is also home to Schönbrunn Zoo, the world’s oldest zoo, dating back to 1752. There is an amazing assortment of animals there; I was told roughly 8000, with 700 unique species including turtles, goats, pandas, penguins, lions, tigers, various birds, hippos, etc! I had a delicious brie and cured sausage for lunch at the zoo.

Third stop was Secession, a contemporary art museum with a gold dome of gilded laurels & temporary exhibitions by renowned artists.

The Austrian National Library was my fourth, and last stop of the day. It is the largest library in Austria with over 12 million items in its collection. The library dates back to 1368 when Duke Albert III moved books from the Viennese vaults into an imperial (national) library. The library is located in the Neue Burg Wing of the Hofburg in center of Vienna. Neue Burg, also known as Hofburg, is a former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty. Today it serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. It was built in the 13th century and expanded several times afterwards. It also served as the imperial winter residence, as Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence. Numerous architects have executed work at the Hofburg as it expanded, notably the Italian architect-engineer Filiberto Luchese, Lodovico Burnacini and Martino and Domenico Carlone, the Baroque architects Lukas von Hildebrandt and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, Johann Fischer von Erlach, and the architects of the Neue Burg built between 1881 and 1913.

I spent the majority of the evening at the hotel doing work, however I did manage to sneak out for some delicious mushroom orichette and a beer at a restaurant called Schachtelwirt. I also took a few night shots of Vienna’s streets.

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Calgary Zoo Fall 2019

It had been a while since I had visited the Calgary Zoo and I wanted to visit before the Giant Panda Twins left for China. They were scheduled to leave back to China in October, but it was recently announced that they would stay until Early 2020. On November 17th we took the opportunity to visit the Calgary Zoo to see the Giant Panda Twins, the penguins, owls, bison, leapords, lions, primates, hippos, lemurs, warthogs, and giraffes. Below are my favorite photos that I took.

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2018-08-27 – Kenyan Safari

I just finished a seven day Safari organized by GoWay and fulfilled by Sense of Africa. My truck, driven by a fantastic driver named Daniel, had four other Canadians with me from the Toronto area; a retired couple named Brian and Kelly and a young couple named Courtney and Nick.

The trip started out with two days in Samburu National Reserve. Accommodation was at the Serena Samburu Safari Lodge, where we stayed in luxury tents and were woken up with coffee and cookies delivered right to our tent door, followed by breakfast and a game drive. The afternoons were spent relaxing, followed by an evening game drive and a five course dinner.

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The third day consisted of driving to Mount Kenya National Park. Accommodation was at the Serena Mountain Lodge, a rustic mountain hotel-lodge in the dense rainforest in Mount Kenya. We had views of the buffalo drinking from the water hole. I saw the occasional owl and hyena. Dinner was a five course meal and breakfast the following day was a five course meal as well as a buffet.

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On the fourth day we drove through Lake Nakuru National Park where we saw a few black rhinos and flamingos, before arriving at Serena Lake Elementaita Camp, where we stayed at some ultra luxury permanent tents with rainfall showers. Dinner was a five course meal.

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On the fifth day we ate a five course breakfast and drove to the Maasi Mara, with a quick stop at a Maasi village where we were shown the traditional ways of life that the Maasi people live. It was neat to see but left a bad memory when we were separated from each other and pressured into buying things that were supposedly made by hand but clearly mass manufactured. We spent the next two days at the Serena Mara Safari Lodge, a luxurious hotel that resembles something that Antoni Gaudi would have created. We had a morning and evening game drive on both days, and I enjoyed a hippo breakfast on the second day in Mara while the other four completed a somewhat disappointing balloon ride. This time of year the great migration was occurring and we got to see an amazing amount of animals migrating.

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On the seventh and final day we ventured 7 hours back to Nairobi. I’m spending the night in the Hilton hotel near the airport before I head to Athena, Greece tomorrow morning.

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2018-08-21 – Samburu National Reserve

Today I woke up at 3:00am. Apparently I’m a bit jetlagged! I caught up on social media, went down for the breakfast buffet and waited to be picked up on my Safari tour. I was picked up at 7:30am and made a quick stop at another nearby hotel to pick up the remainder of my group. I chose to stay at a different hotel to save a bit of money. There are 8 other people in my group distributed between 2 vehicles. I have four other people in my vehicle; Kelly and Brian from near Toronto, and Nick and Courtney also from near Toronto.

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The day started off with a three hour drive to Trout Tree Restaurant where we had lunch. At Trout Tree they have their own hatchery right there so you’re guaranteed the freshest fish you’ll ever feast your eyes on. I’m not a fish person so I had a delicious steak with potatoes and a small salad, but everyone who had the fish said it was amazing. We continued on another three hours until we got to Samburu National Reserve where we did two hours of game drives until we ran out of sun.

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The Samburu National Reserve is a game reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river in Kenya. On the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve. The park is quite large; 165 km² in size and is situated about 350 kilometers from Nairobi. The altitude in the park ranged from 800 to 1200 metres above sea level.

We checked into Samburu Intrepid’s Camp. The rooms are in permanent tents and are quite well appointed. We had dinner straight away; a delicious five course meal. The main course was an option between pasta, chicken or steak; I opted for the steak again.

After dinner it was around 10:00pm and I was exhausted so I went to bed right away

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