I visited Vienna for the first time in December 2013 and stayed until January 2014. I have been there for around 2 weeks and it was not enough. It was one of my dreams to see this city, because I have heard so much about it and also have seen a lot on TV. Honestly the city also looked very interesting for me because the “Freddy-Quinn-Archiv“, a private collection of things of and around the famous, but retired artist “Freddy Quinn”. Actually Vienna is so rich by culture that everyone should go there.
Day 1, 20th December 2013 – Just arrived in Vienna
Finally I am in Vienna, but still I am not really there yet, because I am in Schwechat at the airport. The plan landed around half an hour late. I am still on the field waiting for the bus, which will bring us to the hall for arrivals. I think, this is very unusual – I mean, that we have to take a bus. It is old fashion, but may depend on the company for the aircraft. Anyway I was not arriving by a cheap flight company.
Entering the arrivals I first see a lot of toilets – and I am happy about it, because I do not like to use the one on the plane. Soon I reach the baggage belt. All is very good signed and easy to find. After a while I hold my suitcase in my hand and continue to the exit. I have to pass the tull, of course. I take the green line, “Schengen” is working. Neither my lugguage is checked nor have I to show my passport.
At the meeting point, outside the building, my host Marion is waiting for me. She really looks like her picture on http://www.couchsurfing.org and also holds a piece of paper with my name on. Immediately we greet each other. Marion pick me up with her car. She tells me, that I do not have to carry my heavy suitcase all up for the hill from the underground station to her home. I am wondering if she has known that I will arrive with a 20 kg suitcase. I am happy about Marions kindness.
She tells me, what we see, on our way from the airport to her flat in the 19th district, called “Döbling”. Soon I see that the names of the districts are not named on the signs, but the numbers. I feel uncomfortable with this, but I think I will manage that with Marions help. The districts are like rings around the city, but some, which were incorporated lately. How should a tourist or newcomer know which one they are, in which direction one has to count and the size of every district. One cannot do it without a map. By the way would the names not be helping so much either, when one does not know the city. I realize, that it only is not familiar to me.
After around half an hours drive we can see the thermal power station of Vienna. For the matter it is an incenerator. The energy, which is produced there, is used as a district heating. I have never seen such a beautiful incenerator before. It looks like a house of art – and it is, buy the way. It was designed of the well-know Vienna artist Hundertwasser, who also has been an architect.
Leaving this piece of art behind us, Marion has to drive steep uphill, we cross a street with tram tracks and turn into a road, which I had not found by my own, because one come in there through an open portal under an apartment house. This is one of all the apartment houses the City of Vienna is the owner of and the place, where Marion livs. By the way: The City of Vienna has established these apartment houses since the end of WWI until 2004. The “Karl-Marx-Hof”, which was build in 1930, is a monument of this time and a sightseeing address. Nowadays the City of Vienna only plan and promotes new apartment houses, see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemeindebau I found that the City of Vienna is proud of their public housing, because on the walls of each building always is a sign when the house was build and that it is owned of the City of Vienna, but it is also the only thing, which tells me, that these apartment houses are public housing subjects. The facilities are very well cared for. I feel well in the apartment of Marion. Her apartment has two bedrooms, bathroom and toilet are separated – that is a little unusual for me, but I see that more often in the apartments of Vienna – also in the new ones. One of my Vienna hosts tell me, that it is for the hygiene. Marions kitchen is refurbished so is her bathroom. The apartment is warmed up by a hot water container, which is operated by gas. Her new one was installed on her own costs. She tells me, that the most of the other tenants in this apartment block have joined the district heating. The evening ends comfortably by tea and sandwiches.
Day 2, 21st December 2013 – Opera, Hofburg Palace, Stephansdom and much more
After an enjoyable breakfast, meanwhile we know each other better, Marion give my ideas of what I should visit, how to go there and with which one I should start. She also tells me how to get and what ticket I should take for the public transport. My Vienna adventure can start. The weather is kind to me, that means the sky is bright blue and the temperatur is around +80 C. I am walking down the street to the combined underground, bus and tram station “Spittelau”. I take the tram route D and go by her to the Opera. During the ride I see the stock market, the town hall, the well-known theatre called Burgtheater and the university of Vienna. When I leave the tram I look around and try to get an overview of the area. My first photograph is of the ULF (Ultra Low Floor Tram) infront of the Opera. I try to cross the street. It is not the easiest at this place and I have to look around to find a safe crossing.
The traffic is already busy and I will not take a risk, though I look around until I see a traffic light, where I can cross the road. A moment later I am on a square called “Herbert von Karajan-Platz”, it is the square infront of the Opera and the name is well chosen. At this moment I understand how well signed the streets and squares are in Vienna. There are not only easy to find, but also tell one in which district one is. The same day I even discover, that all signs with the numbers of the houses has the street name in a smaller size written on it. I never have seen such a kind of signs, but I am very happy about them and I am wondering about the German organization, the Austrian seems better.
While I am looking at the Opera house I catch an eye on men in historical costumes. I try to pass with a quick eyecast, but stop then anyway. These men are selling tickets for concerts at the castle of Schönbrunn. During the concert pieces of Mozart and Strauss will be played and also vocal soloists will perform. I cannot resist this offer and my anticipation is high. At the same time I am wondering if I might be frauded. With the massive number of sellers, I cannot think that there will be some fraud. Afterwards I read on a sign if these “fliegende Verkäufer” (sellers) would be selling tickets for the Opera it would be fraudulent, because the Opera house only sells the tickets by their own and additional online, of course.
I continue to the tourist information to get a map of Vienna for free and also for asking about the “Morgenarbeit” at the “Spanischen Hofreitschule” (the Royal Spanish Riding School). During these two hours you can see the training of the Lipizzaner horses. That is a cheap possibility to see the horses with their horsemen preparing the famous shows. Even if there are no shows for a while, the horses have to be trained. To visit a show is very expensive. When I have got the information I need, I am entering the platform of the Albertina – an art museum. From the upper I see a house, where Mozart should have been living for some years. After enjoying the view I walk towards the garden and the buildings of the “Wiener Hofburg” (the palace of the Habsburg family – see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofburg_Palace). I am walking through the “Schweizer Pforte” and have the “Spanische Hofreitschule” to my right. I leave the area throughout the “Michaeler Tor”. Infront of this gate there are some “Wiener Fiaker” (special carriages) waiting for tourists. I think a little about to take one of them, but I think it is too expensive for just one person and also too cold for the moment. I will leave that until the days I cannot walk anymore. On the other hand I think it is a hard work for the coachmen, especially during the winter season. I really do not envy them. Some of the elder coachmen are really unhappy with the job or the weather – I do not ask them, but I see that in their faces.
At the “Michaelerplatz” I discover “Old-Vienna”: Excavations dating back to the romans. They are prepared for sightseeing at this place. One can neither touch nor visit, just look at them. Close to this place I also find the Austrian National Library. Marion told me I should visit the “Prunksaal”, an auditorium. I am on my way in. Already the staircase make it worth to visit this building, there are very interesting decorations. On the second floor I reach the “Prunksaal”. I glance at it and I am speechless. I have to buy a ticket downstairs, otherwise I will not have the possibility to come inside. Therefore I go downstairs again, buy a ticket for seniors and soon I am up again and in. In Vienna it is common to have reduced prises from the age of 60 or 63. At same places you have to be 65 years old. There is no privilege for people living in Vienna, also the tourists have the same conditions. That is all great, because I can see more by this opportunity.
In the auditorium I notice it for the first time, but I will do it later more often: The guard is looking at me like I would be a thief or would be destroying something. I think they are not used to people like me, taking such a long time for visiting a place of art or history. I read the most of the signs and papers carefully, that takes time of course. Therefore it is no good idea for me to have company at such a place. The most are visiting an exhibition for much shorter time than me. If one will enjoy Vienna for three days only, they do not have time for long visits of exhibitions, of course. To visit Vienna as a tourist for two weeks in a row is maybe unusual.
Leaving the National Library I do not have a special goal, but soon I see the Stephansdom infront of me. I try to take a picture of the whole dome, but that is impossible, because there is not space enough around the dome. Everywhere are buildings. Here I also find a little Christmas market. People are walking around, holding mugs with mulled wine. I am more interested in the dome and I think I will taste the wine later, but when I leave the Stephansdom the Christmas market already is closed.
Inside the Stephansdom I am surprised about the darkness. All is dark here: The stone, the wooden details and not much light is coming in because the wonderful decorated, coloured glass windows. I can neither see paintings on the walls nor the ceiling. The stairs for the pulpit are made in an amazing stone work. From the place, where it is possible to see all of it, it seems leading into total emptiness.
If one is reading about the Stephansdom, one always find, that one have to climb the tower and look from the above on the city of Vienna. When I see the elevator I compare with the “Michel”, the tower of the St. Michaelis church in Hamburg, Germany. On this tower you come up all the way by the elevator and have a nice and safe view on the city of Hamburg. I do not think, that it could be different here. Happily I queue for a ticket and afterwards for the elevator. The queue is not so very long, but we have to wait, that the elevator will come down again. I am a little surprised, that we are just a few people, but I think it is December and it would be more tourists another time of the year. The elevator is very fast, once we are in. It goes up in the 68 m high, but unfinished North-Tower. This tower is also the home for the bell called “Pummerin”. The elevator is not going all the 68 m, one has to use a spiral staircase for reaching the view point and to see the famous bell. It would not matter so much for me, if the stairs would be inhouse or wooden without possibility to look down and see the ground. These stairs goes outside the tower! The stairs are made of grids. For safety reasons there are also grids around, that none can fall down the tower. For me it does not feel save at all. It is a very uncomfortable situation for me, because I am afraid of high. I really have to fight my feelings for using these stairs. At the same time I think it is stupid to have paid for the elevator and cannot really see anything but a nice roof. I was moving slowly, took some nice photographs on the way up, tried to see the bell without a lot of grids infront of it, because it is a little hidden and I have been on the highest accesible point. Unfortunately the sky was not clear, but I could spot some churches as well as the hospital and have got an overview of the city of Vienna. I took a photograph of the nice and unusual roof of the Stephansdom, too, of course. By the way, the “Pummerin” rings in the new years. The way down was not easier either even one always will come down.
