Vienna & Budapest Trip 2008

4th December 08 - 12th December 08

[1 - Vienna]



Meeting up with Zoltan in Vienna - Having resided in the United Kingdom since 2001, it has been customary to travel "home" for the Christmas period to Cape Town, to see my family. However, in 2008 that was not to be the case. One of my brothers, Gordon, who sadly had lost his wife earlier in the year after a sudden illness, had made plans to come over and visit his daughter here, understandably not wishing to spend the festive season home alone. The resulted in my shelving any plans to fly home.  I had in the interim, however, arranged a combined visit to Vienna and then Budapest in the early part of December. My Hungarian friend, Zoltan, was driving back from a visit to Munich and so we would meet up in Vienna.  The flight to Bratislava arrived late evening on Friday, 4th December and there were no buses to be seen, other than the one booked up by passengers who had reserved a seat in advance. rumour had it that another bus was due but no-one knew with absolute certainty.  An English passenger used some initiative and enquired as to the cost of a taxi to Vienna, if split between 6 of us. Luckily for me, a fellow passenger had seen me place my luggage in the hold of the bus (now fully occupied), which I had clean forgotten to remove. Though this worked in my favour on the occasion, it was to desert me on the latter stages of this trip. Seated in front next to the driver, I chatted to an Italian girl who had been working as a vet in Wales. Upon arrival in Vienna, I had to wait for Markus, whom I had called, to fetch me. It was darn cold, as a waited at the bus stop. Markus arrived and we returned to the flat he shares with Bibi and Hannah, chatting and snacking on a sandwich in the kitchen till well after midnight. We were to meet up with Zoltan and Zita the next evening at a traditional Viennese restaurant Markus, Bibi and I had to a year before. It came as quite a shock upon entering Haas Beisl, to find the folk at adjacent tables puffing away profusely (this hadn't been the case on my previous visit in 2007), having got used to the smoking ban laws passed in the UK. Zoltan in particular was quite animated in his displeasure. At least lighting up had ceased by the time we commenced eating our meals, in my case the traditional Viennese Schnitzel.

The flat, residence of Markus and Bibi, Bocklinstrasse.


The Naschmarkt between Linke und Rechte Wienzeile, living up to its reputation as a melting pot of nations.


The next morning Markus and I drove to a vegetable market, where we met up with Bibi, who had cycled there. Markets are always a fascinating place to observe people of the earth, so to speak. This was adjacent to the Naschmarkt. one of Vienna's largest and best known markets. Set between Karlsplatz and Kettenbrückengasse, the Naschmarkt is the mainspring one of the city’s most interesting districts. Culinary specialities are always fresh and in bountiful supply here, no matter whether they are typically Viennese or exotic. The city’s wonderful markets offer a typically Viennese shopping experience. This is where Vienna lives up to its legendary reputation as a melting pot of nations: Viennese humour blends with eastern European charm, and oriental flair with Mediterranean temperament.

Markus posing at the Secessionist Museum; The Art Noveau façade of the Secessionist Museum; Markus and Bibi at the market.

Markus and I sat down for a tea, some baklava and olives, before moving on for a tour of the Secessionist Museum close by in Friedrichstraße.  The Secession building was built in 1897 as an architectural manifesto and exhibition hall for the secession group. Art Nouveau is an international movement and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that peaked in popularity at the turn of the 20th century (1890–1905). The name 'Art nouveau' is French for 'new art', it is also known as Jugendstil, German for 'youth style', named after the magazine Jugend, which promoted it. A reaction to academic art of the 19th century stuck in the age of "historicism", it is characterized by organic, especially floral and other plant-inspired motifs, as well as highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms. Art Nouveau is an approach to design according to which artists should work on everything from architecture to furniture, making art part of everyday life. In Austria, a localized form of Art Nouveau was practiced by artists of the Viennese Secession, and it is, therefore, known as the Sezessionstil ("Secession style"). The Vienna Secession was formed in 1897 by a group of rebel Austrian artists who had resigned or seceded from the long-established fine art institution, the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. This movement included painters, sculptors, and architects. The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president.

Art Nouveau architecture in Vienna, on the Linke Wienzeile.

We returned to the flat for lunch, Bibi having prepared a soup known as borscht, popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. It is made with beetroot as the main ingredient which gives it a strong red colour. Russian borscht adds beef and sour cream. Markus and Bibi went off for tango dancing lessons, as they hadn't been for a while. I headed off for a walk of the city centre, with many folk out Christmas shopping or enjoying the traditional Christmas markets. After their lessons, Zoltan and Bibi also showed up and we passed by a jazz club. entering down a stairway. We were hungry and as the show was still some time off, we decided not to stay but ended up at an "English" restaurant, where the waiter turned out to be Hungarian too.

