Weekend in imperial Vienna part 2

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We woke up and headed immediately to our first destination for the day. The Griechenviertel is the place were the Greek community thrived in the 18th century, contributing greatly to the expression of the age of enlightenment back home. Our main point of interest laid on the Holy trinity church, another one of Theophilus Hansen’s great works. As it was Sunday, a service was held and it seemed a bit as if we had stepped back in time, although it did seem a bit strange that when Catherine tried to get a candle lit, a man in charge, returned her some change back (if we recall correctly, he also gave her a receipt), thus giving the experience a commercial tone.

Check out our arrival in Vienna here

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After this neo-byzantine temple, we rushed to visit the expressionist masterpiece Hundertwasserhaus and although we expected the colors to be brighter, we were in awe as we saw the compilation of color, vegetation and shape. The building seemed like something constructed with Lego bricks with plants entwined among the joints. We also visited the nearby Hundertwasserhaus village to buy some souvenirs and look around for a while.

 

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Our next stop was the Stadtpark, where we spent some time walking and hanging around to rest for a while, but when the eyes keep being fed by lovely images sitting down and resting is no easy task. The canal crossing the park, the lovely pond, the Schubert and Johann Strauβ statues, the fountains, the breeze among the flowers and trees and of course my much esteemed ducks.

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Karlskirche is an elaborate church with a magnificent dome and it was our next stop and we liked the pool that is laid on the buildings front view. We didn’t hang around long on that one though, as we headed for our greatly anticipated visit to the museum of natural history, to catch a view of some dinosaurs. The building is huge and we lost track of each other for a while as we were indulged in our personal interests. The museum was instructing us in the history of Earth and life on it. We traveled through the ore hall to the dinosaur halls and then to prehistoric animals before seeing the first humanoids. We were impressed by a camera that displayed on a screen ourselves as seen by a reptiles vision (felt like being part of a horror b-movie) and caught a glimpse of the Venus of willendorf. Upon leaving the place, we sat on a bench in the large Maria-Theresien platz, that lies between this museum and Kunsthistorisches museum.

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After catching a breath, we headed back to Stephansdome to view the nearby Mozarthaus and the Pestsäule, a memorial of the great plague outbreak that swept Europe in the 17th century. There are many such columns throughout Europe, but this one is the most prestigious (and the most elaborate).

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However, we were not around the area just to view a mercy plea expressed by this structure in order to end the terrible disease. Our goal was the famous Hawelka cafe and its Buchteln, a taste we had heard so much, that we couldn’t leave Austria without having a bite. So, we sat on a table, after discretely taking some photos (we do not like being disturbed while having fun and we try not to cause any disturbance to others as well) and tried to order this desert. Sadly, we were informed that Buchteln would not be served till the evening, so we tried to order some coffee, the way we like it. Espresso, with ice cubes (and shaken cold milk). We got espresso with ice cream. Since I ‘ve been trying to learn German for a while, it has now come to my understanding that ice in German stands both for ice and ice cream. Well, that’s become part of the fun for us and we keep ordering our coffee, trying to guess what monstrosity we’ll be faced with in our glasses.

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Then we paid a visit to the nearby Peterskirch, a baroque church run by the opus Dei institution, where we admired its magnificent dome, before heading to Hofburg palace and further on to our last church visit in Vienna, the Salvatorkapelle, one of the city’s oldest. Then, we visited Sigmund Freud’s museum, a place where you can view the history of psychoanalysis and walk in the footsteps of the founder of modern psychology, who lived there for most of his life.

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A street artist outside Musikverein

However, my main point of interest, while in Vienna was the place I watch every 1st of January in the TV. It’s become some sort of tradition that I will listen to the Vienna philharmonic orchestra’s New year’s concert, held inside the splendid musikverein (enjoy). We could not get in this brilliant concert hall at the time, but I was glad to even see the building (hopefully one new year’s eve we ‘ll attend a concert). I love everything about this concert, though I am not such a keen listener of classical music. The ballet, the orchestra, the crowd, the comic elements of this show and of course the elegant decoration of the hall are the things I anticipate the most every year.

Having achieved a tiny piece of my fantasies regarding this building, we returned to cafe Hawelka, as the time for Buchteln was upon us. Buchteln are sweet yeast buns of Bohemian origin, filled with marmalade and this cafe specializes in them since the 30’s. We were keen to ensure that we wouldn’t go all the way to Vienna without tasting a bite. I was beginning to plan an adventurous hostage situation in my mind though. “We want Buchteln, a helicopter and a pilot. The helicopter must be made of Buchteln. The pilot must be a giant croissant. We are dead serious! We ‘ll shoot every schnitzel we see if our demands are not met!”. Luckily, we didn’t find ourselves on a yeast dough made helicopter loosing altitude, while we were taking large bites of it. The waiter politely brought our prize for a day of sightseeing and we hastily left an empty plate, before remembering that we hadn’t taken a photo.

