Friday, 20 September 2013

Vienna August 2013

After what seemed like an interminable journey we arrived in Vienna and easily got from the airport to Stephanplatz. There is a fast train connection which made getting there easily accessible. Melbourne please note. As we were staying at the same place as last time, Marc Aurel Hotel we had no trouble finding our way. It is in a great location and really nice little hotel not far from St. Stephan’s Cathedral.

The first afternoon we just wandered around our area as we were feeling very tired. Even if you haven’t been to a city before it is always good to just wander around the first day to orientate yourself.

The next day we went to the Jewish Museum, it was closed last time we were there. It was very interesting as it wanted to feature what Jewish Culture was like in Vienna but also included crucial information about the treatment of the Jews during under the Nazis. The Jewish Museum in Vienna initially was first set up in the late 1800s by the Jewish community. It is located near the Hofburg complex.
State Library

After we spent quite a while there we then went to the State Library, which is definitely worth seeing. We had been there on a previous visit but have a soft spot for old, opulent libraries. As on our previous visit there was an exhibition, this time on documents that charted aspects of Austrian history.

Then not content with this we managed to find time to go to the Mozart House which presented an insight into the life and times of Mozart as well as some very interesting information about his life.

By the time we had walked our feet off for the day we had dinner at our hotel restaurant. We had eaten there on the previous visit and the food has been very good and it didn’t disappoint this time.

The next day we visited Melk which is about an hour and 20 minutes by train from Vienna. A huge abbey dominates the town. The abbey is considered a masterpiece of baroque art. It is now a museum but for over 900 years was a Benedictine monastery. It served over the course of its history as an educational institution and carried out religious duties to the parish.
Melk Abbey

It is easy to spend most of the day in the abbey and gardens.

Spurred on by our trip to Melk we decided to venture to Rust which is situated by Neusiedler Lake. We had to take a bus there and the bus station was in disarray as there was a huge amount road works in progress around it. We found where the buses left and knew the number, 566, on seeing a bus with that number, even though it had ‘Eisenstadt’ as its destination, and was earlier than the time we were given, decided to check with the driver. ‘It’s Ok; you can change at Eisenstadt and catch bus 765 to Rust.’ I thought this would be a good option as we could probably arrive at Rust a bit earlier than expected. However being school holidays some of the scheduled buses were not running, so instead of a five minute wait we had a 30 minute wait and arrived at Rust 15 minutes later than the direct bus. The town has some interesting buildings; the Town Hall (Rathaus) was built in 1673. The town was fortified twice and there are still remnants of the old town gate and wall left. A trip on the lake was an enjoyable way to spend an
hour. It was disappointing that the Fischerkirche was closed as it seemed to be the most interesting. Overall the town was definitely worth a visit but I think the direct bus is the better way to go if just doing it as a day trip.

On our last day in Vienna we visited the Secession Building an unusual building designed by Joseph Maia Olbrich for the Secessionist movement artists. We had seen some advertisements for the Gemälde Galerie which wasn’t far from the Secession Building; it is the paintings gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts. It has a small collection but excellent cross-section of the history of European painting. The collection was donated to the Academy in 1822 by Graf Lamberg-Sprinzenstein. Another delightful aspect of the gallery was the very interesting discussion we had with the ticket seller.

From there we went to the Hundertwasser Haus is an apartment block designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The colours and irregularity of the walls is very much a reminder of Gaudi architectural style. 
Hundertwasser House

Our last activity for our last day was a ‘Third Man’ walking tour, which was not a sewer tour (as it turns out none of the sewer scenes in the movie were actually shot in Vienna’s sewers). It was very interesting from both a cinematic and historical point of view. Well worth doing but it’s better if you have actually seen the film and I will certainly watch it again with a completely different eye.

Early the next morning we left Vienna for Slovenia

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