Welcome to Vienna! When you say "Vienna," people think of different things: music, sausage, desserts, beautiful buildings, and much more. We squeezed a lot of fun into our two-day visit to this beautiful city. Click the link to read more.
When you say "Vienna," some people first think of sausage. In the United States, a "Vienna sausage" usually means a short hot dog which is often canned. But in Vienna, sausage is usually longer than a typical American hot dog, served in a baguette, and is called a "hot dog." Above is a photo of me with a typical Vienna hot dog. The hot dog had melted cheese inside the sausage, and about halfway through the meal, I ditched the sausage and just ate the baguette. So, when you say "Vienna," sausage will not be what I first think of.
When you say "Vienna," many people think of classical music and opera. Vienna is the home to a world-famous opera house, pictured above, and was the home of such musical greats as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Mahler. Outside the Vienna Opera House is the "Music Mile," a trail of marble stars reminiscent of Hollywood's "Walk of Fame." Mahler's star is pictured above. Also above, I am sitting in front of a popular Mozart statue near the Opera House.
Also near the opera house, salesmen dressed like Mozart accost tourists and try to sell them tickets to music performances. Above is a photo of one of these guys playing with his cell phone on a graffiti-stained bench. Just like Mozart used to do.
Speaking of cell phones, above is a photo of me showing my iPhone to a rather disinterested fellow who stared at me like a statue. I'm guessing he was unimpressed because I only have an iPhone 3G, which was made in 2008. By cell phone standards, that's ancient.
Vienna is also justifiably famous for its beautiful architecture and statues. Above are photos of some of the city's famous buildings and statues.
Vienna's architecture is so well-regarded that even its public restrooms are considered to be works of art. Above is a photo of the entrance to the subterranean public restrooms designed by famous architect Adolf Loos (they're referred to as "Loos loos").
Indeed, Vienna's architecture is so beautiful that the inside of a Vienna Burger King looks like the above photo. Notice the intricate designs on the ceiling and the columns.
Even our room in a Vienna hostel was architecturally interesting. It was a converted wine cellar with stone archways. Notice the wall safe behind a painting.
When you say "Vienna," some people think of the Danube River, which flows through the city.
When you say "Vienna," some people think of Viennese efficiency. For instance, the best train we've ridden during our entire trip was the above-pictured train in Vienna. It featured ample legroom, comfortable seats, wifi, power outlets, video monitors, and personalized passenger information on a digital display above each seat. Needless to say, it departed and arrived precisely on time.
When you say "Vienna," some people think of delicious sweet treats. Above is a photo of the Hotel Sacher, which is the original home of the Sacher Torte, a type of very rich chocolate cake.
When you say "Vienna," some people think of the Habsburg dynasties and then the Austro-Hungarian empire and the immense palaces spawned by the rulers of those dynasties. Above are photos taken around the splendid gardens of the Habsburg summer palace, Schonbrunn.
If you're a film buff, when someone says "Vienna," you might think of the 1949 black & white film noir, "The Third Man," starring Orsen Welles and written by Graham Greene. "The Third Man" was filmed entirely in Vienna, and it is regularly ranked as one of the greatest films of all time. The movie is perhaps most famous for its scene on Vienna's Ferris wheel, where Orsen Welles' character--the bad guy--concludes a monologue with this line: "In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." We saw a screening of "The Third Man" in the pictured theater in central Vienna.
After watching "The Third Man" on the big screen, we then hopped on the subway and went to the Prater amusement park where the Vienna Ferris wheel featured in the movie is located. This Ferris wheel was built in 1897, and it is one of the earliest Ferris wheels ever built. The owner of the Ferris wheel died in 1907 almost bankrupt. A permit for the Ferris wheel's demolition was issued in 1916, but due to a lack of funds with which to carry out the destruction, it survived. It also barely survived the bombing in World War II. It now is immensely popular and serves a symbol of the city of Vienna.
We spent an enjoyable evening exploring the Prater amusement park. Interestingly, many of the rides at the amusement park feature American themes, such as those pictured above: "Grand Canyon," "Hollywood" bumper cars, "Apollo 12," and, my favorite, "Der Jurassic Park."
When you say "Vienna," some people think of the city that is regularly ranked as one of the world's most livable cities with one of the world's highest standards of living. Although Vienna is not the capital of one of the great empires in the world, as it was in earlier times, it now is a world capital for culture and livability. For example, each night during the summer, outdoor movies are shown (see photo of the "theater" above) and concerts are conducted. Beth and I enjoyed a meal at a large street food market which featured actual plates and silverware and delicious food (see photo above). Moreover, while we expected Vienna to be an expensive city, with the exception of the reasonably-priced screening of "The Third Man," we did not pay a single admission fee during our entire visit. Much like Washington D.C., the city is full of interesting attractions which are free.
After our visit to Vienna, when I hear someone say "Vienna," I think of a wonderful, vibrant city that lives up to each of its varied reputations. Thank you for joining us!