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Having tasted this Viennese delicacy we stuck by our yesterday’s decision to return to Prater park. So, once there, we wandered around the never-ending crowd and the uninterrupted collection of toys and sat at a restaurant’s garden to taste some Viennese Schnitzel (it turns out that hostage situations can end badly, a couple of schnitzels got it on this one) and some beer. It was a great way to leave Austria and even though we didn’t get the chance to visit sights as the Belvedere, or Schönbrunn, we had a great time and we’d definitely return (besides, we’ve got a concert to attend). On the next day, we would head for Budapest, the reason we decided to visit this part of Europe in the first place…

Keep close with us on the final leg of our trip here

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Weekend in imperial Vienna

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While planning our journey to central Europe, Vienna was a place we decided was a must visit, but we couldn’t make a decision regarding the days we would spent there. The answer to this minor problem presented itself when we received an offer by our much adored Ibis hotels (hi Ibis, how about sending some love the other way? wink, wink…) to spent a weekend there and pay only for one day. Therefore it was decided that on the only weekend featured in our itinerary, we would have to be in the Austrian capital.

Have a look at the previous day of our trip in charming Český Krumlov

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So, we enjoyed our last breakfast in Prague and headed to Florenc once more, to leave the fascinating country Czech republic is. We got on a student agency bus once more and that made our ride a comfortable affair since we got to watch some series and enjoy snacks and coffee. We arrived in Vienna and purchased our tickets to Budapest since we did not have the chance to do so while in Greece. Upon heading to the Vienna metro entrance near the bus terminal, we came across a crowd of cheerful Rapid Vienna fans heading towards nearby Ernst Happel-stadium for a match (I believe they played against Grödig and won 3-0) and as they bear green and white, they are my favorite Austrian team.

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Our welcome to Vienna was enhanced by an offer for free refreshments as we came across a promotional offer, but it was boosted as I got a call from home and asked if I could give a lecture on Epictetus for the forthcoming European heritage days event taking place in the local archeological museum. That was a great way to further lift my mood since I don’t get many chances to put my degree in use.

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F. Raimund was a famous 19th century comedian who shot himself because he falsely thought he had the rabies.

Consequently, both being in high spirits, we used the nearby metro station to reach our much esteemed Ibis hotel (still trying here Ibis. Where is that love coming our way?). After settling in, the time to explore had come and we got back to the metro station, where we purchased a couple of 48 hour tickets to tour our destinations.

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Now, it will not come as a surprise to anyone, if I state that the Austrian capital is a huge city with many interesting places and a weekend is an extremely limited amount of time to view the sights properly. As in most cases, back home we had crossed of our list many places even though this action was taken with a heavy heart.

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So, we ventured fort to our first stop the museumsquartier platz, where we hanged around a bit, before heading to the Austrian parliament building, constructed by Danish architect Theophilus Hansen, the Greek revival virtuoso, whose works in Athens are among the most beautiful buildings in the city. It surprised us how Greek the setting seemed, as the construction seemed like a giant ancient temple, though it seemed heavily decorated with statues of gods and goddesses, among which Athena stood out, holding a spear and Nike, the goddess of victory. We were already amazed by the architectural wonders we kept encountering on our way, it was Prague all over again, yet in a different manner.

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Afterwards, we headed to the massive Hofburg palace and rested foe a while on the heroes’ square that lies before it, before we carried on to take some shots of the Rathaus, the city hall. We admired its 100 meter high central tower and carried on to the first day’s main attraction the huge Stephansdom.

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The plaza in front of the church was crowded and we noticed many people dressed in era outfits (some actually looked like Mozarts) trying to sell opera tickets. We politely declined (I think the tickets this guys are selling are a bit overpriced or so I read prior to our journey) and entered the temple. Even inside the building there were lots of people, some praying, others taking pictures but after all this church is the city’s landmark. We walked around it taking shots but the temple is so huge and the area around it so small, that it seemed impossible to capture a shot depicting such greatness.

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So, we decided that we had enough sightseeing for a while and went to grab a burger and afterwards we headed into an Australian bar. That seemed funny, as we were told that many people confuse the two countries (example), thus getting Austrians mad (hence the “No kangaroos in Austria T-shirts we saw in shops”). It looked as if the Aussies were trolling the Austrians, so appreciating the good humor, sat down and enjoyed a beer.

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Since it started getting a bit late, we found ourselves a metro station and headed towards our hotel, although our exploration was not over, since we had one more place to check on our list. That would be Prater park, situated right next to our hotel and after a quick stop for me to grab a spicy doner kebab, we reached our destination. Prater proved a fun place, the giant wheel is the place’s highlight and we encountered many happy faces on this 24/7 joyride. The place was a huge amusement park and we were amused and amazed as we saw so many games. At the time it seemed as if that area was the center of global fun, a never-ending lively party, just like life is supposed to be. It didn’t take us long to decide that we would visit Prater once more tomorrow…

More of our weekend in Vienna is to be found here

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