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Vienna Christmas 2007
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
Ilaria Mogno overnite train Vienna
Since we've already traveled over 4000 miles each time we visit Italy, it's nice if we can see something new nearby. This Christmas, Ilaria and I decided to take
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an overnite train to Vienna, Austria.
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Ilaria didn't get much sleep on the train and was dead when we arrived at our hotel.

Our bathroom had some Northern European touches.
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Notice the shower/tub doesn't have curtain.
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Also notice that it wasn't made for a normal-sized human. It would make a perfect tub for a little kid or a small dog though.
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Our toilet was also the Northern European, poop-inspector kind. Can't understand the name?
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Well I'll drop a piece of balled-up toilet paper on the poop-inspector slab, so you can understand. One thing that this kind of toilet will teach Americans experiencing such a contraption for the first time is that the water present in American toilets has a large anti-odor effect.
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The night we arrived we went to
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Österreichische Galerie Belvedere,
Klimt the kiss
which houses Der Kuss (The Kiss) -- the most famous work by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. This is definitely a work that is worth seeing in person.
Napoleon crossing the Alps
The museum also houses one of the five versions of Napoleon Crossing the Alps.
Secession Vienna
We then walked over to the Secession
Beethoven Frieze
to see the Beethoven Frieze. This work by Klimpt is supposed to be a visual representation of Wagner's interpretation of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. I prefer The Kiss.

The Secession building also contains modern art exhibitions.
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I couldn't figure out if the "art" of this exhibit was the room, chairs, and TV, or if the chairs were just their so you could watch the nonsensical movies playing on the TV. So I told Ilaria to talk my picture as part of the "art" of the room.

I title this work american man arting.
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The whole day, we kept passing these little stands which sold some hot liquid that many folks were standing out in the cold to drink. I decided I'd have to try whatever this was, once I figured out what they were doing.
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But it was time for dinner, so we headed to a
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touristy Heuriger called Zwölf-Apostelkeller for dinner.
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Heuriger are typically outside the city and they sell basic food and the wine made in their own vineyard.
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Zwölf-Apostelkeller was in the city-center so their vineyards must be somewhere else, as they did sell their own wine, which was not bad. The building itself was neat because all of the tables were in different levels of a giant cellar. We sat in the lowest level, quite a ways down from street-level.
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The food was traditional Vienna dishes
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tasty, but pretty heavy.
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The last part of our day was spent on a frantic search for a plug adaptor that would work in a European plug. I brought an Italian adaptor (on the left); turns out the rest of Europe doesn't have a ground on their plugs and at least in Vienna, a US-to-Europe converter is not easy to find. But we found one in a tiny shop right before it closed.
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After a full nite's rest and a quick (free) continental breakfast at our hotel.
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We set out to see the colors of Vienna.
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I really like the walk/don't walk signs.
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Stand still and rest your bike.
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Start walking and get on your bike.
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We started the day with a long
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walk through the city.
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We made sure to follow the signs that said, boys and girls shouldn't hold hands when they walk.
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America is everywhere.
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We stopped in the
Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral)
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to take a short break from the
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cold Vienna winter.
We then stopped in Peterskirche. Some Italians brought their large dog in the church who proceeded to bark very loudly covering up the organist that was playing. I couldn't believe they brought their dog in the church, but even more I couldn't believe how loud a dog bark is in these old marble churches.
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On our search for a lunch stop, we bumped into this Holocaust
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which listed all of the concentration camps.

Some Austrian college kids we bumped into on the train pointed out that the Austrian's are quick to claim Beethoven as their own even though he was born in Germany. The opposite applies to Hitler even though he was from Austria.
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A famous attraction of Vienna are the many cafes. Cafe Central was a hangout spot for intellectuals including Leo Trotsky, but has since become a
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tourist destination.
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The food was
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but tasty.
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Ilaria had been talking about finding a good Sachertorte, since before we left Italy.

This was her first Sachertorte in Vienna.
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It was good, but not all she was hoping for.
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Vienna was the most bathroom friendly city I've ever visited. There are public restrooms everywhere. Some of them require you to pay a bit, but compared to London, New York, and other big cities -- where you likely won't see a public toilet anywhere -- they've made a pretty big effort to be a toilet friendly town.
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After lunch we walked by the Hofburg Imperial Palace, which used to be home to the Hapsburg dynasty,
vienna Palace Pana
but currently the palace houses the president of Austria.
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More than anything, Vienna is a city of musical heritage. Just as New York and LA are the destinations of todays actors-to-be. Composers and musicians that strived for greatness moved to Vienna to try and be noticed. Haydn, Mozart, Johann Strauss, Beethoven, and Schoenberg all wrote much of their music in Vienna.
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We didn't go into Mozart's house,
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but Ilaria's brother did get us some tickets to the symphony in Vienna as a present.
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The tickets were to see the Strauss Festival Orchestra
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at the Wiener Konzert Haus
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It was a full concert
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and a beautiful
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concert hall.
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The concert itself was a little touristy with the conductor dancing around and playing the Violin, but orchestra played very well.
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After attending the show with all the sophisticated people, it was time to come back to earth and eat a nice cheap bratwurst from a street stand.
bratwurst vienna
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For desert Ilaria tried a Sachertorte from an Italian bakery we found.
Jeremiah Faith Vienna
And I decided to try some of the magic potion I saw everyone standing out in the cold to drink.
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Ah yes, the potion was called glutwein. One glass and I was hooked. Glutwein is a hot wine mixed with fruit juice. The heat and the alcohol make the miserable cold winter weather of Vienna much more tolerable. This was the first of many glutwein drinks for me...
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After a hard day, it was time to rest for our final day of adventure.
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The next day Ilaria and I wanted to see things on the opposite side of Vienna. We started the day with Ilaria's site choice: Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna.

Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs. It is gigantic with over 1400 rooms.
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We didn't have time to go inside for a tour (typically I find the insides of these old palaces all look the same anyways). So we just walked around the outside and around the gardens.

I was particularly interested in the Labyrinth, since I always dreamed about going through one of them as a kid.
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Turns out labyrinths lose much of their charm in the winter, when the leaves are dead and you can directly see all of the ways to make your way through it.
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Even with the magnificent gardens all being dead for the winter
Ilaria Mogno Schonbrunn palace vienna
it was still interesting to see the size of this palace
vienna Palace Pana 2
and its gardens.

They don't make em like this anymore. Not even the Saudi princes can match this kind of wealth.
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Next came the destination I wanted to see. I wanted to go to a real Heuriger outside the city center. The vineyards look down on the city from the hills on the outskirts of Vienna. We took a long (30+ min) bus ride up to the top of the mountain. I began to get a little worried that Ilaria was not going to be happy about me with this adventure that I'd led us into.

As we got further from civilization, it looked like this might be a bit more adventurous than I expected, particularly because we had a train to catch soon and couldn't afford to get really lost in the snowy woods; thankfully these nice people saw us trying to figure out what we were doing when we were on the bus, and they pointed us in the right direction.
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At least in the winter, this must not be a very touristy thing to do, because we were pretty alone walking around the top of the mountain.
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But even on the top of the mountain, Vienna came through with another public toilet.
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We walked through a tiny town at the top of the mountain
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but shortly it was just
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Ilaria, myself, and the snowy road.
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It was beautiful to walk through the snowy mountain, but we were also a little nervous because of the lack of humans to help us out and because the poor quality of the map/road signs made it hard to figure out where we really were.
vineyard snow Vienna
But we had a great time walking through the snowy vineyards.
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I really felt we might be lost, when our map led us to this "road" that was more of a trail through the woods than anything a car could drive on.
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But we kept walking
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and walking
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until we saw the sign of the Heuriger we were trying to find!
Jeremiah Faith and Ilaria Mogno
Then we were relaxed enough to take a photo together.
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We walked by the vineyards where the wine we soon hoped to drink may have grown.
heuringer hirt
Heuringer Hirt had a lot of outside tables that look down onto the city and the Danube. It must be fantastic to eat outside here on warm days.
glutwein Heuringer Hirt
We started off with some glutwein, because we were freezing from the long hike.

It was by far the best glutwein of the trip.
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Inside the Heuringer was nice, small, and warm. There were only locals and their dogs that had walked over for a lunch, wine, and a chat.
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The folks that worked there didn't speak much english, but thankfully the menu was pretty short and we could infer what most of the choices were from our guidebook and the words we'd learned at other restaurants.
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The food we ate at Heuringer Hirt was by far the best food of the trip (actually a local who helped point us in the proper direction while we were walking along the mountain, told us it was going to be good).

I ate this dumping with pork inside.
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Ilaria had a bratwurst with a potato pancake.
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For desert, Apple strudel.
Heuringer Hirt red wine
Finally, I wanted to try the wine from the vineyard free of the fruit juices and spices they add to make glutwein, so I had a glass of their red wine. Very good.

I tried to buy a bottle to bring back to Ilaria's parents, but they didn't sell bottle of their wine.
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All warmed up, Ilaria the map wizard figured out we could just continue walking down the mountain and into town.
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If we ever return to Vienna, we'll have to go to Heuringer Hirt again.
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I was really happy that my adventure turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip rather than the disaster (my choices tend to hit the extremes).
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At the bottom of the mountain was a little town were we took a bus.
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The bus dropped us off at the subway station where we saw Karl Marx Hof, the longest residential building in the world. Karl Marx Hof was tenement complex built by the Socialist Party of Austria, which had and still has a large control over the Vienna government.
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We made our way back into town
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where I learned the Lion's Club has a presence in Austria (the Lion's Club is a men's club in the US).
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We packed our stuff and left our hotel: quisisana.
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At the train station, we tried a "Mozart croissant".
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Even after a dissection, I'm not sure what's in a mozart croissant, but it didn't taste too bad.
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Our train left Wien Südbahnhof
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and we found our cabins in the train.
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We had a six person cabin, which we shared with a quite woman from Vienna and three college friends from Vienna that knew more about US television that we did and proceeded to drink tons of wine and vodka and place chess (quietly) the entire nite.

It was a great trip.