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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Vienna - Day 2

It was an unusual sleep - mainly due to the quicksand like mattress on the bed. It would dissolve around you in the most uncomfortable manner. I managed to find a way to sleep so it wouldn’t suck me in. It was like those comedy skits where the patient is playing with the control on their hospital bed and ends up sandwiched.

Breakfast was served on time - it was waiting out on the little table in the lobby. The muesli was one of those raw organic types - think shredded newspaper with a few raw hazelnuts thrown in - worse still it was served with milk coloured water. I managed to down about a third of the sludge but the rest went down the tubes. The bread was very nice, it was warm and really crunchy. Due to the nature of the milk, hot coffee became iced coffee.

After consulting the various maps and using the internet I decided to head off to see the Liechtenstein museum. The tram at top of the road should take me most of the way. It connects with the D tram that drops me off at the door.

First stop was the underground to purchase the 3 day vienna ticket. It’s €12 for 72 hours travel on all trains, trams and buses.

It’s sunday so the trams are running every 10 minutes and right on time it arrives - it’s a much better way to travel then the underground.

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old tram and new tram
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The seats on all these types of trams are wooden but they have some new stock that are similar to the latest trams in melbourne. I also discover that the trams can only be driven one way so at the end of the lines they have loops so they face the right way again.

I get off the 5 and cross the tracks to catch the waiting D tram. I press the door button but nothing. The driver then turns on her signals and decides to head off. Thank you, I mumble to myself, for driving off and not opening the doors. It’s a ten minute wait for the next tram.

Arriving at the Liechtenstein I find it mercifully empty. Taking a few pics of the outside I head inside. Once again, no photos allowed of the interior.

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It’s in absolutely magnificent condition, so it should be as it’s been recently restored. The wealth of the family is incredible. I don't think I've ever seen so many Rubens in one place. There’s also furniture and statues on display - and downstairs their gold coach is on display.

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Catching the D again I end up on the inner ring and stop off to see the Rathaus. Naturally, a huge tent is being set up in front of the Neue Rathaus so I’m unable to provide a long shot of the building. It’s got to be the largest one I’ve seen so far.

Before that I get some shots of the Burgtheatre
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and then decide to have a coffee at the famed Café Ladtmann - waiters dash about in black tie tuxedos - I order a viennese coffee and I get that look when I don’t order anything else.

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I don’t order anything else because at €3.80 for a coffee is enough.

The coffee arrives

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with a small squirt of whipped cream on top and a tiny glass of water. The verdict on the coffee - pretty average. It’s made worse by the smoke haze (and I’m sitting outside) and the cheap stinky cigar smoke that’s floating my way. When it comes to paying I give the waiter €4 and there’s not even a hint that he would give any change back, not that I would expect it.

It’s off through the Rathaus park (Rathausplatz) to get a close up look
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The Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) was built between 1872-1883. It's central tower is 325 feet high and is topped with an eleven foot statue of a knight in armour.

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This building is the University and it's just down from the Rathaus.

Next stop, Votive Church - unfortunately, most of the facade is under wraps due to restoration work.

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you can see the elegant twin spires that are a landmark of the city.

This church designed by Heinrich Ferstel, was built in a neo-gothic style as a "Thank you to God" for the rescue of Franz Joseph. Construction started in 1856 and finished in 1879.

I enter the church to catch the last part of mass - it’s in english! After mass I take some pics of the interior.

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View of the altar

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View from the altar

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there is some damage to the ceiling frescos

Consulting the map again and deciding to take a look at Schloss Belvedere which is also on the D line.

It certainly is a totally different Vienna here - the Vienna of the inner ring than to where I’m staying. And I can see why the hotels are so much more expensive - it’s a premium spot where all the attractions can be seen.

The trams stops at the entrance of Schloss Belvedere where I take some pictures.

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Schloss Belvedere is a baroque palace built by Prince Eugene of Savoy. Upper Belvedere (seen in the photos above) was built between 1721-1722. The Lower Belvedere (seen in photos below) was built between 1714-1716. Both were designed by Johann Lucas Von Hildebrandt. Both Belvederes were damaged during ww2. In 1955, in the Upper Belvedere's Marble Hall, Austria was granted its independence.

I then walk around to view the formal gardens and take in the view of the city.
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The building in the background is the Lower Belvedere

There are a lot more people here than at the Liechtenstein but for the life of me I cannot understand why this act of vandalism was allowed.

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Who thought sticking a neon map of austria would look good or even appropriate? How tacky is that?

I forgo a tour of the inside and decide to head back to the b&b. I’ve decided to get some washing done and on the way back have dinner at Ikibana.

Waiting at the tram stop I find proof that not all buildings in Vienna are attractive
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I catch one of the new trams and as I enter the incredibly bad stench of urine hits me - it looks like someone let go right in the middle of one of the sections by the large puddle on the floor. I scurry away from the smell.

To get to the laundry it’s back on tram 5. It’s definitely a new experience for me - and there’s an odd mix of people - all of them male.

One guy comes in and starts loading his washer, he puts in his wool lined jacket and follows it with jeans, t-shirts, shirts, socks, the kitchen sink. He puts in extra powder at the top and even a handful inside. He selects the hottest temperature and lets it go. I wonder if they will come out the same size they started.

Then there's another guy who was unloading his washer and everytime he went to take something out, something would fall on the dirty floor. With every occurrence he got more and more steamed. When the sock fell for the last time he angrily shoved it in his bag and left.

Then there are the ones that pack the spinners so full of clothes that they have to press the washing down to get the lid to fit. How effective will that be in spin drying those clothes?

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the clothes in the wash go round and round, round and round, round and round

After half and hour my wash was done and carefully i empty the items out into the little basket. Miracles of miracles nothing drops on the floor. I move over to table so i can fold and back my items with some discretion but i can’t help but feel someone is standing near by watching.

I’m glad i’ve only done the bigger items like shirts and trousers - when i’ve neatly backed them into their bags I turn and find indeed I was watched. A guy is standing right next to me and gives me the eyebrow waggle and a smile. I’m thinking what type of freak are you. I give him that perplexed look as I leave and he smiles still trying to be charming as I walk out.

Now I keep reading in all sorts of guide books about how interesting laundrettes are and how you meet the most interesting people there and how they are the best thing ever. I have to ask were you smoking crack at the time? Believe me there’s no-one remotely interesting in a laundrette - they are smokey (which ticks me off since i’m there to remove the smoke stink) and full of either backpacker males, sleazy velvet trousered lethario or people that haven’t got a clue.

Since I’d finished a lot quicker than I thought, I stopped for a latte macchiato at a nearby cafe - first time ever i’ve seen it served with a straw!
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On plan, I stopped at Ikibana for dinner -
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miso and gemai tea

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avocado sushi, salmon and tuna nigiri

Happy food to make the bad people go away.

To see more photos from today click on the appropriate set
Vienna Set
Neues Rathaus Set
Votive Church Set
Schloss Belvedere Set

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