Austria was interesting. I read that in Vienna the waiter is always right, rather than the customer, and it certainly seemed that way from the cold attitudes that only thawed if a tip was forthcoming. I did have some moments of joy in Austria anyways, mostly on a certain side trip, but I still enjoyed Vienna. I began my first day in a café, (where else?), And had Austrian apple strudel.
Another day I tried something called “Imperial Pancakes” which came with plum jam and a lot of icing sugar.
My hostel was close to the train station I used, but a 40 minute walk into the main area. There was a lot to see on the way though, so I barely noticed.
I didn’t go in this palace on the first day since I didn’t realise what was inside. We’ll return though.
I was happy to find some Islamic art in the form of this gift from Morocco to Austria, as the flags in the top section suggest.
I then arrived at a large square with what turned out to be the first of the many Soviet War Memorials I would encounter on my trip.
My next stop was the Haus der Musik, which had piano stairs and a first edition score of the Marriage of Figaro. (Mozart was born in Austria).
Continuing downtown I saw some beautiful buildings, including the opera house and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
I then found my way to the only remaining house where Mozart lived while in Vienna and where he composed The Marriage of Figaro.
The architecture in Vienna was amazing, and made aimless walking enjoyable. The Catholic Church of St. Peter was nice to see, as well as the Hofburg Palace and City Hall.
Parliament was nice, and had a statue of Athena out front. I’m told that people say she is facing away from the building because there is no wisdom to be found there.
Vienna had many museums but I didn’t have the energy to visit them this time. I really liked the statues that decorated the Natural History Museum though. There were statues of famous historical figures as well as anthropomorphic statues of the continents. In the centre of the plaza was a monument to Empress Maria Theresa.
While I didn’t go to all of the museums, I still loved Vienna and its beauty.
Even outside of the city centre near my hostel was this beautiful church.
I loved the Karlskirche at night and the detail on the pillars.
Now back to Belvedere Palace.
We had a few prints of famous paintings in my house growing up, and while it didn’t have quite the same impact as Guernica, another image I grew up with was “The Kiss” by Klimt. Turns out I walked by the building that houses it on day one.
I couldn’t take pictures everywhere in the gallery, but some places were fine to photograph.
There was even a copy of the painting you could take a picture with, so this isn’t the real one but it’s this painting that I saw.
Seeing it in person was amazing. It’s kept at the end of a slightly darkened gallery, and all of the gold really stands out. Like seeing Guernica, I noticed details that I never did in all the years of seeing it in my house. For me, this was the highlight of Vienna.
The gardens were impressive too!
I was also surprised to see another painting there I recognised. It was way bigger than I expected, but it was cool to walk into a room and suddenly be confronted by Napoleon.
I spent the last few days wandering the city, or continuing to I suppose.
I made it up to Schönbrunn Palace, but it was raining and my last day so I kept the visit brief.
The café I frequented was called Aida, and the waitresses dressed like the Austrian pastry punschkrapfen, which is a run sponge cake. Naturally I had to try it.
I really didn’t like it, but I’m glad I tried it anyways. I also achieved my goal of befriending a waitress despite a complete language barrier and the initial “why are you in my café?” attitude, so when we said goodbye on my last day I felt moderately accomplished.
My next blog will explain why I really fell in love with Austria.