Guten Tag, Wien!
Trip Start Dec 17, 2008
61Trip End Ongoing
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My, how happy we were to finally get to Vienna! Some would call it a "trip from hell." That's what I called it too.
We took a train from Český Krumlov to České Budějovice switched in Linz and then to Vienna, or Wien, as it's called in Austria. The train from České Budějovice to Linz was an absolute nightmare. The train was packed to the gills and we ended up having to stand for 2 hours shoulder to shoulder (and closer at times) within a 2’ wide passage way with about 500 other people going the same way. Yuck… Not to mention it was about 800 degrees. We put on our headphones and tried to find a happy place in our minds, but it was pretty difficult. Being that
Once we got there all was forgotten about the nightmare train ride and we settled in to our usual exploring routine. Vienna has a distinctly "new" cosmopolitan feel. The architecture is much more recent, mostly 18th-20th century with a heavy influence from the Art Nouveau period. It sounds a bit silly to say that the architecture looks “new” but it does, particularly compared to some other European cities. It’s a meticulously clean and well organized city. The streets are wide and the old regal palaces sprawl on acres of landscaped land. There is a feeling of more “space” here than in other European cities.
For some reason Vienna is not a city I typically think of as having such an effect on world history, but it certainly did. The Hapsburgs, seated in Vienna, ruled for over 700 years. The Austro-Hungarian empire stretched across many borders of modern eastern Europe. WWI started there with the catalyst assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which also ultimately led to the end of Hapsburg rule in 1918 with the end of the war. It is a city with deep
We spent many little sight-seeing breaks in the cafés of Vienna. The classic Viennese coffee house is an important part of the culture there and numerous cafes dot the city, each with its own history and a who’s who record of politicians, scientists, authors, and the like that used to frequent the cafés “back in the day.” Each café we tried was as delightful as the last and all of them had an old-world Art Nouveau feel to them, as they were built and decorated in that era. It was like stepping into a time warp. Locals sat reading papers, enjoying their beverage of choice, and snacking on the fresh delectable selection of local pastries each had to offer. What is really superb is that this café culture is not just a tourist phenomenon. The Viennese locals
Talk of classic Viennese style cafes would not be complete without mention of the famous Sacher torte from the historic Sacher Hotel. There is only one Sacher torte, my friends, so do not be fooled by imposters! We took a seat in the cozy quaint hotel café, decorated again in the typical classic style of
Another highlight was taking a tour of the Vienna State Opera House. It was the target of stray American bombs in WWII and unfortunately the auditorium and stage suffered quite a bit of damage. However, immediately after the war it was reconstructed, although with a bit of 1950s flair that was obviously not part of the original design. The foyer and staircases were largely intact and restored to their original splendor. It really is a beautiful building and it’s easy to
I feel like we saw a great cross-section of Vienna and I’m looking forward to eventually exploring more of Austria. We had a blast and were pretty exhausted by the end of the trip. But, all good things must come to an end and back to Bristol we went...
Where I stayed