09 January 2010

A bit of exploring

So here is where I am living for the next four months. My room is nice and big, and very warm. So far I cannot find any English channels on the TV. I am yet to try the radio. There are sliding panels outside the window that you pull across at night - the curtains are very thin. The pillows are this big square european-style ones. I prefer the type we use in New Zealand, but it is very hard to find them here. The room is very nice but I think I will have to get a rug and put some pictures on the wall.

Here you can see the view out of my bedroom window. It is a courtyard of some sort, the buildings are built like boxes. My apartment building only makes up the right-hand side of the box and the others must be other apartment buildings. Some of the people on the outside have nicer views, but this one is okay.

Here is our kitchen. It seems odd to me to have no oven, but it's not bad. Because there are four bedrooms in this apartment there is a lot more space than some of the others, with plenty of cupboards. There is no couch or anything but you can get by without that. Some of the other apartments have little windows above the kitchen bench that look onto the hallway, which is rather odd.

So last night I did some exploring, just walking through the Innere Stadt really, and found IKEA which is a big homewares shop, where you get all the necessities nice and cheap. Today there was more wandering around the Innere Stadt and this time I went inside St Stephen's Cathedral, called Stephansdom (the st in German is said sht so it is Shtadt and Shtephansdom).

Unfortunately some of the building is covered in scaffolding, but they have covered the scaffolding with images of what it looks like beneath so you have to look twice to realise that the scaffolding is there. I have heard it described as both baroque and gothic, so I am not sure which it is.

Inside it is amazing, like nothing I have ever seen before. I will have to go back another day and take more time in looking. There were many people just looking and taking photos but also people there to actually use it for a church. It has several small alters and this one, the main one. After the sheer size of it I think what impressed me the most were the statues and carvings.

After the cathedral there was morning wandering, and I tried my first hot-dog from one of the many stalls scattered throughout the streets, generally called grill-haus and wurstel-haus. I had Kasekrainer or something like that, it had cheese in it. It was very good. And then after finding myself at yet another tram-station I hopped on the Number 2 tram which goes in a ring around the Innere Stadt. I did not stay for the whole circuit though, the buildings looked too interesting. I got off near the museumsquartier, by a huge building. You can see it right here:

It turns out that this is the Neue Burg, one of the many parts of the Hofburg, which is the imperial palace. Inside, if I had gone inside, is the reading room of the national library, called the Papyrusmuseum, some galleries belonging to the natural history museum and some galleries belonging to the art history museum. Alongside was also a butterfly house. I will eventually go to all these places. Outside of the building was a statue of Mozart:

All of this exploring including some walking about through snow which left my toes feeling like icicles, plus it gets dark very early here, so after all this it was definately time for home. I am slowly finding the shops that I need, just now I went out again and found a shopping centre. It is not at all close, yet the underground train system makes everything so easy. It is amazing. You just buy a ticket for a month and can get on any train or bus that you like. You just get on and off where-ever, it is so fast and simple.

Also at the moment, because it has just been Christmas, the main street near my place is full of old Christmas trees. I guess there must be a collection of some sort soon. Here you can see a pile of dumped Christmas trees with the Prater in the background. The Prater is like a theme park but is mostly closed for winter. The big ferris wheel is open though because it is such a tourist attraction. I have not been on it yet.

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