Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is one of those cities where one visit simply isn’t enough. This historical city was the first place my good friend Rose and I visited during our month-long Europe trip five years ago.

My reason to visit Vienna was to get a good dose of musical and performing arts, specifically, the opera, Vienna Boys’ Choir and the Lipizzaner horses. I ended up attending a piano recital at the music university. Furthermore, CouchSurfer Ruth and I watched Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Staatsoper, standing for the entire opera (3 hours!). It was well worth it as the both the instrumental and vocal music and costumes were superb.

I also wanted to wander around the various neighborhoods of Vienna outside of the touristy Innere Stadt. I observed Baroque architecture all over. My highlights include seeing Hunderwasser’s modernist Kunsthaus Wien, Hunderwasser House and an incinerator. Furthermore, the views of Vienna, the hills and the vineyards from the Vienna Woods and Kahlenberg were breathtaking. On a side note, I got the opportunity to savor some wine and food at a Kahlenberg heurigen, which is a wine tavern. While sipping my white wine spritzer (wine with water), I got to enjoy a view of the vineyards (and that of rain and lightning after a few minutes).

The food and drink! I of course had to try the three most Viennese foods-- Wiener schnitzel (breaded fried pork cutlet), Sacher torte (chocolate cake with a hint of orange) and apfel strudel (apply pastry). I enjoyed these very much though I have to say if I ate schnitzel at least once a week, I would quickly become vegetarian!

Lastly, the public transportation in Vienna is one of the best in the world. Clean and efficient, the subway, buses, trams and suburban trains are seamlessly linked together. Detailed signs point one in the correct direction to where one can easily connect to another form of public transport.

Overall, I will definitely be back in Vienna, maybe even live there for a few months. This is a city full of cultural events, history and tradition. It is a quieter city, though this means that the crowds and chaos that inflict most major metropolises are missing.

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