Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vienna (Part II)

Okay so, Vienna, continuing! (Also I added some pictures because I'm sure all my text is boring. These are all pictures from the internet since I can't access my pictures yet.)

On Wednesday we woke up and had breakfast at the hostel. Then we went on a walking tour around Vienna using my friend's guide book to help us.

We began at the Opera house which is a very fancy Opera house that they hold Operas in (I think basically every single night). They are expensive and classy and the inside of the Opera house is really nice as I would later find out. This is another very Austrian thing as it is classy and artsy.

Opera House

We then kept walking as my friend filled me in on little history tidbits. We found the Monument Against War and Fascism which reflected the dark years under Nazi rule. It was a gruesome Monument with terrible and surreal portrayals carved into it (I have a few pictures of it). This monument also serves to recognize many of the Jews who died during the Holocaust. In that region of Europe there are of course places in each city that serve as a memory to the terrible things that happened in WWII (and throughout a long period of history but I think this monument was mostly to the victims of WWII).

After that we continued to walk around and found the shopping street (quite a change of pace). It was filled with people and all sorts of shops, therefore it was mostly fun to just see the shopping street. After that we went to the Kaisergruft which had the imperial crypt underneath it. I got a lot of pictures of this because there were a ton of crazy coffins. Some were really huge (and some were really recent) and had these massive depictions of death and nobility on them. It was pretty cool. There were also some relics which had some bones wrapped in gold and other fancy things (which wigged me out).

 Creepy Imperial Coffin (I took many more pictures)

We left the crypt and arrived at Neuer Markt which is a market area which is just a bunch of shops with a famous fountain in the middle. There are four figures on the fountain that symbolize the four rivers that flow into the Danube (the big river in the region). Apparently many of the buildings around the fountain were destroyed in WWII and then rebuilt so I have no idea how this fountain survived, but it did.

We continued walking and were approached by a man dressed up to look kind of fancy and he wanted to sell us tickets to a classical music concert happening the next night. We told him that we would have to think about it and he was obviously desperate to sell them (he prolly got commission if he sold tickets) so he came back to us and said that he cleared it that he could give the tickets to us at a huge discount. So we bought some concert tickets for the following night. In the future we were also approached by many of these people and they were all over the popular tourist places like the cathedral and near the opera house. But anyway, we then went to the St. Stevens cathedral, which was huge and gothic and impressive. We were able to take a elevator up to the bell tower which gave views of the city... which honestly were not that impressive but still kind of cool.

 Ohh, awww, catherdal.

We then went to a walking street called Graben which featured more shops (pretty similar to the other shopping street). It was very fancy for the most part. We went into a local grocery store and got a cheap lunch. In this area there was a monument called the holy trinity plague column which features another depiction of a noble pleading for God, Jesus, and the holy spirit to save the city and its inhabitants from the plague. The man who erected the statue (as a thank you for sparing the city and who is on the monument) is Leopold and can be easily identified by his under bite (a result of the inbreeding that occurred in the royal families at that time), which I thought was hilarious.

We then went to St. Peter's Church which was easily one of my favorite churches that I saw the entire trip. It was right off of Graben and was Baroque and impressive. This church was also commissioned by Leopold as a thank you for surviving the plague.

 (look how crazy...)

We then got to Kohlmark which was another really fancy shopping street with a ton of really nice and expensive places. Yeah... okay moving on.

We ended up in Michaelerplatz which is dominated by the Hofburg Place on one side of the square. In the square there was also St. Michaels church which featured another crypt I would be returning to later. The Hofburg also has four depictions of Hercules in the front of it doing different things. From what I could tell he was helping Promethus in one, killing a hydra in another and in the other two he was doing something else he was known for (there's a little bit of old propaganda for you).

We then went in to the Hofburg palace which is where the Habsburgs lived and ruled from. It was their own, private, really fancy and huge, separated place, right in the middle of the city. The Palace has many things such as the Spanish Riding School, the Royal Apartments, some other fancy museums, and gardens. We went to the royal apartments and bought a pass that would allow us to see a package of Habsburg things in the next few days.

We then went to the royal apartments. Much of the beginning was focused on the empresses Sisi (short for Elizabeth if I remember correctly). She was focused on so much because she was so recent and because he life was conducive to being very interesting for a tourist exhibit. She was super obsessed with her figure and had crazy long hair (that took three hours everyday to deal with). She was also known for her rejection of court life and her beauty. She was eventually assassinated right before the turn of the century. The reason she rejected court life is because she felt like it limited her freedom. As a kid she was able to have fun all the time. Then she was married off to the Habsburg ruler and then had to be a queen. I feel really sorry for her because I'm sure all the working class individuals back then were able to just hang out all the time and have lots of fun unlike her (I think she is a total baby). But anyway she lived a very lavish life and a lot of her personal items were on display like her hand mirror and her jewelry and her notebook and all sorts of stuff like that. Some of it was really cool. But yeah you continue and it focuses less on her and more on just the apartments and what life would have been like if you were a Habsburg ruler. Turns out it was very busy and pretty lavish (The emperor began his day at 3AM!!).

