The city on the Danube just swept us off our feet. How could I just compress all of her beauty in one post? Here’s a follow-up pictorial journey through the city during this year’s very hot summer.
It was so sultry the morning on which we went to Schönbrunn Palace that we sank into a deep torpor once we got back to the hotel room. Now the last time I ever remember sleeping in the afternoon is in Calcutta where siestas are a given every day. As a result when we woke up in the evening, we felt discombobulated. But ah, the wonders of the night romps after. It was almost magical. That gusty night of walking around the city hand in hand and discovering what classical enchantment is.
Oh yes, our Viennese holiday was special. We met up a pair of my close friends one evening and we drank into the wee hours, chatting with buskers and demanding songs of them in the middle of the night, like it was just the thing to do and like there was no tomorrow, even though they had to catch the bus to Budapest the next morning. Here’s to you, N and S, for making our time in Vienna that much special.
A shot from our last day in Vienna when we felt quite wistful and loath to leave it. In the backdrop are horse carriages and the grandness of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. St. Stephen’s Cathedral. I loved the way those richly coloured tiles form such a contrast to the limestone exteriors of the cathedral. The 12th century cathedral is a symbol of the importance of Vienna in the religious scheme of affairs in German civilisation. The pretty, canopied rickshaws of Vienna Bumping into one of my best friends in Vienna is a happy, nostalgic memory from the trip. Empress Sisi. Did I not mention in the earlier post on how she is everywhere in the city? Sisi promotes everything from chocolates to bags. My beloved and a tall glass of beer to recover from the stuffiness of that sultry day. Schnitzel accompanied by the Austrian bread dumpling that is called Semmelknödel That is a Chicken Schnitzel because I love birds “Vienna wasn’t just a city, it was a tone that either one carries forever in one’s soul or one does not. It was the most beautiful thing in my life.” Sándor Márai Hofburg Palace. The former imperial residence in the heart of the city. The ‘People’s Garden’ as it is known in Vienna. The Viennese name for it is Volksgarten and it is located within the Innere Stadt. It was once a part of the Hofburg Palace and was built over the fortifications of the city that were destroyed by Napoleon in 1809. In the 19th century Volksgarten stands a temple dedicated to Theseus, the mythical king of Athens. It replicates the 2500 year old Temple of Hephaestus in Athens which was originally believed to have housed the remains of Theseus. The rose garden in Volksgarten Anyone for meringues? Schönbrunn Palace. The imperial summer residence of the House of Habsburgs. Sisi lived here for a fair part of her short life. The stunning grounds where Sisi loved to go on her regular walks. At the end you can see a Gloriette (a word derived from the French word ‘loire’ which means ‘little room’ and is typically an elevated structure). Emperor Franz Joseph I sat here when he has his breakfast, dined and watched festivities. Certainly quite a view he had everyday. Heritage in the house. Rozet & Fischmeister on Kohlmarkt is a former imperial and royal purveyor of silverware and historic jewellery. It was founded in the 18th century by a Huguenot called Nikolaus Rozet who had arrived in Vienna from France. In the mid 20th century, it was taken over by Georg Fischmeister and it has been in the family since. The gilded turquoise dome of the Hofburg peeks from the background. Atmospheric dining Where we sat for a pint and a Euro match It was quite a lovely pub with a traditional touch Austrian beers in Pfiff & Co. Alleys with traditional eateries “Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true/ When will you realize, Vienna waits for you.” Billy Joel In Bäckerstrasse, where we came across one of the oldest beisls in Vienna. A beisl is a typical Viennese feature. It is an 18th century inn that offers local dishes within its wood-panelled walls, interspersed with wooden furniture and chequered tablecloths along with blackboards displaying what is available for your meal. “And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook, with the photographs there and the moths.” Leonard Cohen Johann Figlmüller opened this beisl which became a symbol of the Viennese way of life, where you can always drop in for a lovely local meal and leisurely chats over some nice wines. Their schnitzels are purportedly the best. Husband and the horse in Hofburg square. The night my friends and I, along with the husband, took over the streets of Vienna in the most raucous way possible. Inside the iconic Demel. “The coffee shop played a big role in Vienna of 1900. Rents were sky high, housing was difficult to come by, your apartment probably wasn’t heated, and so you went to the coffee shop. You went to the coffee shop because it was warm, because it was great Viennese coffee, and you went for the conversation and the company.” Eric Weiner Viennese sights and spires “The streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt.” Karl Kraus “When you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.” Napoleon Bonaparte The Plague Column. A 69-foot Holy Trinity Column in a Baroque style that commemorates the worst plague in Vienna, during the year 1679. Thousands died. Roughly about 75,000. On it various figures, religious and angelical, and then one of a praying Emperor Leopold I. Neue Burg, from the balcony of which, in 1938, Adolf Hitler proclaimed the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria by the Third Reich. Charming shop windows A convent resident “You need some reason why Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn in the 18th century all flocked to Vienna. What was it about Vienna? They must have known on some level that that is where they would flourish. It’s what biologists call “selective migration.” Eric Weiner “And I’ll dance with you in Vienna, I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise. The hyacinth wild on my shoulder my mouth on the dew of your thighs. And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook, with the photographs there and the moss. And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty, my cheap violin and my cross.” Leonard Cohen Albertinaplatz. “Vienna is a handsome, lively city, and pleases me exceedingly.” Frederic Chopin Here’s looking up at the baroque facade of Schönbrunn, which was built on a floodplain of the Wien, the river that flows through Vienna. The land was acquired by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II in 1569. It started off pretty much like Versailles, as a hunting and recreation lodge. The palace was requisitioned after WW II and during the Allied Occupation of Austria, between 1945—1955, to serve as the offices of the British Delegation to the Allied Commission for Austria. It was also the headquarters of the British Military Garrison. Privy Garden, Schönbrunn Palace. Privy Garden, Schönbrunn Palace “White as a winding sheet, Masks blowing down the street: Moscow, Paris London, Vienna all are undone. The drums of death are mumbling, rumbling, and tumbling, Mumbling, rumbling, and tumbling, The world’s floors are quaking, crumbling and breaking.” Edith Sitwell Mozart’s apartments in Vienna. “Someone like Mozart moves from Salzburg to Vienna, where all of the sudden he finds this musical city that is not only asking for music, it’s demanding music of him.” Eric Weiner Inside Mozart’s apartments. “Music was literally in the air at the time, the Vienna of 1780. Everybody played music, classical music. There were in fact so many musicians that in apartment buildings people had to come up with a schedule – you practice at 5 p.m., I’ll practice at 6 p.m. That way the music didn’t collide with one another.” Eric Weiner Hercules fights the Hydra at the Hofburg. Those people in the horse trap seem awfully calm about a mythic figure coming down with a club above them though. “Lord, if there is a heartache Vienna cannot cure I hope never to feel it. I came home cured of everything except Vienna.” Storm Jameson
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