Monday, 25 April 2016

Vienna Day 6

Although we are coming home today, we have a morning to ourselves to see something we have missed or to revisit something we have already been to. We have decided to go on what must be THE image of Vienna - the Ferris Wheel.

The classic film “The Third Man” was made in 1949 (the year I was born). This is the trailer for the film with the famous zither music - can anyone our age hear it and not think of Vienna?

The film was perhaps the reason that the big wheel the "Wiener Riesenrad" is now one of the most famous images of Vienna and courtesy of YouTube, this is a clip of the Big Wheel scene.

The wheel was first built in 1897 and rebuilt in 1945 after it burnt down the previous year.

B W Big Wheel

This image was snatched from the Big Wheel website and shows the wheel after it was rebuilt in 1945 having burnt down in 1944. The clue to the date is that there are only 15 cabins on the wheel in the picture and the original wheel had 30.

Big Wheel from afar

So we went to the wheel on the U-Bahn (very wheelchair friendly) with the intention of spending €9.50 each on a ticket to go round on the wheel.

Ferris Wheel TIckets

However those in a Wheelchair and their pusher are given discounted tickets (€5), yet another example of Vienna’s generous approach to the disabled.

Tableau of Vienna

Inside the entrance hall of the Wheel are a number of Tableau showing what old Vienna might have looked like.

Tableau of Vienna 001

This one is that of the wheel before WWII when it had 30 cabins on it.

Wheel Technical Data 

The one technical fact which is not mentioned is that it takes around 15 minutes for the wheel to complete one revolution. 

Ramp to Cabins

A ramp leads to the cabins and the wheel stops frequently to let people in and out of the cabins.

The Step

Wheelchairs cannot get into any of the cabins because having got you to the door, there is a high step to negotiate.

Cabins on the wheel

Once inside, there is a good view of the structure,

Amusement Park

the amusement park,

Amusement Park 001

and of course Vienna 


Vienna 001

both old and new, 

Pat on the wheel

and of course your fellow passengers.

RyanAir Bratislava

Our trip back to the UK was straightforward

VIB  VIB Passenger

although unnecessarily rough at Bratisalava Airport security.

Ground Assistance

Ground assistance to the wheel to the bottom of the steps

Up we go

and two firemen were there to deal with the steps

Return Flight Path

and Ground Assistance were just as good when we arrived back in the UK as they were on the way out.

We had a great time in Vienna and would strongly recommend it for a short city break. There is a lot to see and do and the most important sites are close to the centre.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Vienna Day 5

Although our friends are going back to the UK today, it is still a packed day. Starting with the options of church and/or horses, it is then lunch and architecture and then for us, a chance to do something at a slightly slower pace.

The Augustinian Church

If you were not looking for it, you probably would not find the Augustinian Church

Augustinian Church Vienna

because its entrance looks like any other stately doorway on a graceful Viennese building. Inside it is a different matter however

Augustinian 1

and because we were there just after the doors were unlocked, we had it to ourselves. The church is famous because it was the Parish Church for the Imperial Rulers and many Hapsburg weddings took place there including that of Emperor Franz Joseph to Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria in 1854 (Lisi).

Canova 1

Canova 2

I particularly liked Antonio Canova’s memorial to Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria. Later on when we passed by on our way to coffee, there were long queues outside. Obviously it is best to get there early when you can have it to yourself.

The Vienna Boy’s Choir

In my youth I was a chorister at one of the best choir schools in the country. We always strongly felt that we were a professional choir singing to the highest musical and liturgical standards and the Vienna Boys Choir (VBC) was more of a commercial choir than anything else. 

No doubt this was a biased view based on childish rivalry but we were not a bad choir.

In the picture which appears about 10 seconds into this YouTube track, I am the boy in the front row on the left as you look at the picture.

We never actually performed with the VBC, we just thought we were better than them (and any one else !)

