It is very hot here as it is all over Europe … and even the USA. Triple digit temperatures. I brought 15 pairs of underwear, but when all your clothes are dipping wet, I needed all of them and then some.
Walking Tour of Vienna -Outfit #1
Vienna has always been a German speaking country. Vienna is the international name, but they call their city, Wien. They don’t have the W sound. The W is pronounced like a V. Weiner means Austrian, not a hot dog. Nine million people live in Austria.
At the height of their empire, the population was 50 million. That was when Austria was a larger area combined with Hungary prior to WWII. Austria was reduced to its German speaking part after the war.
Today Austria is a landlocked country. When their area was larger, they even had a navy. They are a small country with A BIG history.
There are two sides to the city of Vienna; an old side where people meet and a new modern side where many people live.
In 1898, a church was built in fantasy style to commemorate 50 years of the reign of Franz Joseph.
Austria is neutral like Switzerland and is not part of NATO. Therefore many international organizations are housed here. Vienna hosts one of the United Nations main offices along with New York (world headquarters), Nairobi, Geneva, and The Hague.
Vienna is flat and modern. There are 23 districts in Vienna. The Center is THE meeting place called District 1 and is where the action is.
Our guide gave us detailed instructions of her day on public transportation. Few people have cars because they are expensive. Parking is sparse. Most people use trains, bikes, scooters, or walk. An annual train pass costs $365.
Vienna is world known for waltzes, especially Strauss, The Waltz King. My dad and I like to listen to Andre Rieu, the modern waltz king who has led a waltz revival across the world. When he comes to the USA, I will take him to see it.
Many places in Vienna are said to have housed the great composers. Beethoven alone lived in 80 different locations.
The ancestors of the Lipizzan stallions can be traced to around 800 AD. The earliest predecessors of the Lipizzan originated in the seventh century when Barb horses were brought into Spain by the Moors and crossed on native Spanish stock. The result was the Andalusian horse and other Iberian horse breeds.
By the 16th century, when the Habsburgs ruled both Spain and Austria, a powerful but agile horse was desired both for military uses and for use in the fashionable and rapidly growing riding schools for the nobility of central Europe. Therefore, in 1562, the Habsburg Emperor Maximillian II brought the Spanish Andalusian horse to Austria and founded the court stud at Kladrub.
Young stallions are dark in color and get more white each year. It takes about eight years. Each horse has 19 riders.
All of the Jewish synagogues were destroyed during WWII.
Ringstrasse encircles District One. It was originally a moat that surrounded the city with 12 gates. As the city was growing, these gates were bottlenecks. Emperor Franz Joseph had them removed.
At the end of each concert the Radetzky March is played. It is the unofficial Austrian National Anthem. If you click on this link, you might recognize it: Radetzky March
In 1679, Leopold I built a plague column also called the Golden Trinity. One third of the population was affected. During the current COVID pandemic people came to the Plague Column to pray.
St. Stephens Cathedral is a Gothic completed in 1433.
It is one of the most important Catholic cathedrals in Europe. They have mass five times per day. There are 343 steps to the top of the tower. Do you think that we climbed up there? You know it.
They only took cash so Rob had to make a quick hot trip to the ATM.
We walked down several streets with high end shops. Kohlmarkt is analogous to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, CA.
Families take a vacation in July and August and usually drive to Italy or Croatia. If they fly, Austrians would go to Greece, Turkey, or Spain. English is a mandatory subject in school. I imagine that helps when traveling.
Here are some Austrian products: Red Bull, Porche, Swarovski and Glock. The Glock pistol is used by many law enforcement agencies worldwide. It never breaks down and is made of plastic lightweight.
Austria has strict environmental laws. The buses are not allowed to run the motor and the air conditioner when no one is in them. It is very hot when we get in and it takes a while to cool it down. Sweat is rolling down my back!!
The only female ruler of Austria was named Maria Theresa. She ruled from 1740 to 1780 and had 16 children in 20 years. Today the President is a figurehead. The Chancellor has the real power. He works very hard and doesn’t take much of a vacation for fear of losing an election.
Austria has a professional army. It is mandatory for men to serve for six months at the age of 18. If a man declines, he can do civil jobs, or work in a hospital but he must serve longer: 9 months.
Bermuda Triangle is the name for a popular nightlife location. People go there and sometimes you never hear from them again that evening. They get very lost!!
The Prater is 2½ miles of a tree-lined street used predominantly for bike riding.
Twenty percent of the buildings in Vienna were destroyed in WWII. Many buildings are owned by the city and are used for apartments.
Food Tour – Outfit #2
Back to the boat for a change of clothes. I want to shower but I am just going back out again to sweat.
Our first stop is for dumplings. This was my favorite. They were called Spinakknodel which is a spinach dumpling. Dumplings are a comfort food and can be eaten in soup or as an appetizer. They can also be a main dish or even dessert. A very versatile food!!
Apricot dumplings are made by putting dough-wrapped apricots in water that has been boiled. Then roll the cooked dumplings in bread crumbs and some powdered sugar.
Austria has never had any colonies yet Viennese cuisine is a combination of many cuisines as it is a crossroads: goulash and pancakes from Hungary, strudel from the Balkans, dumplings and yeast from Bohemia, etc.
Paris has their bistros, London has their pubs, and Vienna has their cafes or coffee houses. A coffee House will never ask you to leave.
The recipe for the Sacher Cake was determined in the 1830’s. Austria never had much chocolate originally. Now we have introduced it as our taste buds have changed. Most feel that the cake is too dry. There was a court case for 30 to 40 years because Sacher thought that he owned it but he was working for Demel when he created the recipe. What do YOU think?
In the past, the pharmacist sold chocolate and sugar. There weren’t special stores. That came later. Today it takes four years of training to be a chocolatier.
Sausage stands have a long history in Vienna. In the past, supermarkets were opened for a minimum number of hours especially at night and on the weekends. Sausage stands stay open until 4am. Franz Joseph wanted to give jobs to the disabled so he set up sausage stands. Today anyone can run a sausage stand. Many people would come out of dances to buy sausages.
In January/February, the city has hundreds of dancing balls. They each have a sponsor, for example, firefighters or confectioners. The most exclusive dancing ball is the State Opera Ball.
There was a wine scandal in 1985. An Austrian wine won the best in the world for a sweet wine. This was unusual because the climate is not conducive to producing sweet wines. Experts asked to see the process and discovered that they were adding antifreeze to the wine … and they weren’t the only winery doing that. That is another good reason to not drink. I am very protective of my brain cells!!
So I am given water. When the time for a toast comes, I learn that it is bad luck to clink glasses with a water glass when toasting. Also you are to look each other in the eyes when toasting AND NEVER EVER cross another’s arms.
Romans brought wine to Austria. Austrians specialize in mixed wines that have at least three wines. One of the wines must be at least 50% and the third one must be more than 10%. They can sell cheese, sausage and wine without permits, but they can’t serve it to you unless they are a restaurant.
Concert – Outfit #3
This time a shower is required. We are to don our fanciest clothes as we are attending a classical concert in a historic building.
We take a bus through the darkened streets and the city has a different look at night. We were asked to refrain from taking videos of the performance. Immediately, four ladies in front of me from Armenia started taking videos. I tapped one on the shoulder to perhaps translate. They nodded and continued filming … even though I was understood. The music was beautiful, but I do hate to watch a classical concert with lighted cameras blocking my view.
It has been a full day!! Time to hit the shower…again!!