Well what to say.. It’s been an interesting ride. I’ve been wanting to go to Vienna for a while. Everybody loved it, my expectation where high and then everything just kept getting worse. It started with me buying the wrong ticket to the airport and getting fined as if I’d bought no ticket at all..
So my mood tanked before I even left home. Arriving in Vienna, it’s cold, it’s rainy and so foggy I can’t make out anything. Except the fog clears up just long enough to give me a view of the truly not pretty outskirts of Vienna.
In my self-imposed misery I don’t even notice how neatly organized everything is. I buy my, actually quite cheap, weekly public transport ticket and am in downtown Vienna in less than 30min. Not just that, I also have free WiFi on many train station.
A great thing, because I’ve already lost the city map I was given at the airport and have forgotten the address of my hostel. Still I have decided to be grumpy and so I shall remain. I make a stop at the tourist information to grab a city guide and some suggested tours. By the time I reach my hostel, I’ve been soaked through. I’
m still miserable and get seriously offended by the amount of people having a good time in the hostel bar. How can they be so happy when I’m pissed. To top it all of, the receptionist tells me the weather forecast predicts more rain for the next day. Just great.
I check the forecast myself and see that it’s not supposed to rain before noon. so I get up at 7 to do some sight seeing before the rain sets in. I walk through the old town and to be honest everything is just to pompous, to posh and seriously over sized. The houses are really palaces, but with no grace. They’re gigantic cubes with as much decoration as possible glued to the walls.
My mood hasn’t improved. But slowly I notice small things that i like and things start to brighten up. For one the bike lanes are awesome, I’m insanely jealous. For two, the pedestrian lights are showing couples in love and after a while I notice, it’s all kinds of couple. How cute.
It takes another day before I notice that the standing couples have butterflies in their stomach. How adorable! I spend much of my time looking for ‘new’ pedestrian lights with icons I haven’t seen yet, but they seem limited to couples in love.
Things are finally improving, also because it’s still not raining. I visit several churches including the Karlskirche,
something I’d normally call a baroque monstrosity. Completely overloaded with colors, decorations and paintings. Karl VI promised to built this church if only god would stop the horrible pest epidemic that was ravaging the city and kept his word when the plague ended.
There are two things that really pleased me in this church: The first is the center piece which managed to still appear flooded in natural light even though the day outside was rainy and grey. For two the church currently (built in 2002 to last 3 years, but now it’s 2016 and it’s still there) holds an elevator that will carry you up into the cupola giving you a unique chance to see the decorations of the ceiling up close. Part of that ceiling is the picture on the left, which shows the angel on the right with the (legible) bible and the devil on the left with a book full of gibberish except for one Word: Luther. That’s how you know it’s a catholic church!
An additional fun tidbit was that I visited the church with four safety inspectors that kept complaining about the quality of the fire escapes routes. Don’t get caught in that church in a fire. The escape routes are very narrow and barely fullfill the legal requirements. They take that stuff very seriously. The Karlskirche was the first stop I truly enjoyed in Vienna, it offers a quite unique experience with the elevator.
From there I moved on to the parliament and then the city hall. I can understand that the emperor and each of his nobles thought they needed to have the biggest house with the most pomp. I did not expect the parliament to outdo them all. The gigantic building just struck me as over the top. Horses rearing on all corners, figures all along the roof top, a giant curved drive up to the entrance.. It looks more like a palace than a government building. But it fits in well with the rest of Vienna. It’s just not my style.
Admittedly the city hall is just as pompous, but I absolutely loved it. It’s got plenty of (new)gothic turrets and pointed arches, high ceilings and just overall prettiness. Unfortunately Christmas market season is upon us. Or not quite yet. Vienna is into all things markets so they’re transforming every square they have into a Christmas market. They’re not quite done yet though, so in front of almost all historical buildings you currently have a huge construction site were people are setting up huts for the Christmas market. It was impossible to get a clear view of the city hall as much as I would have liked to. Nevertheless slowly but surely my mood improved too, it even stayed good when I dropped my camera and broke my most expensive lens. Shit happens, right?
From the Christmas market I turned back to churches and visited two more churches that, while not necessarily pretty, were quite awesome. The first was the Minorite church.
Never have I seen a church that left me more baffled about its construction history. It looks unfinished in parts, in others the style has clearly changed and the tower seems to have been built with completely different bricks
. When I finished my round around the church, I saw that at the back end someone seemed to have put up a normal house front the beginning of the last century. My curiosity was peaked, I wanted to know what the hell happened to that church. But but of course this is the one church in all of Vienna that doesn’t feature in the guide book. I went inside to find out that this is the church of the Italian national church in Vienna. Why? They had a leaflet about the church, in Italian, which I worked my way through only to find out that the German translation is on the back. It made no mention of how it was built. Later on ,wikipedia told me that, apparently, the Turks took great pleasure in shooting down the church tower and that’s why parts of the church are built as early as the 13th century, with some changes in the 14th century the tower itself had to be rebuilt in the 16th and 17th century.
The last church was also one of those patchwork churches, although I didn’t notice this until it was pointed out to me. After all the pomp I had walked past that day the Ruprecht church was my last stop, well second to last. I had to go get a Sachertorte in the Hotel Sacher after all. Did you know one can pay 15 euros for a coffee and a piece of cake?
The Ruprecht church is a romanic and
very simple church. It looks somehow forgotten and shrouded in mystery with wine ranks covering it almost completely. The interior is simplicity. White walls and a wooden roof, a square stone block as an altar. Refreshing. The sexton was present and showed me around..
Pointed out the surviving painted glass window from the 13th century and the patchwork aspects of the church (which I would’ve missed completely otherwise). I’m sure I showed of my complete ignorance of church architecture by asking random questions, but he answered them all. It was a great end to my Vienna visit. While I really feel that Vienna’s architecture too megalomaniac, I found a lot of details to love and enjoy. Like the mystery alien signs at every street crossing or the fact that every train stop seems to come with its own scale.
I liked Vienna but I don’t love it.