23 February 2008

Greetings From Vienna?

On Thursday night I called my boss to tell him that the American Embassy was being burned down. Several hours later, after midnight for me, he called to tell me that they felt it would be better were I elsewhere for the weekend and to please check my email in the morning to find out where I was going. I am now a refugee in Vienna. As refugeeing goes I could be in a worse place.


I’ve been to Vienna, once, seven years ago, but at least I have a better chance of communicating here once I dust off my rusty German. Provided that is, I can get around the funky Austrian accent. I got here Friday evening and actually think I saw more on the taxi ride from the airport than I did the few days I was here in 2000. I arrived on a one-way ticket with all of my luggage (for which there was a €70 overage fee) and no idea when or even if I would be returning to Belgrade. I was left with only enough time on Friday to eat, be shocked at the outrageous €3,80 I was being charged for a small bottle of San Pellegrino, notice that my hotel was around the corner from Saint Stephan’s, and go to bed.

It is now 11:00 AM (or at least it was when I wrote this long hand) and I am standing in front of the Rathaus drinking a Glühwein (hot spiced wine). I got an early start today and have been wandering around the city with my Stadtplan taking pictures of everything. I must say that I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing with my camera…I’m pretty much relying on point and click today. I’m also not turning everything black and white. I have the tendency to black and white the bejeesus out of my photographs but, personally I think that a great deal of the charm of some cities, Vienna included, is the array of color in the buildings and roofs and ornamentations. Anyway I’m off topic; I was talking about how it’s 11 AM and I’m already drinking…but I actually have to rewind a bit first.

I started my wanderings at the opera house. I would love to see an opera here but I’m sure the tickets are even more outrageously priced than they are in DC. Until I manage to marry that really wealthy man I’m looking for or I get a raise (both of which are equally unlikely) I’m out of luck and will simply admire its façade.

I them moved onto the Hofburg Palace which I am sure is lovely in the spring when the park is in bloom. I seem to not have had the patience to get any really good shots today.

Part of the Hofburg Palace is the famous Spanish Riding School where the Lipizzaner horses are trained. I have seen this place on television many times and when I was a horse-mad 13 year old (because aren’t all girls horse-mad at that age?) my mom took me to a show. I think when I saw that was when I truly started to enjoy myself. I realized that despite being February the weather was sunny and in the 50s and I was back in western Europe. Hurrah.

A lot more walking finally got me to the Rathaus where I discovered the Wiener Eistraum. I have no idea if this is an annual event or if the city was just disgusted by the unseasonably warm weather but they constructed a myriad of skating rinks in front of the Rathaus!

Included in all this were a variety of refreshment stands which I noticed all sold Glühwein. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Glühwein in a Germanic country, plus I knew Lauren would be disappointed if I didn’t so, despite the early hour, I had myself a nice mug of the warm spicy wine. It was then that I noticed the stands also sold Absinthepunsch. Warm punch made out of absinthe and God knows what else. I was tempted, but the combination of the wine on a stomach that had seen breakfast over three hours earlier and my arch nemesis cobblestone streets made me decide to save that treat for tomorrow.

I actually did a heck of a lot more than this, but I've only just now finished typing this and it's already almost midnight my time and I'm tired. More tomorrow!


Deutlich said...

how do I get a job like yours so I can travel all over Europe too? Seriously?

Christina said...


The opera is actually very reasonable!

If you are willing to do standing-room, ("Stehplatz"), you can see an opera for between 3-5 Euros. This is one of the most famous and gorgeous opera halls in the world, so I recommend you go for it! They also have Studentkarte (student tickets, with ID, available 30min. before the show) and Restkarte (leftover unsold tickets, at varying prices and levels of visibility). Check it out! There are also ballets performed at the Oper which should not be missed.

Not far from your hotel is a nice bar/microbrewery called 1516, located at Krugerstraße 18/Schwarzenbergstraße 2. They have good beer (my fave was the Mischbier, a combination of Dunkles and Helles) and an excellent chicken sandwich (topped with mayonnaise-y corn salsa).

I studied abroad there a few years ago so I'll try to remember a few other tips and post them here. Good luck and welcome to one of the most charming historic cities in Europe! :-)

you can also email me with questions at christinaemason at gmail dot com.

Christina said...

A few other things you shouldn't miss:

*The Flohmarkt, http://www.homeandabroad.com/c/84/Site/120315_Flohmarkt_visit.html - a fantastic weekend flea market with lots of kitsch

*The Naschmarkt - open air market at the same place, with tasty Turkish flat bread, olives, wines, fresh produce, flowers---- a feast for the senses! It's walking distance from Karlsplatz and not far from the Musikverein and the Secession building. Don't miss your chance to have the tastiest, freshest Donner Kebap you'll ever taste-- ask for it "mit Scharf" for a spicy kick.

*A few museums you shouldn't miss: Secession (art nouveau; http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/europe/secession.shtml), Museum fuer Angewandte Kunst ("Mak"), with fantastic turn-of- the century and modern applied arts (furniture, housewares, etc); http://www.wien.info/article.asp?IDArticle=3076, the Leopold Museum (in the Museumsquartier) for turn-of-the-century and modern art, primarily paintings; http://www.museumonthego.com/index.php?id=6

*It's also cool to take the Ubahn out to Prater and ascend the Donauturm, or Donau Tower by elevator, which gives you a fabulous view of the city; http://premshree.livejournal.com/105438.html

*Vienna is a cafe city. Hopefully you'll have time to take in a few of the greats: Hawelke (dark, pretentious, no menu. lots of famous literati used to hang out there); Kleines (the smallest and cutest cafe in town; Cafe Diglas for delicious pastries and posh but cozy atmosphere; Central for its gorgeous architectural renovation; more at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2242/is_n1566_v269/ai_18605356/pg_1

*For nightlife, you may catch some good reggae or DJs with the alternacrowd at Flex ( http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2771446-flex_vienna-i,). There are also good bars in the Museumsquartier (on the stylish side), and slighty dingier but lots of fun are the bars/clubs Chelsea (Stadtbahnbogen 29-32, Lerchenfelder Gürtel) and B52 which is nearby. There are also excellent bars in the Volksgarten Burgring; http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/7196/a_guide_to_viennas_wildest_nightclubs.html

*A good place for live jazz and a beer in a Kellar is Tunnel (not far from the Rathaus); http://www.tunnel-vienna-live.at/

*For fantastic brunch and people watching try Cafe Blau Stern, near the Gurtel; http://www.sidestep.com/travel-restaurant-g5145891-blaustern_vienna_austria

Be sure to try Zanoni and Zanoni gelato and Pizzeria Bizi (try a slice of the one with Spinach, ham, and a sunny-side egg on top. pure bliss!). These are just around the corner from where you are staying.

Hope this didn't overwhelm you. Have a fantastic time!

Andrea said...

Thanks for the tips Christina! I'll see if I can't catch at least one of the markets tomorrow...

And thank you for your comments Deutlich...as for hoe to get a job like this? What can I say but blind luck. I wouldn't even be here now if it weren't for my supervisor leaving our org and dumping everything in my lap.

Lauren said...

so is their gluehwein better than mine?

Andrea said...

Natuerlich Nicht!!