Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vienna Revisited

Horses and Vienna -- Inseparable
Vienna is big. Have you ever noticed this? Does it keep you up at night? We passed a sign on the road while visiting the capital of Austria last weekend that said Vienna has 1.7 million brains. Unless some of the citizens of Vienna don't have one--or some have two?--I'd guess this is the population. I'm not even going to Google it. Just going on faith here.

I've been to Vienna so many times, but this time was different: I was traveling with people who'd never been to Vienna and actually cared about learning something about the city. Who knew this could be fun? Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy learning about the cities I travel to; I just don't like museums, organized tours and slow-poke viewings of royal bedrooms, studies and such. I'm never going to remember who slept where. And once you've seen one king's chambers, you've really seen them all. Right? I'm much more intersted in petting the horses outside.

The first time I visited Vienna, I was so sick with the flu that I did almost nothing but lie in bed and drink juice from the market around the corner from my hotel room. That was 20 years ago. Since then, I've been to Vienna who knows how many times. I've walzed there on New Year's Eve. I've strolled through the parks and drunk those silly, millky melanges. I even had Sacher Torte before I discovered I had Celiac Disease. But this time Vienna was more educational than all of the other times slapped together--all because of those traveling companions who just had to know everything. Bless them. So here's where I Must Be Off! becomes informative. Brace yourself. This won't happen often.

Have you ever heard of a Heuriger? I bet not. A Heuriger is a new wine and also the person/establishment that sells the new wine. I should have known what it means since the German word heuer means this year in Bavarian. If you're at all familar with Austria, a Heuriger is like a Buschenschank in the Steiermark. These are small producers of wine and other delicacies that have a special licence to sell their own wares. It's kind of similar to the biergartens of Munich--all very informal and relaxed. See links at end of post.

We also made a stop at the Hundertwasserhaus, something I have never done despite the fact that I've known about the house in Vienna for ages. It's a tourist mecca for visitors from all over the world. There's just something about cute, fantastical architecture that spells TOURISM. Here are some pictures. I took so many. Also, see links at end of post.

Apparently, no visit to Vienna is complete without a few hours spent at the Prater, an amusement park that has seen its best years--and it saw them decades ago. I'm not sure what the city should do with this place, but they should do something. It's a creepy, dying funpark but still a well-known tourist attraction. Maybe we were there at the wrong time, but there didn't seem to be enough visitors to ensure profitability. No one was playing the games (shooting, darts, that impossible pyramid of cans that no one can knock off the platform). The rides were in operation but never full. The restaurants were deserted, and some of the buildings in the park were empty. My box of kebap from Big Fat Kebap was excellent, though--and cheap.

Me being a creepy pickpocket.
The Donuapark was getting some TLC from landscape architects and mowers while we were there. It will be prettier in May. Before taking a walk around the grounds, we rode to the top of the Donau Tower. Our wheelchair rider and a companion rode free--that's a savings of 14 euros. While this tower isn't the tallest or cleanest or most impressive in its class, it is well run with friendly, competent employees. The views of Vienna in the rotating restaurant are excellent.

International Centre, Vienna from the Donau Tower

Bungee jumping anyone? Anyone?

The Donau Tower from the Donau Park

Next time, I'm going to take you to the real jewel of Vienna: Schloss Schönbrunn and its magnificent gardens.

I must be off,

Hundertwasserhaus Blog

Have you started writing your entry to The Second Annual I Must Be Off! Travel Essay Contest? It's free, and there's a bit of money to be won. Here are the GUIDELINES


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction, non-fiction and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, PANK, Camroc Press Review, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He lives in Germany.