I imagine this is what standard backpacking looks like. Landing in a city and hitting the ground running to squeeze everything into as few days as possible. It’s certainly a change for me, and it was fun but it sure was tiring! Still, I do the same things I do in every city, I ate, I checked out markets, and I went to a cemetery. Ok the last one only happens in some cities. I’m not sure I could keep up learning so much about a city that quickly and remembering it all if I did this for every place I went. Luckily Vienna kept it packed with interesting tidbits to make it easy on me.
One of my most glad sights coming from overly obsessed with outward luxury appearances Asia was graffiti. Even though parts of Asia is covered in grime and trash, there didn’t seem to be any action to take the art and their lack of very loud protests to the streets. After some time in Hungary I realized their spray can skills seem to be confined to mostly kids scrawling their names out in lines with what might as well have been marker. Vienna has more elaborate and interesting looking pieces all along their canal and buildings.
As soon as I got into town at the train station, I saw a bunch of young, hip adults wandering around in lederhosen and dirndls. Finally as I sat down on the subway I decided to find out what was going on and asked the couple across from me. First I asked if they spoke English, and they said they did a little. This is, of course, where we have a completely fluent conversation in English. When I say I speak a little Spanish, this is not what I mean at all. Anyways, so they told me that Vienna recently started their own version of Oktoberfest in a giant park and told me I should go, encouraging me to buy my own dirndl. Alas I have no room in my bag for that nor 40 euros to spend on beer gardens. Perhaps another year.
Instead I decided to wander around the old town. What a beautiful sight at night! You can’t walk one block without seeing some beautiful building or age weathered statue. Austria must have the world’s longest list of heroes to supply so many.
Everywhere you looked was a grand building or a palace. This one is adorned in statues.
I marveled at the well populated streets late into the night with whole families strolling. Everyone looked so cultured in button down shirts, sweaters and blazers. The busker at the subway stop was playing a harp. Only midway through my own walk did I realize it was “Late Night at the Museum”, which meant all the I assume hundreds of museums were open til 1 AM. What a wonderful annual event! to bring people out onto the streets. I found out too late to really make it worth it but it was a great opportunity to people watch. The sidewalks and squares were still quite full as I walked back at midnight.
The first day was a wonderful 70 degrees, tricking me into a false sense of security. My second day, the only real full day, ended up being a cold, gray and rainy affair. Fitting, as I was going to go wander around the giant cemetery. Vienna is not a big place so I could walk from my hotel all the way through the old town in less than an hour.
Every corner in town reveals some royal fun. These were the royal horse stables. These horses have more pedigree than I and I think they’re taken care of better too!
The cemetery is out in the suburbs though, past where the subway runs even. So I hopped on tram 71 to head out there. This is a pretty old tram line and I heard that people used to use the tram to transport the dead to the cemetery. So there was an euphemism for dying where one was “taking tram 71”.
Well, you can see where a coffin would fit in here. Now that space is for strollers.
The cemetery is a sprawling complex and contains the various famous composers of Austria. These graves were kept immaculately with beautiful fresh flowers. Their tombstones often had elaborate statues that really made the place look more like a park than a cemetery from afar. All cemeteries are giant green spaces though, so I wish we had less of a morbid fear of them so we could utilize all that green space n every city.
You can see the tombstones on either side.
I tired of looking at all the Strauss tombstones and set out wandering the back parts of the cemetery. I found the other less famous graves more entertaining.
You know you’re important in life when you get to be buried in one of the fancy arcades. You also get surrounded by beautiful half dressed women, but I suspect they’re just there for his awesome mutton chops.
Does this guy know he got buried in carbonite?! He certainly looks calmer than Han Solo did about it.
I really liked this sharp modern looking tombstone for a man who died in the 40’s.
The front of the cemetery was full of well taken care of graves to show tourists. I rather liked the opposite end here, with its simple wooden cross and grass growing rampant, swallowing the grave back into nature.
Among the living residents of the area are red squirrels. I found quite a few playing tag in the area.
After checking out the biggest cemetery in the city, I headed to a small mass grave. Mozart has a memorial in the big cemetery but in his times, everyone was buried in mass graves.
Putting easy open handles on graves seems like a bad idea.
My last day, or morning really, I spent visiting two markets. The first was the touristy naschmarkt. It was full of overpriced international restaurants and people aggressively selling clothing and knick knacks. I took it as a bad sign that I went in the latemorning and it wasn’t really all open yet, they were still setting up for a lunch rush.
The fruit variety was quite amazing, with many things I saw in Asia making surprise appearances here. I really liked the dusty, velvety midnight blue of the plums.
After lunch I took a quick stop at the karmelitamarkt. In much better impressions, it was open in the mornings and in the evenings when people get off work. Now that’s a working market! Unfortunately that meant when I got there in the afternoon few things were open.
Vienna is a delightful and regal city that I wish Ic ould’ve spent more time in. The honest truth is though, that I don’t think I could’ve afforded much more. I was just taking a trip to let the guys back in Budapest fix my laptop and I’ll be happy when I can head south to the coast like I originally planned to.