Subject: Vienna Travelogue - Part 5
3 of December 1999 - Friday

The weather looked a bit better this morning, and we were up by 7.30. After breakfast, we headed towards Oper in order to get the tram D to Belvedere. Trams are one of the best things in Vienna, red and squeaky. We jumped out of the tram at Belvedere. You must listen careful to the adverts in the public transport. If they are leading to a touristy place, sometimes they say the name of the place and of the street.

Belvedere Museum has been upgraded in the last years. Now you have to begin from the top floor, where you can find an interesting collection of Biedermeier paintings, and from then you must go down to the first floor, with all the Klimts, Kokostchkas and Schieles you were expecting. Afterwards you can walk down the park towards Lower Belvedere, the palace where Prince Eugen of Saboye lived. Upper Belvedere was used for parties, although at the beginning of the century was home to Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, the first victims of the First World War in Sarajevo.

In Lower Belvedere you can find plenty of Baroque Objects dīArt, an interesting change to the paintings found in Upper Belvedere.

It has good explanation displays, both in German and English, and also you can ask for reductions.

On seeing the fine weather, we headed towards the Ring, passing through the monument to the soviet soldier. Itīs a magnificent statue, up on a pinnacle, but now its shield and helmet have fallen prey to a very Viennese custom : they have been painted with gold. Quite a surprise, I couldnīt resist and I had to get a picture. The French Embassy is located at the same place, really beautiful building.

>From then we walked to the Ring, buying a few krapfen in a bakery, and stopped by the Strauss monument (another victim of the Gold. Years ago it was black), walked along the Stadtpark and the Wien river, and arrived to the Postsparkasse, a turn-of-the-century building by Otto Wagner, still working, along the Donaukanal (not a lot to see of the beautiful blue Danube), and up the Seitenstettengasse. This was the only place in Vienna where we could actually see policemen patrolling the streets. This is due to the only sinagogue standing in Vienna. Itīs located in what is called the Bermuda Dreieck (Bermudaīs Triangle). There are many bars and restaurants open until late, specially for the young crowd. The hotel was quite near, and we wanted to try a greek restaurant in our street, but it was closed, so we went to an Italian one, also there. My mum had lemon sole and I had tagliatelle with spinachs, and it was quite cheap, only 200 ATS including tip. Dear old Gabi (I havenīt spoken about her for a long time) had only a fruit salad, and according to her state, it was horrendous.

After lunch we had to go to the Hundertwasserhaus. I guess there are people who like all these childish Hundertwasser designs (colors and irregularities on the ground), but itīs not exactly my piece of cake. Gabi had only two desires since the day we walked into the Tourist Office: visit the Café Sacher and see the Hundertwasserhaus. My mum didnīt say close your eyes and think of England, but almost... So down to Schwedenplatz, and up into a tram. You really have to listen carefully in this case, in order not to miss your stop. I was very bad, I didnīt tell her that there was a museum nearby, the KunstHausWien, but I couldnīt. So I made them get another tram, and once in Schwedenplatz, we got the tram 1 until Schottentor, to see the Votivkirche. A huge neogothic church built in the place of an assasination attempt of Franz Josef during the 1850īs. Itīs huge, dark and cold, cold, cold. It made the weather outside warmer in comparison. We thought about finishing with all the Christmas Markets (Iīll post at the end a couple of web pages about these ones), so we went up to the Mariahilfer (the main commercial street in Vienna, too crowded ) and into Spittelberg. I got myself a punsch mug to keep as a memento, although I couldnīt drink it. It has too many spices, and it is too sweet for my taste. We walked down to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and there we got the J tram to the Musikverein. It was only a short walk to the Karlskirche Advent Market. It is small, and very familiar. There arenīt many tourists, really, and it is pretty much a market for the viennese people.

Coming back from the market, we stopped at one of the souvenir shops in the K#rtnerstrasse to get a cloth calender for next year. The previous year I had bought a couple of them, but this time it looked as if there wasnīt a big selection, although we managed to get a good one.

I left the girls at the hotel, and I went out to meet a friend. We went for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant around the corner from the hotel, called Wrenkh. I had been there only once previously, and I recalled as fairly expensive, but I suppose things changed in the meantime. Food is very vegetarian, I should say, and after request they prepare vegan food. I had sp#tzle (a kind of tyrolean noodles) with mangold (similar to spinachs, but I have never found the name in English. We called it acelgas, and we eat them pretty much, but it look as if in english-speaking countries they are not eaten), and a glass of weisser gespritztī, the young viennese white wine. My friend had another sp#tzle dish and a beer, and everything, including tip, was less than 300 ATS. The crowd in Wrenkh is youngish and a bit on the sophisticated side (like everyone in Vienna lately, I should say). You know what I mean, a lot of black, expensive sunglasses as hairbands,...

>From there we went into the Bermuda triangle. There were many people in the bars (Krah-Krah, Ma Pitom, Roter Engel, Kaktus, Ron y Bebida, Salzamt, some of the names), but we managed to find a table at Aera, and then my friend proceeded to scare me with the news about the bad weather coming for the weekend (between you and me, it didnīt happen).

By the time I was back at the hotel, after 1 a.m., there were still many people in the streets going to and fro. To tell the truth, much more alive than Paris.

More later...