Monday, April 29, 2013

Thursday April 25th

Vienna Calling

I have one final item on my "Travel To Do - A List" - and it's about time to finish that list off.
Today I am heading for Vienna (or Venice as it's apperently called in Swedish), a city I wanted to visit for some time now - not sure why, but I have the feeling it's a city worth checking out.
I flew there via Berlin and got to Vienna International Airport in the afternoon.
I choose not to take the speedtrain (City Airport Train), instead I took the ÖBB, which turned out to be a bus. It was about half the price, with not much loss in time (although the traffic stretched that time a bit).
But it wasn't really that bad and I finally got to Vienna (the stop was called Schwedenplatz so that's not bad either).

It's really hot here, around 27 degrees. I didn't expect that (my bad). I probably should have brought some shorts with me.

I then took the U-Bahn to Stephanplatz, where my hotel was. I didn't find my hotel right away so I walked around the Stephanskirchen (which is located in the middle of Stephanplatz)

After walking 358 degrees around it; I found my hotel (which was simply called "Hotel am Stephansplatz").
It was a nice hotel, very much into eco, fair trade and similar things - I like.
I got room 303, which looked like this:

I can even see Stephenkirchen from my window.  :)
I didn't stay long, instead I walked out again, looking for:
1) A tourist information, which I could collect different leaflets and
2) a restaurant to eat and look through the leaflets mentioned in 1)

I found both and start looking for things to see I didn't already have on my list while I was eating my wiener schnitzel (what else?). I also had the Austrian version of potato salad, which wasn't that nice. But always fun to try.
After the stomach was satisfied, I went to see my first tourist-thing.
And I might be the first tourist ever in Vienna to start with this one; the Gasometers.
The Gasometers are old gas tanks (four of them) which is now converted to a mall + offices and apartments (at least it looked like it).
It was also the site where General Koskov was taken in the Bond movie 'The Living Daylights' to be put in a Harrier aircraft and whooshed away to England after escaping from Russia.

I couldn't quite make out the angles from the movie, since it was filmed in the dark (or more likely had a "night-filter" on the cameras), but I did easily recognize the buildings.

So the experience was a good one, but far from orgasmic.
I hope to do better at the next location I'll be visiting.

After I was done at the Gasometers, I walked around a little in Vienna and stopped by the hotel for a bit before I went out for some dinner.

Now I am tired, I need to get ready for more walking tomorrow.
Good night!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Friday April 26th

Woke up around 8am. Had some breakfast and made myself ready for yet another day here in Vienna.
It didn't take long after I'd left the hotel that I realized it's going to be another hot day. Sun was really burning within minutes - and this was at 9am!

Anyway; first thing on the list today was to visit Schönbrunn Schloss.

It's a nice place to see - and a small scene from 'The Living Daylights' were shot here - and I found the exact spot. :)

After this joyous start of the day I went to the Tiergarten, which is on the premises of Schönbrunn. That fact - and that the zoo is apparently the oldest zoo in the world, were two reasons I didn't really had high expectations. I though it would be along the lines on Central Park Zoo in New York.

But boy, was I wrong. It was actually very big - and one of the best zoos I have ever been to!
I highly recommend it if you ever go to Vienna.

The had a rain forest house (similar to the Universeum in Gothenburg, just slightly better) which was nice.

There were a room with bats and I went to check it out. And discovered that there were no cage - they were flying freely in there!
I will never again make fun of someone who is panicking over bats!
After the initial chock left me though, it was quite interesting to stand there with bats flying around my head.

Other animals at the zoo!




Ant eaters:

And the cutest picture of the day, a sleeping koala bear:

After a few hours at the Tiergarten, I walked to the Technical Museum, mainly to see their Robot Exhibition!

They had other fun stuff as well; I especially liked their experiments they've set up so you could play with. :)

After this I headed back to the city of Vienna again and tried the Butterfly House!
Why not, heh? (maybe one of the reason was that "Schmetterling" must be the most beautiful word in the German language).

