Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wolfie's everywhere

Posted by Hippo Bean at 7:21 PM
It's wolfie's face everywhere here in Wien (Vienna). A city that was on my list to visit but never had the chance until now. We're flying Austrian and of course it had to stop at Vienna. And since the visa from the youknowhatcountry was never issued to us, we changed plans and had a 4 day stopover in Vienna instead. We arrived in the early evening and went to paint town. Our hotel the Best Western Kaiserhof was a mere 3 blocks from the center and we walked to the Stephanplatz with the enormous striking cathedral, romanesque and gothic, one of the tallest churches in the world. The evening was warm and pleasant. The full moon behind the illuminated Karlskirche (St Charles church) was spectacular. Later I've learned the full moon was even more spectacular in the youknowwhatcountry's capital. Of course I've never got to see it there.

It poured non-stop for an entire day the following day while we visited the Hapsburg's Hofburg Palace. The silver and gold collections in the palace were stunning and the apartments were gorgeous. Comprised of so many wings, this place was enormous. After that we've waited 30 mins in the rain to visit the world renowed Staatsoper, the Vienna Opera House. Sitting there in one of the historic velvety red chairs was a touching experience. The opera hall was smaller that I've imagined, but the stage was very deep, and I kept visualizing Mozart conducting one of his operas in the orchestra. Everywhere in the interior from the not overwhelming Grand Staircase to the walls and ceilings and side halls were lavishly decorated. The most beautiful was of course the Schwind Foyer with the stunning chandeliers. A beautiful place but not as big as I've imagined. Nevertheless, it didnt disappoint me.

The next day we took the u-bahn to Schönbrunn, the Rococo summer residence of the Hapsburgs. The front looked a bit like Versailles but the resemblance stopped there. Behind it, the imperial French garden, the great Parterre, gently sloped uphill to the Sun fountain and on the very top, overlooking the palace itself, stood Maria Theresa's Gloriette. The Parterre had a zoo and several mazes. We walked one but failed miserably and had to retrace our steps back out. Then we found out there's a direct route to its very center and got there to the platform where we video recorded the whole maze. It reminded me of the wizardly maze in harry potter. We've tried several other 'easier' ones which were created for kids. Later when the rain finally stopped, we dined at the famous Plachutta restaurant. We had emperor Franz Joseph's beloved boiled beef, which came in a brass pot steaming with a mouth watering aromatic broth filled with spices, onions, carrots and potatoes. And oh yeah, I had to try the wiener schnitzel, lightly breaded veal accompanied by mild vinaigretted potatoes. We've discovered the restaurant by accident and it's only a block from our hotel, the Hilton. We switched hotels to sample different parts of the city and the Hilton overlooked the Stadtpark and it's within walking distance to everywhere. Vienna is a very walkable city.

On our last day, we crossed the brown danube and went up to the Donauturm with a bungee jumping platform and a rotating restaurant on top, to admire the 360 view of the city. Later in the evening, we attended a wolfie's concert in the Brams Hall. The music hall was small, intimate and very grandly ornamented. The orchestra all dressed up in 18C attire and wore wigs. I admit it was the highlight of the visit, even though I'm not much of a Wolfie's fan. The music was heavenly recognizable. They even played Strauss' blue danube, which the audience enthusiastically applauded, even though it wasnt even a Mozart's piece.

The Hippo absolutely loved Vienna (who wouldnt). The visa fiasco has turned into a blessing in disguise. Even tho later we found from the group that the youknowwhatcountry offered great sightseeing, an ultra modern capital with a state of the art shopping mall, Zoroastrian Fire Temples, view of southern Caucasus, a hotel facing the Caspian Sea and evening promenade strolls by the Caspian, Vienna had trumped it several times over. The food was fantastic, the music heavenly, the city was safe and easy to walk, and the culture, well, nothing can beat the art. Definitely a city the Hippo will visit again and again.

See Wien photos

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