Afterwards I have had all reasons to pamper myself. Therefore I was looking for a nice coffee shop – it talks a lot about these in Vienna. First I was looking for the “Sky-Café” in the street “Kärntner Straße”, but even it is well-known it did not satisfy me. When I was looking for the named coffee shop I accidently (;-)) saw the nice paintings on a building. – You can see the picture under this paragraph. – Soon afterwards I found a coffee shop with the name “Café Frauenhuber” in a street called “Himmelspfortengasse” (heavens gate avenue). If that is not an omen, what would be one? There was a genuine atmosphäre like in old movies and easy to feel comfortable. The owners of the coffee shop are proud about the history. I ate a piece of “Sacher Torte”, a famous gateau, which was created a long time ago at the coffee shop “Sacher” in Vienna. Furthermore I chose a coffeechino with whipped cream, in Vienna called “Schlagobers”. When I was served I also have got a glas of cold water. That is usual in every renowned coffee shop in Vienna and I like it, because you will not get unthirsty of coffee, but of the water. I did not take the time to read the newspapers, because I would like to see as much as possible of Vienna. I only have around two weeks and Vienna has so much culture, art and lifestyle. One should need almost three month to see and enjoy all of it, I think.
I continued on my way following some interesting passages and small avenues. By this I saw one and another curiosity. Suddenly the street opened to a place with a monument of Gutenberg, the inventor of the mechanical printing press. I was asking myself, what Gutenberg has to do with Vienna or vs. I have to google it. This I found “The statue was erected on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of book printing in Vienna.” (Origin: http://www.vanderkrogt.net/statues/object.php?webpage=ST&record=atwi054) Maybe one will find more by surfing further on the Internet.
After a while I am infront of an underground station called “Schwedenplatz” (Sweden Place). I feel at home because my Swedish citizenship. One more time I am wondering about the meaning of it – when have the Swedes been in Vienna – and whom of them. I should google igen, but I postpone it. Therefore you still have the possibility to find it out by your own. Dawn is falling and I wish to end this day at the “Christkindlmarkt” (Christmas market) infront of the town hall. I ask at a kiosk for the directions. The people are wondering if I will walk the whole way and I tell them, I will. I have the feeling it cannot be to far away. They tell me that I will walk almost for 20 minutes and I think what are twenty minutes more? I have been walking all day long. I have to go back nearly all of the way I was coming before, but without all the detours I made this day, of course.
The lights are switched on now and all looks so different, especially for the Christmas lights. In the street “Rotgasse” (red avenue) all Christmas lights are in red, in the street “Graben” (ditch) hang lots of wonderful chandeliers and in the street “Habsburgergasse” (Habsburg avenue) I see lots of enlightened crowns. I also pass by the “Dorotheergasse” and see a “Dorotheum”. I think the people of Vienna have been waiting for me ;-).
Finally I am walking throughout the Hofburg Palace again, but the other way around. I have to cross the “Volksgarten” (people’s garden). Before I do that I already see the enlightened town hall and know that I am on the right way. From the “Volksgarten” I come by the Burgtheater, cross the road and I am there. In the trees hang a lot of enlightened and different things, but always of the same kind in everyone of the trees. That means in one tree there are only violins in different colours, in another only red hearts. I like the decoration and the idea behind it.
Full of nosiness I look around and I am sure again: Austrians are masters in organizing. The stalls here are exactly in line with each other and equal like eggs. The offers are like the one on other Christmas markets, from bits and pieces to amazing handmade things as well as food. I am only walking around and looking at all of the different things. I do not buy something. My suitcase is already heavy enough. Unfortunately I do not find nice mugs for mulled wine – the only memory of Vienna I would take home, but my photographs, because I am collecting these. I enter the town hall and look at the event there. A part of the first floor is used for activities for children. I like that! I will try to find out if it is possible to visit this town hall like the one in Hamburg. It is time to take the tram back to Spittelau and I do it.
This tram shakes a lot and I think: The inner city is not big at all, but maybe not much smaller than the city of Hamburg. Even if Vienna has some 100.000 more inhabitants than Hamburg is the area of Vienna only 3/5 as big as the area of Hamburg.
Day 3, 22nd December 2013 – On the Trail of the Architect and Artist Hundertwasser
Wien, Wien nur du allein… (Vienna, Vienna in my mind). Even I still think, that Hamburg is the most beautiful city of the world, I have to tell you. that Vienna also is nice. It is already my third day in this town. Ok, I was arriving late, maybe I should say it is my second day here. Anyway it feels like I have been for longer. I am not bored of the city, on the contrary I am delighted of the city, but I feel not like a stranger, I feel home here, too. Maybe I feel already home because the weather. It looks like the weather we are used to in Hamburg, we call it “Schmuddelwetter”.
Marion is spending time with me and takes me to the General Cementry for visiting the church because the ceiling. There are more to see inside the church and also we are looking at tombs of famous artists like Paul Hörbiger.
Afterwards she is taking me to the Hundertwasser House. It is an apartment house, where people are living. It is situated in the inner city, exactly in the 3rd district, called Landstraße (country road). It is one of the apartment houses of the City of Vienna and was build in the early 1980thies. It is not possible to visit the house, you can only see it from the outside, but I understand that, because the people, who are living here also need their privacy. It has not always been this way, there were moments when the tourism was so aggressive, that the living in people did not have any privacy. Meanwhile the inner yard is surrounded by a fench and the doors and gates are locked. There are still sightseers, I am one of them, but we cannot come close.
We look at the building from all accessible sides (there are only two) and continue to the Hundertwasser Galeria. Here one find arts of Hundertwasser and Klimt, another artist of Vienna. One can buy of the arts here, too. At the end I am visitng the famous toilet, because also this is typical Hundertwasser art. Marion told me, that it has been another way before, because there were a pair of shoes standing somewhere and also the water basin of a toilet has been special. It might have been sightseers who did distroy the items. However the crashed mirror is original.
At Marions home again we enjoy the afternoon and evening together. We have a lot to talk about and I try to make some notices about all I have seen so far. She also served me a soup with “Semmelknödel”.
Day 4, 23rd December 2013 – Schonbrunn Palace, Main Building
I am on my way since 11 o’clock and I am on my way by my own. Marion and me enjoyed our breakfast and have had small talk about our families. I have the feeling like Marion was talking most of the time, but that does not matter at all. She is not a good walker, still have things to prepare for the upcoming Christmas Eve and never is accompanying her couch surfers to all of the museums – she would have seen them lots of times already – therefore she asked me for going to Schönbrunn by my own. I chose this day because the concert (I bought the ticket for) will also be held this evening and I can stay there after the closing down of the museum. Of this reason it was easy to choose where I will go today. I still think, this day will be enough for the Palace, but I am wrong. When I am on my way to the palace I am thinking, that I maybe have taken to many days off – maybe there will not be enough interesting things to see in Vienna, but I could not be more wrong than about this.
On my way from the underground station Schönbrunn to the palace I discover a “Citybike-Station”. In Hamburg we call it Stadtrad. I know about it, but never used it, because it is a little complicated to use in Hamburg, but here it seems to be easier. There are more differences to Hamburg, because the bikes are situated in line and it looks much more organized. Furthemore on the bikes are advertisements. An easy way to keep costs lower. Once again I have that “Ordnung muss sein”-feeling and that it is more distinct here than in Germany.
Today Tommi is following me for the first time. Tommi is a little Teddybear, he is a toyvoyager (http://www.toyvoyagers.com/) and visiting Marion. Today he is on sightseeing with me and will pose on a lot of photographs. Marion will send the photographs to the owner of Tommi.
The Schönbrunn Palace is much bigger than I thought. The two columns infront of the palace are difficult to photograph. They are too high. I only can take a photograph with the whole of them when I put the palace in the distant background. After this is done I enter the estate. Even here I find a christmas market. Here it has the offical name “Weihnachtsmarkt”, as I am used to. I planned to drink mulled wine in Vienna and take a mug home, but the mugs only show the palace in black and white. The palace is painted in black lines on a white background. I will not buy a mug here either, I decide. I look around for tickets for the palace. There are signs, of course. I am in Vienna! In the building I get confused anyway. After a while checking the area, the machines and other people, I go forward to the cashier and buy a Winter Pass plus. That gives me entrance to the main building and a Grand Tour as well as to the zoo (Tiergarten), the house of palms (Palmenhaus), the house of desert (Wüstenhaus), the wagons garage (Wagenburg) and I also am allowed to visit the Apfelstrudelshow. I do not follow a guide, because I do not see much on that occations. On the one hand side most people are taller than me and I am not often in the front line and for the other hand side I have difficulties to hear the guides voice because my hearing aids do not work properly in groups. Furthermore I cannot look at all the art as long as i wish, there are only time to stare at the item the guide is explaining about for some seconds – like I feel it. I like to enjoy all the art and it does not matter for me if I do not know all about paintings and more. My eyes are enjoying anyway.
