Friday, October 12, 2007

WIEN! (Vienna)

This was how we got to Vienna: Bus from Frankfurt to Hahn, plane to Bratislava, Slovakia, bus to Vienna. But it was cheap, and everything ran really smoothly so I would say it was worth it.

Tuesday morning we walked into town, went to the Naschmarkt, which is a huge outdoor market, where we stopped at a little organic bakery and had some pastries and coffee. Fueled for the morning, we went to the eastern side of the city to begin exploring. I really wanted to see the Hundertwasserhaus, a really cool-looking apartment building designed by the artist Friedrich Hundertwasser. It's kinda like Gaudi's style, with organic shapes and bright colors. Man, I hope my pictures turn out. But here's the story about how we found the house, which is a bit off the beaten track:

We were looking at the map, trying to decide if we had just gone in the wrong direction or not, and a nice, grandfatherly-looking older man stopped and asked me where we were trying to go. when I said the Hundertwasserhaus, he said, "Oh, I live right there. That's where I'm going; I'll take you with." So off we went with this man. And he asked us if we've walked through the Stadtpark yet, so he took us on a detour through the park. He pointed out the Strauss statue and said, "Do you want to take a picture?" Uh....I'm thinking about our disposable camera and our 27 exposures, but I say "sure" because he was so nice about it. Then he urged us to go stand up by the statue. "No, no....up on the statue. Yes, yes. One on each side." So Will and I climb up on the statue, according to his instructions, and he takes a picture of us by Strauss. And another one horizontally. Hilarious. We got chatting and he asked us where we were from, said he had family that immigrated to the US, said we had to come back again and have more time in Vienna. He pointed out the exact trams and directions we needed in order to get back to our next destination, Belvedere, and then left us basically right in front of the Hundertwasserhaus, bending to air-kiss my hand before he went into his building. How sweet! I love it when you encounter kind strangers like that!

Above: picture taken by nice Viennese man of us by Strauss statue

So we followed his directions and got right to the first museum on our list, the Belvedere, where Klimt's "The Kiss" hangs. There were two great exhibits here, one larger collection of Klimt and his company, and in the lower Belvedere an exhibit called "Vienna-Paris" that showed how French and Viennese artists built off of one another. It was great. I love exhibits like that which teach you about different movements and how they relate.

It was a beautiful day and the time that we didn't spend in art museums we spent walking through the gardens and parks. We went back to the hotel to get our coats and put our feet up for a bit, and then met my friend Caroline for dinner. She is half Austrian, half American and studied at St. Olaf with me all last year. She took us to a restaurant she knew where you can get huge portions of Austrian specialties...Will got Gulasch and I got Schnitzel, and an Ottakringer, the beer from Vienna.
Our dinner with Caroline. Please note how impossibly big these portions were!
Then Caroline took us on a night tour of the city center, which was amazing. It was so beautiful at night. Like she said, at night all the beautiful buildings are lit up and all the ugly ones are dark, so it's really Vienna putting its best face on. The Opera, the Hofburg, the was all really gorgeous. And there was so much going on! I love how cities come alive in a different way at night. We got some amazing ice cream and enjoyed our tour by a native Viennese girl who really knows her stuff. As we walked she pointed out details like the markings of the Resistance on the Stephansdom; the Ankeruhr (clock) with twelve figures, one coming out each hour; various cafés and buildings of note. She said she just learned it all in school, but I doubt many of her classmates could be such a good tour guide.

Wednesday morning we got up, ready to tackle another museum, but not before a cup of coffee. We went to a café by St. Stephen's Cathedral and had a chocolate croissant and an apple pastry. We went to the Musuemsquartier, visited the Kusthalle first, where they had a really well-designed exhibit called "True Romance: Allegories of Love from the Renaissance to Today," displaying all kinds of media. Then we took a coffee break, stopping at the appropriate-for-the-day Café Musuem, where we indulged in a warm apple strudel as well. Yum. Then we went back to the museums district to hit up the Leopold Museum. This museum also has a large Klimt collection, as well as other Austrian artists, and their current exhibit was on Austrian inter-war art. For the rest of the late afternoon we walked through town, did a bit of shopping, got some chocolate at the beautiful Café Demel and had coffee at Café Hawelka. Of course it was me and Will, so we bought and wrote a lot of postcards as well. My problem is that I never want to part with them, so I end up keeping more than I send...

For dinner we went to a wine tavern on the outskirts of town. A bit touristy, but hey, we can't pass off as native. We had good Austrian wine, more Schnitzel, and they had live music (accordion and violin).

Thursday we had a typical Viennese breakfast at Café Bräunerhof, Brötchen, Croissants and Kaffee Melange. We walked through the posh shopping streets and people-watched a bit. We took the train out to the Donauinsel and sat on the banks of the Danube for a quick nap in the sun...We stopped in town and had a piece of the Sacher Torte that is so famous in Austria, and had wine (Kathryn), tea (Will) at the Kleines Café, the cutest, smallest café in Vienna. We went back to the Karlsplatz and had Kaiserschmarrn....mmmm....and visited the Secession building. This is one of the coolest musuems, for sure. The group of artists, including Klimt, who "seceded" from the traditional art movement at the turn-of-the-century built this building, with the motto "To the age its art, to art its freedom."

Above: Kaiserschmarrn

We went back to the Naschmarkt, the huge market, to get some food for the journey back to Germany. I really wanted some cheese because they had this amazing cheese shop, but I was worried about taking cheese with. After scanning the shelves I picked out a French Munster and asked the man behind the counter for just a small piece. I explained that I would get more, but that we were travelling and couldn't take more than we could eat. He asked where we're from, and I said:
"The US, but we're flying to Germany because that's where I'm living right now."
"Where in the US?"
"Minnesota. It's in the midwest...near Canada..." [she says, used to people having no clue where MN is.]
"Have you heard of Duluth?"
"Of course! That's where we're from!"
"Well, have you ever heard of Bob Dylan?"
"Of course..."
"Well, here you go then..." And he signaled that the cheese was on him. Love it. Love the Viennese.

So we made it back to Germany at 3 a.m., after a bus to Bratislava, plane to Hahn and a bus to Saarbrücken. It was a great trip. We did sooo much in three days, mostly a mix of art and coffee and pastries...but I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Above: Karlsplatz, one of the train stations designed in the typical Austrian art-nouveau, called Jugendstil. Below: the Secession building, same style.

Above: Me in front of the Hofburg.
Above: in an organic bakery in the Naschmarkt, where we had some delicious patries and coffee..
Above: Will in front of the Stephansdom, St. Stephen's Cathedral

1 comment:

  1. numm sounds like a lot of good food :)