Austria: Suffocatingly Beautiful Vienna

When I first arrived in Germany, I couldn’t even utter a German sound. There was this friendly chap, who could speak fluent German, and didn’t mind to teach me that difficult language. Subsequently, he even invited a Cambodian friend and me to stay at his friend’s place in Vienna. This was how I ended up visiting this beautiful city in Austria over the weekend (02.09.2010 -06.09.2010) ~~

To give you an orientation of Vienna, here is a map of the city, which I tore off from the local tour magazine. As you can (probably) see, the famous Schloss Schönbrunn is at the south east corner outside the inner city (see the small zoom-out map at the bottom right hand corner), while the Riesenrad is in the north east, on the other side of the Danube Canal (Donaucanal, colored as blue in the map) :

The Map of Vienna: The photo is  a bit blurred, but hope that you can make out the general contour of the city
The Map of Vienna: The photo is a bit blurred, but hope that you can make out the general contour of the city

Two full days are enough to tour around the important sights in Vienna.

Our first day was dedicated to visiting the main sights on the outskirts of the city (Schönbrunn, Belvedere and Risenrad):

1. The baroque Schloss Schönbrunn (lit: Beautiful Spring Castle) lies quite far away from the city centre, so we rented a city bike to go there. Probably because of its French-styled gardens, and its former resident, the legendary Sissi Empress of Austria, whose aunt is the equally, if not more, legendary Marie-Antoinette Queen of France, this palace is also called the little Versaille.

Since the baroque Schloss Schönbrunn lies quite far away from the city center, so we rented a city bike to go there.
Schloss Schönbrunn

2. To be honest, in comparison to Schloss Schönbrunn, another Baroque palace – Schloss Belvedere – is more pleasing to my eyes. Actually Schloss Belvedere consists of not one but two palaces (Oberes Belvedere and Unteres Belvedere). Here you will find Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

Belvedere Palace
Schloss Belvedere
Schloss Belvedere
With the dark storm approaching at the background, don’t you think the expressions of the schulptures look more dramatic?

3. At night, we biked to Prater to board on the Riesenrad (Giant  Wheel). It was constructed in 1897 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I. For a brief history of Riesenrad, check out this link: http://www.wienerriesenrad.com/en/history. Here is where you can catch a panoramic view of Vienna at night!

Riesenrad, Prater
Riesenrad, Prater

Our second day was greeted heartily by the rich breakfast at Café Central, Vienna.This made a perfect beginning for a day dedicated to exploring the inner city.

1. It was quite a strange feeling to have a breakfast where Ludwig van Beethoven, Leon Trotsky, and Sigmund Freud had once dined. The atmosphere of Café Central created a surreal atmosphere, which made me think that all the aforementioned geniuses might casually drop in at any time, and sit next to me to have their own breakfast.

47699_459686043161_7339509_n
breakfast at Cafe Central

2. As you stroll across the inner city, be prepared to be awed by Stephansdom – a 13th-cenutry Gothic architecture.

Stephansdom
Stephansdom

3. Street performance is quite common in this city of culture 🙂

Street Performance
Street Performance

4. The boldly colored and whimsically shaped Hundertwasserhaus in Kegelgasse 36-38, 1030 Vienna is my favourite! “Ein Maler träumt von Häusern und einer schönen Architektur, in der der Mensch frei ist und dieser Traum wird Wirklichkeit” (A painter dreams of houses and a beautiful architecture, in which the human is free, and this dream becomes reality). Hundertwasser has indeed realized his dream.

Hundertwasserhaus
Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna

5. Drawn back to the city centre by the violin of Johann Strauss the “Waltz King” in Stadtpark.

Stadtpark, Vienna
Stadtpark, Vienna

6. Before moving further, let’s try this delicious Wiener Tafelspitz at the restaurant of Kunsthistorisches Museum!

Tafelspitz
Tafelspitz

7. Only then, we can have the energy to stroll through hundreds and thousands of artworks in Kunsthistorisches Museum. Here is one artwork inspired by Gen 11:1-9 and other extra-biblical sources. At the bottom right hand corner, you can see workmen genuflecting in front of Nimrod, who is mentioned in Gen 10:8-9 as “the son of Cush” and “the mighty hunter before YHWH.” Micah 5:6 seems to associate Nimrod with Assyria or Mesopotamia. Anyway, Nimrod is not explicitly mentioned in Gen 11, but he has indeed been painted as a blasphemous proud in later traditions (e.g. Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews and b. Hul. 89a)

The Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel, by Pieter Bruegel (1563)

8. We ended our journey with a window shopping along the Mariahilferstraße. Don’t miss out this delicious snack that you can find in Mariahilfer Straße 95. 😉

Trześniewski
Snacks at Trześniewski

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