I walk slowly through the many and different rooms, read on attached plates and in my handout. Yes, I did not take an audio guide, even I am usually happy in digital devices, but I like to concentrate at the art, especially that there are no headphones. Unintended I have to listen to other visitors audio guides. I also walk back sometimes in a room, I already have been. In the palace, like in many of this kind of museums, it is prohibited to take photographs. I do not attend that totally, but I do not use the flash. I hope that the guards won’t see it. Nobody is asking me about it either, especially because I am careful and do not take photographs when a guard is in the room. All things I see are bigger, more beautiful and more amazing than I ever could dream about. Also the critical voice in me is heard. I do not really understand why the royals did need so much pomp, but on the other hand I admire the imagination because no room is like another one. There are not the same or look alikes curtins, furniture, wall decorations, you name it. Without the palaces and churches it would be a lack of art.
After a couple of hours I come to a line, where the most visitors have to leave the building, but with my special ticket I am allowed to go further. I am allowed to see all of the rooms. Already here I understand that I have made a good decision by buying this special ticket. When I finally leave the main building, it is twilight time. I continue to the garage for the wagons. At the entry I am being asked if I really still want go in, because the museum will close in half an hour. I think, there will not be a lot to see and I do not expect a lot of plates with descriptions of the items. Therefore I decide to visit this museum anyway.
I cannot see half of the items and plan to go there one more time. It is only 4pm and I am going to the garden, walking around and taking photographs. During the winter period the entrance of the garden is for free. Certainly you need a lot of phantasy for guessing flowers in the fallow beds. The visit is anyway interesting. I walk around to the middle of the garden and a big spring water, the Neptun Spring Water.
I cannot see the “Gloriette” – another building – in the weakening daylight. I feel cold. There are still three hours until the concert will start, but I have a voucher for an aperitif in a restaurant close by. I am honest, without this voucher I would not have been looking for that restaurant, because it was hard to find. Half an hour later I am finally in the warmth of the cosy restaurant.
I like the ambiance, even I think the prices are a little high. I am happy, that I am not disadvantaged as a single person. I am assigned to a table for four. I am thinking about the Republic of Ireland, where they did not let me into the restaurant, because it was only me. I love Vienna.
I order my free aperitif “Sissi” (one without alcohol) und ask for the menu. I choose “Hirschgulasch” (a goulash of deer). I have anyway to pay a little more for the meal, so I choose something special. The meal does not look like I was waiting for and has not that taste either. I eat it anyway because I do not know if I am wrong or not. Afterwards i order “Kaiserschmarrn”, because I am not satisfied of the main meal, even it tasted good. I use my tablet for the feeling that time will pass by quicker. Nobody cares about it. I have to tell you here, that the restaurant was not full at all, maybe in the main season, it would be different.
I ask for the bill and I am surprised about the low price and now I see, there is written “Fiakergulasch” and not “Hirschgulasch”. Now I understand. I ask the waitress to take a picture of me with my camera. She is pleased to do so and she is very serious about it, because she takes four different photographs. I save one of them. I leave an “adequate” tip to her and leave the place. When I am leaving the host bows and open the door for me. I think I might have given them a too big tip.
It is still to early to go to the Orangerie, where the concert will be held, but I am walking down there and hope for an early entrance. Because there also is a bar, there is no problem at all. For coming to the seats, we have to wait until half an hour before the concert starts. I do find a nice seat, even the queue infront of my is a long one. Unfortunately the concert lasts not for a long while, it is only two times 45 minutes. My feeling tells me, it was even shorter. Music from Richard and Johann Strauß as well as Mozart is played – mainly walsermelodien, but also polka. There are four vocal soloists, too – they sing even duo. We applaud hard, though we get an extra piece – it is the Radetzkymarsch and at least they play “Silent night, holy night” with a closing remark for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Day 5, 24th December 2013 – Schönbrunn Palace, Zoo and more
It is Christmas Eve. I offered Marion my help, but she preferes to make all by her own. Of this reason I am going one more time to the Schönbrunn Palace. I start with the garage of the royal wagons. Actually my ticket is only working once for each part of the palace, but I am explaining my situation and I am allowed to visit the garage one more time for my ticket, but I get a second stamp on the ticket, that means that I am not allowed to visit one of the other attractions, that means the children palace. This ticket has an EAN-Code and are read digital, but in the garage, there is not a reader. I enter the museum happily. I am looking for all the wagons I could not see the day before. To take photographs is not allowed here either, but I am wondering why there are signs “No photographs allowed” because there are lots of people taking some. I also enter the Galeria, but the items there are quite boring. I enjoy instead the posibility to take some good photograps from here.
After a couple of hours I am on my way to the zoo. The weather is grey in grey and most of the animals are not outside. Back in one corner I see a deer. In front of another box I can see rhinos and I see them very well. They are fighting with each others – or are these expressions of love? I do not know a lot about rhinos. There is even an enclosure for reindeers, but “Red-nosed-Rudolph” is not among them. I think he is helping Santa Claus somewhere else. Overall it is not a good idea to visit a zoo during wintertime, because a lot of animals are not active at this time of the year. Gentlemen and their wifes in the penguin suit are some of the delights, but also a white peacock attract my attention.
I follow the bird for a while taking photographs of him and I am coming to a nature trail, which stretches over a bridge to the “Tiroler Hof”, a farm for children. This trail is on a quite high altitude, but there I have a nice view on Vienna. For the first time, the city of Vienna lies on my feet. Unfortunately the sky is not only grey in grey, but the horizon is also hazy. I take some more photographs, but I am not satisfied with them. They are only good for my memory.
I leave the Tiroler Hof and walk towards the “Gloriette”, a magnificent building especially for summertime. In the coffee shop are lots of young tourists. I do not stay inside. I walk around the whole building and try to find the best position for a good photgraph of the building, because the building is widespread and on a hill. Only the middle part is on the top of the hill, both side parts are sloping. After a while I walk from the back to the west front. Here is a wide staircase going up. Tommi is following me today, too. I try to make a good photograph with him and the Gloriette. When moving him, i fall upwards the staircase, because I did not see the lowest stairs. My trousers became very dirty and I am ashamed for that, but try not to think about it and soon I take photographs from the front of the building. I also take some from the back of the palace, because I have a wonderful view on it from here.
I promised Marion to be back not later than 6pm, therefore I go downwards throughout the park in the direction of the palace. Around half on hour later I am sitting in the underground on my way back to Spittelau. I already arrive at Marion’s place around 5pm. Her children and grand children are coming, too. At 6pm the Christmas meal starts. Marion has roasted a duck. The Christmas presents are shared as I am used to on a Christmas Eve. Marion told me the day bevor, that she is a Catholic, like the most of the Austrians. A visit in a church is anyway not on the program for this evening. After two or three hours the party is over. The children and grand children are leaving homewards. I enjoy the silence after all the noise and I think “help, I am finally growing old”.
Day 6, 25th December 2013 – Kahlenberg, Schönbrunn (Apple Strudel, Palm House and Desert House)
Even this day Marion is not going to church. The sky is blue and after breakfast we are going by public transport to the Kahlenberg. It is one of the three hills in the North of Vienna – in the forrest called “Wienerwald”. This mountain has almost a high of 500 m and is situated a little more than 300 m above the City of Vienna. The other two mountains are called the Cobenzl and the Leopoldsberg. On the Kahlenberg it ist cold and windy, the view is bad, because it is hazy again. Anyway I try to take some photographs of the surroundings, but I think I will come here during a summer and make more photographs. Years ago, by the way, there was a rack railway going up here, today you have to take the bus, which is coming up to the high by a road with serpentines. The bus driver ride the vehicle that way, that can turn one the stomage in and out. One old car of the rack railway still ist to see on the top of the hill in memorial of the passed years.
Here I also start to take photographs of Viennes litter boxes. I noticed them from my first day in Vienna, but the first one I only took a picture of by my cellular phone and that one was not good at all, so I deleted it again. You are wondering, why I take pictures of litter boxes? Here I do it, because they have similar text like the one in Hamburg, even the Viennese litter boxes look different to the one in Hamburg. The meanings are always ambigous. Anyway in Vienna not all are of this kind a lot of them just make up rhymes. When I ask Marion, I find out, that here in Vienna these litter boxes has come up during the last two years. She tells me, that she never looked at them like me (by the way later on I get this answer also from my other hosts in Vienna).
Our tour last until noon, afterwards I am going to Schönbrunn one more time. I like to visit the “Apfelstrudelbäckerei” (the bakery for the apple strudel). It is a typical tourist session, but I am interested in how an apple strudel is done. When I come there, already a long queue of tourists is waiting and the move is going on very slowly. When I come further I see the reason, because there is a desk at the very beginning of the bakery, where one can buy coffee and apple strudel or just redeem the voucher. I get only a piece of apple strudel for my entrance ticket, no coffee and it is put on a tissue in an unpleasant way. I do not know if I am at the right place for the demonstration of the apple strudel bakery and I ask at the desk, if so is. I am on the right place! I am happy, of course. When all the seats are filled, the show begins. The female baker does not do it for the first time, one can see. She really is doing it very well! She asks in German and English if there are Germans among the visitors. For simplicity reasons I commit to my Swedish citizenship, though the female baker can make all the show in English. I like my Swedish citizenship! Most of the visitors are Russian, by the way, some come from the USA. I am really surprised about that. The female baker is not only good, she also is humorous. We spectators are surprised. All the magic soon is gone and we are allowed to take a receipt for apple strudel home. The female baker also is kind and holding Tommi for a good picture. She should be that way, because such a photograph can help with the publicity.
I continue on my way with the help of a map to the palm house. In here it is warm and I enjoy that. I see palms, which are some meters tall and between them are lots of flowering plants, especially poinsettias in five different colours. Moreover one can see amaryllis. Close to the windows African violets are mounted up between cacti, the violets has different colours, too. Every so often there are placed a white bench or white chairs. One also can find white spiral staircases without any purpose, like it seems, because there is no second floor. Even here I take my time. While I am strolling between the palms I think, here I am a little bit on my trip around the world, because the plants come from all of the continents. I have fun by placing Tommi in different scenaries and take photographs with him. Here I can let my imagination run wild.
