We arrived from Paris and checked into Hotel Alexander, in the north part of the city. We immediately took the tramway to the centre of the city and walked around… all the buildings are so beautiful and so clean. I loved imagining what Mozart would have seen and what he would have been inspired by.
iannis in the tram
and got standing room tickets to Hansel and Gretel at the Volksoper for 2 Euros apiece. Sweeet!
After we got our tickets, we bought food from a kebab stand. We went into the tram to eat in the warmth… Iannis took a bite and suddenly had a terrible face, spit it out, and had to get off the tram – he thought he was going to throw up! I suppose the meat in his durum was not thoroughly cooked. It looked like he was going to vomit into the street but he bought a coke and everything was alright.
When he was in the US, Iannis had met some people from just outside Vienna. Dirk and Manuella (and their baby Loreen) met us downtown and spent the day showing us around the city, telling us where to go, what to eat, what to do. They were such good company, good conversationalists, and the baby didn’t make a peep the entire time.
They showed us an outdoor market, full of delicious-looking vegetables, fruit, bread, meat, and nuts.
We ended our time together in a ‘typical’ Austrian restaurant – it felt like a pub. I had wiener schnitzel and Austrian wine.
They left us, and we went to the Volksoper once more to get standing tickets – this time to a German operetta called ‘Martha’.
When we arrived, the standing area was already quite full, so I asked the usher if there were any other places to stand. She said no, and I ended up getting into a little spat with her because there simply didn’t seem to be any room. Iannis was laughing at me. At half-time, however, we noted where some empty seats were and got to sit down for the second half. The opera was quite interesting after a german girl explained to us the plot halfway through.
After the opera we went to a pub by our hotel for a drink. A very enjoyable and very tiring day!
I must mention that the hotel’s continental breakfast was quite fabulous. They had meats, cheeses, all kinds of bread, jams, yogurt, cereal… everything you can imagine. It was so good, in fact, that we got up every day in time to eat breakfast before 9:30am. !
We were on our own to explore the city, so we made it the day of palaces. First we went to Schonbrunn, inhabited by Maria Theresa and where young Mozart and his sister played. We didn’t go inside, but explored the grounds a bit and had a hot chocolate in the cafe in one of the beautiful buildings.
It is similar to the Louvre in that the whole palace (both lower and upper, in fact) are filled with art, mainly from the classical era onward. We stumbled across Gustav Klimpt’s ‘Der Kuss’, which was quite the thrill, as well as other well-known and simply captivating works of art. I definitely was not expected to be overwhelmed, but we were so exhausted that we decided to leave the lower Belvedere galleries for the next day.
Time to go to the opera – this time, the Barber of Seville at the Staatsoper, the main opera house. We waited over an hour for standing room tickets, and it was worth every minute.
Before the show we went to a pizza place nearby that Dirk and Manuella had recommended – I have never seen a fast-food place so busy!
The show was fabulous, the music, the sets, the acting – Iannis is familiar with the opera as well so it was very enjoyable for us both, especially to recognize so much of the music. The whole audience was extremely appreciative, with bravos and ovations all the way through.
We once again had a drink at the bar by the hotel and fell into bed, with exhausted legs from standing for about 4 hours total that evening.
Last full day in Vienna – had to make the most of it! The first thing we did was to visit an apartment that Beethoven allegedly stayed in. I was expecting to see the piano with the legs cut off, perhaps some original writing from Beethoven’s own hand… but alas! It was a bit disappointing. There were two small museums at that location, presenting photocopies of some music, information, a lock of Beethoven’s hair and his toten mask. Interesting nonetheless, and a charming quartier.
Then it was time to re-explore lower Belvedere – modern art. The whole museum is presented in chronological order with summaries of the changes that happened between each era. By the time you reach the abstract art, you know exactly what led to this point and why artists are doing it that way. It definitely lessened the shock of abstract art that I’ve always felt and gave me a new perspective on it – a very well-done exhibition.
It started snowing – finally, after days of cold, we saw fat snowflakes falling on Vienna. It was beautiful.
We tried to acquire tickets to see Beethoven’s 9th but they were sold out. We then went to see Mozart’s Vienna apartment. We walked in and Iannis said that he didn’t want to see it, but I insisted we go in – it is Mozart, after all! And it came with a free audio guide.
Iannis was right. The audioguide gave you a good hour-long summary of Mozarts life and habits, and the exhibition (or exhibi schon as Iannis later wrote in the visitor’s book) was nothing much. Even the apartment itself was unfurnished – the audio guide invited you to ‘imagine where the furniture would have been and how it would have looked’. Once again – educational, and it gave me a thrill to be in the same area where Mozart wrote so many great works, but disappointing nonetheless.
Time to see about the opera! We were unable to get tickets as we arrived right before the show started, so we walked around a bit downtown and I found the mulled wine kiosks in the street that I’d been looking forward to the whole time! It’s called Gluhwein and it warms you up right away.
We rested a bit at the hotel and then had supper at an African restaurant by the hotel. It was quite good, with good music and atmosphere, and couches and pillows! 🙂
To bed, this time, we allowed ourselves to sleep in…
We woke up at about 10:30am. The plan was to go to the cemetery and see the graves of all the great composers, but it was raining and extremely gross weather, so we decided to skip the cemetery, check in our bags at the train station (yes it’s possible!), and have a nice final lunch. We went to an Austrian restaurant close to St. Stephen’s (I had spinach cheese dumplings) and leisurely made our way to the airport to board the plane.
The trip was fabulous (above all because we were travelling together), I loved Vienna, and I felt as though it were a city where I could get a job in the future…. with so much singing, of course they need someone to sing! 🙂