Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hofburg Palace

It was a wet afternoon!
Hofburg Palace is another place which was listed on the must-see list in the brochure. I must confess I took this picture on Day 2 while walking about looking for interesting buildings and architecture. I found this just as my legs were giving out and I was wet from the ankles down. I was cold and hungry. So apart from these hots I didn't bother hanging around here too long. But I sit in the comfort of my apartment many many thousand trillion miles away from Vienna, I think...damm I should have taken more shots and gone inside the building.

Another angle of the walls of Hofburg
Who knows I may have been fortunate to see the current President of Austria. It is now his seat in this current day. And if I were transported back to the days where royalty ruled and folks never showered unless absolutely needed...I may have been able to see carriages of the royal family as they leave their residence for a spot of sigh-seeing for air.
If you walk long enough you'll bound to find Hofburg Palace.
So here's a little history of Hofburg which I've gleaned from the internet. Just so if you were ever in Vienna you would do this building justice.
1. Hofburg is today the official residence of the President of Austria. ( Lucky him!)
2. It used to be the home of the Habsburg dynasty ( Lucky them...!)
3. You should take the U-bahn ( tube in normal language) and get off at U3/Herrengasse. And not walk about from Stephensplatz like me. It would save your legs extra pain. Seriously.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Willkommen an der Universität Wien

The tube station you should get off...if you're attending university
 The University of Vienna is worth visiting. So here's where you get off at Universitat Ring. After this, everything else is pretty simple until you get out of the station. Not many signs pointing you to the right direction. And if you hadn't bothered googling the picture ( like me ) you may end up walking purposefully in different directions in vain. ( A separate post for the sights around the university main building)
Never mind the skinny jeans, observe the tram running through this station
 A cute little tram runs through the tube station. And it's pretty silent so once its outside the building it buzzes about and you need to be aware where the tram lines are. I walked to the left of the picture and up to broad daylight.
The main building of the university
Here is the main building found after 15 minutes and asking one single person on a bicycle. You may notice the lines of this picture isn't clean and I lobbed off bits of the top. Tired!! ( And excited at finally finding the building)
The very comprehensive list of Almar Maters
 This is in the main hall (Aula). We had an Aula Maxima at our old university but it didn't look half as grand as this Aula. The first thing that strikes you is the height of the ceiling. Materials must have been cheap back in the dark ages cos the ceiling went up forever.
Guided tours only in Summer
I missed the guided tour sessions so I did the next best thing which was to look around on my own and make up my own version of what is what.
Discrepancy in size of doors
 Still at the Aula where you may peek through the glass onto the courtyard. I found the door sizes weird and felt a little like Arrietty in the Borrowers.
Lovely stairs to walk up
 After walking about I took these lovely stairs which lead me to more interesting spots and also to the toilet.
The ceiling in one part of the main building
Just look at the intricate designs on the ceiling. We wouldn't be able to achieve this any time.The light streaming in gave it a creamy hue. Nice!
What a long corridor
This is a sight through one of the main huge doors. My head comes up to the door handle and I can just about peek through this. The University of Vienna is one of the oldest in the German speaking world and it has many other buildings scattered about but this main building is certainly worth visiting.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

two shops in different eras

Old shopfront to the left of the cathedral
The other tourisy thing to do ( don't roll your eyes) is to buy stuff for friends and family. And this I did. Not an easy thing to find in Vienna. Or maybe because I was at the wrong area altogether. This quaint little shop was still closed when I walked pass. Look at the lettering above.And if you look closer you may make out a  wee gate at the door. I wonder whether this was what all the shops were like in the past.
Modern shopfront 
Then of course, I found this! No doubt about what they're selling. This was the first tourisy shop I found so I bought most of what I wanted here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


One of the many "Aida"s in town
You can tell from the weather what day this picture was taken. Hint! It rained tremendously the first morning day. Remember I was forced to buy an umbrella? I took this picture BEFORE I read about Aida in the brochure I found at the hotel where I stayed. It listed Aida as a place you would want to have coffee and cake at. Fancy camera knew this was an important place before I did:)
THIS was on the list of things to eat at Aida
The brochure said we were to sit at Aida and have Sachertorte. This I did. I'm very obedient when it comes to comfort things really. Programmed that way I guess. This cake came with cream. No picture I do not want you to see the size of THAT dollop of cream I slurped through. Lovely! I want it again. But since I don't bake I'll have to hunt around the shopping centres and hope I find something close.
Coffee comes with a glass of water always. Why?
 Coffee was just the thing I needed having had a bad night's sleep due to a stuffed nose. The glass of water was presumably to wash down the caffeine? I'm not sure the timing of drinking the water...was it before, mid-way or after coffee.

