Travels with V

Vienna

Glory remains but the waltz ended

Vienna part one

What do you expect when going to a place like Vienna? Probably a lot of thing that all start with “old”. Old palaces, old art, old traditions. And sure enough this town with its grand history is very busy nurturing its memories of the old times when Austria was a mighty empire and its capital city a major cultural and intellectual hub in Europe. But it isn’t today and that’s why a visit to Vienna feels a bit like stepping into another dimension. A parallell age.

Buildings, decoration, food traditions and anything from the Kaiser’s days is cared for and preserved, and in many areas palace and castles dominate with their multitudes of baroque statues and gardens. Sure, Vienna has room for the modern life also, but it’s not allowed to dominate as much as in other cities we have visited.

THIS LITTLE PALACE HAS A GREAT SCHNITZEL EATERY
ODD EXCEPTION; MODERN AND OLD SIDE BY SIDE

We arrive in Vienna on a sunny spring day before the real warmth has arrived. Our hotel is quite near most of the city sights and right by a Metro station. This place is actually called “Schwedenplatz”, the Swedish square, so named in gratitude for aid sent to needy Austrians after WW1. The Donaukanal running by is a popular hangout with several bars and restaurants. 

DONAUKANAL

Only a few blocks away we find the mighty St. Stephen’s Cathedral. What is spectacular about it is the overwhelming amount of decorations inside the church. From every part of the interior cherubs peep out, holy men with funny faces stare and even the architect leans out of a wall.

And it’s the same situation outside, in Vienna’s old town, there’s statues and monuments everywhere. Often depicting people in dramatic and violent situations, with twisted facial expressions. We have sometimes seen something similar in Rome and Madrid, but not by far so abundant as in Vienna.

In an open space next to the St Stephan’s Cathedral the ground is littered with young girl’s bodies. We are of course shocked, but soon realize that it’s a manifestation against the war in the Ukraine. Which is fought not so far away from here. The manifestation is  a very silent and very moving action.

Statues look down on us from almost every roof or facade as we wander through the old town. We pass a horrific monument on a square (it’s a bubbly heap that commemorates the plague) and reach Hofburg, the enormous castle complex that was the Kaiser’s residence of old and is now the seat for the president and the parliament. Here we also find the Spanish riding school, an art museum and a theater, and also the Palmenhaus restaurant. More about that later.

The castle buildings are quite straight and not very spectacular, maybe with one exception. A relatively late add-on called “Neue Burg”, facing the “Heldenplatz” is a bombastic semicircle expressing power and glory. Adolf Hitler stood on the balcony in 1938 and declared “Anschluss”,  a term meaning that Austria was now a part of Germany. 

THE PEST MONUMENT
THE MOZART MONUMENT

In the Hofburg complex one of Vienna’s best and nicest restaurants is located. The Palmenhaus, actually a converted giant greenhouse.  And in a park that was once a castle garden we find a monument over Austrias great composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On the lawn below the statue there’s a G-clef made of daffodils.

Vienna is of course the city where modern café culture was born. In the 19th century the classic grand cafés were where the intellectuals, the political activists and exiled revolutionaries met and had endless discussions about the major issues of the day and the future to come. You can still feel the atmosphere of those days in a place like Central Café, probably the most classic one of them all.

DIFFICULT CHOICES IN CAFÉ CENTRAL

Top 5 in Vienna:

  1. What to see: Art museums are everywhere, but probably no. 1 is the Belvedere. Tickets are a little less expensive online. The  Stephans dome is extraordinary, but don’t forget to pay a few Euros and ride the lift up to the bell tower. Hofburg with Palmenhaus. Promenade along the  Donaukanal.
  2. Activities: Boat trip on the Donau, day cruise or a trip to  Bratislava in Slovakia. The ferry terminal is at Schwedenplats. 
  3. Best food: Palmenhaus. With Buxbaum coming in at second best. Figlmüller has a reputation as the best for wienerschnitzel, we really enjoyed that at its sister restaurant Lugek. There are a couple of Michelin starred places, but you have to reserve weeks in advance. 
  4. Bo: We stayed at a designer hotel called Ruby Lissi by Schwedenplatz. A little bohemic and the rooms hade a bizarre glass cage toilet. But priceworthy and a great entral location.
  5. Café: Vienna is the capital of classy cafés. And Café Central is the classiest of them all. A 19th century hotspot for intellectuals, politicos and press, this was where Theodor Herzl and Leo Trotsky hung out. 
Jag som gör den här resebloggen heter Lars Aldman och jag har tidigare jobbat som journalist mm på SR och SVT. Och "V" som jag reser med är min älskade hustru Veronica, journalist och fotograf.

Vår favoritsysselsättning är att resa runt i världen och se andra kulturer och samhällen. I flera år har vi äventyrat i Asien, Afrika och Latinamerika, och även naturligtvis i Europa. Och vi vill gärna dela med oss av våra erfarenheter och glädjeämnen, och hoppas att ni vill följa med oss!

PS. På sajten aldmangallery.com hittar ni mina bilder från både när och (mest) fjärran. Djur, natur, samhällen och människor.
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.

Jag heter Lars Aldman och har bl a jobbat som journalist mm på SR och SVT.  Och "V" som jag reser med är min älskade hustru Veronica, som också är journalist och fotograf. Vi älskar att resa och uppleva andra kulturer. I flera år har vi rest omkring i världens fyra hörn och vi vill gärna dela med oss av våra erfarenheter och glädjeämnen på dessa upptäcktsfärder. Hoppas ni vill följa med!

Hej!

Vår senaste resa gick till Albanien där vi under tre veckor upplevde detta okända men så spännande och vackra land. Från de hisnande höga bergen i norr, de gamla städerna och de djupa floddalarna i landets mitt, till de långa stränderna med sitt klara vatten i söder. Klicka på Albanien och läs om landets dramatiska historia och dess vänliga och gästfria invånare.

NYTT!

There's now a new addition to the blog, about our trip to Albania. During three weeks we traveled up and down this unknown but beautiful country. From the high mountains in the north to the ancient towns and the deep valleys inland, to the sandy beaches and the clear green water in the south. Click on Albania in the map and read about its dramatic history and kind and hospitable people.

NEW!
I'm Lars Aldman from Sweden. I worked for many years at the Swedish National TV and Radio, but now my main interest is traveling around the world with "V", my lovely wife Veronica, who is a freelance journalist and photographer.
For the last ten years we have traveled through Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. We love to experience different cultures and societies and we hope you'll join us!