Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It was a cold, windy, rainy day the day we had some free time in Vienna. It was probably some of the coldest, wettest weather we experienced while in Europe. It was also a Sunday, which meant the churches were otherwise occupied and not readily available for heathens like us and nothing - virtually nothing - else was open. The stores and some museums close on Sundays in most of Europe. And, good for them. Unless, of course, you are a tourist on your only day in Vienna. Then, it does limit your options.

I should say the night before our walk through Vienna, we did walk over to the famous Sacher Hotel and shared a piece of Sachertorte. After they made us "check" my sweatshirt jacket in the cloak room, we sat down in a very Viennese like room and were served. We were unimpressed. Perhaps we don't have a discriminating palate. It just tasted like stale chocolate cake to us. The coffee was good, though.

There were a couple of really well done tourism books in our hotel room. So, we decided to walk to the St. Stephens Cathedral and see what we could see, go to the Mozart House Museum, walk through the palace area and past the opera house near our hotel. Then, we planned to take a tram out to the big city cemetery to visit the graves of some of the world's most famous classical composers, (Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg, Strauss, etc) who are all conveniently buried next to one another.

First stop - St. Stephen's Cathedral

The cathedral is under reconstruction - it's porous limestone exterior requires a lot of upkeep. I do like the marketing on the construction sign - "Our St. Stephens Cathedral" as in Vienna's - not just the parishioners. It is of course an historic building, built on top of two former churches, and home to a congregation that stretches back to 1147.

I was struck, especially on the exterior, by the tile roof and how "Eastern European" it looked - as much as the Austrians don't like to be associated with the Hungarians, they are intertwined, whether they like it or want to ever admit it.

Mass was just finishing as we arrived.
They have a barrier to keep the heathens (tourists) out.
The priest blessed us as he went by. (God save their souls.)

When the parishioners went in for the next Mass, I followed them to take a few quick shots of the space before the next Mass began. It, too is a very impressive cathedral and houses a great many interesting antiquities. And, some dead people too. Every Catholic church needs it's share of dead people, no?

This lady right here - the one with the tan coat on and the fuzzy purple hat - she was none to impressed with me. She gave me all I needed to know by the look she rendered on me as she passed. "Filthy heathen tourist who is in my way and totally disrespecting my Sunday Mass experience." Yes, ma'am. That's all true. But, you see, it's my only day in Vienna, so please excuse me. I wish I would have captured the look I got. It was priceless.

I was struck by the different styles present all in the same place.

There was a medieval/renaissance altar, a baroque altar, and a Gothic pulpit. I also noticed, because we were there during Lent, the purple drape at the back of the main altar area - I figured there was a big crucifix back there, all covered up. From what I can find, though, it was just another old altar...not sure the "ruling" on all of that. I mean, that neo-classical crucifix was in plain view.

After the church - after they ushered us on out of there for the next Mass to begin - we tried to head to Mozart's house. This took some doing - it's sort of hard to find, and the map only gives you a vague idea of where the entrance might be. It is behind the cathedral, up a couple of small streets, on the back side of the main thruway. The museum did not allow you to take photos. It was a thorough accounting of Mozart's life in Vienna, and out of the 9 or so apartments where he lived, this is the only one still in tact. He lived there for two and a half years and produced a number of important works during this time, including Marriage of Figaro. The exhibits were well done and extensive. It was so much information that when we finished, we were exhausted, really. Interesting and exhausting.

Mozart is well loved in Vienna, as indicated by this homage, and by all the crappy souvenirs they sell with his likeness emblazoned on them! I was thinking of trying the yellow treble clef thing in my front yard. I'm sure S will mow around it and the neighbors will love it.

While walking through the streets of Vienna, we saw these two monuments to famous people with Viennese ties - the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler's likeness was on the outside of the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the statue to German poet Goethe (a little more peculiar and not connected to Vienna, at least as I can find) was on the road between the palace area and the opera house. Goethe has certainly had better days - it looked like someone had affixed some paper to his face on the day we were there...poor guy.

The weather didn't let on, but spring was around the corner.
Look at those buds on the trees?
And, I found the gates to be very beautiful.

In general, I found Vienna to be an architecturally interesting place, as witnessed by the photo montage above, but hard to enjoy in the weather. Additionally, I'd say the people are not too friendly - they are all (generally speaking) sort of "stuck up". Besides the history and grandeur of the surroundings, I'm not sure I need to return to the city. Perhaps I need to give it another try in better weather.

I like this photo of S and the overcast light coming in.

Here's another example of the great gates Vienna sports throughout.

I tried to use it for some interesting photos.
I'm not sure I captured what I was going for.

These are the "outtakes" of our "self-portrait" photo shoot.
We were in the palace area.
Can't you tell?

One more thing about that palace area - it's all museums and government buildings now. But, man oh man - I can see why the people revolted - what opulence! I'm not a communist or anything, but geez, this place was OVER the TOP.

A funny shot - an ad for a "Vienna Soul" station.
Apparently, Vienna Soul listeners speak English.

After we walked that area, we ate at this perfectly lovely Italian restaurant near our hotel. After several days in the Germanic countries and some really strange meals, we were sort of both over the schnitzel, if you know what I mean. This place was delicious. I will say, when we were in Italy, I got sick of Italian food. It's just that I guess we're used to variety here in the ol' US of A. For dessert, S ordered an orange sorbet. He wanted a photo of it, because it was served in a frozen orange shell and he thinks he'd like to do that here at our house when we have guests over sometime. If you're coming over, don't hold your breath. The photo of me - I was not upset - I was just cold and tired. And, so was S. So, instead of heading out on the tram to the cemetery where we could stand in the rain again, we went back to the hotel and took a nap. A Sunday afternoon nap in Vienna. It was divine.

So, that's our time in Vienna. We left VERY EARLY Monday morning on a train to Prague, where we had two days to ourselves to explore that city. I have lots to tell you about that place when I get around to it - and video. Video! I know you can't wait. I'll get that stuff up here sooner or later. That's it for today. See you here again tomorrow. Auf Wiedersehen!


  1. Loved the 16 photo montage.

  2. Remember, the Viennese are not known for their southern hospitality. Rudeness seems to rule there.

  3. I enjoyed the pictures of St. Stephens. We visited it when we were there and were in awh!


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