I paid my 6 EUR, went in - and melted away. It was hot like an oven in there - but during the few minutes I could stand it, I did see some nice butterflies. :)

There is one small, small scene in 'The Living Daylights' where I had no clue where it was:

Luckily the tourist information could help me out and directed me to the Maria-Theresien Platz, where I found it:

Pretty good, right? :)

This was just next to the Museum of Natural History so I went in there.
They had one of the "Body Worlds Exhibitions"which is always interesting. I did see one, a long time ago in North Carolina, but I didn't mind looking at it again. And this one had the poker playing bodies featured in the Bond movie "Casino Royale"! Bliss! :D

The rest of the museum was also good, they even had a moving dinosaur - which moved pretty good (it wasn't like other horrible mock ups I've seen before).

But as always in these museums, the parts with "exotic animals" aren't really that exciting any longer since you have seen many of them alive.
Heck, I saw most of them alive earlier today at Tiergarten!

Anyhow, heading towards the hotel now to relax before heading to the Prater tonight, I went into the National Liberty - one of the most beautiful libraries in the world (I am just guessing about that part, but I have never seen anything like this before:

In the evening (around 6pm) I went to the Prater, which is an amusement park in Vienna. It's open 24/7 and the entrance is free.

Of course I wanted to go there to check it out, but it was also a place where Bond and Kara went in 'The Living Daylights'.
One scene I never thought I would find in real life was when Bond and Kara just arrived in Vienna:

But, by accident, I walked out of the underground through a side passage and what do I see when I reach ground level? This:
Lucky me! :)

And then I walked into Prater.

Walking around there I realized that while the park is owned by the city, all the rides, games and restaurants seemed to be owned by privates companies. The state of them differed, some were really run down and some were brand new. Several houses and lots were closed. When I was there, there were almost no visitors at all in outer parts of the park (although they did contain rides) so those are apparently not very good places to set up your business.

I planned to find the rides that Bond and Kara took during their visit, but it was very hard to find them. I guess they were all redesigned or replaced in the 30 years it has been since the movie was made (and I guess that really is a good thing).
I did find two things though - at least I think this might be the monster that scared Kara:


And also the Riesenrad (Ferris Wheel) is still there of course:

I did go up in it (and looked down, just as in the movie) and it was a really nice ride.

What other rides did they have then?

Well, it was this scary one, called Black Mamba:

See that little carriage way up there? There's people on it. And it turns up side down, while the big arm (the mamba I presume) goes round and round...
I did not go on that one.

Another one was the Praterturm; a "normal" chairoplane (Swedish: slänggunga):
It's the highest chairoplane in the world. It's 117 meter high. That is an insane amount of meters when it comes to chairoplanes.
I did not go on this one either.

What I did try though, was the "Volare", a roller coaster in which you ride vertically - you lie down the whole ride.
It wasn't too bad of a ride, although my head kept banging into the side of the carriage all the time when it twisted and turned.

Before I left the Prater I ate a pizza at the Pizzeria L'inconto. The pizza was good, the service was not.

Got home around 10 and am still writing this at 1am. Soon time for bed.
[update: publishing this at 3am - writing these blogs takes time!]

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday April 27th

Today I had a time to keep!

My plan is to go and see the Spanish Riding school perform and to make sure I got a seat, I had pre-ordered a ticket a few weeks ago (probably a wise decision since it's usually sold out).

I had to go around the school to get in through a side door so make sure you are there a few minutes earlier than you planned (the entrence is dependent on where you sit).

I saw their "Performance B" and it was a delight. The show was divided into five different performance:
First there were four young horses (4-6 years) and their riders who showed the basic moves.
Then came six older horses (+ riders) that performed moves from the "high school of riding".
After that three different shows with strict coordination to each other and the music; a single horse/rider, two horses/riders and finally eight horses/riders.

I sat on the 2nd Gallery (~ top balcony) on the short side of the scene. I got a nice overview of the whole show from here, but maybe(?) 1st gallery is better since it closer to the horses. Just make sure you don't get the "boxes" behind the seats at the sides (I am guessing these are the "Standing places" in the price list but I am not sure). It looked like it would be very hard to see anything good from there anyhow.