We then walked around Hofburg for awhile and then chilled out in the park behind the new palace (it was supposed to be a residence for the next generations of rulers but then Austria became a republic so there is just this really nice building that was not ever actually used by the royal family). It was pretty. After that we went to the Imperial Furniture Collection (which was covered by our Sisi ticket). If that sounds like it would be boring... well it kinda was. They had a lot of old property owned by the imperial family. Some of it was cool and unique (even the freakin spitoons were really fancy) but I mean, one can only look at furniture so long.

We then got dinner at a nearby place and had an unhappy waitress because we ordered cheap food and asked for tap water so she was grumpy (but whatever, the place was pretty empty, she shoulda been happy for the business). Then we went back to the Opera House. The Opera House is huge and, like I said, holds operas every night. Well we wanted to see one while we were in Vienna. As I'm sure you can imagine, it is really expensive to watch one... unless you go for the standing area. You get pretty much the worst view possible but it is only 4 euro and you get to see the inside of the opera house and you can still see (ish) an opera. So that's what we did. We watched the first half of "The Barber of Seville" and then my friend just couldn't take anymore opera so we left. It was also not the most fun because we couldn't understand the opera and our translators were not working (they have these little screens along the railing that will show the lyrics in English which would have been nifty if ours would have worked).

 Inside of Opera House (I have a few more pictures)

So yeah that was that day. Lots of touristy things but Vienna has a lot of touristy things to see.

Okay, now for the final day in Vienna...

We woke up and had breakfast. Then using the guide book, were were able to take a tram tour where we were basically instructed to "look left, here is this thing... tons of info... look right! here is this thing..." and so on. Doing it that fast passed didn't really allow anything to leave a lasting impression, but we did meet a nice Austrian woman who just started pointing out everything to see.

We then made out way back to the Hofburg area and then went on a tour (with a tour guide) into St. Michael's Church Crpyt! The church itself was pretty nice, and the outside was very nondescript. We were also not allowed to take pictures in the crypt but it was a pretty neat tour and we got to hear some history about the burials. This crypt was also for nobility (like the imperial crypt) but it was for plain ol' nobles, not the imperial family who are in the imperial crypt. So while this place was still pretty nice by their standards (back in the day), the coffins were definitely not as crazy.

We then went to this place called Naschmarkt which is a market that is in the middle of two streets with all sorts of restaurants and stands. Many of the people there are from other countries and so things like hummus and pesto were pretty legit. So we got some lunch there and then continued.

Then we went to the Schonbrunn Palace which is a really fancy place where they Habsburg folks would hang out in the summer. It was a pretty nice building with some extremely massive grounds behind it. The tour was cool, mostly just more fancy rooms talking about the royal families. The grounds behind the palace were really cool. They are now just a park but the park has many secluded benches you could read at or have a picnic (presumably during the summer when it's not hella cold), it has a hedge maze, a bird cage the size of like three cars on top of each other (I'm guessing), a zoo, and then a bunch of statues scattered about (and a few huge monument/structure type things on top of a huge hill towards the back). So yeah it was a nice place, I got some pictures, espcially because it was really pretty in all of its autumn glory. Quick note, Vienna (and Salzburg) had fall colors, Copenhagen has been... confused. Some trees just wern't sure when to transition to winter mode so it happened at different times for all the trees so there wasn't like a ton of fall colors here, or at least not all at once.

Anyway, we then went walking around (which was prolly my favorite activity) and I was starting to not feel well so we decided to just go back to the hostel and take it easy for a little while. Then it was time for our concert so we went back downtown. And then had a ton of difficulty finding the venue... and were pretty late. But it was all good and I really enjoyed the concert (even though I felt pretty sick) so I'm glad we went.

Then we went back, I gladly jumped into bed and crashed immediately.

The next morning was basically packing, breakfast, checkout, and then going to central station and saying our goodbyes. My friend was staying for the remainder of the day in Vienna and then was catching an overnight train to Berlin. I was able to catch a train to Salzburg pretty much immediately... and that is my Vienna trip.

Looking at the guide book, there are still things we could have seen, there is honestly just a ton to see. And there are also art museums aplenty that we did not look into at all. Vienna just basically has a ton to see. It was a good visit, pretty jam packed. Glad I saw the city though.

For anyone looking to visit the city in the future, if you want to see a lot of things, I suggest going for 4 or 5 full days because there are a ton of things to see. I liked the amount of time I spent there and got to see pretty much everything I was interested in seeing. This was also the place where I saw the most things.

Anyway, I'll get Salzburg later on. Because everyone will most likely see this after Thanksgiving (which the Danes do not celebrate at all, they are beginning to focus on Christmas stuff now (which I guess I'll have a blog post on later...)), I hope everyone has had a nice Thanksgiving break!


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