So I met my hostelmates when I woke up in the morning, having gotten in late (and they were both sleeping). There’s Francesca, from Germany, who is in town (along with 3000 of her closest friends) to take a medical school entrance exam and Imbi, who is from Australia and doing an even crazier tour round the world than I am. She started by spending 5 weeks in Africa!
So Imbi and I were chatting in the morning and decided to hang out while Francesca studied. We headed into town (she had only gotten in the day before, so she hadn’t seen much) after getting some breakfast stuffs (and generally having a lazy morning). I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t that excited about Vienna. I know, it’s supposed to be great, and it is, but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was kinda like Dresden for me. I had only booked two nights in the hostel and was anxious to move on and get to Poland and the Baltics. Seriously, I have no idea what day it is most of the time and for some reason, the Baltics have become this ideal of rest and relaxation to me. They are not nearly as touristed out as the other places I’ve been (minus Zagreb, but Zagreb is trying really really hard to be touristy) and Imbi just came from there so she was talking them up considerably. So again I say, not feeling the Vienna vibe.
Until we’re walking through the central square (Stephensplatz) and Imbi mentions that there’s a theatre nearby which still shows some film that was made here, shot in the sewers, called three men or something like that.
“The Third Man?” I ask.
“That’s it,” she says.
All of a sudden the vibe come back with a rush so fast it would have given the wind in the door at Eisriesenwelt a run for its money. We find the information office (this is after we spent an hour or so at McDonald’s, which, say what you will about them, offer free wifi in many places in Europe and allowed me to allay the fears of those who thought I was dead, kidnapped or trapped in a Turkish prison) and grab a map… Yes, there it is! I drag Imbi through the streets towards a U-bahn station. “Come on,” I say. “We have to find the Ferris Wheel!”
That’s right, the Ferris Wheel, the one where Harry Lime makes that great speech about the little dots all moving below them and what would it matter if one of them stopped, that Ferris Wheel is still there and still going! And we found it (granted, it wasn’t that hard – it is part of the symbol of the city)! We were all set to go on the fifteen minute ride, and look at the dots and
everything… until we found out that they’re charging 8 euro for the pleasure. That’s a little steep. I found out later, though, that people will hire a car for an entire evening and have candle-lit dinners inside. Now that might be fun. But just going up…naw. I got to see it and that was cool enough. So we left there (the wheel is actually part of a whole amusement park) and headed to the bus station (Imbi had convinced me to go to Bratislava, in Slovakia, for the day) so I could get my ticket and she could get hers to Budapest. Afterwards, we split up. She went to hang out with some friends and I went back to the center of town.
I decided to take a general city overview tour, at least to discover what it was I was looking at. I bought my ticket from some young girl who was walking towards the bus when I was. Turns out it was her first day on the job and I was her first sale. Go me! Anyway, the tour was nice. Saw some amazing architecture, the headquarters of Opec and the Danube, which is not blue, contrary to popular song. All along the tour bus route, though, I kept seeing signs for an art exhibit which looked interesting. Since the tour ended right by the information center I figured I’d check and see what it was all about. Turns out it closes at 6 (1800) and it was just before 5 (1700) so there was no way I could make it in time. But then the very nice lady at the desk said the museum of fine art didn’t close until 9pm (2100) that night and it was only a five minute walk. Besides, she pointed out, it was the most important museum in Vienna. Well, with an endorsement like that, how could I refuse.
I went in, got the audio guide and saw art. Here’s some of it:
This is a painting of a statue. I don’t remember who the saint is, but her attribute (Riley and Bailey, I want you to find out what an attribute is and get back to me) is a demon blowing out a candle. As soon as I have internet access again I’m gonna look her up!
This looks more damaged than it really is. The heads were never attached. They actually discovered this in an Egyptian Nile-side resort and believe the general idea was for visiting couples to stand behind the statues, thereby putting their heads on the god’s bodies.
Afterwards, they have this cool little service where you can pick a number of your favorite pieces and they will make a small guidebook, personalized for you, of the art and the description in your language. It was cheaper than postcards and really darn cool! Naturally I got one.
Then it was home since I had to be up early. My bus for Bratislava left at 8:30am.