Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria.

“See how beautiful Vienna is. Listen to Mozart. Have some cake at one of the lovely old world cafes and try our famous Sachertorte. Go to Schonnbrunn and the Spanish Riding School. Walk past the Belvedere and Albertina museums and see a grand city resplendent in Imperial history and culture. Forget about that unpleasantness. Look how pretty Vienna is.” Vienna Tourist Board

The Austrians do not to want to talk about WWII. They believe that they were victims. Hitler promised them hope for a better future and a release from the Great Depression. He didn’t say he would kill all the Jews and bomb their cities. He made beautiful promises and people believed him. No one wants to talk about that now. Some of my family is from Vienna and other parts of Austria. There is no one left there now but I was curious to see it.

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I liked Vienna. It has an urban cool cultural vibe with old world charm. I liked every other dessert I had there better than sachertorte (which to me translates into very dry chocolate cake in English). I much preferred the apfel strudel with mélange coffee. Coffee in Vienna is almost always served with a small glass of water for hydration. Austrian attention to detail put to good use. (sachertorte)

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Naschmarkt is the oldest market area in Vienna . It is the place to be on a Saturday morning. There is a big flea market, cool restaurants and organic everything.

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My favorite area is Museumplatz with the Modern Art Museum (MOMEK) and Leopold Museum of Austrian Artists (my fav I love Egon Schiele). In the summer people cool off in the pools and hang out on the enzis ( design lounges) in the square. Gustav Klimt’s the Kiss is at the Albertina Museum. The passageways of the MuseumsQuartier are home to changing art installations.

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I enjoyed strolling around Vienna’s six and seventh districts on either side of the Mariahilferstrasse. Mariahilferstrasse has the usual European fashion stores but on the sidestreets are the uber trendy design boutiques with young Austrian designers. I’m always a fan of finding these streets when I travel. I love to see what the young designers and artists in a country are doing.

Never buy anything from a person in a period costume ever – particularly in Vienna when they are selling the best classical music concert. I know this because I did it early in my traveling. You get ripped off and you learn.

Vienna is a city of music. It is the city of Beethoven and Mozart. It is where young Adolf Hitler came to study music at 18 years old. If he had been talented, there might have been another story. St. Stephens Church has concerts in the summer and there are websites to check for authentic good music. The best thing to do is go to the Vienna Opera House (Staatsoper) and see any performance there. It is a great way to experience the beautiful architecture and acoustics. They also have tours of the opera house if you can’t get to a performance. There are Sunday morning performances at Augustiner Church with professional opera singers and a full orchestra. Talented young musicians come from all over the world to study at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, which runs an enormous array of concerts and performances around the city to showcase their talents. Consult www.mdw.ac.at for the packed schedule of events, some of which are free.

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I would probably pass on Mozart’s house. If you are true fan, you can take the underground for about a half hour and visit his grave. Go to a heuriger and hoist a glass or a mug of fresh young wine (heurig = this year’s) just like Mozart used to do.

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Spend some time at St. Stephens Church where mourners came to pay their respects to him in 1791, In 1805, Napoleon used St. Stephen’s doors to post his farewell edict. And it weathered attacks from both German and Russian armies during World War II. Today, this stunning cathedral remains an active house of worship, a national icon and a top tourist attraction.

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Schoenbrunn was the official Hapsburg summer residence. Under the supervision of Maria Theresa (the only female Hapsburg ruler), Schoenbrunn evolved into these ornate rooms and vast elaborate gardens. It was not my favorite palace ( I had just come from Russia) But, the world’s oldest zoo the Tiergarten is located on the beautiful grounds.

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The Hofburg Imperial Palace serves as the official residence of the President of Austria. It was the Hapsburg’s principal winter residence. From 1438 it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and after the seat of the Emperor of Austria until 1918.

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Würstelstand (sausage stands) are a usual sight on Vienna’s streets, dispensing piping-hot sausages and hot dogs. Among the best stands are the Würstelstand in Hohen Markt and the impressively sleek Bitzinger outpost on Albertinaplatz.

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The Sigmund Freud museum is set in the apartment where Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, lived and worked from 1898 until 1938, when he was forced into exile by the Nazis. Freud’s collections, photos and letters are displayed in glass cases.

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The Jewish Museum in Vienna (Judisches Museum der Stadt Wien) has two buildings. The main building has exhibits and artifacts from the Jews who lived there before WWll.There has been criticism in the past that not enough has been done to try and find the families of these artifacts. The building in Judenplatz near the Shoah memorial shows the remnants of a fifteenth century temple after the exile of the Jews. This seems to be a pattern. It is odd to see the story of Vienna’s Jews during WWll without any mention of Austria’s part in it. If you have been to other Jewish museums, you can pass on it.

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The Third Man Museum is the place to go for all those interested in post war Vienna or film fans. The Third Man”, starring Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles was a British-American production that was filmed in post-war Vienna. It opened in London in 1949 and became a huge box-office success all over the (Western) world and one of the best examples of film noir. It made the simple musician Anton Karas a world star. There is a lot of film and post war memoriablia and the place to learn about post war Vienna.

I think the Viennese coffee house defines Vienna. You can sit for hours with one cup of coffee. In the old city you will find architecturally beautiful coffee houses many originally owned by pre WWll Jews. It is completely normal to sit for hours alone reading the complimentary newspapers or chatting with friends. The word is gemutlichkeit. (coziness, comfortable unhurried) (Cafe Central)

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We went to Café Central home to great philosophers, poets and leaders (such as Leo Trotzky, and Sigmund Freud) It’s the perfect place to linger for one more coffee and one more story before continuing your city touring.

Haben Einen Sicheren Flug,

JAZ

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