"" Writer's Wanderings: Cruising The Danube - Back To Vienna

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cruising The Danube - Back To Vienna

Through the night our the Crystal Mozart returned to Vienna. We would have one more day and night to enjoy our adventure before leaving with our memories and pictures. The excursions for the day did not appeal to us--partly because they involved museums and a lot of history and partly because we were ready to be off on our own for a change.

The weather had warmed a bit and there was even the promise of a bit of sunshine so we decided to return to the Schonbrunn Palace and the zoo that is there. Besides that, I wanted to go back and try the soup in a bread bowl we had seen there.

Bob and I set off for the subway and found our way back to the palace. We purchased our tickets and set off in the direction we thought the zoo was. We were sort of right but hadn't realized it would be such a walk.

The zoo sits way back almost at the end of the garden area. While it was quite a walk, it also gave us a chance to take a look at the garden that we hadn't seen on our first visit.

Except for a few small groups of school kids and some other tourists, the zoo was pretty empty. What we didn't know though was how large it was. It was called the Imperial Zoo and since I knew it was originally begun by Emperor Franz I Stephen, I just thought it would be a small kind of private zoo. At least that's how it started.

In 1752, there were enclosures built around what would be a central pavilion and they held thirteen animals. Since then the zoo has expanded and expanded. The central pavilion and the circle of enclosures (now with bars instead of walls) are still there but the zoo radiates out from there.

The menagerie became a zoological garden in the late 1800s. In 1914, it held 3,470 animals, the most it would ever have. Of the 500 or so animals they have now, there were several that we definitely wanted to see before we left.

Our polar bear back home had died a couple of years ago of old age. I was eager to see a polar bear again. There were two in a wonderful exhibit that was several levels which allowed you to see them from above, at eye level and below the water level. The bears were very playful and we enjoyed them at all the levels.

The hippopotamus at our zoo was also gone so we enjoyed seeing several of them even though they were indoors and not in the water.

Then we happened upon the rain forest exhibit. It was quite different from ours but we enjoyed the warmth, shedding our coats for a bit. We found one spot that had a sign of someone with a finger up to their lips indicating that we had to be quiet when we entered. What it didn't say was that it was completely dark--or at least dark enough that it took a long time for eyes to adjust. We went through all the flaps that were hanging and hoped for a little light to see where we were going. There was just enough to see that there were things flying through the air just above our heads--bats! We hustled!!

It took us a while to find the other animal we were looking for but we finally did and spent some time watching one panda sleep and the other sit and eat his bamboo shoots. We hadn't seen pandas since our trip to China in 2003. Obviously it didn't matter too much which part of the world they were in, they didn't do a lot of moving but did do a lot of eating.

All in all it was a great adventure and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

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