While in Vienna - just sit back and watch!
Here's a tip - slow down - don't try and see everything at once! Even if you miss the Spanish Riding School - it will give you an excuse to come back to Vienna.
Now, just imagine you are sitting on a sunny spring day at an outdoor cafe in Vienna sipping the best coffee you have ever tasted.
Now look around, do you see the spectacular architecture, the fountains and magnificent statues.
Can you see the other tourists, the people of all ethnic backgrounds strolling and admiring the sites just as you were before you stopped to rest your weary feet.
You watch the business men and women walking briskly by in their Armani suits with their Louis Vuitton briefcases and their Versace sunglasses. Where are they going in such a hurry? You sigh, sip your coffee and think how glad you are to be relaxing in such glorious surroundings.
Oh and the people with their dogs! Have you ever seen so many dogs in a metropolis? You see a woman walking with an empty leash in her hand.
She stops near your table and calls for her dog. The little black Lhaso Apso is a good 15 feet behind and busy sniffing a tourist’s shopping bag.
The woman calls again. The playful little pup gets down on his haunches and barks his response. He’s not going anywhere! Finally the owner gives up and walks away swinging the leash in her hand. The pup races up and grabs hold of the leash and begins to walk its owner.
You look around and think "This - is Vienna!"
Stop and use all of your five senses while in Vienna! See Above
Something you may notice while visiting Vienna is the amount of buildings being restored. While I was visiting just two weeks ago, the State Opera and the Parliment were having outisde renovation (there were several other buildings as well). It makes it tricky to take pictures.
My friend's sister (who lives in Vienna) said that you're always going to find one building or another being worked on and she's never seen it any other way!
*Spoiler - "Favourite Thing" is a set heading*
Some of Vienna's darkest days occurred not much over a half-century ago. You’ll find both acknowledgements and reminders of those times around Vienna. Yes, it’s tempting to say that we’ve moved on …. but has the world learned anything, or have the issues just changed slightly?
The first photo is the 1988 Monument Against War and Fascism in the Albertinaplatz. This really sank in for me, as it related to not just Austria’s past Nazi government, but to the fact that it was fascist by nature – and sadly fascist governments are still around (see link). It also, significantly, is sited where some hundreds of ordinary people were killed while sheltering from a WW2 air raid. Taking it further, the granite slabs are from Mauthausen Concentration Camp.
Requests for more prominence to the oppression of the Jewish people led to the addition of the little man, representing a Jew, kneeling and scrubbing the pavement (Photo 2)– a reference to a pre-war incident when Jews were required to scrub graffiti from the footpath with acid. The “barbed wire’ on his back was added later to deter tourists from using him as a stool!
The Jewish community wanted a specific Holocaust Memorial, however . That led in 2000 to the “Nameless Library” (Photo 3)– found in Judenplatz, representing thousands of books turned spine inward, so they remain anonymous, representing the 65,000 Austrian Jews killed in those years. The starkness of this Memorial is emphasised further by the false doors(Photo 4), echoing the doors of gas chambers.
While not built as monuments, but also evocative reminders of those dark days, Vienna still has several Flaktürm, huge anti-aircraft gun emplacements (housing air raid shelters) made of almost solid concrete. Ugly as can be, I feel they deserve preservation for their historic significance. One is seen here in the distance behind St Stephan’s (Photo 5). Some links:
A Definition of fascism I found on the internet.
Description in some detail of the +Monument Against War and Fascism.
I was brought to these surroundings by my guidebook and found a pleasant pedestrian area filled with shops and nice-looking restaurants. On this Spittelberggasse street there is an arts and crafts fair every Saturday during the warmer months.
Austrians are a very polite people and being Irish, I found them noting short of being as wonderful as us. So my tip would be to say 'please' and 'thank you' all the time.
In other words treat them (in fact all nationalities) in the way you want them to treat you.