Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oh Vienna!

Vienna. Wien. My beloved. A city so old yet so modern. Safe, clean and exciting.

Day 1
I arrived Sunday evening to Wombats City Hostel at The Naschmarkt. A brand spanking new hostel decked out with modern amenities and facilities.  A large dining room, trendy dark lit bar, aptly named The Wombar. In the lobby is a common room with lounges, free wifi and about 20 computers.  My dorm room was cool. Timber bunk beds, each bed with its own in built lamp & power point. Acces card activated lockers, hairdrier, clean bathroom, cosy linens. I hardly saw any of my dorm mates which was on one hand fantastic to have privacy and peace, but on the other hand, a the first point of contact and easiest way to make friends.

I showered, changed and headed down to the Wombar for my first complimentary beer and to find some friends.
The first beer was consumed in roughly 90 seconds. There wern't too many people in the bar, but I liked the music. Metronomy, Nirvana, Snow Patrol, Powderfinger - the list goes on  I ordered another beer (Ottakringer), when behind me I heard a voice discussing Oktoberfest.  Naturally I chimed in.  This is the start of my first friendships in Vienna.
Three people. A 26yr old German biology student - Daniel.  A 28yr old biochemist from Spain - Susana. And a 30yr  old Vietnamese Australian interior architect who I shall nickname - VA. On account of me not remembering his name.
Susana, Daniel, VA and I got along very well. We chatted and drank for a while before agreeing to go out for dinner and of course more drinks.  We walked into the modern museum square, only to find most places were closed.  It was a school night after all.  We found a bar finally and ordered some tapas. We talked about our cultural and language differences, travels and ninties cartoons. We headed off on a mission to find another bar but failed and ended up getting a little lost.  We walked and walked trying to work out the map, all the while my bladder was slowly filling up, ready to burst. I literally needed to wee so bad I thought I would vomit.  So there was only one thing to do.... Ninja pee. I did it. I quickly found a dark, quiet space, nestled between two large cars, squatted and felt the best release of 2011. It was a success. The four of us eventually worked out how to get back to the hostel, had one last drink before heading to bed, agreeing to meet next morning and go out for breakfast.

Day 2
The four of us met in the lobby and made our way across the road to the Naschmarkt. An outdoor, multicultural permanent market. We found a nice cafe and sat in the beautiful Vienna sun reading our menus, all of us deciding on an Israeli breakfast. Literally having no idea what to expect we were delightfully surprised when our four.meals came out served on 3 tiered serving dishes!  Bottom tier was scrambled eggs, middle tier was a salsa type salad of fresh, chopped.tomato and cucumbers. Top tier was a a soft, spreadable goats cheese, olives and olive oil, all served with warm flat rolls.  The meal was delicious, fresh and fullfulling, a perfect start to the day.

It was now time for Susana to check out so we said our goodbyes.  Daniel, VA and I were off on our way to see the Schonbrunn Palace.  We were joined by a newcomer, Rick. A big middle aged Australian man, intelligent, kind and well spoken (except for a nervous tick he had) we were the strangest looking group of companions! The blonde girl, the german, the old man and the asian.
We arrived at the Schonbrunn Palace. A grand building. It was originally a mansion built in 1548. Then a palace was added between 1638-1643, becoming the summer home of Queen Marie Theresa and her sixteen children. One of whom was the famous 'let them eat cake' Queen Marie Antoinette of France.  A 6yr old Mozart performed here for the Queen. Napoleon stayed here twice. A very powerful and notorious empire she held sovereign over Milan, Croatia, Bohemia,Hungary, Austria for 40 yrs. Every room was laden with gold. Hand drawn and painted wall papers covered the walls. One thing I noticed was how short the grand beds looked. Then Daniel informed me 'people were short back then' I'm like 'yeah but this wasn't the dark ages!' Well anyway they must have been really short back then!
Ok back to the palace... It's pretty damn impressive, as you'd imagine a palace to be.  Outside are the  french gardens, The Great Parterre. Massive backyard I tell you!   Immaculately manicured, perfectly and symetrically designed with blooming colours of yellow, red, pink, purple, blue. I defied instruction and of course had to run up and get a photo on such a beautiful piece of floral art.