Dawn is falling and I continue in the direction of the desert house, my last stop at the area of the Schönbrunn Palace. I do not really know what I expect there. I find small animals like lizards and different kinds of cacti in a desert like surrounding. Nobody is allowed to come close to the turtles. The imitated Rocky Mountains increase my travel bug.
It is already really dark when I leave the garden of the palace of Schönbrunn by the west gate. I make some more tries to take photographs before I am going back to Marion by underground. I am sure: I have to come back to Vienna, especially during summertime.
Day 7, 26th December 2013 – Spanish Riding School, Imperial Treasury, City Tour and one more Concert
When I am thinking about, that it still is a public holiday, a lot of attractions are open, so is the public training at the Spanish Riding School (http://www.srs.at/en/). I am in time, but a lot of people are already here. I am able to get a ticket for seniors, even I should be 65 years old for that. I was honest and told the ticket clerk, that I am only 63 years old, but asked if it is possible to by a ticket for seniors anyway. Fortunately it is my day today and she sells a senior ticket to me. In Vienna earlier years women could buy senior tickets at the age of 60, but man only from the age of 65. That was changed for equal rights. Why did none had the idea to lower the border for men? Would it has been to expensive? Maybe the equality is just a disguise for, that the City of Vienna will earn more money respectively loose less.
At the beginning of the training I only have a standing place on . The disadvantage of beeing on a long side is, that you cannot see the horses at the side you are situated. Though the best seats are on the short sides. Admittedly there are only one short side for visitors. The best places at the short side are on the first floor, I am on the second. These places on the first floor are not allowed to use during the training.
The horses, which are trained now are young ones. Some of them are still grey, almost partially. You may be wondering why I am writing that, I do this because the horses are only Lipizzaner. The are black at her birth and become white when they are grown up. Some of them never get white and they will not be used for this famous riding school. They will be used for other purposes. For the riding school only the best of them are good enough. Best means in this case, the horses which are very good in training for the High School of classical horsemanship. The trainers, who are dressed in uniforms, have a lot of space during the training. Each training pass takes around a quarter of an hour. There are four to five horses at the same time during the training. Stablemen lead the horses back to the stalls. One of the horses shy away from a hinder, another horse is lead by a rein and has no rider. Another one trains the difficult figures. It is not very good in it, but everything is hard at the start. Apart of this I think this training is a cruelty for the horses, even it is interesting to look at it. Especially, that the horses shy away is a sign for me, that the skills are not natural for horses – even not for Lipizzaner.Two hours of training has gone and I am very hungry. In the coffee shop of the establishement I see special offers. A special Viennes sausage (Wiener Würstl) with bread and a drink as well as a piece of apple strudel and a cup of coffee is for 5 EUR each. For getting ful I take one of each – after each other, of course. I could have taken something else for the 10 EUR, but the coffee shop has not so much to choose. I take a “Wiener Mélange” (Viennese Blend) for the apple strudel and a apple juice for the sausage.
After I served my body and soul, I am looking for the Imperial Treasury, but first I take a stop at the ticket shop for the Palace. I just want to discuss things with the young sellers, but at the end I walk away with a ticket – as the seller told me, for an unmissable event, a concert at the ballroom of the palace. The Imperial Treasury is situated at the Schweizer Hof (Swiss yard) at the palace. I do not have to look for it for a long while, because I have been on the yard been before. If one have planned, like I have done, to visit lots of museums in Vienna, one will be happy for a combined ticket. The one I buy here is for also for the museum for history of art and the “Neue Burg” (new castle). These tickets are valid for a long time, but only for one entry at the same museum. For people, who stay longer in Vienna than me, I can recommend a “Jahresabonnement” (a one year ticket) for only 34 EUR. It is valid for 7 different museums, among them also the museum for history of art.
In the Imperial Treasury there are held and shown lots of very valuable things. Photography is permitted here, too, but many people are taking photographs – even with flash lights – and a recorded voice tell one all t he time, that one are not allowed to do so, because the video recording of the rooms. I am honest, I also take a few photographs, but I do not use flash at all. Some of the jewels I admire, but anyway I am thinking about how heavy such a crown is and how exhausting it might have been to wear such one – I’m thinking practically, that is my way. The children’s krib as well as a Christening Gown catch my eyes. This stuff is more interesting for me than crowns. It tells about the traditions of former times. Maybe only children of kejsare and kings weared Christening Gowns in former times.
Later I stroll throughout the Dorotheergasse and pass the Dorotheum looking for more interesting views in further streets, avenues and so on. Wherever I am I find plates in memorian for Viennes musicans. I look at the plates for Salieri and Schubert. They have been living next door. The Ferstel Passage is another amazing part of a building. I think Marion told me, that I should take a look at it. It was not difficult to find. I marvel at a very ornated old spring at the beginning of the passage. In addition to that I gape at ceiling and walls paintings. I think I found another gem.
I send a text message to Marion, that I will be late this evening and continue to the ballroom of the palace for attending the concert. There are only three kinds of tickets and no special seats numbered. I took a ticket for the cheapest categorie, but find a very good place where I not only are able to hear, but also can see all the musicans. Exceptionally it is allowed to take photographs at this place, therefore I take some of the ballroom before the concert starts and also one or another of the orchestra. This program is a little different to the one at the palace of Schönbrunn. Here a real orchestra is playing and not only an esemble. The music is from Strauß father and son und also music from Mozart is played. Four soloists are rounding of it all – two female and two male soloists, but there are no break and no drinks. The music is more powerful than the one at the previous concert. I enjoy this to the fullest and would be happy if it had been longer in time.
Day 8, 27th December 2013 – City Tour and an Old Bakery
Today I am moving. I have been for a whole week at Marion’s. That is unusual for a couch surfer, but I enjoyed it very much. Marion and me became friends. Marion asks me for celebrating New Years Eve together with her, but I have got an invitation from an upcoming host. We promise each other to keep in touch. Marion drives me to my next host – with my heavy suitcase it is very comfortable. Unfortunately I forget a pair of shoes at her home, but her son is bringing them later. I am very thankful to Marion for hosting me and I hope I will see her soon again.
I am allowed to visit my new host Karin from 11 o’clock this day. That makes it much easier for me, because leaving one host in the morning and arriving at the next in the evening is difficult with a lot of lugguage. Karin lives in the 4th district (Wieden) in a private apartment house from the early 20th century. The house does not have an elevator and Karin lives on the “third” floor, but because it is an old building it still has the floor called Mezzanin – it is the floor between the ground floor and the first floor, therefore in real, Karin lives on the fifth floor if you include the ground floor.
She is very kind and meet me in the stairs for helping me with my heavy lugguage. Karin is much younger than Marion and me, has a part time job and a hobby, earning some money with, too. She is in artist in ceramics, an enthusiastic photographer and loves nature. After a while, when we tried to get to know each other, we take our first walk, a “passage-walk”. Lots of the Viennese houses have inner yards, which one can reach by passages. Usually one can get out of them on the other side of the house. In some of these houses one can see exterior corridors. These are not unusual to me, because in Sweden it is usual for apartment houses in the bigger cities. Even in Hamburg-Finkenwerder, where I live, when I write this, our apartment house has exterior corridors. In Vienna it looks like these are left overs from the past and very nice decorated.
Karin also shows me the last part of the old town wall, the old Anker Clock http://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/sights/from-a-to-f/anker-clock, small avenues and the most known toilet of Vienna.
Together we are looking for the Old Bakery I read about in a Vienna guide. Unfortunately we were eating filled “Palatschinken” (pancakes) half an hour ago and we are still so full, though we cannot eat a cake or a piece of gateau even they look tempting. We pass the “Kolschitzky House” and the “Mozarthouse” and we are looking for the old smithy at Schönlaterngasse, but we cannot find it. Anyway we find a special window screen in which the end of a fairy tail is displayed. It is about a drake, which always was asking for the nicest looking girl. The girl never survieved. At the end of the fairy tail the boyfriend of the chose girl ask the drake to look into the mirror. When he saw his uggly face, he died.
We also pass the Burgtheater, the town hall and the university. In another street Karin shows me a restaurant, which serves specialties of goulash, like the Szegediner goulash and so the Fiaker goulash, too. There are pictures of all sorts of gulasch at the outside of the restaurant and I understand that the “Fiaker Gulasch” I have got at Stockls was not original. To find out, what is original and especially how it tastes, you have to find out be your own and in Vienna!
Sometime during our ongoing walk we are visiting the church of the Jesuits, too. I am not religious, but I like to visit churches for their art. Therefore I follow Karin into the church.
Day 9, 28th December 2013 – Cobenzl, Vineyards – Today we are Hiking.
The weather is really good today, one cannot be inhouse. We start at the underground station “Taubstummengasse”. On the way to this station, we cross the “Naschmarkt” – a market place, which was named “Aschenmarkt” before 1820. You can read the interesting history of this market place by using the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naschmarkt. It is Saturday today and therefore it is flea market, too, but I am more interested in the buildings in Art Noveau on the opposite side of the road. I take a couple of photographs and we are continuing to the underground. Meanwhile Karin tells me about the flea market, how it changed from being a market for real antique treasures into a market, just selling junk. Treasures, nowadays found on the attics, one only can buy at antiquarians or maybe in second-hand-shops.
