Vienna Revisited

in which I spend my final 24 hours, which involved a lot of standing, more museums, more coffee-housing, and more food. And from there, it was onwards and out by my favourite sort of transport: the night train.

After our return from the East, Alex and I made a brief stop in our hostel to change shoes and headed immediately back out. Our destination for the evening? The Staatsoper, where, for a grand total of 3€ each, we procured standing room places on the balcony for La Traviata. We were ushered up the stairs, where we waited for the doors to be open, following which we were sent to our assigned location to mark our spots with our scarves. Our places securely marked, we were free to roam the building, get some snacks, and wander around for the curtains opened at 7 pm. The Vienna Opera House is quite stunning. I had been before, years ago, but not to an opera. It would be one of my strongest recommendations for the city, actually. Standing room tickets are cheap enough that even if you decide to leave halfway through, you can’t feel like your money was exactly wasted. We returned to our spots in time for the opera, and found ourselves a little frustration that it was staged in such a way so that there was a good chunk we did not see. But small matter–we stayed through intermission and decided to see the whole thing through the end.

Clockwise from top: our places marked with our scarves, the Opera before the curtain opened, Alex outside the Opera House, the Mahler painting in one of the side hallways brings back old memories of the Youth Symphony tour in 2004 (our conductor was the spitting image of Mahler).

By the end, though, our feet were sufficiently worn out, and between some desired Skyping (Alex) and train ticket printing (me), we decided to call it a night and headed back for the evening so that we could make full use of our next and final day in Vienna.Thursday began at the Belvedere, where we procured our tickets and headed inside the Oberes Belvedere, famous for its Klimt collection (vor allem The Kiss).

The Belvedere.

Though I already knew this, let’s just say the day served as a firm confirmation of my love for his art. Seriously. It is all so good. The gardens aren’t too shabby, either, though I don’t claim to be any particular garden enthusiast.

The Belvedere Gardens.

Even better was the view over the gardens from the museum:

View on the Unteres Belvedere and the rest of Vienna.

The Belvedere was a wonderful museum–and just the right amount. We continued happily on, heading from there towards Karlskirche (which looks a bit like it was inspired by the Hagia Sofia), the Secession building, and the Naschmarkt, all of which were delightful. We were quite tempted by all the various stands of the Naschmarkt, an outdoor market and series of restaurants, and regretted that we were headed from there directly for Kaffee und Kuchen at Café Central, making a lunch seem sort of unnecessary. Sigh, had we only a week to spend in the city! We continued on, walking by the currently-closed Café Museum, where I paused to greet a couple friends of mine (nerd alert!):

Stefan Zweig and Karl Kraus, the heroes of a paper I wrote my final year at Harvard. I was kind of in love with Karl Kraus.

And from there, on to Cafe Central, perhaps the most decorative and internally beautiful of the Wiener Kaffeehäuser. Alex and I had the great pleasure of meeting Sarah and her mother there, and it was wonderful to sit for an hour or so and chat. Sarah’s mother was lovely.

The Cafe Central from outside and inside. And, of course, my selected cake-- the Cafe Central Torte. Delicious.

But, with a glance at our watches, it was time to head on. And this time, we got to the Freud Museum with somewhat better timing. As in, we actually saw it. The museum documents his life and has a number of his things and writings. The nerd in me was most interested in the stuff I had read before–namely, Dora for a class, and On Cocaine, which I had paged through for a job. But it was neat to see his drawing room arranged as it was.

Also neat: his glasses and pens. To think! The man himself used these items.

Glasses and pen.

Having finished the museum, we headed out in search of an important discovery we had made on Tuesday. Namely, a small Mexican restaurant. After a bit of guess work and retracing our steps, we found it! And promptly ordered two American-style burritos, something I had inexplicably been craving since a recent trip to Munich, when someone’s wrapped up dürüm döner reminded me of a burrito. It had been a fixation for over a week. Pretty much, it was amazing.

Clockwise: Alex inspects the burrito line, I hold my burrito with pride, Alex digs in.

Our time was, however running short. We wandered back to the center and picked up a few edible souvenirs, before we parted ways on Kärtnerstraße, near St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Alex’s train was a good 45 minutes before mine, so I sent her off and did my on final wanderings through the city. It has been a most excellent three days. And I was sorry to see them end so quickly. My wallet, however, was quite appreciative that the next stop would be Venice, where I would meet my mother, ending the financial burdens of traveling. And, with a final stroll down Anna Gasse, I too hopped aboard the metro, collected my belongings, and set off for Venice on the night train.

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