Lining either side of this amazing backyard are the gravel paths, every few meters stands a large white marble statue, I'm not 100% sure who the statues were of or what they symbolised, but they're cool, and massive.  As was the monument that stood perhaps a kilometer from the palace, directly parallell and centered called The Sun Fountain. Raised on a hill, so when the queen looked out from her windows and balcony, she had something to look at.  When you walk and climb your way to the monument, there in front of it lies a beautiful fountain and a pool.  From up here the view is incredible. You literally stand there looking back down on the palace and the whole city of Vienna stands behind it. What a site!
We had a great time, we ate cornetto ice creams and got lost in the palace maze gardens. Then made our way back to the hostel where we had to say goodbye as the others were checking out.

I used my time that evening to take care of any business I needed to on the computers. I met two Aussies, Dwayne and Ken. I had an early night.that night.

Day 3
I got up and ready to cease the day. Today I was heading to the Albertina Gallery.  An impressive building built in 17th century, bombed in 1945 and refurbished. It houses 65,000 artworks. Only €9.50 entrance fee.  I started in the    Rennaissance section where the work of artists like Michaelangelo, Rafael, Rubens hung.  My brain has mini explosions and my heart skips a beat when my eyes witness 500 year old artworks.
I then made my way into the Max Weiler exhibition. He is a very famous, influential Austrian artist. His impressionism confused me.
Then came the Picasso and Monet exhibition.  It's cool seeing them in real life, alongside Kandinski and Matisse.
After a couple of hours there I headed over to the main street, shopping! Oh my lord. This is the shit right here, anything you need you can get here.  Just so happens my bag was breaking and my boots had worn down. Needless to say they were replaced, alongside a black cardigan, a pair of tights and 2 t-shirts.
I then went over to Crossfields, the Aussie pub for a feed. The food there is overpriced and terrible. I met an older Australian business man and he paid for my food and two beers, yeaaah. I couldn't tell if he was creepy or just very kind. Anyways I bailed and headed back to the hostel where I bumped into Ken and Dwayne who invited me to a trivia night at a nearby Irish Pub.

There was us three plus another aussie girl and an english girl. Our team name was The Fritzel Kids. We came third, well third last actually.  It was good clean fun though and I had another early night as my winery tour was booked the following morning
Day 4
Up early, the tour bus picked up the group at 9am.  Our guide, Sascha was lovely and very informative. The bus was made up of Aussies, Canadians and Americans.  We headed off into the Wachau Valley where we went to pick up our bikes, then rode to our first winery.  Tables set up outside of this beautiful, exclusive winery, nestled in between valleys of vineyards. I sat with two Aussie girls, Gemma and Jackie. We got along great, giggling and chatting over our first 3 glasses of wine. We then rode about 30mins to our next winery, where we had lunch. Traditional style, meats, salads, cheeses, breads... More wine. We rode to the next place, this was tasting of apricot schnaps and apricot brandy. Us girls sat and had a coffee, melange. While the rest of the group climbed a mountain to a castle ruin.  We then rode to a beach where we relaxed for a while before heading to our next and last venue, more wine.  Yummy yummy wine.
The busride home was quiet but filled with happy, tipsy, worn out winos.
I did not go out that night with my new friends as I had some things to do. I heard so many bad stories of Naples, I needed to cancel my hostel there and research what I'm doing instead. As I had to be up at 3am next morning for my flight to Italy, I had to get myself sorted out. I've decided on visiting Perugia instead.

Vienna has been a trip highlight. The friends, shopping, art, history and culture. Vienna is the underdog of Europe. I can't wait to visit again.


No comments:

Post a Comment