By the underground and the bus we are going to the Cobenzl. Cobenzl is the colloquial name for two hills, the one of them is the “Reisenberg” with it’s high of 400 m. After leaving the bus we walk downwards to the “Himmel”, what means heaven. It is the name of another hill. There is a chapel situated, which was build as a wedding gift for the well-known empress Sisi. At the “Himmel” there are also trees of life. What a tree of life is? Just ask!
From this place we were walking downwards nearly all the time. We took our steps between the vineyards. Vienna was laying to me feet again, but unfortunately the weather was hazy again. I took a lot of photographs of the river Danube and the Danube Channel, but there was none really good among them. Anyway I tried to catch the ultimate! We passed a “Buschenschank”, too. In Germany, especially with the river Rhen, they are called “Straußwirtschaft”. If you never have heard about one of this two terms, here is my explanation: These small restaurants are operated by the winegrower and his family and only open during the season for the new wine – or, depending on the area, where they are, also already when the winegrower is starting his work at the vineyard. At this time the “Buschenschank” was abondened, waiting for a new life.
Some meters more down I am looking back and see the very nice view onto the “Kahlenberg” and also onto the “Leopoldsberg”. I try to take optimal photographs here, too, but without some greater success. The best pictures we get from the sunset, we soon can witness. Karin with her very good system camera and me with my compact camera takes pictures after pictures, trying to get the spectacle on our memories. I am happy that this compact camera is one of the better ones and has a sun filter, too. When I joined the photography club in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, I learned, that a sunset burns out the lenses without a sun filter. Anyway my eyes see the natural wonders like a sunset much better than the lenses of my camera. Nobody can construct such a famous lense like an eye.
When we are back in town, we rack our’s brain about the roman looking wall of the “Eichelhofstraße”. Karin do not know anything about it either and I cannot find more than pictures by google. So, what I do is, I ask you. dear reader, for your help. Do you know the history of the fortress (?) wall at Eichelhofstraße? Please write to me, because I am very interested in to find out anything about this wall. You can use the comment function of this page for it.
We let not damp our spirits by that and are looking for the Lehár-Schikaneder-Schlössl – a little palace where the musicans Lehár and Schikaneder were celebrating parties. Unfortunately the building is closed, but I take a photograph from the facade and other houses at that street. A middle aged man starts talking to us and tells us, that we haft missed something very interesting. We ask him, if he is talking about the Lehár-Schikaneder-Schlössl and he approves it, but asks us if we know the history about the little palace. So he starts to tell us about the parties and messies which Mozart should have had there. Furthermore he tells us about the eldest houses at the end of the street, houses from the 17th and 18th century. We keep our eyes open, when we continue on our way and also find these interesting houses.
Around a kilometer more, when we are turning into another street, we see one of the stops for the tram. We are happy about it, because it is getting dark and cold and we are also a little tired by walking. Therefore we take the next tram until the closests underground station for changing to this kind of public transport. Soon we are back at Karin’s home. After we have climbed the five flights of stairs, we enjoy a relaxed evening together.
Day 10, 29th December 2013 – Belvedere Palace, House of Music
The sky over Vienna is grey and hazy when we are awake. We hope, it will become brighter during the day, but are happy, that it is not raining, because we will see the Belvedere Palace and the gardens this day. We also hope, that the Botanical Garden as well as the Alpgarden will be open. If one is living so central in the city like Karin, one actually has fairly a need of the public transport and we are walking again. Karin explain all the important things we pass by: The monument on hour right hand side at the Schwarzenbergplatz was build in 1945 of the Russians. It is a monument for freedom and the heros of the “Red Army”. I am a little surprised, that we some minutes after already reach the Belvedere Palace, because it is surrounded of apartment houses, fenches and the just named monument, though it is not on an open place like the Palace of Schönbrunn. The garden is surrounded of high walls. There is an upper and a lower Palace of Belvedere. From the lower one it is possible to see a part of the monastery of the Salesian Sisters. It is the cuppola of the church we see and it makes us longing to know more about it. First off all we are enjoying the Belvedere garden and are walking towards the upper palace. We were thinking about to go inside this one, but there is such a long queue of tourists – it is reaching into the garden, who will visit the palace, too, that we change or minds and leave the area.
Outside the upper Belvedere palace there is a pond. At this front the place is much wider than in front of the lower palace. Here we also find the entrance to the botanical garden as well as the entrance of the Alpgarden. Unfortunately the garden is closed. Disappointed we read, that the garden will be closed until 6th January and the Alpgarden until springtime. Empty-handed we are walking back the same way we were coming and turn to the church of the Salesian sisters.
Afterwards we pass a consulate and more churches. We realize that the Anglicanian Church is at the side of the consulat of Great Britain, a mosque is at the side of the consulate of Iran and an orthodox church, the cathedral of the holy Nicholas, is at the side of the consulate of Russia. The last named of the churches we are going to visit. With the golden spires, which look like onions, it is a desired photo-object. I have never been in an orthodox church before. I only have seen them on photograps or at the TV – and only from the outside. At the same moment I am entering the church I think: So totally different all churches I have seen before. The ceiling and the walls have paintings. That is not unusual of course, but the kind of the paintings is, because they are more simple and in vivid colours. Here you cannot find the exaggerated pomp of the catholic church, but it is not so austere either like the protestant church. On our toetips we are living the church for not disrupting the prayers.
On our way home we pass the “Karlskirche” It was build by Kaiser Karl VI of Habsburg. There is an entrance fee if you will visit the church, therefore I am not interesting in to see the church from the inside. It is a general feeling of me, that churches should not take entrance fees – of what kind ever. For me it is like the indulgences in former times. Every human beeing should have the right to enter a church – of what kind and religion ever, because all should have the right to come close to a god, if they wish. Even I think one do not need a church to come close to a god. Later that day I visit the “Karlskirche” on the Internet http://www.karlskirche.at/tour.html One also can see a panorama of the fairly unusual interior on the homepage.
We saunter by passing an empty pond to the “House of Music”. Karin has free tickets for the exhibitions in there. She has already been there and asks me for visiting this place by my one – so I do. She is going home to her place and busy by herself. I have a meeting with Gustav Mahler, composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation, who did not only work in Vienna but also Hamburg. Music links people together. Furthermore I face some of the well-known composers of Vienna: Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven are just some of them.
The museum has three floors, but each of them is not big. I did not have had any meel since breakfast and I am happy that there is a restaurant on the third floor. Unfortunately it is closed. I am starving, therefore I forget, that Karin will prepare a meal for us – a typical Austrian meal called “Schinkenfleckerl”. I find a “Wienerwald” restaurant without looking for it.
People are queuing outside the restaurant, but I soon get in anyway. As a single person I first have to go to the bar, but soon I am offered an available table. I think, the waiter has seen, that I am not the youngest anymore. I order a half of a “Backhendl”, wedges and “Imperial” vegetables (Kaisergemüse). I also order a still water, as I am used to do. I am little disappointed, when the dish is served. The half “Backhendl” is not a half one, but in pieces not being compared with nuggets either, because the bones are still in, but it tastes delicious. It is a big meal for me and I am satisfied when I am walking back to Karin’s home. On my way I take a photograph of the famous hotel Sacher, which is not far from the restaurant “Wienerwald”.
Day 11, 30th December 2013 – Photo Safari
Today I am moving again. My third Vienna host is a younger woman, but in her mid twenties. She is the first one of my host who was not born in Vienna, but she is Austrian and she lives in Vienna for some years. She studiet classical music and is a journalist for music events. Her name is Lena. I will meet her at 6pm and I have to made the day by my own. Fortunately I can leave my suitcase at Karin’s until 4pm. I am very happy about that. This day I am on Photo Safari. I am looking for the “Stadtpark” (city park), but only find the “Resselpark” and continue to the Café Central, a famous coffee shop and restaurant, it is well-known especially for the building. I did plan to eat a meal there, but there is a long queue again in front of the door and I am looking for another restaurant instead. I find a small coffee shop and enjoy a Viennes Melange as well as a piece of “Schwarzwälderkirschtorte” (Black Forest Gateau), admittedly the cake is not as I used to. I think a good Black Forest Gateau one only can buy in Germany. In Sweden they have a kind of Black Forest Gateau, too, but it is not like the original at all, because there are no cherries and no cherry inside. I bought it because the similar name (Black Forest Cake) more than once and get disappointed every time.
I planned to visit the “Naschmarkt”, too. I take a while before I will come there, because when I am coming close to the “Michaelertor” of the Imperial Palace, I see the cuppola from a new angle. Finally an angle which is good for taking photographs. Therefore I take some more pictures here. Close to it I find the “Michaelerkirche”, which I am visiting, too.
Slowly I move in the direction of the 4th district. I fetch my lugguage at Karin’s a little earlier than agree upon. We say good bye to each other and Karin gives me a little selfmade pottery pig with the best wishes for a happy new year. I am really touched of her gesture. I am continuing to the “Naschmarkt” with my heavy suitcase. The “Beethovenfries”, a monument by the Viennese painter Klimt turns up. I pull out my camera, of course. Dawn is falling when I finally am at the “Naschmarkt”, but before I am there and very close to the market I see the “Theater an der Wien”. I have heard about that theatre before, but I did not know anything about it strange name. Now I find out, that the name is not strange at all, because the theatre is close to the stream “Wien”. I am looking for the stream, but I cannot find it, because here it is tamed and flows through tubes.
I am visiting the “Naschmarkt”. I stroll between the stalls and look at the colourful hustle and bustle. One can find permanent stalls as well as temporarly stalls on the market place. Nobody sells basic food here, but such kind of food one can call confection – not always sweet. There are restaurants, too, selling delights from around the world. With my heavy lugguage it is not possible for me to buy something, because I do not know how I should carry it. Therefore I decide to come back the following day. I will buy something for the New Years Eve Celebration at Lena’s.
