Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Vienna {Part 2}

Saturday morning after breakfast, we headed out for the Great Tourist Experience of Vienna (Yes, capitalised.)

I love being shown around a city by somebody who loves it, and somebody who is patient enough to answer questions like, "ummm, who's Schiele? Klimt? Who?" We arrived completely oblivious and left somewhat more enlightened. I am no longer a stranger to the work of Hollein, Hundertwasser, or Loos.

We started by going the main Bahnhof, and then just outside to Bahnorama. Bahnorama was built as an observation tower to overlook the progress and the main station was rebuilt, and has impressive displays about the whole process. Unfortunatley, now that the station is complete, Bahnorama is set to close on December 31, despite the fantastic view it offers. Even though it was foggy, one could see pretty far and shows just how expansive Vienna is!

It's also great since it's right next to the main station, which means it was then pretty quick to get back to the Ubahn and head into the city, starting at the State Opera.

Just behind the State Opera, is Hotel Sacher (as in, Sachertorte...!). Queen Letizia of Spain happened to be staying there at the time, but we didn't bump into her ;)

The streets really are beautiful, and fantastically clean, and I could have a hundred photos just of pretty buildings. But, my eyeballs saw them and I was overwhelmed and impressed by them, just believe me.

We walked along a major shopping street and peered curiously into many shop windows at the interesting things they sold. An advantage of touring with a local, though, is that one gets their insider tips... like taking an elevator up to the top of a department store to get the view over the roof tops.

On making it into the centre of the city, where St Stevens Cathedral is, I was first impressed by this controversial glass building, designed by Hollein (note his signature petrol-station roof...), in which the old building are reflected. I love these juxtapositions of old and new!

This "Stock im Eisen" is also really interesting, and has an interesting tradition behind it.

It was pretty cold, and ducking into Trzesniewski was a good break. (Go ahead and try pronounce that...) Inside the small shop, not knowing what to expect from its blank exterior, we were surprised by all the little open sandwiches with odd toppings! Malcolm and I made a really fast decision, and chose some toppings, which were all pretty tasty!!

Heading out, we went into St Stevens Cathedral briefly, but it was sooo full, that besides finding it impressively large and imposing, it was difficult to enjoy the little details. The outside though, with its patterns and spires, are great to look at (Living in Cologne and seeing the Dom so often has kind of ruined me for all others though, since the Kolner Dom is so massive.)
One can also smell where one is, since the horsedrawn carriages are no scarcity in this area!

For lunch, we took a chance and went to Figlmueller, a well-known restaurant in St Stephans Platz. Somehow, at peak time and without a reservation, we got a table for 3 and sat down for a Wienerschnitzel. It was thin, but GIANT, and so, so good.

After lunch, our tour continued, and we walked to the Jesuit Kirche. We had been walking along a road and a gateway was up ahead, and I assumed we'd walk through there. But then suddenly *BAM* giant church on our left! It was quite a surprise, how a huge building can be so hidden. We were breathtaken at the beauty of this one, and it's a very different kind of architecture than what we've seen before. 

We also got to glimpse inside the Greek Orthodox church, but only briefly. The warm carpets and heavy colours were impressive, and it's a pity we couldn't stay longer since the lady there was closing it up. This area is really interesting and there are lots of little alleyways to peek into.

We also visited another church (name forgotten...), where a wedding was going on. Exiting the church, we once again saw the contrast of old and new!

We continued down the road towards the Hofburg Palace, and found a coffee shop, Cafe Griensteidl, in the square. It was nice to sit for a while, and recharge with a Melange and cake while experiencing "Viennese Coffee House Culture".

After coffee, Luitard had some things to prepare, so Malcolm and I headed off on our own. We went through St Michael's Gate and into the courtyard in front of the Hofburg Palace. Since we were there the day before the National Day, the courtyard was full with a display of the various military equipment. As much as it did sort of ruin the square with 80s dance music, the display was interesting and one could peep into the tanks and see things up close. Malcolm was totally in his element, surrounded by tanks and helicopters, statues and a Castle.

It was rather cold and my toes were going numb and I had no feeling in my nose anymore, so we decided a brisk walk would revive our extremities. We headed towards the Museums Quatier, where we had a look at the Naturhistorisches museum with the Kunsthistorisches museum opposite it, with Maria Theresa seated prominently in between in the square.

They really are beautifully designed buildings, and all the statues all over them make them interesting to inspect.
We marched onwards though, and passed the Parliament buildings. Barricades were being set up, again because of the Nationalfeiertag, but it was interesting to see how close to the street the building is, not far removed and locked down as one might expect.

Further along at the New Town Hall, there was also a lot happening, with displays and things. The building is, once again, beautiful. And grand. And Big. And the flower boxes make it look sort of happy and welcoming.

Lastly, we stopped by a McDonalds to get coffee (after weighing up if it would help defrost out fingers or if them being exposed to hold the cup would make it worse) and walked across to the Votif Kirche. It reminds me of the Kolner Dom, but isn't as big, and the advertising outside seriously makes it less apealing. However, inside it was warm and it was good to sit down and defrost. I find it interesting how often Malcolm and I find ourselves seeking warmth and shelter in churches!

It was easy enough to find our way back from the Votif Kirche to the Strassenbahn and then to the Ubahn. We got back to the apartment and rested, before heading out again to meet my 3rd cousin and a friend of hers to see Vienna at night. After walking around a while, we found a place that looked good, and spent the evening there chatting and getting to know one another a little. 

On our way home, we walked through the Ubahn station, where we stopped to take a photo in one of the mirrors making up the "Pi" art project. I love how even the Ubahn system (some lines at least) have art exhibitions! 

It was a good thing that the time changed and we set our clocks back an hour that night, since it meant that despite getting to sleep very late, we had an extra hour! 


  1. Ah, it is as if I travelled with you. Same places we visited in April. That Schnitzel is a monster. Could use it as a Frisbee! Wonderful city. I see there is a green hare in from of the Albertina museum.

  2. What elaborate buildings and architecture! Definitely looks like a good place to explore. I didn't actually know they observed Daylight savings where you are--do they use it in South Africa, too?

  3. oh gosh, i've missed keeping up with your adventures! vienna? klimt? gorgeous cathedrals? five sighs - it reminds me of my art history/college/study-abroad days and makes me want to hop a plane back to europe. i'll just have to live through you though!!

  4. I wish I had a bit more background knowledge of art and history so I could appreciate it all more - thankful that we have such well informed hosts to explain the significance of things to us!

  5. Yep they do! In South Africa they don't though, which is why I still feel quite excited at the prospect of gaining an hour - totally new to me! (I know we lose an hour in spring, but for now it's great to be given extra time!)

  6. It was so cool seeing things I'd seen in your photos, and Luitgard would point things out and say you'd been there too :) And yep, apparently the original bunny picture hangs there!

  7. Wow, so many beautiful churches...and many different styles of architecture you got to see! I love cities like that where the grand old buildings and new buildings stand beside each other. It is just an interesting display to think of how much it must have changed from the times of the older buildings till now. Its good to see some of your adventures again!

  8. I stood in front of the hare! The original nogal.

  9. It's an odd thought to think that in 100 years people will be looking back at our 'modern' buildings... I wonder what they'll think of them!