Central Europe for Sexagenarians – Day 10

Posted by admin on July 11th, 2013 filed in batman, language, photography, travel

Saturday, July 6th, 2013
Samstag, 6. Juli 2013

We awoke in the hostel around 9 and headed down for the 5€ breakfast. Unfortunately, it was mostly bread so I opted out and went to fix eggs and potatoes in the hostel kitchen. Mom and Laura are affected by wheat – though much less so than I – but most of the fresh breads here seem to affect them less than those in the U.S. (Before we left the States, my boyfriend brought it to my attention that the E.U. doesn’t allow the import or sale of genetically-modified foods, so maybe their reduced reaction is due to that?) Anyway, they were kind enough to sneak a cup of coffee for me from the breakfast buffet.

We then set out for the Ringstraße, which is the area downtown that encompasses several significant buildings, including the museum quarter, city hall, the parliament building and a large cathedral. Our hostel, The Red Carpet Inn, is located on Bürgerspitalgasse (pronounced… Burger-spittle-gassah?), about two blocks off Mariahilfer Straße which leads directly into downtown.

Once downtown, we walked around the Museum Quarter, dodging period-dressed Mozart-concert-pushers and admiring the Tai Chi approach that older Asian male tourists apply in their picture taking. We continued on toward Volksgarten park, stopping to admire some ducklings and photograph each other in the pretty settings. We passed the Parliament building and the Burgtheater before reaching City Hall. There was a film festival going on, so the front of City Hall was blocked by bleachers and a huge projector screen and several vendors were set up in the plaza, including a small three-wheeled gull-winged-door van serving coffee beverages!

Leaving City Hall, we moved toward the Votivkirche, but passed a large tour bus en route. It looked like most of the passengers were young seniors, but what warranted a double-take was the attached trailer packed with 20+ ebikes, charging stations and everything. It was very cool!

After side-tracking to use the bathroom and order a coffee in a nearby McDonalds, we returned to tour the Votivkirche and the adjacent Sigmund Freud Park (complete with red lawn chairs). We also noticed a station for rental bikes and consulted the touchscreen terminal for more information. The company is City Bike (this link has an English option in the upper left area if you don’t read German) and there is a one-time 1€ charge for registration which is then credited toward a bike rental. Every first hour is free, then the price goes up for consecutive hours (1€ for the 2nd hour, 2€ for the 3rd, 4€ for the 4th and so on). If you use a bike for an hour, take a 15 min break, then check it out again you get it free for another hour.  It’s an awesome idea, and they have enough rental stations throughout the city to make it a feasible, relatively reliable substitute for other forms of public or private transportation. (To see the station map, click on “Stations” on the left-side menu then “Station map”. They provide the interactive map available at the rental station terminals as well as a downloadable map for personal reference.)

After much debate, we decided to save the bike rentals for the following day and instead continued our Vienna walking tour. We came upon an Italian Catholic church (Laura waited outside while Mom and I toured it), then we walked to Michaelerplatz, stopping to watch a couple of penny-farthing cyclists (see gallery below) and the line of horse-drawn carriages, called “fiacres” in English and “Fiakers” in German. (On a slight tangent, a “Fiakerunfall”, according to Google Translate, refers to a horse-drawn carriage accident, which, in the tradition of many other German compound nouns, makes me giggle.)

We toured the Michaelerkirche and stood in awe of the alabaster altar sculpture, then found two other churches to view before realizing we were getting tired. Heading home along Mariahilfer Straße, we passed an odd parade with some great drum music and dancers balancing bottles on their heads.

Walking all morning and afternoon readied us for a long nap, but that evening Laura and I wanted to go dancing. Laura found a listing for a disco/funk dance club several metro stops away, but they charged a 10€ entrance fee, so we elected to stay close, and wandered out along Mariahilfer Straße and its side streets. Lamentably, we could only find a handful of bars, restaurants and bistros, and none of them involved dancing. Only a couple of places were even playing music and in all of the establishments, the patrons were seated and conversing. So civilized, so foreign…

We even walked to the Museum Quarter and found whole courtyards filled with 20- to 30-year-olds, all sitting and talking. No music, no dancing. A city internationally and historically known for its contributions to the world of music with nothing to dance to on a Saturday night. Odd, but maybe we were just on the wrong side of town. Anyway, we gave up, walked back to the hostel, opened a bottle of wine, watched “17 Again” and topped the night off with a shot of cheap tequila (from the hostel bar) instead. Take that, Wien!

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