Lena is living in the 15th district (Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus), exactly in the “Hüttelsdorfer Straße”. This is a very long street, but Lena fortunately told me, where I have to leave the underground. As usual I choose the wrong exit, but I am soon walking in the right direction. I am half an hour early, but Lena is already at home and welcomes me. She actually has a very small apartment – a studio. She has already moved parts of her furniture for the upcoming party, anyway it feels homely. The space of the flat is a little less than 30 sq.m., but the shower and the toilet are in different rooms. In one way I like it, but I am not happy about the lack of a washbasin in the toilet. That is not different at Lena’s. It has been that way in the other apartments, too.
Lena and me get knowing each other and she invites me for an evening meal. Later that evening she pulls out a madrass, where I will sleep.
Day 12, 31st December 2013 – “Naschmarkt” and “Silvesterpfad”
I am sleeping well and I feel fine when I awake. The madrass is really comfortable. Lena still has a lot to do and is going shopping early, therefore she gives me a key to her flat, for the case of that I will come back earlier than her. I am happy about her trust. After breakfast I am going to the Nashmarkt again, this time using the underground all the way. I try to find the stall with Falafel and lots of tasty sauces I have seen the evening before. Finally I do and I buy a little more of all I choose because we will be a little group of women at the party. I go back straight to the 15th district.
In the early afternoon I am going back to the inner city. I would like to see the “Silvesterpfad” (a track through the city created for the New Years Eve). Certainly I will stay in the area until the Pummerin calls for the New Year. I have heard, that the area of the “Silvesterpfad” will be very well visited and took only the most necessary things with me. I am afraid of robberies and will not become a victim. I also left my camera at Lena’s. I have a map about all activities and I start at the market place infront of the town hall. A band is playing hits from the 1990ies. After a short while I am continuing to another stage. I listen to Soul and Blues for half an hour and move on using the track. Therefore I find another band with a repertoire of South American songs. Later on I turn into the street “Graben” for listing to Viennese waltz music and maybe also dance the Viennese waltz. It is so crowed and without having a partner at my side it is not possible to dance. Furthermore this is the only place where the music is not live. Disappointed I decide to take a tram for the Prater. It is announced that a part of the “Silvesterpfad” is ongoing there, too. There are two routes to the Prater and I choose the wrong one, of course ;-). I enjoy to have a seat in the tram and I am looking out of the window to see as much as possible of Vienna. It takes only 20 minutes and I am at the last stop of the route. I leave the tram and I am looking for the Giant Ferries Wheel. I should be close and see it from here, because it is so giant. The events of the “Silverpfad” should be close to it. Even the Ferries Wheel is giant so are the trees. I am thinking about in what direction I should go and choose the right one, but to be sure I am also asking other people, who are passing by. I come, as it were, from back stage to the area. On my way I have seen here and there an open restaurant, but almost half of the restaurants are closed. I also have seen some rides from their backs. Close to the Giant Ferries Wheel I finally find the main trail of the entertainment area.
The played music here is only for younger ones, too. A man in my age claims about it, but the youngsters are happy, dancing and enjoying. For a while I listen to the music and look at the dancers, but soon I continue to the next stop for public transport. It is not far away from the Giant Ferries Wheel. The station is a big one with lots of different public transports like S-train, underground, buses and the tram. It is called “Praterstern”. I choose the tram again, because I like to see a little more of Vienna, but it is pitch-dark now. Around 10pm I am back at Lena’s, my host. She is happy about, that I will join her and her friends at the party. We are a very blended group by age and nationalities. The most are around the age of Lena, but a younger one is there, too. I am the exception because I am more than thirty years older than them, but we have a good chat anyway. Around midnight we celebrate with sparkling wine – or maybe it was real Champagne? I cannot taste the difference, because I only have the one or the other, but mostly the one.
Day 13, 01st January 2014 – New Years Concert and Museum of Art
A Happy New Year, dear reader, may all your wishes come true! Like the Viennese does, Lena, her friends and me are dancing the Viennese Waltz “An der schönen blauen Donau”. I love it! We try to see the fireworks out of the window of the flat, but soon we dress warm and go outside. We are walking to a higher part of the area – there are also garden spots and no high houses hamper the view. From here we see much more of the spectacle. When we are on our way to this area we pass a man in his 30ies, who fires very loud and big bangers. It is between all the buildings and we think it is unsuitable. We rush our steps, because we won’t be hurt. After around half an hour we are totally frozen and nearly no more rocket is in the nightly sky. Together we are going back to Lena’s home, where already one or two of her guests say good bye. I liked the different New Years Eve.
The night has been quite short, I had to put on the alarm clock! I would like to see the broad casting of the New Years Concert on the screen of the market place in front of the town hall. I am always very slow in the morning, I am not really awake before I have got a mug of coffee, therefore I had to put the alarm clock on. When I arrive in front of the town hall, there are not many people here yet. The situation changes very soon, there are coming more and more people and it is happening fast. The stalls open and before I am taking a place infront of the big screen I buy a Viennese coffee (Melange) and a “Riesenkrapfen” a kind of a donut, but a very big one. Actually it is not easy to eat such a “Riesenkrapfen” keeping clean, because it is all over covered with icing sugar.
Lena told me the day before, that the special concert will be shown, which has been helt by the “Wiener Philharmoniker” the night before, but in real it is another event, which is broadcasted by the ORF and will be seen all over the world. Anyway this orchester is playing and it sounds very good. I stay during the whole time of the concert.
Afterwards I am looking for the Museum of Art and I am passing by the Parliament of Vienna, but not without taking some photographs, of course. I also pass by the Museum of Natural History, even this a famous building. In front of the Museum of Art a long queue is waiting for entrance. Today there are not many museums open and more visitors than usual are chosing this museum. I have my combined ticket and do not have to queue. Guess, if I am happy about that ;-). I meet Lena inside. We hade made an appointment. Together we admire the art exhibition as well as the building. We decided from the first beginning, that we only will try to see the art exhibitions on one floor, anyway we feel totally beaten of all the paintings on the walls.
Especially in some rooms, the walls are so overloaded with paintings, that our eyes cannot grasp all of them. I think “less would be more”. If they had chose to hang less paintings at the same wall at the same time and replaced with different exhibitions, one after another, it would have been a better idea after my opinion. Anyway I do not know how many paintings are hidden in this or other buildings and cannot be shown. Vienna is art for eyes and ears and all of our senses. My plan works: Seeing and experiencing the art treasures of Vienna during wintertime, when the weather is not so nice for walks and outside living, seeing and experiencing the nature and outside living during spring- and summertime. Therefore I have to come back soon for the charm of Vienna during the other seasons. Finally Lena and me go to a coffee shop on the area of the museums district. She shows me a special coffee shop, were younger people meet. She likes the frayed charm of the furniture, me don’t, but it is a very interesting place. Back at Lena’s home I pick up my suitcase and are moving to another host. I am going by underground and bus to the 20th district (Brigittenau). This district is very central even it has a high number. It is situated on both sides of the Danube river and the Danube Canal. My new host points up the nice views the following day. We have to get to know each other now.
Martin’s girlfriend is present, too. Martin is a famous biker and he was going by bicycle from Vienna to the North Cape (Norway). He made it in three parts, because he made it during his usual vacation leaves. I have been close to the North Cape years ago and we are talking about the route and share our experiences. He stretchs my thoughts about going by bicycle from Germany to the South of Europe.
Day 14, 02nd January 2014 – Porcelain Manufactory Augarten, Museum of Chocolate and more
One of the good things with couch surfing is, that your hosts also will visit new places in their home area. Often they take their guests to places they have not been by their own, but already are interested in for a long time. The more a couch surfer has seen of the area, the more the host will visit the for him unseen areas. So it also has been for me, when I had couch surfers at home and so it is for Martin today. We are walking and our first goal is the Porcelain Manufactory Augarten. It is situated in one of the many green and recreations area of Vienna. It is the only still existing Porcelain Manufactory of Austria.
On our way there, we are passing by the school for the “Wiener Sängerknaben”. I have not had any idea about, that they are all visiting the same school, but I understand the necessarity of it and think about the Swedish school system, were one can choose school after ones interests. The schools have special profiles and especially at the Gymnasium pupils can learn more about their special interests. Before we enter the Porcelain Manufactory, we look at the two, still existing, anti-air-raid towers from WWII. In Hamburg one of these similar towers, the one in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, has become an energy tower, that means the tower is a large heat reservoir with a solar casing on its roof and southern side: http://www.iba-hamburg.de/en/projects/energiebunker/projekt/energy-bunker.html The other tower, situated in Hamburg-St. Pauli, has become a museum. All this because the towers are undestroyable. By the way the “Augarten” is the oldest one of the gardens of Vienna. At the beginning the garden was only for the Imperials, of course, but in 1775 the emperor Joseph II opened it up for the people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augarten.
We enter the world of the Porcelain Manufactory and book a guidance. Before the guiding starts, we are looking around in the entrance hall. Here one can find nice and curious things as well as modern design. I think about how one can spend so much money for these things and whom would intend to do so. Every full hour there is a guiding. For the first we get to know which raw materials are used to produce porcelain. Afterwards we are entering the manufactory. Unfortunately all the staff is on vacation leave, but we get very well explained how the prozess of the forming, burning and painting works. We also learn, that e.g. an upright horse with a horseman will be put together of more than 100 pieces. Porcelain is becoming smaller when burning and a horse has a very big hollow space, therefore only 50% of the pieces are successfully manufactured. The workers are all trained in special tasks and special things can only be made by one of the employees. Therefore customers have to wait for their porcelain art works, when e.g. one of the employees should pass away in a heart attac. A training of a new employee takes almost three years. Trainings will only be done, when needed, because the management will be sure the trainee can continue as an employee after that, because the occupations are not possible to get somewhere else in Austria. After the training one has to specialise and it takes some years before an employee is good enough for the manufactoring. Therefore usually a trainee starts some years before one of the faithful employees will retire.