After this it was time for some Bond hunting!
I went to the Volkoper, which was stand in for the Opera house in Bratislava where Kara was performing (and played the role of sniper during Koskov's escape).
Here we have the Volkoper;
In 'The Living Daylight':

 And today:

And Koskov escaping through a window (circled):
'The Living Daylight':

 This is the window!:

Also: Kara as a sniper (circled);
'The Living Daylight':

 Today (sans-Kara):

Then I of course also visited the "sniper book shop" on the other side of the street, from where Bond makes his "kill" on Koskov's sniper.
It was a candy shop back then - and still is - although with different owners.
(too bad they are renovating the building)

And now it was investigation time!
I wanted to find the building where Kara lived. All I had was information that it was filmed in a part of Vienna called Gersthof and a vague idea how the house looked (I forgot to bring pictures from that part of the movie - and the movie itself).
After a small adventure on the tram (going in the wrong direction  >.<  ) I got to Gersthof.
And I looked.
I walked and walked and got on every tram they had in that area, but it was all in vain. I never found it.
Also the life of a obsessive fan. You don't always get the girl scene. :(

Anyhow; moving on to more cheerful events! (not really)
The next thing on todays agenda was a visit at the Vienna Zentralfriedhof, the large cemitary in town.
After a long ride on the tram I got there and saw the graves of such composers as Beethoven, Johann Strauss (I & II) and others (most of them was in Group 32A) - plus the main reason I was there; to see the final resting place of Falco (Group 40, number 64).

Interestingly, his grave had more flowers (mine included) and memorabilia then all the other graves I just visited together. I guess many people still remembers Falco.

Then time for one last Bond hunt; the hotel he and Kara stayed at according to the movie; Palais Schwarzenberg. I found it, looked at the front and realized, no, this is not it.
So I went to the backside of the house (which took about 20-30 minutes since it was a loooong wall around the (Belvedere) gardens and... no - it's not here either.
So - again - I did not find it. Either they put the "Palais Schwarzenberg" sign on another building - or they have changed the house a lot in the 30 years that has passed; who knows?

The end result is still; I didn't get the scene. Disappointing to end the weekend with two Bond losses, but I have still found a lot of others so I think I am satisfied enough. For this trip anyhow.

Then I went to TGIF for some food - and the "Eissalon am Schwedenplatz" for some ice cream (I recommend it!) and then back to the hotel.

This day is at its end. Good night!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sunday April 28th

Time to check out from the hotel.

I had a really nice stay here, I highly recommend it if you are ever in Vienna ("Hotel am Stephansplatz").
Since my flight does not leave until this evening, I left my luggage at the hotel and went out on the town.
I didn't really had any plans for today. I had gone through my ToDo-list faster than expected and the list was now empty.

But I had found a small Aquarium / Zoo - and it was located in an old flak tower here in Vienna so I figured I'd go there.
Zoo and Flak tower - two in one! :)

I started with the flak tower part and I went to the roof, where it was a very nice view of the city. However the flak tower exhibition was closed at the moment so there was not much else to see. :(

So I started to walk down and looked at the zoo's on each floor. Considering it's located in a flak tower it was larger than I had expected.
It had a tropic part with monkeys, turtles and birds - and many aquariums.

Here are some sea horses :) 

I was also lucky to see when they fed their giant snakes with (dead) rats.

The whole tour didn't take that long though - and soon I was outside again, running out of ideas.

I figured I might as well have a look at the Albert Schultz Eishalle - the home of Vienna Capitals so I went over the Donau to see it.

For some reason it has windows on the short sides (apparently the goalies can get the sun in their eyes during games!).

I managed to get inside and there was actually a game being played between Czech Republic and Russia! Not their official teams though, they looked way too old.
Not sure who was in those jerseys really...

After this I went to the Naschmarkt to get something to eat, but I realized when I got there that it was closed on Sundays. :(
So I went to somewhere else and ate another Wiener Schnitzel (this time based on turkey according to the waiter).

After the meal I walked around a little more before I returned to the hotel to pick up the luggage.

Then I headed for the bus - and the airport - and home!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vienna Recalling

It's been two weeks since I went to Vienna and it's time to think back and make some kind of summery.

I found Vienna a very nice city. I was surprised that many of the things I went to was slightly better than expected. The Tiergarten was better, The Tech museum was better, the Spanish Riding school was better...
Maybe I just underestimated the city's atttractions before I got there (not that I didn't expect to have a good time - which I definitely had).

Just going there for 3-4 days worked out good. For me at least, there were plenty of time to do the things I wanted.

If you ever travel to Vienna, make sure not to miss the Spanish Riding School, The National Library and the Prater. If you have a spare day, don't miss the Tiergarten.

The price tag on this fun weekend ended at just over 10000 SEK (around 1000 EUR). Absolutely worth it.