Entrance to VBC Church

Today I got the chance to see and hear the VBC perform in the Imperial Chapel - the Hofburgkapelle. Perform is an interesting word to use for a choir singing Schubert in B flat as part of a very high church Roman Catholic Mass presided over by a Cardinal.

View of Church and decks

Although there are some people there who have come for the Mass, most have come to hear the Choir sing and hence tickets are sold. You cannot see them, they are up in the top deck.

AltarVCB Church

The church is unremarkable as Viennese churches go - rather plain but suited for its purpose, namely celebrating mass.

When the mass had concluded, the choirboys came down and did a party piece in front of the altar for the benefit of those who had stayed.

And it turns out that we were better than the famous Vienna Boys Choir - the lead treble was out of tune throughout the whole service and the choir often followed him and sung out of tune as well. It would never have been allowed when I was a choirboy ! (and frankly I expected better of them).

Viennese Coffee Houses

Cafe Tirolerhof 001

Vienna is known for its coffee houses, places where you can go an relax, read a newspaper, eat cake, drink tea or coffee, take your time………. Having attended mass, we felt we needed a reward and since it was cold, we found a nearby Coffee House - the Cafe Tirolerhof.

Cafe Tirolerhof

Inside it is just as we imagined a coffee house to be,

Cafe Tirolerhof inside

with people just sitting there, talking 

Cafe 1

and reading the newspapers


and eating cake. 

Hotel Sacher

Hotel Sacher

Lunch is at the Hotel Sacher which dates from 1876. It is a five star hotel and its rooms cost about three times what we are paying at our lowly four star hotel!

Hotel Sacher inside

When you go inside, you immediately see that it is a five star hotel.

Toilet Foyer

The toilet foyer contains numerous pictures of the famous who have stayed there

Toilet decoration

and the toilet is painted the same colour as their famous desert.

  Hotel Sacher Dining Room 1Hotel Sacher Dining Room 2

We are having our last lunch together in a private dining room

HS table setting

and the table is laid out perfectly with crisp white linen etc.


One of the hotel’s "piece de resistances" is Weisswurst (White Sausage) which in fact is Pink and is served with two flavours of mustard.

Hotel Sacher Asparagus

For the sole vegetarian in the group, because Asparagus is in season, that is what I am given (and very good it was too).


The Hotel is also the other home of the Sacher Torte and that is what we had for desert - superb.

Hundertwasser House

   Hundertwasser 1Hundertwasser 2

On the way back to the airport (for the rest of the group) we stop at the Hundertwasser House. This is an apartment house designed by Hundertwasser and Krajina. Built in 1983, the house contains 53 flats, 4 offices and 19 terraces and 250 trees. Probably to the disquiet of those who live there, it is one of Austria’s most visited buildings.

Hundertwasser 3

Hundertwasser describes the house as

A house,
an unusual house,

that does not correspond to
the usual cliches and norms
of academic architecture
a house conceived and designed by a painter
an adventure in modern times
a journey to an unknown land
a journey into the land of creative architecture
where there are window rights and tree tenants
and uncontrolled irregularities
uneven floors, woodlands on the roof
spontaneous vegetation
and barriers of beauty
a journey into the land
where nature and man meet in creation
a report about the first free house

a painter dreams

a painter dreams about houses and
a beautiful architecture in which man is free

and this dream becomes a reality

Hundertwasser P P

As we stop outside of the house to admire it, we get the chance for a rare duo photograph.

Adjacent to the house is a shop

Hundertwasser Shop 1

Hundertwasser Shop 2

and a set of toilets which we understand were designed by Hundertwasser in response to the number of people who were coming to see his house.

Hundertwasser Toilets 1

Hundertwasser Toilets 3

They both match the style of the house although it is important to note that he only did one of anything - one house, one set of toilets

Hundertwasser MS Vindobona

and one boat.

The Albertina

We spent the afternoon at The Albertina Gallery