Vienna, Day 3

Vienna, Day 3 Quick lunch at Trezesniewski before checking out of our hotel and moving to the next one. We stopped for a Melange and strudel on the Graben.

The new hotel. All I can say right now is Wow! What a hotel and room (suite, actually) . Pictures to come after we leave. No ordinary check in here. In the lobby, you are greeted by a member of staff who escorts you to your room, gives you a tour (there’s more here than just the bedroom and bathroom) answers any questions , and takes your details (passport, credit card) in the room. The staff brings up the welcome amenity. Corner room with a view of the square. Elegance, discreetly displayed.

We decided to take a tram ride around the Ring -what is now central Vienna was, until the mid 19th century, a walled city. When they underwent a massive rebuilding campaign to modernize the city, they tore the walls down and replaced them with wide city streets that ‘ring’ the old town (ring=ring, strasse=street), or Ringstrasse. The ringed sections that surround the old town are bordered by a number of the grand Viennese buildings, like the Statsoper (opera), Musikverein (concert hall), Parliament, University, Stadtpark. etc. One section of the Ringstrasse runs alongside the Danube river (which, contrary to Johann Strauss’ walz, is not blue).

The reconstruction of the city was made necessary due to the quadrupling in size by between 1860 and 1900 of the city and, along with taking down the protective walls, also provided gas lighting on the grand avenues of the Ringstrasse. Electric lighting came to the Ringstrasse in 1898. Thomas Edison designed the installation of the electric lighting in the emperor’s summer palace (Schonbrunn).

The demolition of the walls and building of the Ringstrasse wasn’t entirely just to modernize the city. From seeing the events in other monarchies (which were being toppled) , the emperor understood it was more difficult to build barricades across wide streets and to move troops around the city when necessary.

We took a short break for Kaffee und Kuchen at Demel, a famous konditori established 1786.

Then headed down the street to take some photos of the Hofburg, , which was the winter residence of the royal family.

The Maltese Kirche (Church of Saint John the Baptist) on the Kartnerstrasse is a small but well done interior.

We detoured our route back to the hotel to take a look at Henry, a three story grocery store in the midst of a very expensive shopping area, but, hey, the apartment residents here have to buy their groceries somewhere. This is a full service store. Nice selection of some ready to eat take away foods as well.

The square across from our hotel hosts a Christmas market in the season, but in the summer, it’s the equivalent of a bier garten without the trees. Looking across the street from our window, we can see it is packed. I think we’ll pass on the experience and hope to come back for the Christmas market.

Watching TV here is a somewhat different experience for me than at home, where the options for international news are much more limited. Maybe it’s just a function of being in an international capital (OPEC ministers meet here) , but there isn’t any of the “news at five with latest murders”.

Photos at Flickr

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