Saturday, March 2, 2013

Vienna - Day Trip to Sopron Hungary

The border with Hungary is not far from Vienna.  We set out from our apartment past this colorful zebra peeking out of a passage and headed for the Philadelphiabrücke U-Bahn station and the commuter train to Sopron.

After a little over an hour on the train, we arrived at our destination and quickly covered the distance between the station and center of town.  Thick, heavy sculptures and more delicate church towers greeted us on the way.
We discovered an old round tower covered with moss, a remnant of the old town wall.
We skirted along the wall and passed through a narrow doorway.
The Fire Watchtower soon came into view.
We took a stroll around the town square.  The center of Sopron was pretty much deserted.
We had the narrow cobbled streets of the old town to ourselves.
We stopped at the small park outside Petőfi Színház (a small theatre).
Looping back around, we picked up the path along another stretch of town wall.
The wall was partially stuccoed over in certain parts.  The texture was striking.
We caught another glimpse of the watchtower but decided to find a bite to eat before undertaking the climb.
We retraced our steps through the back alleys until we arrived at Cafe Zwinger.
We took a seat in the modest and tastefully decorated interior.
The sun shone through the lightly curtained windows framed by stained glass.
After a quick look at the menu, we settled on coffee and cake.
We opted for a creme filled pastry and Esterházytorte.
Walking in the main commercial district outside of the town wall, we discovered a local wine shop that sold Hungarian specialties.
After purchasing a bottle, we finally took time to climb the Fire Watchtower.  It wasn't as straightforward as you might assume.  The watchtower seemed to be the only attraction in town that was open this afternoon and it was actually free for a limited time.  These two factors meant there was quite a queue to get in.  We were encouraged when we made it through the front door into an exhibit hall within 15 minutes.  We could see the stairs but we weren't allowed to climb them.  We were kept here for about 30 minutes while stragglers from the last group descended.  Finally, we were allowed to ascend.  We jockeyed for position with other members of the group to get a decent view on the narrow platform.
Overall, the view was lovely but definitely not worth the wait to make the climb.
We could see the defensive wall snaking through town below.
People went about their business in the old town.
We took a final look at the town and countryside and then quickly descended to avoid the bottleneck on the steps.
We decided to stop for lunch at Graben and it turned out to be the highlight of the day.
We tried spicy Hungarian goulash with fresh bread and chilies served in a decorative enameled bucket.
We also shared a chicken escalope stuffed with fruit and served over potato croquettes.  It was delicious but the soup was so filling we almost didn't need this second course.
We quickly headed back to the train station past pastel buildings with whimsical accents.
We arrived at the station as the sun was beginning to set.
We caught some amazing sunset views on the journey back to Vienna.

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