I’ve just signed in to the wifi at Cafe Sperl and one of the networks available is ‘Sarah J. Parker Ain’t No Horse.’ Viennese humour?
I haven’t written anything about Vienna yet and it’s now my last day in the city. I fly over to Barcelona tonight where I am staying with friends for the first time since I started travelling. I’m excited to see friendly faces again and also sad to be leaving my lonesome travelling behind. I’ve enjoyed myself.
Back to day 1 – I get to the hostel in the afternoon and two other girls (Michelle and Emma) have just gotten to Vienna today as well. The hostel is opposite the famous Vienna Naschmarkt, a market that has been in existence since the 1500s. I buy myself some blue genie trousers early on in my stay. The Naschmarkt is long and thin, running for several hundred metres. It is surrounded by some incredible buildings designed by the Viennese architect Otto Wagner.
The girls and I go out for dinner together on our first night and find a funny little restaurant where we all have sushi. Then it’s off in search of an Aperol spritz which everyone in this city seems to be drinking. It’s hot enough to bake and it’s 9pm, so I can understand why.
We stop eventually at a little bar where the staff are sitting outside drinking and smoking. The three of us are tipsy quickly in this heat and we chat easily. It’s nice to socialise again, I’ve become a little silent since I started travelling (I can hear you laughing from the other side of the world – don’t be rude!)
On the way home we walk by a nondescript door down a deserted street that leads into the wonderland of Donau. The bar has old airline seats arounds the walls and incredible light projections on every blank space. We only have a quick look around. It’s 10pm and the place is deserted. The man at the door says come back at midnight. He points outside – “Everyone’s hiding from the heat.”
I take my customary walking tour on my first full day in the city. Central Vienna is small and crowded with incredibly buildings and history. In a strange contrast to Berlin, there is only one war memorial referring to WWII. It is a high slab of stone emerging from the ground next to a crawling statue of a man, covered in barbed wire, who is scrubbing the street with little brushes in each hand.
Apparently Jews in Vienna were literally made to wash the streets on their hands and knees. It is a chilling image. Our guide tells us the barbed wire was added later because tourists kept sitting on the crouched statue, and this is also chilling.
There are some incredible art museums in Vienna and I am already excited about visiting. I will go to the Albertina this afternoon, before meeting up with the girls from the hostel to see Romeo + Juliet at the Vienna State Opera. We are meeting at 4pm to line up for standing tickets. The opera starts at 7:30pm.
The Albertina is beautiful, inside and out. It is a grand stone building, rising elegantly beside the VSO. Inside are hidden gems from Monet, Rembrandt, Degas, Picasso and more. I wander in a daze of painted beauty. I also take a quick turn around the sumptuous royal apartments.
More on the opera tomorrow.