Thursday, January 28, 2010

Last days in Vienna

When it comes to traveling, I prefer to stick in one location for a few days (preferably one with a free place to stay) rather than do a whirlwind tour with a different stop every day. A week in Vienna provided had plenty of time to hang out with my family here and explore different areas of the city. On a rare sunny day, my cousin and I climbed the steeple of St. Stephen's for some lovely views of the snow-covered city. I returned later for a tour of the catacombs, which was creeptastic. All of the former bishops of Vienna were buried underneath the church, as well as parts of the Habsburg royal family- literally. Their innards are stored in urns at St. Stepehen's, their bodies interred at a second church, and their hearts buried at a third. Deeper into the catacombs are rooms filled with skeletons- some from the Black Plague, and some from when the church was used as a public burial ground during the 1700s- the wooden coffins deteriorated long ago, and all that remains are stacks of bones and skulls. Fortunately for you all, photos are prohibited.

I participated in some of Vienna's cheerier traditions including eating wiener schnitzel (who doesn't love a piece of fried meat approximately the size of a large pizza?) and attending a classical music concert at the Musikverein.

I also met up with an Austrian friend whom I met in Australia (check out his awesome photography blog and scroll down for some cameos of me in the outback) and wandered through the funky 7th District, which was a nice change of pace from the more formal First District.

The city has fantastic public transportation that is a combination of old-timey streetcars and a modern underground subway- the best part is that everything runs so frequently that you rarely have to wait for more than five minutes. (Boston, you're on notice!)
I'd definitely recommend Vienna as a city worth visiting, although next time I'll probably go when it's warmer. I did go running through the snow in the Augarten, a huge park near my aunt and uncle's.

Check out the one of the enormous Flak towers- when the Nazis occupied Vienna, they constructed anti-aircraft towers that still loom ominously over the park. Since they are constructed from uber-reinforced concrete, it would be difficult to take them down without causing significant damage to the park. surrounding buildings, so the city has left them alone

Another thing I enjoyed about Vienna was the abundance of cafes- these people sure like their coffee and cake! The whole city was filled with pastry shops, from upscale places to the chain Aida, which seems to be the Viennese equivalent of Dunkin' Donuts- they are all over the city and always packed, and resemble something from the 1950s, with retro pink uniforms and seating at the counter. Unfortunately, I was allergic to everything on the menu, so I stuck with a cup of coffee. Unlike in Germany, where beer is the cheapest beverage on the menu, Austrians always serve a complimentary glass of water alongside coffee or tea. The only downside is that everyone in Europe still smokes, so you can't go in any sort of restaurant without your clothes and hair stinking.


Kris said...

You met up with Andreas? That's awesome! Thanks for the link to his blog; I hadn't see it. He's got some beautiful photos from our trip.

eileen said...

Yeah, it was fun! I emailed him and Ulli when I realized that they lived in Vienna. Ulli had tooth surgery so she didn't meet up, but it was fun to see Andi. and yeah, his photos are spectacular.

Andy said...

That's so weird about the smoking. You can't smoke anywhere in Paris anymore (well restaurants still have smoking sections, but they're basically the section that's on the sidewalk, so it's just like Newbury Street).

Anyway, it joys me to hear that you can still smoke in a cafe somewhere in the world! Vienna here I come! ;-)

Hope Aussie is going well. As you can see I'm catching up on your blog just now. (yikes!)

Love & Miss you!