20-23SEP2004 I visited Vienna for the second time. The first time I whizzed through on my way to Prague and only spent a few hours in Vienna.
This time my friend Gabi, who I met in Tahiti and Rarotonga, was in town. Gabi is working with blind children. She brought two of her students and met me at Karlskirch, a beautiful church in the center of Vienna.
I made plans to meet her in her home town of Melk the next day. It was late when I left Vienna so I pitched my tent in a rest stop along the motorway. How was I to know that Abslaggeran Verboten means no camping. Well, when I woke up the next morning there was a ticket for 65 euros on TBGS. At least the police didn't wake me up. What's really sad is that I could have stayed in the hotel for only 61 euros. A short way down the motorway I had another "fine" experience in Austria. It seems the fine for not having a permit for the motorway is , guess what, 65 euros!
So, somewhat poorer, I arrived in Melk, a beautiful town with a famous monastery. Gabi, guided me to her house and introduced me to her mother and brother.
Then she drove me to a castle overlooking the Danube where Richard the Lionhearted was kept prisoner on his return from the Crusades. The view was breathtaking in more ways than one. The climb to the top was a killer. Richard must have been in good shape. We chatted with a couple of American lawyers who had also made their way to the summit.
That evening Gabi cooked up a local specialty, zwetschkenknodel, plum dumplings with plums fresh from the trees of the family farm.