A weekend in #Vienna

We caught the ICE from Brussels Midi station last Thursday evening to go to a party in Vienna. The BordBistro, which is one of the things I appreciate about these German trains, had less good food than usual, but I could still drink a Weissbier. At Cologne we picked up the night train to Vienna. The 2-person compartment was clean and new. German railways withdrew their night services a couple of years ago. We owe a lot to the Austrian railway company, ÖBB, for keeping theirs going. It would be nice to have a little table, though, like on the Russian night trains.

Austria from window morning night train Cologne-Vienna 318.JPG

In the morning the Austrian countryside was flat. The sky was curdly. We came into Vienna first thing and got the S-Bahn to Rennweg.

view from hotel window gold ferris wheel tower Vienna 318.JPG

The hotel let us have a room straight away, a big room with a small window with a view over the city towards a new Russian orthodox church. Joy – a kettle, teabags, a Nespresso coffee machine. I could hear the hooves of horses drawing tourist fiacres.

Friedmanngasse old housing social housing snow cars Josefstadtstr Vienna 318.JPG

At first I wasn’t so taken with the city. I found the grand late Victorian buildings florid – Manchester has some of the same things, for example on Portland Street, and I don’t like them either. Recent buildings showed flat stucco.

bicycles MacDonalds Vienna 318.JPG

When you weren’t looking at a McDonalds

glass balcony offices Vienna 318.JPG

you were looking at a McDonalds sign.

Hbf station Vienna 318 blue.JPG

The public transport system had an ugly square typeface, low ceilings, overlit spaces, angular angles.

Heaven/ Heaven is a place/ Where nothing/ Nothing ever happens.

tram Rennweg Vienna 318 2.JPG

But oh the public transport itself is marvellous. You can use it like water. Like turning on a tap.

public fish Stadtpark Vienna 318.JPG  public mussel Vienna 318.JPGpublic mermaid sphinx Belvedere Vienna 318.JPG  public babies fish .JPG
And there are some lovely sculptures across the city of water creatures.

public birds Vienna 318 2.JPG  public griffin cathedral Vienna 318.JPGsphinx Belvedere Vienna 318 6.JPG
And of air creatures.

public Mark Anthony Vienna 318.JPG
And of Mark Anthony in a chariot drawn by lions.

I was interested in the graffiti

public writing EUROPE WITHOUT GREECE IS LIKE A PARTY WITHOUT DRUGS S-Bahn Vienna 318.JPG(Europe without Greece is like a party without drugs)

PhD pricing candles St Stephen's cathedral Vienna 318.JPGand in the candle pricing policy practiced by St Stephan’s cathedral.

We went to a book reading by the author Robert Pimm, at the Café Korb. The electric bus, 2A, dropped us off right outside. His thriller Blood Summit kept me up till two. He said that he once went to a reading by P.D. James. She said that up to a point in one of her books, she didn’t know who did it. When he heard that he stopped wanting to read her. If she doesn’t know, how am I supposed to work it out?

trendy hairdressers PH Vienna 318.JPGIn preparation for the party I went for a haircut in a city centre hairdressers with high ceilings and a parquet floor. A boy in a black elf costume gave me a 0 and a hot cloth head rub. How much will that be? I asked the tattooed leather-wearing manager. He looked at my head and smiled. You can have that for nothing, he said. Just give the boy a tip. Enjoy your visit to Vienna.

On Saturday the snow came down.

Leigh's party Vienna 318.JPGThe party was at the British embassy, dancing late, and brunch there on Sunday morning.

egg cups Leigh's brunch Vienna 318.JPGThe embassy crockery includes a set of egg cups.

politics queueing to vote Russian embassy Vienna 318.JPGLeaving the embassy we passed an anti-Putin demonstration corralled outside the Italian embassy; then a people queuing to vote in the Russian election (voting music was being played); then the Orthodox church we saw from our window.

On Sunday evening, after a visit to Cohen’s Smartfoods at the railway station, it was time for the train home.

Things that were different from home (Belgium): good internet in every café and restaurant. No bread with meals. You are expected to write the tip into the card payment machine, not leave a separate quantity of cash. The hotel room had a kettle. (It warned, however, that the kettle was for water only.)

On the way home we had a bit of a to-do at Frankfurt airport station; that’s another story.

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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