Thursday, September 10, 2009

11 July 2009: Vienna, Austria

The Sound of Music

We did not come to Austria for its brilliant artists, writers or musicians. Definitely not to ski during summer as well. It was just a pass by for us to get to Italy. But the atmosphere of the Vienna coffeehouse made us lingered a bit longer than just to have pastries and coffee.

With the overpowering Alpine landscape, hiking and camping are obviously rather common in Austria. So having a camp site near city centre Vienna is in fact not unusual. But not to expect to get into the nature, it is more about having a cheap place to stay.

Like any other European cities, the horse carriage services are always there to remind you of the rich, grandiose history of the city.

Albertina Museum is the home of one of the biggest graphic collections of the world.

Some of the small souvenirs from the tourist shops.
The price is not 'small' though.

Vienna's most treasured symbol, St Stephen's Cathedral or Stephansdom, under renovation.
The North Tower was originally intended to match the South Tower, but construction ceased after a spooky tragedy...
In the 16th century, during the construction of the North Tower of the Stephansdom, a young builder named Hans Puchbaum wished to marry his mater's daughter. The master promised his consent if Hans finished the entire North Tower, alone, within a year. Faced with this impossible task, Hans despaired until a stranger offered to help him - on condition that Hans not speak the name of God or any other holy name. The tower grew by leaps and bounds until the young mason spotted his love one day and called out her name, "Maria"! Unfortunately, Maria was also the name of the Blessed Virgin. The scaffolding collapsed and Hans plummeted to his death. Rumours of a satanic pact spread, and work on the tower ceased, leaving it in its present condition.

Unlike most of the European cities, smoking indoor is allowed and accepted in Austria. They have non-smoking areas as well, but obviously nobody can control the direction of the smoke.
This ice-cream or dessert cafe had at least 100 people sitting there while we joined the crowd for an ice cream and cake.

The drive from Vienna to Italy was very scenic. We passed by the snow-capped Alpine peaks, lush meadows of wildflowers, thick and dark forests and castles - The Sound of Music in a nutshell. :)

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