Friday, September 21, 2012


The entrance was enticing
 Still on the Vienna theme. I seriously think those of you reading the last few posts are convinced I did NOT attend the conference. You're wrong. I had good time management:) And so here are some pictures , all centered on this one shop along the main street. I cannot name streets mainly because I wasn't too bothered with where I was walking. I'm more of a landmark kinda gal.  It was a lovely sunny morning and what else should one do but get an ice-cream and shop?
Clear lines..lovely bright feeling
 Do you not agree that this part looks very much like a nursery?
It gives you a happy feeling being in this shop
 You'ld expect some nappies and blue teddy bears stuffed in these drawers
Ahah!!! And here comes the selection
I was greeted with this sight and boy oh into a twist trying to choose the perfect flavour
Which flavour?
 Interesting names spelt differently but if said aloud brings the English meaning to mind. So no problems trying to decipher which was which.
After much oooh-ing and hmm-ing..this was my choice
I can't remember which flavour i chose eventually. Hazelnuss I think.

Wiener Riesenrad

Praterstetn station where you exit
 I decided I would see this giant ferris wheel ( Wiener Risenrad) for myself. The night before enroute back in the taxi I saw it all lit up. I consulted the internet re tube stations to get off and this was it.
It looks small from a distance
 Was a little bit disappointed with the sheer size until I realised (duh) that it was further away than what I thought. Quite a bit of traffic mostly folks heading to work. I chose to take pictures from a distance and re-think my possible night visit for a better experience. ( I finally ended up attending the opera instead so no Riesenrad ride for me )
Clear signs!
 What I love about travelling on the tube in Vienna, the signs are so clear that you almost feel you're local and know where to go without hesitation. (Smug look) I stayed along linie U1 which conveniently leads you directly to Stephansdom:)
Caught this outside Praterstern station
Here's a lovely sight. Caught when I forgot to switch the zoom mode off my G10. The kid looks nice and snug in his seat. And mummy is making sure the helmet is fixed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Schönbrunn Palace

The tube station where I got off
 As a tourist, you feel compelled ( at least I did ) to go down the list of tourisy things to do. And this was on my list. " Visit palace". It rained and rained at a steady flow. So that over-priced umbrella ( if you convert to RM ...40 ringgit for a normal plain blue brolly ) was put to good use. There was a bit of wind. So some of the pictures were tilted at an angle, as I tried to take a picture AND hold onto my umbrella to prevent it from being blown away.
You are meant to validate your ticket here
The tube station ticket validation puts a lot of faith in human nature. You can easily cheat the system and travel free. That'll be wrong of course but you will agree it is possible and I'm sure many have been tempted and succumbed. We had a free pass throughout the duration of the congress. Very generous and very handy.
Adverstisement for concert at Schonbrunn Palace
 I now wish I had gone for a concert here. But the thought of it being late at night and having to walk all the way to the tube station and get wet wasn't very appealing to me. Still, a good reason to return to Austria for a proper holiday.
The gardens ( part of it )
 The gardens were lovely. This was the first of my attempted panoramic view from my camera. I've chosen only one shot to post. The flowers were so red and unreal. Imagine looking out of your window and seeing this as your back garden. These royals....they had it good. No wonder the french aristocrats were beheaded. Imagine living in such opulence whilst your people struggle for their next meal. Their apartments really do look out to this. ( When we toured inside I peeked outside and saw this very view)
The front of the palace as you enter
 It was wet and I was cold. And dying to head to some dry place to be warmed up. The castle's history and audio tour was nice. There was a room where the bed was. So small, he either liked a cosy feeling or people back then were shorter. I'm still trying to figure out why. They were also big on designs on the wall right up to the ceiling and on the ceiling as well. A mix of diferent motifs and colours. I think some of the interior designers would disagree with their colour schemes. Tsk tsk!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Traditional costume of Austria

This was taken on a wet Friday morning
 I came across this lovely shop selling traditional Austrian costumes. If I were 30 years younger I'ld jump at this opportunity to wear an authentic gear. But if I were 30 years younger I would be unemployed and penniless so that's not going to work. The ones in this shop were made of thicker cloth and were significantly priced.
So cute
 These were sold at a souvenir shop. You can see the various fridge magnets to the left of the picture.
An adult wearing just such a costume
This was taken at the Kaisermuhlen station. The closest station to the hotel I stayed in. And look what I found...a real life adult wearing just such a costume to work.

Statsoper Wien

I watched Don Carlo. ( Programme booklet )
 The opera house in Vienna has lovely architecture. My pictures don't do it justice so I've selected only one of the indoot shot for this post. It is every bit as amazing as you can imagine.
The view from where I sat.
 It looks like a scene from a movie, the crowds of people like little ants seated in their own boxes. Almost like a James Bond movie? Or would you say Phantom of the opera scene? Pick your choice.
Very steep very interesting and very scary
 THIS is what I had to walk down to where my seat was. If you have some diplopia you'll be sure to end up in a heap at the bottom all twisted and mangled. Thankfully everyone's eyes were well behaved and nobody else appeared to have suffered from a irrational fear of heights except me.
Intermission. To your right is where you head for some drinks
 We had a break. Very important for weak bladders, and a great chance to stretch your legs and walk down about 4 flights of stairs to where the drinks were being sold. I had a bottle of bubbled water and absorbed the atmosphere to the maximum.
Ticketing officer. Picture taken earlier in the day
I very nearly DIDN't make this opera. Sold out!!! But just around the corner were some folks selling tickets and I got mine. I had to crane my neck throughout the performance but I am sure you'ld agree with WAS worth the creak in the neck and the 49 euros I paid. I want MORE!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stephansdom and Mozarthaus

