Travel Journal

Vienna waits for you

(Tuesday 2 November 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 67-69 -- 10/10-12/10 Vienna
After traveling with no toll road option on the Garmin for four hours on the back roads with four hours left for a relatively simple drive, we switched to allow toll roads and immediately got on a highway that took us straight into Vienna but at no cost. Hmm, something to think about for our further drives. We managed to find good free parking on the street and perhaps we were lucky so we didn’t move the car for the rest of the stay. The hotel was rather dreary and the hallways reeked of cigarette smoke from the long term tenants that lived there although our room was odor free. As we arrived late after the side trip to Chiemsee earlier in the day, we just got a Donner sandwich and crashed.
The next day we got tickets for the metro and headed out to get tourist information as I had no book for Austria other than the scans from an old guidebook on the PC. Tourist information was limited but I did get a lead on the Wiener Musikverein the next night with a couple composers I knew but the actual pieces were not listed. Since the Vienna Boy’s Choir played on Sunday and we’d be long gone and I had missed my chance at seeing the Berlin Philharmonic, we went to the box office to see if they had any seats available for the following night. There was 29 Euro seats with no view of the orchestra, 50 Euro seats in the back or we could pay 5 Euros for standing room with a view. Guess which ones we took.
We kind of walked around with no real plan. We passed through the Hofburg enjoying the buildings but passed on seeing the royal apartments
and the Kunsthistorisches Museum but balked at the admission cost. We also gave a pass on Mozart’s house which also was featured on the Amazing Race as half of a detour, the other being a Beethoven’s house which we didn’t even attempt to see.
Jumping on the metro and transferring on to an S train, we went out of town to the Zentralfriedhof or Central Cemetery.
When it started up, they managed to snag some big name composers to encourage other people to buy plots there. Wagner was moved there and Brahms was buried there. A memorial to Mozart was erected there as well though no one knows where his body is. The place is huge with more souls buried there than are living in Vienna. It even has its own bus system to carry visitors about. There’s a section for the Russian soldiers who died in the battle to take back Vienna in the Second World War. A walk through showed some beautiful private graves as well.
Next was the Donauturm,
as you can probably guess, featured on the Amazing Race. It’s a high observation tower in a park that has bungee jumping from the top. Despite my fear of heights, I was determined to give it a try. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon my point of view at any given time leading up to our visit, bungee jumping was only done on the weekend. It was Just as well as the 139 Euro price tag would have been hard to swallow.
The next day we headed out to Schloss Schonbrunn a bit outside of the city center. Here the Hapsburg spent the summers.
There are several portraits of Marie’s girls all with the first name of Marie including Marie Antoinette. The Hapsburg maintained their power by marriages of their dozen or so children to strategically chosen suitors. This was quite a contrast of the Richard I who last resided in this shack and was a down-to-Earth hard worker and the lavish ballroom and richly decorated Millionaire Room. Mozart also played here and graces, through artistic license, a painting of a ball which he never attended.
We walked the grounds afterwards enjoying the garden and large fountain before heading back to the metro. Determined to find a German jersey, we travelled a ways to a shop with no luck. Julie returned to the room while I tried several other stores with no luck. I also stopped at several hostels in the hopes to find a book exchange to dump some of the guidebooks I was lugging around. I did finally exchange my Spain book for a small guide on Venice so it was not a complete waste.
I got back later than I would have liked as we wanted to arrive early for the concert to get the best possible standing room if that is not a contrast in terms. We rushed to the concert and realized when we got there that neither of us took a camera, so I hurried back to retrieve one returning five minutes before the show. It was worth it as we got some good shots of the Golden Saal but no need to rush as there were only about 40 of us in the standing room area. The Program was: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1, Rautavaara (not familiar with) Apotheosis, and Sibelius’ Symphony #5. It was a very well done performance and we enjoyed it.

The next morning we left for Salzburg. I don’t know why but Vienna did not appeal to me. Maybe traveling around on the subway visiting hostels and sports shops did not match my romantic notion of the city. It just seemed old and tired or perhaps just some of this writers feelings at the time.

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