Monday, 13 May 2013

Part II of Viennese Adventure: The Sights and Architecture


I had to get off this station the last time I was chatting with you about my recent Austrian break.



Today,  we'll explore the city starting from here.

To give you a point of reference, I'm re-posting Vienna's train map.

This u-bahn map shows how convenient it is to navigate Vienna. Our hotel wasn't in the city centre where Stephansplatz and Landstraße (both encircled) stations were, but the city is so compact and public transport so efficient  that you can sight-see in the morning and head to your hotel for a catnap, then go out again for more sight-seeing, a meal or drinks or listen to outdoor musicians. 

Aside from the fact that their trains were not packed, my comfort wasn't strained by deliberately avoiding eye contact with the person/s sat opposite me. I've always considered staring rude. Luckily, Londoners also have an aversion to that uncultured habit. But it does take some practice as to where your eyes will focus when the seating arrangement is like this:
 
 
London's Piccadilly line tube seats.


In Vienna, all trains had this seat plan:


Some train lines in London have the same seat plan as above, mixed with a vertical arrangement. I don't feel the need to look up the ceiling or wear my sunnies on a grey day when I'm sitting like the man in the right corner.

But I won't let musings over train seats spoil the trip.



Medieval to Baroque: Streets, Buildings, Fountains and Balconies
  
 File:Stephansdom Vienna July 2008 (27)-Stephansdom Vienna July 2008 (31).jpg
 A bird's-eye view of Vienna

As it was my first time in Vienna, I was a textbook case tourist, gawking at the architectural wonders. I'm not scholarly adept in differentiating Renaissance from Baroque or Impressionism from Neo-Impressionism, but I can tell beauty when I see one. And appreciate it in my most anti-Instagram way.

Anything that I take photos of is a vision that I'm attracted to. I once spoke to a crystal healer who advised that when you buy crystals or stones, get the one that you are drawn to or drawn to you like both of you are trapped in some magnetic field. Love at first sight? I concede only at this instance.

The historic centre of Vienna is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Buildings are characteristic of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance Revival. The city did not suffer as much destruction as Berlin or Hamburg during WWII so in that sense Viennese people are fortunate to have kept much of their old world treasures

Near Pilgramgasse station, close to Schönbrunner Str. where our hotel was, we walked past this building the front of which had a dark unpainted finish.




 I loved the darkness of the structure as if it's just been sanded, the carved details on the windows, and the climbing vines. I don't mind living above a shop or restaurant if the building is as stunning as this.


    
While familiarising ourselves with our area, I stepped on this sealed manhole cover. I normally walk on the edge of manholes for fear of accidentally slipping into an unsecured one. It's a family legend that a cousin fell into one. I don't want to dethrone her from having the reputation for being unmindful. 

In one of my posts about Brighton, I mentioned my odd inclination towards looking at and reading epitaphs. Vienna didn't disappoint me. I read on Intelligent Life that these brass plates embedded in concrete are called Stolpersteine (stumbling stones or blocks in German). They commemorate Holocaust victims and are usually placed at their last known residence before they were sent to their deaths in concentration camps.

This street surely had its share of casualties.

Similar plaques can be found in Berlin and other German cities, Rome, Oslo, Trondheim, and Amsterdam, with the first one installed in Cologne.

On the upper left corner is an inscription that says 'Brinnern für die zukunft' which could contextually mean 'We must not forget.' But as my German comes from the school of Google Translate, it could mean something else. German speakers are most welcome to correct my interpretation.


 











I'm partial to alleyways, side streets, passages, well-lit avenues that lead to another part of the city centre, cobblestoned roads, cityscape, and period buildings modernised by lightings and neon ads.

Even the toilet door caught my attention as I thought it was an apartment door. A man had to excuse himself to walk in through his apartment next door. 

Baroque architecture began in late 16th century Italy when the Catholic Church adopted Renaissance influence into a more theatrical and dramatic fashion. Viennese Baroque structures are very similar to Rome's but perhaps the latter's are on a grander and more flamboyant scale as you would expect from Italians.