Mozart chocolates with pistachio marzipan inside.
 There were a lot of shops with Mozart's chocolates being displayed. But I think this was the nicest. This was on the older side of Stephansdom where Mozart's house is.
Mozart's house. ( dark drown door)
 There is the house. He lived here for 2 and a half years. No pictures once inside so I'll just have to rely on memory and describe some stuff. Once inside, ( and after paying) you get inside a very small lift and go up to the top floor. The tour starts there. You also get ( if you pay extra) a tiny gadget like a phone which you can enter certain combination of numbers and listen to the commentary of things you see. It can get a little tiring so they thoughtfully provided some seats at the window for us tired legs. You get to listen to Mozart's rise and how he possibly lost his fortune through the love of gambling. Apparently he didn't have much luck there.
The view from Mozart's apartment.
 When he first arrived from Salzburg he stayed in a small room which is in the building to your right. The building which is jutting out a bit. See how he progressed in riches and fame. Only to die a pauper.
The famous cathedral which I went for Sunday mass. I think it was featured in some movies before but I forget now. Didn't go for the tour of this because I got distracted with the lovely shops to the left and right of the cathedral and also the many ice cream parlous and coffee places surrounding the vicinity. You understand surely. More to follow....

Vienna Austria

The most exciting reason for staying away was my lovely visit to Vienna for the European Respiratory Congress. So you will bear with me as the next few post shall feature pictures from Vienna and the exciting ( for me at least) things I saw and did and experience.
Here's what I've learnt:
1. Please bring an umbrella foldable preferably when you visit around Sept. It rains and you'll get wet and cold easily. Don't bring a big umbrella cos you will have to leave it outside when you visit musuems and palaces. ( Unless you don't have a major problem with doing that and are not forgetful in the least.)

2. Getting about in Vienna is easy. The tube trains are very efficient and maps labelled clearly. Nobody rushes for the tube mainly because they're eifficient and if you miss one, just wait and another will arrive shortly. The doors do not open automatically when you reach a station, you will ( depending on how new the tube is ) either have to press a little button or pull a lever to open the doors.

3. Unlike Ireland and London, they're not big on black tights. Now I'm not sure what it'll be like in winter but in Sept, everybody should they choose to wear tights prefer flesh coloured stockings. Not many people wear jeans and unless you're an American tourist try and avoid wearing a cap..and sneakers. Nobody is shoddily dressed in town.

4. Austrians are quiet and polite folks. They do not raise their voices nor talk loudly to each other or shout across the road to get the attention of someone.

5. If you're intending to catch an opera at the very famous opera house, and there are no tickets left in the official office, do not be disheartened. Just outside the building, there will be some people selling tickets available for the night's performance. For a good experience of how old opera houses are, you may want to get tickets on the floors above. Best to avoid if you REALLY want to watch the opera and you are scared of heights. The path leading to your seats ( should you choose the higher floors) are narrow and super steep and you have to crane your neck throughout the performance to catch the people singing. The do have a digital board in front of you with translation of the opera to English which is nice and handy.

6.The main part of town centers around Stephansdom which is Vienna's cathedral. Mozart's house is a few minutes walk from the cathedral. If you remember he used to work at the cathedral then you can imagine how lucky he was to have lived so close to his place of work. Shops around Mozart's house sell older things and there are a few nice cafes. This part reminded me of Galway Ireland and Dublin as well where the shops are tiny but well stocked and everything smells of old architecture.

7. The other part of town Graben and Kärntner Straße are interesting streets where you will want to take pictures of everything that moves.You will find Zara, Loccitane, Humanic, Espirit, Accessorize, Monsoon and other bigger shops there. Interspersed with ice cream parlours. ( Very handy that!) The Longchamps are a faction of the price we pay for it in Malaysia. I was tempted to get 5-6 but restrained myself. Desigual appeared cheaper too which shows how much things are taxed in Malaysia.

8. Aida which is the name of a coffee place is pretty big in Vienna. They serve very nice coffee and cakes. I managed to grab one such cake and a cup of coffee on my last day there.

9. All souvenir shops sell Mozart themed chocolates. They're pretty proud of him. There are the usual 'I love Vienna" T shirts but the colours are limited.  You can get Vienna umbrellas as well so if you're thinking of buying one then don't pack one of your own when you travel there.

10. The musuem quarter is surreal. Once you get out of the tube station and walk about the place you'll be in awe of the architecture and you'll have to pinch yourself just to be sure you're not in a dream. My visit there was marred by the rain and wind and I had a devil-of-a-time hanging on to my rather expensive umbrella bought on the first day there.

And now....for some pictures and anecdotes.

Hiatus has ended

I have so much to say. I've been away for many reasons. The main and most obvious reason is laziness. Second important and valid reason is work which has slowly piled up and the deadlines all come within weeks of each other forcing me into a panic ( not new this feeling) and as a result, I stayed away. Not that THAT much was done by staying away. I've only just realised this so I'm back with some ( hopefully regular) updates.

I shall blog separate posts directly after this so it'll be easier to see what I've been up to in stages.