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21 April 2010

A sunny weekend

Saturday was finally sunny and warm again, just in time to remind me why I like Vienna so much. I went with friends to Kahlenberg, which is called a mountain but is not really. It is a part of the Vienna woods and partly given over to vineyards, and it can get very busy on a nice day. We took a bus up to the top, where unfortunately the view was not great because everything seemed sort of foggy. It was not actually a foggy day but the heat can cause water vapour or some such thing which gets in the way of my photos.


From the top we walked down and soon enough came out of the woods and into the vineyards. Each vineyard is associated with a Heuriger, which is a wine-tavern that serves wine grown from its own vineyard.


We stopped for lunch and ate Austrian food. I had fleishknodel with sauerkraut and Almdudler. Austrian food is not overly exotic, but it is quite different. They are big fans of dumplings (knodel). You get meat ones and you get ones with nougat or jam inside them. I'm not much of a fan really. Cabbage of course (kraut), and potato - the potato salad here is so different to what we have back home. Many things taste more acidic than I am accustomed too. And of course meat is very important - wiener scnitzel and sausages and all that. Almdudler is fizzy drink, sort of like L&P. It's very good.


So the food was alright, and the view was pretty good. And then we headed back down to the city and along the canal to go get ice-cream - always a good end to the day. I will miss the ice-cream, it is very popular here. There are loads of ice-cream parlours in the city that sell dozens of flavours of gelato, and it is so good.


I have so little time left in Vienna so I am trying to make the most of it and actually do stuff. So following this plan I decided to see the Kunsthistoriches (art history) museum Sunday. To begin with it was very difficult to get to because it turns out that the city marathon was on that day. It took me about a half an hour to get around it so that I could cross the road. And then when I got there the jerk at the counter wouldn't accept my student ID and charged me adult price! Though that didn't make much difference - I paid 12 euro but student discount would only have brought it down to 9. That's so much to pay for a museum.


But it doesn't matter because I wanted to see it anyway. And it is probably a good thing that I saw it before big museums in other cities because I think it left much to be desired. The first section was quite good, it was the Egyptian stuff. It is a very old musuem, a twin to the natural history museum actually. In this part all of the explanations were in German but I never have the stamina to read all of the information anyway. I am sure that all the egyptian sarcophagi are not art though - should they not be in an archaeological museum or something?


Anyway after the egyptian stuff - which of course included mummies (both people and animals) and the most humongous stone sarcophagi - was classical art. So that is statues from the ancient romans and greeks, most of a mythological nature, and greek vases. It was quite good. But after that I moved on to the picture galleries, which I had heard good things about. Some of the paintings are really gigantic. It was mostly religous paintings and portraits. But the thing about all of this historical art is that much of it is really close to being exactly the same. Only a small portion of it was stuff that I knew. I preferred the Italian and French stuff to the Germanic stuff. And I think my favourite was Caravaggio (there is a whole collection of Caravaggio painting but only two by the actual artist) - this one is David with the head of Goliath.


So after an exhausting afternoon at the museum - which was interesting, but not really worth such an exorbitant entry fee - I went to the ballet with my housemate. It was Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the final showing. I had no idea how packed the Staatsoper could get. At first we could not see, so we moved around (after a lot of encouragement from me) and for the first half ended up standing mostly in the aisle where of course you are not supposed to stand but we had a great view from there. And then luckily some people left and we took their places. And it was really good, the best thing I have seen since I got here. Classical ballet is much better than that strange contemporary stuff.


So it was a long and full weekend and now I have only one more left. I have a fair bit left to do but perhaps I will not bother with some of it. I absolutely must go on the Riesenrad though, which is the big ferris wheel in Prater, near to where I live, and an icon of Vienna. In the picture below it is the one in the background, the colourful one is the blumenrad. It is the largest in Vienna and one of the earlies ferris wheels to have been erected. I was thinking of also seeing one last opera, but the only one that looks good goes for four hours! And opera is very exhausting.

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