After this guidance I understand why porcelain products are so expensiv. I would never buy a horse with a horseman, but a coffee set I really like. Actually I am not in the need of such porcelain and my little and simple household would not be the right place for it, but I have an eye on a sugar bowl and would like to take it home as a souvenir, but I cannot bring myself to pay 60 EUR for it. We are leaving the manufactory without the fragile memory and are going to the next place using the BIM, like the Viennese tender call the tram.
The “Schokoladenmuseum” (museum of chocolate) is also a place where Martin was planning for a long time to go, but have not done it before. That remembers me on our own in Hamburg. I have not been there either. I tried several times to go there and also was standing infront of the entrance more than once, but I have never been in there. I put it on my to-do-list for the upcoming springtime. This visit gives me the posibility to compare both of them about the process and the tools and maybe I can find a difference and can ask about it. The guiding was rather disappointing because the workers were on their vacation leaves, too. We could not make our own chocolate art, either, but it was announced. Anyway we had to pay the same entrance fee as usual. Fortunately we have got some pieces to taste. In the small pieces were no hazelnuts. A specialty was the chocolate, which was filled with chestnuts. This kind of chocolate are only produced once a year, when the chestnuts are ripe in autumn.
At the end chocolate cakes were given away, but these were filled with hazelnuts. They did not have another sort of chocolate for this occasion. I did not take one, but regreted this later. I could have given away it to someone else. At the related shop I bought some gifts – one for my host and one for my neighbor at home, who was caring about my letters. The day was still young, but not young enough, that I would not be hungry. We took the tram to the inner city and bought somethig to eat at a kebab/pizza/hot dog-kiosk. This combination I have never seen before. Chips one could not get there, though the kebab was served with rice. The prices were agreeable, especially when thinking about that this kiosk is in the city center.
Later on we were going to the “Wien”, the stream, which gave his name for the city. During springtime, when the snow is melting, the stream can become a river and so were the concrete stream bed constructed. I had not seen the “Stadtpark” (city park) before, because I did not have found it on my wanderings throughout the city, though Martin showed me the way and the park. This park is shared into two areas by a road. Therefore my first impression was, that it is very small and I was very disappointed. I was more satisfied, when I have seen both parts of it, but the size of the city park in Hamburg it does not reach at all. As usual in this kind of parks, there were an artifical pool and surprisingly a weather station, which transmit official results.
As named before, the city park of Vienna is not especially big, therefore we had time enough for more goals. I do not know if it is just the nature of the Viennese people or it belongs to, that one kind find art and history in churches, anyway we were going to the “Peterskirche” (St. Peter’s Cathedral) and passed the “Ankeruhr”, which I already know. We continued by passing the Gutenberg-monument to the “Ruprechtskirche” (church of St. Ruprecht). This is the oldest, still existing church of Vienna. When you see it from the outside it looks more like a castle than a church. Unfortunately it was closed, therefore we could not see the nice decorated coloured glass windows of it. Martin also shows me a house, where no window is looking like the other. I have seen that house before and thought, it was interesting, but I did not know, that there really is none window like another. During the evening at Martin’s home we made plans for the following day.
Day 15, 03rd January 2014 – At the Beautiful Blue Danube
Martin has to do some work, but he follows me onto the Danube Island. The Danube and the Danube Canal actually are not far away from his home. I can already see it from the window in his living room. By walking one reaches the “Handelskai”, where one can cross the river and the canal, in around 15 minutes. The “Handelskai” is a big train station, from where different kind of trains are going into different directions. Here is also the stop for the S-train to the airport at Schwechat.
The Danube Island is an artificial one and around 20 km in one direction and up to 250 m in the other direction. It was created and build to avoid the yearly floodings of the Danube river. Martins tells me, that Vienna was not flooded anymore since the island was build. The island is a popular recreation area. A trail is going there, too. It is really an oasis and I am happy being here. At this place the Danube flows in two parts – the old and the new Danube river. The part of the new Danube is going around the district UNO-City and is popular for swimming. The water is very clear and Martin tells me later, that the Danube has trinking water quality at this part.
I follow the island around 2km, coming closer and closer to the UNO-City, cross a bridge and come into the Danube Garden area, which is situated in the 22nd district (Donaustadt). Here I also see the Danube Tower, an observation tower with a very high radio antenna on its top. Inside the tower one can find a restaurant, turning around the tower all the time and a fixed platform as well. Furthermore there is a coffee shop, which also is fixed. The tower was build from 1962 until 1964 because of the “Wiener internationale Gartenschau” (International Garden Show, Vienna). We have had something like that in Hamburg, but unfortunately the government of Hamburg is not as good as the government of Vienna and the tower is not in use anymore. Nowadays it is dangerous to use it, because nobody cares about it. I do not believe my own eyes, but at the Danube Tower, there is a bungee-jump-platform. Additional to that there is a small photovoltaic system at one side of the tower.
It is noon and I am very hungry, because I did not had that kind of breakfast, I am used to. I only did get real breakfasts of Marion. At Lena och Martin I could not even get a coffee in the morning. I always thought, that Viennese people like their coffee, but I learned, that changed. Spontaneously I entered the restaurant after I was going up very quick by the elevator. I chose the last stop. Here the coffee shop is situated, but I go downstairs to the restaurant, because I need a real meal. The staircase is very nice decorated. I am happy that I get a window place at the restaurant and ask for the menu. Unlike most of the other tourists, which only take a coffee and a cake, I decide to take a genuin Wiener Schnitzel (that one of calf meat) and a bottle of Almdudler (Almdudler is a brand and the name of their herbal lemonade, unfortunately it is carbonated).
I never thought, that a genuin “Wiener Schnitzel” looks like that! There are two, very thin, breaded meat leaves. Nothing about Anchovis, but half a lemon at the side of the schnitzel. I looked it up later and read, that the “Wiener Schnitzel” does not have anything to do with Anschovis, either it is an old history, that “Wiener Schnitzel” has to be offered with Anchovis or that has been a canard. However the “Wiener Schnitzel” really has to be these two thin, breaded meat leaves.
Before, after and also during my meal I take photographs throughout the windows and try to catch Vienna in 360 degrees. Unfortunately it is hazy again. Afterwards I am walking around at the observation platform and make more photographs of Vienna and finally I take the elevator down to the shop and exit. I think about visiting the UNO-City. On my way to that location I see the “Strandbad” swimming pool and an Asian restaurant. The restaurant is situated at the entrance to the UNO-City. It is dark now and I do not care about the last one, I decide instead to go back to Martin’s by underground.
By fortune I see, that the Opera is playing “Die Fledermaus” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Fledermaus). I try to buy a ticket, but the Opera is sold out. There are only places in the standing area. These only are avaiable at a special cash point and – at the earliest – two hours before the light opera starts. I take a little walk and soon I am in the already quite long queue. I am happy, that I get a ticket (by the way for only 3 EUR) even I was wondering if I will get a ticket at all. The play can start, but before it, I send a message to Martin “I will be late, I am at the Fledermaus”. Actually that was not really what I should have written, though “I am at the Opera” should have been much better. Martin answered me: “Have fun, the last bus will be around midnight.”
I have time enough to enjoy the inside of the opera house. I ask, where I have to go and see that there are special warderobes for the different seats (e.g. the seats at the balconies). A helper shows me my standing area. I have no good sight onto the stage. I try to find a better place, but without success, because today it is really crowded. None of the seats are empty when the operetta starts. I enjoy the play anyway. A lot of people leave already after act 1, after act 2 there is lot of space up here. The long standing time is not so hart for me, than I thought, but I sit down on the floor during the pauses and rest my legs. Here I have something nice to tell you: During the first pause I take my tablet and I am looking at http://www.couchsurfing.org if I have got an answer from my next host, because a woman invited me to stay with her, close to St. Pölten. A young man at one side of me sees this and asked me if I am a host or a surfer. We have a nice chat and at the end of the pause he helps me get a better place than I have had before.
When I am coming home to Martin around 11pm, he tells me, that he was thinking about the dance palace “Die Fledermaus”, when he got my message. I tell him, that I know that place by name, I also took photographs of it, but I did not now that it is a dance palace. I also tell him, that I have to look for a bed in a Youth Hostel the upcoming day, because I have no need to go to St. Pölten, because that host was not answering. I would have gone there because the invitation only. Martin offer me to stay at his place the following night, too. He and his friends had planned to go snowshoeing the following days, but there is not snow enough for this activity and they have to postpone it. He will stay at home instead. I am very happy and thankful about his offer. A little later I fall asleep.
Day 16, 04th January 2014 – Museum of Clocks, Theatre and Movies
It is my last day in Vienna. The night before Martin recommended me to visit the Museum of Clocks. I am early today and therefore I am also early on my way. I am already infront of the doors of the Museum of Clocks at 9am. Disappointed I see, that the museum will not open before 10am. I make a short sightseeing of the streets close to the museum and come also to a square with a monument for remembrance of the holocaust. Even a Jewish museum is situated here. In addition to that, one can find a statue of the famous writer and dramaturge Lessing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthold_Ephraim_Lessing). I have to tell you, that I like this statue much more that the one in Hamburg. In Vienna the statue was raised for his friendship with the Jews, in Hamburg a statue was raised because he was famous for the new kind of theatre and the first dramaturge. Between the “Judenplatz” (Jews Square) and the Museum of Clocks there is a narrow avenue. Fiaker are using it. I am walking hart on the side of it, on the pedestrians way.
