Monday, July 26, 2010


Our second weekend with Pablo we made our way to Vienna or “Wien”, as it's called in German, which by the way can be very confusing to non-German speaking tourists looking for their flight information on the departure board at the airport.

When I think of Vienna I think of composers, operas, art and opulence. I was not disappointed. The city is chock full of ornate architecture and palaces, museums upon museums and you can’t swing a stick without hitting a guy dressed up like Mozart trying to sell you tickets to a concert.

We hit a couple of palaces, both the Hofburg and the Schonbrunn. I have to say the history of the Hapsburg family and their reign was pretty interesting. Their winter and summer palaces (although only a few miles from each other) gave you a clear sense of their wealth, their importance and even a glimpse into their personal lives. Photos weren’t allowed in the apartments or much of the tour, which didn’t really matter since sockhead me decided to forget my camera battery inside its charger in Germany on Friday. I was at the mercy of my very short-lived point and shoot battery for an entire 3 day weekend so I had to be choosey to say the least.

We wandered around the city quite a bit and visited a few churches. We, of course, went to the Stephansdom, but I have to say the Karlskirche was most impressive since it provided us with a very unique view of the church. They had an elevator and scaffolding that took us to the very top of the church’s dome. It was pretty spectacular to be up there and for me also very scary. After the elevator you had to walk a few flights up to the very, very top. By the time I reached the end I was shaking like a leaf. How they painted the fresco up there in 18th century with 18th century quality scaffolding I will never know and kinda don’t want to…

We had planned a trip to Budapest, but the weather was bad so we opted for a trip to the Vienna Woods, or Wienerwald. We visited a nunnery which was the old hunting lodge of the Crown Prince and also the site where he murdered his 17 year old mistress and himself (see, their history really is interesting!) and the Heiligenkreuz Abbey which is the second oldest Cistercian abbey in the world, being occupied since 1133. The trip ended with a tour of the Seegrotte underground lake. The largest underground lake in Europe, it was formed when a blast led to an underground spring leaking into the gypsum mine. The mine was interesting (and cold), especially since during the war had been used as an underground Nazi airplane factory, where over 20k Jewish prisoners had been used for labor. It was a misty day, but nice to get out of the city and into the lush Vienna Woods...

We spent our last day squeezing in as much as we could, even splitting up in the MuseumsQuartier to check out different exhibits. Pablo chose the Modern Museum to see Haring and we went to the Leopold to check out Scheile and Klimt. Can you come to Vienna and not see a Klimt?? Well, I guess Pablo did, but we didn't miss out...

Many consider Vienna to be the cultural capital of all of Europe and after our weekend there I’d be inclined to agree.

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