Europa II, Wien MMXIXJanuary 23, 2020
After a few days in Prague, we took a train to Vienna, and hit the ground running. I was really excited to see the city for the first time, and enjoy all the cultural works it had to offer.
Our place was right by the Naschmarkt, which oddly felt a lot like a middle eastern shuk.
Ben, having a worrisome phone call while we were all blissfully unaware.
Weirdos can be spotted outside of San Francisco, too.
Deciding what would be dinner took the group a long time, and people couldn’t agree. I walked away, bought myself some bread, meats, and cheese, and knew that I couldn’t go wrong.
We were all excited about Viennese Café culture, and trying out a few places. It’s odd that these coffeehouses, initially known for being intellectual hubs where ideas flowed and people would meet up for interesting conversations have just turned into tourist attractions. In some sense, it’s the intellectual/social version of Gresham’s law.
We waited for a long time, and the waiters were super rude. When we said we had 6 people, they said they wouldn’t seat us. Hannah and I sat together, and the rest of the group sat on a second table. Overall, I’d say it was worth it just for the apple strudel.
The neighborhood we were staying in felt very artsy. Hannah made me walk into an odd store or two.
As expected, we visited a few bookstores. It was interesting to see what’s translated into German from English/Spanish, as well as what is sold for the English speakers. Also, curiously, every shop had a ton of music CDs. I don’t remember the last time I saw that in the US.
I can’t remember why Ben was crying, but our waiter was very helpful and brought a teddy bear to console him.
Ah, the quattro fromaggi, they said it couldn’t be done!
Walking around the palaces and promenades in Vienna I couldn’t stop thinking of my mom, who, for some reason, as a child was obsessed with the idea of Austrian royalty. The opulence and detail of the architecture was stunning.
It was day two, and time to go to our walking tour.
The Albertina was one of those museums I would have loved to go to but didn’t have enough time for. Perhaps next time.
According to our tour guide, the Habsburgs were obsessed with death, and had some crazy rituals around it, such as burying the heart separately from the rest of the body. This sculpture represents one such heart burial.
Our place was also very close to the Museumsquartier.
For New Years Eve, there was a large event organized by the city in the middle of the old town, with a bunch of concerts in multiple stages. A ton of people attended.
Of course, right as the party was getting started, the group decided we should take the train to Leopoldstadt, where things would be a bit less organized, and where the people watching would be better.
The happy face of a happy man.
In some way, it felt like we were in the Mission of Vienna. Tons of people were lighting up their own fireworks in the middle of the street, totally at random, and without much care for who was around.
There was also an official fireworks show that started right after the countdown. Then, it was 2020.
I was happily surprised by the amount of diversity we found in Vienna. The number of non-white people speaking non-germanic languages was unexpected, and quite prominent.
After the fireworks show was over, we walked across the river back to the downtown area.
For some reason, pigs are considered a lucky symbol, and lots of people had them on their clothes.
The next morning was tough. The streets were deserted, and everything was closed.
The Secession Building. I had never heard of the movement until this trip, and while we couldn’t go to the museum, I really enojyed seeing some of their work elsewhere.
Hannah and I ended up walking to the Leopold museum and having breakfast there. It was one of my favorite places from the whole trip. The whole exhibit was excellent, and while the main focus is Klimt, I really enjoyed the graphic design work of Koloman Moser, particularly his posters and stamps. I would have loved to see the section on German art, which represented a reaction to the post-war period, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time.
The group was meeting up at the amusement park in Leopoldstadt, and Hannah insisted that we should go there and go on the Ferris wheel.
Once up there, Hannah was no longer as excited about the ride.
The views, however, were striking.
Walking around aimlessly, we ended up in the Jewish neighborhood.
And that was Vienna.
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