aka When I sing Ultravox for two days straight….
So we packed up from Zell Am See and headed East past Salzburg (where we had been the day before) towards Vienna. And I swear, I cannot even hear the word Vienna without thinking of this…
The 1981 hit by Ultravox. To be honest, it’s not a great song. I don’t think it ever came out in the States and I had never heard it before we danced to it in my pole dancing class a couple of years ago. It’s not a song that I would have ever put on purposely EXCEPT that we were on our way to Vienna. And so I couldn’t get it out of my head. Which meant that I couldn’t stop singing bits of it.
It was about a 5 hour drive (I know it doesn’t look that far on a map) from Zell Am See to Vienna, and I probably sang “Oh, Vienna….this means nothing to me” about 25 times. And of course, as soon as we actually made it to Vienna’s city limits, I played it. At full blast. And sang along. Loudly, badly, with emotion and arm movements. With my eyes closed. I really got into it. Somewhere in Munich there is a camera floating around with a video of me belting out the song as we drive into Vienna….wait….I think The Runner may have cut the cord of my camera strap so that he would never have to endure seeing that video. Possibly not, but I am sort of surprised he didn’t put me out of the car.
Anyway, we didn’t really stop much along the way but we did make one stop in Melk, about an hour outside of Vienna. Melk is famous for its baroque style abbey. We got off the highway with full intention of visiting the abbey- but we got sidetracked. Well, I did after lunch at least. We stopped into a wine shop specialising in local Wachau Valley wines… and well… at least I learned a new word…. Federspiel. Federspiel is a classification for Wachau Valley wines of around 11.5-12.5%. We picked up two bottles as souvenirs (which didn’t actually make it out of Vienna) and got back on the road.
On first arrival, Vienna seemed quite well, blah. I wasn’t impressed. But….as we kept driving I got more and more excited.
Vienna has an amazing combination of architectural styles- from beautiful, old buildings from the late 1700s to gorgeous art deco buildings built in the early 1900s to hideous, drab post World War II buildings built in a rush to house those left homeless after more than 87,000 houses in the city were bombed. Once I heard that on our tour, I looked at the city differently and thought about the city a bit differently too. Vienna was bombed over 52 times by Allied forces, there were over 3000 bomb craters that were left. It sort of explains why there are blocks with 3 or 4 plain, drab 1950s building sandwiched between two beautiful art deco ones. It was also interesting to think about what it must have looked like and how a city would have behaved at wartime. On the plane over, I had watched The Woman in Gold, a recent movie about art restitution after World War II which takes place in Vienna. I really enjoyed seeing the movie in person, but it was quite jarring to think about all the horrible things that would have happened there during the war.
We were also watching the refugee crisis start to unfold during this trip. It was when Hungary had shut down the trains and weren’t letting any refugees pass through. We saw it first hand when we arrived at our hotel in Munich. We were staying opposite the main train station and it looked as though we had arrived in war zone- there were police and video cameras everywhere. Our hotel had a security guard out front. Hungary still hadn’t let the refugees pass by the time we left Munich, but everyone was on alert for when they did. I did see a refugee family approach our hotel and get turned away by the security guard. I don’t know what they asked or where they went after that. But it was quite sad, and it really brought the crisis to the forefront of my mind.
Hopefully in 60 years, people will be visiting Syria in the same way that we were visiting Vienna and Munich, two cities that were devastated by bombs only 60 years ago.
Anyway, Vienna was a fantastic city- we were staying in a fantast hotel- Hotel Rathaus Wein & Design. A boutique hotel themed around Wine. Yep, a Wine Hotel. Hallelujah, I had found my home. Each room had a different Austrian winemaker featured, they did wine tasting in the evening and there were loads of cute little wine and grape themed touches. And their breakfast was delish! So good, I made myself sick eating it. I highly recommend the hotel.
We did a hop on hop off bus tour of Vienna and saw loads of highlights including Schonbrunn Palace. A must do if you’re in Vienna. BEAUTIFUL. One of the highlights was the patisserie, where The Runner had Apple Streudel and I had Kaiserschmarrn- a fluffy shredded pancake which was delish! And while we’re on the subject of desserts….
That night we went to the Hotel Sacher, home of the famous Sacher Torte. I think it I win the lottery and return to Vienna, I would visit my Wein Hotel but splurge on a night or two at the Hotel Sacher. Rooms start at €525, for a superior room- about $1000 AUD at the moment. Of course, if I won the lottery, I’d upgrade to at least a Top Deluxe Room or a Suite. On this trip, we only saw the lounge area and we only had dessert and a couple of drinks. Wow. It is a beautiful hotel, probably one of the most beautiful lounge areas of a hotel I’d ever been to. Sadly, I don’t have any photos, but their website does.
We spent a lot of time just walking around the inner city and the old city of Vienna. We only really had time for one museum- the Belvedere Museum. And why that Museum you might ask? Because it has my favorite painting in the whole wide world. Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Klimt painted in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century. He had been a favorite artist of mine since college nearly and the Belvedere has quite a few of his paintings and drawings. I wish we had had time for more museums, but I’m thrilled that we got to see The Kiss. It’s stunning in real life. Just beautiful and huge. It’s displayed against a black wall which only makes the colours and the gold in the painting stand out more. I loved it even more seeing it person (unlike the Mona Lisa, which was a lot smaller than I thought it would be).
We had a lovely afternoon in Grinzing, a lovely suburb of Vienna with lots of Heurigen- traditional cafes that serve their own house wine on site. And by house wine, I mean wine that they actually make themselves. It’s such a beautiful area and we had a lovely lunch in a sunny wine garden with really friendly staff.
I could write so much about Vienna, but I’d like to go back one day and spend more time there. There’s so much we didn’t see and so much we didn’t do. In fact, there’s probably a list of things we didn’t see longer than what we did see. There’s so much history there as well that we didn’t get to delve into- the garage where we parked our car dated back to 1925!
After two days in Vienna, we headed to Munich. We didn’t get to see nearly enough of Munich so I’m plotting our return back maybe in a year or two….and this time I’ll keep hold of my camera.