Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vienna, Austria: Schnitzel Sandwiches!

I have finally found a moment to write about the long list of events that have occurred over the last three weeks or so. I feel compelled to mention that I don't intend to be waiting this long between each blog in the future, but it was more a matter of circumstance that prevented me from writing. Also, it became increasingly clear to me that you have to be in the mood to write a blog, or it ends up being a forced chronology of events lacking any real feeling or emotion. Nonetheless, this blog might be quite a long one, and my intention is to split the events into two blogs over the next few days. Primarily because I have visited both Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic during this time period, and it would only be fair to give justice to both of these unbelievable cities in respective blogs.

Before I begin my tales about Vienna, I should mention that I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend come all the way from Canada to come and see me. It was definitely no small flight, and it was an amazing week here in Oslo with her. Firstly, the friends I have met up here finally got to meet someone from my life back home, and everyone seemed enthused to meet her. Moreover, I got to rediscover Oslo with my girlfriend, and truly reaffirm my decision to be in this great city. It is interesting to think that without some motivation like that, it is easy to overlook all that the city you chose for exchange withholds. Irregardless of any of that, it was just great to have my girlfriend embarking on adventures with me in Oslo from the National Gallery to hitting the slopes at Tryyvan Vinterpark, and even just relaxing and watching some "South Park". Before I get all sappy and emotional, maybe I'll move on to the trip that was...Vienna.

I had to catch my flight to Vienna at 7:30am, which was just fantastic, as all of you know that I am the absolute #1 fan of waking up early in the morning (not a chance). So, I did what any reasonable person who hates mornings does, and stayed up until my train at 5:45am after having the pleasure of seeing Norway's own "Casiokids" live in concert (pictured left). It's actually a really cool group out of Bergen that have some pretty innovative music, and were awesome live. You can check out one of their title tracks at; If you just checked out that link, then you have made the realization that they are a little bit wild and crazy (hence the man with the giant head costume on the left in the photo), but they threw down an absolutely great show. I met up with my friend Vicki at the airport, and then proceeded to sleep for the next 5 hours until we arrived in Vienna. Once arriving in Vienna, I was a little thrown off because the buildings didn't seem to match the renowned beauty I had heard about (Oh how sorely wrong I was). Going downtown the next day would instantly show me why Vienna is a world class city. I will talk about that in a moment as the first night is worth explaining first. I met my friends Kaitlin and Jenni at the Wombats Hostel, and we met up with two people from Queen's University back home who showed us around the city. We quickly ended up at an establishment called Kitsch (pictured right), which was great fun. For some reason, everything was 50% off, so how could you go wrong? More than anything, it was great to meet up with some of my friends back home, and it was also fantastic to finally feel like I wasn't getting ripped off by the Scandinavian prices. We would go from there back to our hostel, off to our friend's residence, and then out on the town for a great night at some bar or another near a Ferris Wheel, randomly enough. Even better, at the end I was actually able to take a cab home which is just unthinkable in Oslo.

We got up a little later then we wanted to the next day, but saw a plethora of amazing sights in the downtown Vienna area. We got off at Karlsplatz, which is the central station, and were amazed with the sight of the Vienna State Opera House (pictured left). It was an astounding building, which I would soon find out was a trend in the downtown Vienna area. It is really one of those scenes that can't necessarily be captured on camera because it almost leaves you breathless. From here we went to Hofberg palace, which was another magnificent building. Unexpectedly there was a building beside it called smetterlingshaus, which was a historic butterfly house. Being with three girls (and sadly of my own accord) we decided to splurge on the 4 euro entrance fee and check it out. It was actually a fantastic decision as we left the cold, and entered into a mini tropical rain forest with fauna and flora galore, not to mention some astounding butterflies. We continued our adventure, and ended up at the the Austrian Parliament (pictured right), which was designed in a Greek manner to reflect the founding principles of democracy. This is Kaitlin and I again enjoying the magnificence of Austria. The second picture is of me in the main hall where 24 marbles pillars stand weighing about 16 tons each. Each one was carried for about 3 weeks by horse during the construction. We took a guided tour which gave us the privilege of entering these types of chambers. The architect painstakingly planned the building right down to the locks. However, one of the main session rooms was actually hit by a bomb in WWII, and was rebuilt in the 1950's. It's interesting to note the effect of the World Wars on these European nations especially in Austria's case where their entire power structure becomes drastically shifted after the First World War. We went off to City Hall after this and ended our day at St.Stephens Cathedral which was constructed in about the mid 12th century. We walked to the top of the cathedral (all 364 steps) and witnessed some incredible views of central Vienna.

That evening we had tickets for the Dave Matthews Band concert at a venue in Vienna called Gasometer. I can honestly and wholeheartedly say this it was the best concert I had been to in my life. This is something to say as I have been to a variety of concerts from The Rolling Stones all the way to Classified. I wasn't even the biggest Dave Matthews fan coming in, but I can't even tell you how unbelievably talented they are live, and they can truly put on a concert. The whole place was packed and the venue was absolutely perfect. The picture to the left is one of the avid fans from Vienna showing the worldwide appeal of a band like Dave Matthews Band. It's interesting because each and every one of their concerts is unique due to the fact that each member often breaks out into prolonged solos that absolutely rock the crowd. After the show we would complete a common feat in Vienna, and grab delicious Schnitzel sandwiches. I can honestly say that I ate more kebab and schnitzel sandwiches in my time in Vienna than the rest of my life. I have gained a small sweet tooth for the delicious and elusive (at least in Oslo) Schnitzel Sandwich.

Upon Kaitlin's request we began the following day at the Spanish Riding School. I wasn't really sure of the validity of this sight because I knew that Kaitlin had some serious love for horses. However, it was actually quite a cool place full of history, and was first named during the Austrian Empire around 1572. We moved on from there to a famous museum called Albertina. On display was Andy Warhol's last (uncompleted do to untimely death) exhibit entitled "Cars". For me, it was really quite impressive to see some original work from Warhol, as I have always been intrigued by his work as everyone else appears to be as well. There was also work on display from Jakob Von Alt and his son who were highly influential painters from Vienna that were commissioned to draw "peepbox" realist paintings from Emperor Ferdinand I. The detail in the paintings was almost mind-boggling. We then moved on to Nacht Markt, which was row by row of delicious foods, restaurants, and wonderfully random souvenirs. Pictured beside this text is a man choosing out a delicious cheese at one of the various stands in the market. I thought this was one of those cool unsuspecting action shots where the people are only aware after you have taken the picture of them. That evening we decided to head back to the Vienna State Opera House to see if we could get scalped tickets to the show that evening as it was sold out. We couldn't do that, but we could stand in a line to grab standing tickets for that evenings performance. So we all decided that it was worth it, and stayed for a double performance of "Cavelleria Rusticana" and "Pagliacci". Vienna is one of the founders of the opera so it was a great life experience to witness a show like this in such a marvelous theater. I couldn't take pictures during the performance of course, but I added a picture of the lobby so hopefully you can imagine what the interior of the theater looks like.

We woke up reasonably early the next morning to see a little more of the city before heading off to Prague by train at 12:30. We headed off to Cafe Central, which boasts an incredible interior and it credited with being one of the places that Freud, and many other famous Austrian thinkers, came to converse about their newest ideas. Vienna was arguably the most beautiful city I have ever been too, and it is easily imaginable when realizing that this is their city hall;

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing adventure. I'm so happy for you that your girlfriend was able to visit as well!