Cycles on Karlsplatz in N-E direction from corner of Triesterstrasse and Resselgasse, near the Technical University.


Resselgasse Strassenbahn Haltestelle, near the Technical University of Vienna.


Rilkeplatz looking north toward Karlsplatz (along Resselgasse from Wiedner Hauptstrasse).


Looking back down Resselgasse.


Two views: Wiedner Hauptstrasse, near Paulanergasse, adjacent to Paulanergasse Strassenbahn Haltestelle.


Along Wiedner Hauptstrasse near Paulanergasse Strassenbahn Haltestelle - church on the left unknown.


Vienna 23rd November 07 - 28th November 07

A previous visit.


Hundertwasswerhaus entrance in Löwengasse, Vienna.

In November, 2007, I had paid Markus and Bibi a visit over a long weekend, flying over via Bratislava and taking the bus to Vienna. On this occasion, Zoltan and Zita had also travelled up from Budapest with Zoltan's niece and boyfriend.  This was where I introduced them to Markus and Bibi for the very first time. On Saturday (24th November), Markus had a guided itinerary of Vienna planned for me and we explored Vienna on foot, taking in Hundertwasserhaus  and the Jewish Museum at Judenplatz. On the Sunday Zoltan and co. came around to their flat for tea. Markus and I went for a walk in the Prater, a park not far from the flat and in the evening we had dinner in the flat. The Hundertwasser House Vienna is an apartment house designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, located in Kegelgasse and Löwengasse. The house was built between 1983 and 1986 and features undulating floors, a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. Hundertwasser's original and unruly artistic vision expressed itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy and design of façades, postage stamps, flags and clothing. The common themes in his work utilised bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism, rejecting straight lines.

The façade of Hundertwasswerhaus, Vienna.


Greek Orthodox Church in Fleichmarkt.


A street near the Judenplatz Museum, possibly Kurrentgasse.


Judenplatz is a town square in Vienna's Innere Stadt that was the centre of Jewish life and the Viennese Jewish Community in the Middle Ages. The Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Nameless Library, is to be found in Judenplatz, in the first district of Vienna. It is the central memorial for the Austrian victims of the Holocaust and was designed by the British artist Rachel Whitehead and opened 25th October, 2000. The memorial began with an initiative of Simon Wiesenhal. Museum Judenplatz is a branch of the Jewish Museum Vienna. It contains the remains of the synagogue destroyed in 1420/21 and an exhibition on the medieval Jewish ghetto and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. The square unites the excavations of the medieval synagogue underground with the modern memorial above ground. A room in the museum is devoted to Shoah (Holocaust) documentation. The names of the 65,000 Austrian Jews exterminated by the Nazis can be accessed in a database provided by the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance.


Judenplatz Museum.


Michaeler Kirche at the end of the Kohlmarkt, as crowds the streets at Christmas time.


Museumsquartier housing several art museums, notably the Leopold Museum.


Leopold Museum.

A major part of the experience of that weekend involved a trip to Römertherme for the day in Baden, a spa town in the Austrian state of Lower Austria, located 26 kilometres south of Vienna. It is frequently the name is given as Baden bei Wien (Baden near Vienna). We first went for a walk in the hills above the town, setting out from the gardens at the casino, before spending some time at the baths.  It was extremely cold and only by walking continuously could we stay warm. At Römertherme Markus and Bibi stayed at the main pool, whilst I also indulged in one of my favourite pastimes, the saunas. Baden is situated at the mouth of the romantic Helenental, part of the Schwechat River valley within the Wienerwald mountain range, and used to be the principal summer resort of the wealthy inhabitants of Vienna, the neighbouring Austrian capital. Baden is surrounded by about 120 vineyards and has about 70 wine pubs (Heurigen). Not far from Baden, the valley is crossed by a widespread aquaduct of the Vienna waterworks. In the evening we went to Haas Beisl, a traditional Viennese restaurant. Monday, the day of my departure, Markus and I took the bus and tube into the city. He was keen to show me several of the art museums, including the famous Secession Museum, some Art Nouveau architecture and some of the classical and modern art museums, though we did not explore them internally. We met Bibi for lunch at a Chinese restaurant and cake at a coffee house nearby. We returned to the flat in order that I could pack. Markus dropped me off at the bus terminal at 18h20. The nightmare was about to begin. Though the flight was due to depart at 22h30, it only left at 23h45. With public transport having long since run for the night, my neighbour Chris was kind enough to fetch me from Stansted.

Römertherme, Baden.


The Casino at Baden, near Vienna.


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