Finally it became 10am and the museum opens. I buy a ticket for seniors again and start my visit at the ground floor. To come to the other floors I have to use spiral stairs. The museum owns a very big amount of clocks of very different kinds. I am just amazed about all this and take some photograhs for memoring some of them. Around three hours later I am breathing in the fresh air of the city again. What should I do now? – Take a lunch, for sure, would be the best thing to do now, because when one is not hungry, one feel better and thurst is worse then longing home (Durst is schlimmer als Heimweh). This time I eat a meal in a pastry shop at “Reitschulgasse”, which is situated between the palace Hofburg and the art museum Albertina. I have to wait for a long while for the meal, but so it is just done for me and nothing what was prepared a long time ago and warmed up. This you find often in Vienna, even at the smallest places. When I am leaving full and satisfied I have to decide, where to go next.
Certainly, the Museum of Theatre has to be close to here, somewhere around a corner. I discover it very soon and it is open. This time I had to pay the full price, because I am not 65 years old yet. With other words: Some museums are serious about the discount for senior citizen. I think the objects at the second floor seems to be most interesting and I start there. Disapointed I leave after around half an hour, maybe I have been here only for 20 minutes. Here they have models for the different kinds of stages and the explanations, how they work including advantages and disadvantages. There are maybe five models – and that is all on that floor. On the first floor there is an exhibition about Richard Teschner. He was a developer of the puppet theatre – a man who was handy as well as a very good rhetorician, just an all-rounder. Another, but very small exhibition one could find at the ground floor, at the “Eroica-Saal” (which has got it’s name in honour of Beethoven′s third symphony) there was an exhibition about Japan, but also a very little selection of a big topic. The building itself is great and helps me to overcome my disappointment. I was awaiting a lot of theatre costumes, sceneries and other things like that. Afterwards I read that all these things one can find at the Palais Lobkowitz (the museum), maybe I have to go there another time to find them.
All the good things come in threes. As a matter of fact I am on my way to the underground, but the museum of the movies, in the house of the Albertina, catch my eyes. I have been in front of it earlier, today my interest does not leave me. I enter the museum, ask for the program and the ticket prices and buy a ticket for the next performance. I have to wait for two more hours before the movie will start, therefore I cross the square to the Café Mozart. I look into the windows and decide to take a coffee there, because it looks comfortable. Even here is a queue, but the prices are higher as usual. I always have had lunch, so I decide to take something less – maybe a cake. I choose a piece of Esterhazy-Torte. That is an almond-cream-gateau. Additional to that, this time I do not take a Melange, but a coffee Mozart, that means a coffee with a chocolat-cream, containing alcohol. This cream is served in a very small bottle at the side of the coffee and you can fill as much as you want of the bottle or drink it before or after the coffee. There are more coffee creams of this kind at the beverages menu. All these have different names, always combined with coffee. Therefore I think it is usual in Vienna and order the coffee Mozart. When I am talking with Martin about it, he tells me, that it is not usual to take alcohol with coffee and it is most for tourists. For the reason of the queue outside I do leave the coffee shop after a short while and have a look at the “monument against war and facism” as well as the “gate of violence” and the “street washing Jew”. The monuments was formed of the artist Alfred Hrdlicka (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hrdlicka), who died in 2009.
Back at the museum of movies. Here too, you can chose your seat. I am early enough to find a good one. This week it is the week of the Indian movies. In this museum you only can watch old movies. This one is from 1958 and still in black and white, of course. At that time I did not have any possibility to go to the cinema and I cannot remember that this kind of movies was shown at the TV. Though it is real history for me.
Day 17, 05th January 2014 – Prater, Pratermuseum – Good Bye Vienna
Today finally the last day of my visit of Vienna has come. At 14:55 is my flight back to Hamburg. Martin talks me into visiting one more place of Vienna. I decide to go to the Prater, because also there is a museum and maybe I finally will go by the Giant Ferries Wheel. The bus goes directly from the area where Martin live to the Prater, there is no need for changing the route, but I do not come directly to the entrance at the Ferries Wheel. I come to another entrance – at the side of the Prater. It is still quite early. One and another ride is opening. The kiosks and coffee shops are awaking slowly.
Fortunately an ice cream bar, which also offers coffee, is already open. I buy a cup of coffee and I am going to the Ferries Wheel one more time. With a glance at my clock I see, that I can only visit the museum or take a ride with the Giant Ferries Wheel. I decide to go to the museum, I keep the Ferries Wheel for the summer and hope, the sky will be blue and the sun shining, when I do it, because I think I will have a wonderful view of Vienna in the named weather conditions. One more time, Vienna shows its charm. It is free entrance to the museum. like every first Sunday in a month. This museum is very interesting. Here one can see lots of things around the Prater. One thing they have it all: They talk about the past, from days where Siamese Twins, widgets and giants as well as human beings with other special abnormities did not have any rights and one could google at them. This was their possibilities to make some money for their living. Furthermore there were ventriloquist dolls, model horses and model donkeys of merry-go-rounds. With the pictures and things there were also a lot of information, I need time to see and read all of it and it gets late before I am leaving.
After a quick lunch at the station Praterstern I hurry to pick my suitcase at Martin’s. There is no much time for a good-bye, because I have to go by the next bus to the station Handelskai for catching a train to the airport.
At the airport it is not easy to find the right counter for the check in of my lugguage. For myself I checked in the day before by the Internet. This is very helpful in my situation, because I am allowed to check in my luggage at a special counter without a long queue. I hurry to the right gate and my flight company. I have no waiting time today, because I am just in time. I am lucky, that all went well and relaxe at the plane. There is none next to me. I have a seat in the middle, but can look out of the window anyway and admire the shape of the clouds when we are in around 10,000 m high.
I was surprised about somethings in Vienna, most of them were positive surprises – some is offbeat – and, if I think about it long enough, maybe I also will find something negative. The public transport, in Vienna, temper called Öffi, is very good developed. The network of trams, which is temper called the BIM, as well as the regional-, S-train, underground and the buses is very tightly woven. Many new cars were bought, e.g. the BIM has Ultra Low Floor (ULF) cars since 1998. They started with 150! and they are continuing with the exchange. In January 2014 there are still some old cars running where one have to climb three stairs for entering the car. Maybe when I am back, they are all gone – they are all memories of the past. The earliest “right through” underground cars are from 2008, but already 15 years before Low Floor Underground Cars were bought. The buses are different to Hamburg, too, especially the electrical ones, which are using the overhead lines of the tram only for charging. In Hamburg not possible at all because there is no tram anymore – and there will not be new once for political reasons.
I have not to forget the price for the tickets. An annual ticket for the area of the city of Vienna is only for 365 Euro – one EUR a day! – and one can go by bus as well as by train or tram. Seniors have reduced prices – also for single tickets!
Even Vienna is ahead in public transport, it seems the idea of the lines at the litter boxes are stolen from Hamburg – or maybe it was the same copywriter for both cities. Vienna anyway expanded with their own lines and also own design of the boxes. As I told before, in Vienna, the lines on the boxes came around 2012, in Hamburg I have seen them already 2007 and it is possible that they came earlier. That means anyway that Vienna can copy ideas from other cities and countries and Hamburg still think they have to design all by their own.
Belonging the waste disposal there is not only a difference for the names – while the rubbish in Vienna ist just called “Mist” and the containers “Mistkübel” nobody in Germany still calls it “Müll” and “Mülleimer”, but more important is the fact that the sorting is different. They make energy of the rubbish and therefore one have not to separate plastic bottles, because without plastic bottles the waste is not burning anymore. I also have seen a waste station in the middle of the city, that means a place, where you can leave your sorted waste and everyone is allowed to leave their waste there. Furthermore there are a notice at the waste station, pointing at the next one, though if the station one tries to use is full, you know where you have to go.
Vienna is a city for all kind of people, because here it is possible to enjoy culture even for people who do not have a lot of money, a ticket for a standing area at the Opera nearly everyone can buy or the live-broadcasting on public places (infront of the Opera and the town hall) where one really can enjoy for free. An annual ticket for 7 museums is for 35 EUR only – that are less than 10 cent/day.
Vienna is also a city for all kind of people, because there are so many greens and recreation areas – actually half of Vienna is green – and these are accessible for everyone. Sports you can do for low prices, too, e.g. swimming in the indoor swimming pools. Nearly everywhere seniors have reduced prices.
Vienna is maintained very well. The names of the streets are easy to find, the numbers of the houses also show the names of the streets, instructions are clear, accurate and easily read. Tidiness seems to be important here. There is no graffiti even on white coloured walls. There are no fastened chewing gums on the streets and pedestrians way.
Vienna also is a quiet city. In Vienna none is allowed to use the horn, therefore usually none does it. Even the emergency vehicles of police, fire brigade and the ambulance do not use their horns but when it really is necessary – and that is not often. The use the blue lights of course.
„Ordnung muss sein“ (all has to be in order) – the expression I thought and heard of others – was for the German, is more important here. Also Viennese citizens think that this expression is the symbol for the former Prussian Germany. Totally surprised was one of my hosts, when I told her, that I noticed, that Vienna is such a tidy and well organized city, more than Germany.
Vienna is crowded by tourists, of course. If one is thinking about that there are more inhabitants in Vienna than in Hamburg, but the area of Vienna is only 3/5 of Hamburg and they have to share the city with all the tourists, I salute Viennese people, because they are still friendly, nice and open-minded and also try to speak standard German with strangers. I understand that Vienna is on the first place of diserable cities of the world.
are really a good idea and a wonderful possibility to know other cultures and natures, countries, cities, people. That it is cheap is not so bad either, because one can spend the money for more art, music etc. of the visited country, region or city. However the best thing with couch surfing is, that one make international friends.