Europe 2015 – Vienna

by Diane on 07/09/2015

Final destination of our trip was Vienna where we met with Kai’s parents to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. We stayed at the most awesome Airbnb apartment, run by the most awesome host, and Kai’s parents stayed at a hotel nearby. This way it was easy to catch up with them often, even though we have a very different approach to ‘holidaying’ and couldn’t find many activities we were all interested in.

The ferris wheel

The biggest thing on top of Kai’s mum’s wish list was riding the ferris wheel at the Prater (a famous amusement park), so we did this first. Apparently you have to drink champagne at the top and make a wish, so before we went there we stopped by a gas station (classy!), bought a mini bottle of sparkling wine, and convinced the shop lady to give us some coffee cups to drink the bubbles from.

I’m still not sure how exactly Inge managed to convince her – this lady was the most grumpy gas station worker I’ve ever come across in my life, and for a long time I thought we’d walk out without any kind of cups and without bubbles. She seemed as if she’d rather burn down the gas station than providing us with anything to drink our purchase from. I think in the end it was a staring contest between the two, plus a tip that went into the staff piggy, that did the trick. Anyway, we succeeded and had sparkling wine in a gondola above Vienna at 10am in the morning at a whooping 39 degrees!

Inge, Kai and Diane on the ferris wheel in Vienna.

Inge, Kai and I on the ferris wheel in Vienna.

Museums

While we were in Vienna, Austria experienced the second hottest summer since they started recording the weather in 1767 (the hottest one was 2003). And we were right in the middle of it. Having 39+ degrees as opposed to NZ winter temperatures was quite awesome,  but it also meant that we tried to spend as much of the daytime indoors as possible. Luckily Vienna has some of the greatest museums on earth.

Esperanto Museum

It’s small, but super interesting. We’ve always been interested in languages, and the term Ventego (the name of our company) is Esperanto, so it wasn’t a hard decision to visit the Esperanto Museum, which is part of the Austrian National Library.

There’s a little room with reference books at the end of the small exhibition, where we had a nice chat to one of their staff, and in the end we walked out with books to help us learn the language. Yes, learning Esperanto is now high on my list of things to do! If a museum can get me to do that, it must be awesome.

Globe Museum

In the same building as the Esperanto Museum, just one level up, is the Globe Museum. When I first suggested visiting it, Kai wasn’t too thrilled, but since we were basically already there, and because the ticket you buy for the Esperanto Museum includes entry to the Globe Museum and the Papyrus Museum, we went anyway.

It turned out to be really fascinating! From the early beginnings of globe making to modern day globes and everything in-between – the museum had it covered. We really enjoyed our visit!

Globe with various animals painted on it, including a unicorn.

A unicorn! My favourite globe.

Papyrus Museum

The third one in the trio of National Library museums is the Papyrus Museum. There was a lot to read and we were getting a bit tired and dizzy from the heat, so we probably didn’t get as much out of this as we could have. But it was still super interesting and definitely worth a visit.

Schmetterlinghaus

The Butterfly House was on the way from the first two museums to the Papyrus Museum. I love butterflies, I even grow lots of swan plants each year to attract monarchs to my garden, so we thought it was a good idea to see the Schmetterlinhaus, but it wasn’t. It’s an overpriced tourist trap, and we should’ve seen it coming. Add the heat and humidity, and you’ll have the least enjoyable activity of the whole holiday.

Crime Museum

Another gem outside the common tourist routes is the Wiener Kriminalmuseum. In a seemingly small house (it’s much bigger on the inside) you find Austrian’s crime history spread over 20 themed rooms. From drowning witches to the attack of a girl in a public toilet in the 1980, this little museum has it covered.

It’s a shame that it stops at the end of the 1980s – it’s not like Austria ran out of incredibly unique crimes after that. Also: you’ll get most out of this museum if you have sufficient German skills. I don’t think it’ll be very interesting otherwise.

Natural History Museum

After we’d just been to the one in London, I had similarly high expectations for the Viennese counterpart. But: the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien one was even 100 times better! Yes, one of the reasons might have been that it wasn’t as overcrowded as the first one, but the exhibitions seemed more extensive and parts of the museum was certainly keeping up with modern museum style interactivity and such. I absolutely loved it and can only strongly recommend it.

Triceratops head.

Triceratops

Two fox heads, one with human eyes.

What does the fox say? The one on the left says: “I have human eyes!”.

The Third Man Museum

If you like the movie ‘The third man’ this private collection of memorabilia is an absolute must on a trip to Vienna. I hadn’t seen the movie before, so we prepared for our visit to the museum by watching it the night before. The guy who runs the museum is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever seen on any topic, and you can really feel the love and enthusiasm that has gone into bringing all the pieces together.

As a bonus there’s also heaps of information around Austria and its involvement in the second world war – definitely worth a visit. Just be aware: the Third Man Museum is only open on Saturdays.

Newspaper clippings in the third man museum.

The Third Man Museum – some newspaper clippings.

Dialog in the Dark

Dialog im Dunkeln is a museum with no light. It’s pitch black, you can’t see a thing.

The exhibition we experienced was called ‘Blind Passenger’ and our blind host guided us on a journey through an unknown country (at the end we had to guess where we were for a competition).

It was a pretty moving experience, trying to ‘travel’ through a country without seeing anything. We walked through the jungle, crossed roads, went to a shop, took a boat ride and ended up at a bar, where we had to carefully figure out how to fill our glasses without making a mess.

We’ve been to dark restaurants in Germany before, but being seated in the dark and ‘only’ having to eat without seeing is reasonably easy. Walking around, trying to keep on track and not losing the rest of the group while touching all these unknown objects is taking it to a whole new level. Certainly an experience any visually not impaired person should go through to get a better understanding of challenges for the blind.

The other things

We did heaps of other fun things, including many catch-ups with Kai’s parents for coffee, cake, and dinners. Kai’s mum and I enjoyed a super foot/body peeling and massage at an award winning spa, we had the best vegan ice cream and vegan cheese, we rented bicycles (mainly in the evening because it would have been too hot to ride during the day) and we escaped from the heat into a cat cafe.

Ice cream cones and ice cream boxes in the background with a sign 'Veganista - honest ice cream' in the foreground.

Vegan ice cream. Yum!

Lots of bicycles in a rental station.

Bicycle station around the corner from our apartment.

Kai and cat.

Kai taking a selfie with a cat at the cat cafe.

A piece of Sachertorte (cake) with cream.

Sachertorte – a must in Vienna, but avoid the Cafe Sacher, go to Sacher Stuben around the corner instead.

Kai and Inge sitting at a table, waiting for their Sachertorte (cake).

Kai and Inge waiting for their Sachertorte.

Overall I can definitely say that I fell in love with Vienna. It was the perfect ending to our trip and we enjoyed every minute. 

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