 Trevi Fountain is one of Rome's most distinct landmarks. Vienna--as with other European cities-- bears a parade of majestic fountains. This one pictured is called Power at Sea fountain at Hofburg Palace.

I love the sound of flowing water especially in the middle of a bustling city. It replaces the soothing sound of waves rushing to the shore when the seaside isn't accessible. 

I wish I had taken more photos of fountains dotted all over the city, but I've never been a trigger-happy first-timer. Sometimes when you're too focused on capturing visuals, you miss out on emotionally capturing and absorbing the moment. 

Once, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, I went back several times to two fountains in the old walled city to try to take photos when there were not a lot of tourists around. 


 



Two of my favourite fountains in Dubrovnik, possibly in their most undisturbed state during a very touristy season.






I find street lamps rather romantic. If I could afford a well-appointed home with a professionally landscaped back garden, I'd install street lamps such as this one on the photos if only for that cinematic effect. 

Balconies are another structural aesthetics I literally look up to. From quaint to regal, wrought-iron to Roman balustrade, a balcony is inviting and coquettish, beckoning you yet also giving just a glimpse of what your eyes can admire and reach only from a distance.


 


George Clooney looked like he fell off the balcony, clutching a cup of Nespresso.



I couldn't get any closer but the building to your left where you can see Omega had quite a magnificent balcony with round lamp posts on each side of the windows.

In my research about balcony types, I was sent to this page (click here). Balconies of Europe is a website where balcony spotters can post and share photos of their favourite balconies. There's a photo contest with the current theme of signs of spring. A coffee table book is set to be published in 2014 featuring the most interesting photos uploaded by balcony enthusiasts.

The passion I'd say is almost voyeuristic, I'd call spotters balcony groupies.
 




This building looked like a floral bouquet with the balconies designed like leaves. It overlooks Vienna's popular Naschmarkt (market) which has existed since the 16th century.

 
Naschmarkt circa 1890s.


Naschmarkt today.


We'll explore Naschmarkt next time. Going around on foot the whole day is no mean feat. We celebrated the first day drinking some Austrian-German beer in of all places, an American bar. 

We couldn't help going in when the interiors were these pictured below:

  

The intricate ceiling looked plush. I don't know what those walls were made of. Picture-taking wasn't allowed inside so I had to quickly take some shots with my iPad mini while the bartenders were busy. I was Sherlock Holmes in a yellow trench coat in a darkened bar.

I don't know with you but so far I'm loving Vienna. We're off to see the main attractions next time. The food. And the sounds. And I'm taking you with me again.

Danke.



4 comments:

  1. Prior to reading about your trip I would never have considered Vienna for a holiday - but I would now. Sounds like there's a lot to see. For some reason, I always feared it might be a tad dull? Now, I want to visit! So sad about George - I guess I was just a bit too enthusiastic with my "Goodbyes".

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    1. I wouldn't think of Vienna either but Mr Tattler is a fan of anything Germanic or resembling Germany, plus Vienna was a perfect base for the other city he really wanted to visit.

      But you're right, there's a lot to see in Vienna. I'm not done yet! It is a bit quiet there, true. So more for a relaxing trip rather than a boozing trip.

      Aha, I knew someone must have pushed George accidentally. Or not?

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  2. Vienna does look am amazing mix of architectural schools. It seems like it would be sensory overload a bit! I have not been though I plan on going sometime this year but it seems like one weekend might not be enough!!! I might also need to brush up on some german phrases and some architecture magazines...:)

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    1. I think 4-5 days in Vienna would be amazing. We plan to go back to see what we haven't. It's certainly not a party place. Just perfect for a bit of suburbia feel whilst still being in a major city.

      Brush up on your German indeed! For some reason, locals assume everyone speaks the language. I've been spoken to several times in German! I think it's my new target language to learn :)

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