Vienna, vaudeville of the world

Vienna, vaudeville of the world
A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Chapter VIII

City: Vienna
Country: Austria
Currency: Euro (€)
Travel dates: 9-10 January 2008
Hostel Stayed: Wombat Vienna
Travel buddies: Egon, Rahma, Siddharth, Stella, Meghan

Caption: Vienna Opera House.

Early in the morning, I was sitting in a rather vacant train leaving from Prague for Vienna. It was the starting city of the second half of my winter trip and officially, I entered into the euros zone. Having been confused with numerous currencies for the past half a month, it was really challenging to switch to euros. It is strange to state this since I am actually receiving scholarship in euros. Fortunately, the transition was a positive one as spending habit was closely monitored now.

Vienna, the capital of Austria, was really cold during winter. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that Austria is part of the Alps mountain range and therefore the altitude of the country is relatively high. Though my winter clothes were proven to be sufficiently trapping the body heat, walking long hour on streets was still something unbearable. However, the situation was definitely a lot more enjoyable than in Poland.

Personally, I don’t think visiting Prague and Vienna one after another was a good idea, because you might end up sharing the same count as me that Vienna was nothing impressive. Perhaps this is somewhat biased as Prague had really set a supreme standard and thus shadowed the charm of Vienna.

Caption: Life as backpacker is not glamorous, having kebab before opera (left) and interior of opera house.

Having enormous structures in a beautifully planned city, Vienna to me was simply neat and tidy. However, whether it has left a significant impression in my mind is definitely questionable. But this doesn’t mean that Vienna should be erased from the travel list, though I would strongly agree that there wasn’t much to experience in the capital.

Contradicting to the previous comment, one of my winter trip highlights was actually happened in Vienna. I bet you know that I am talking about watching opera.

Yes, opera is indeed a world renowned thingy in Vienna. I think despite the fact that most of the world’s famous opera shows are originated from Vienna, it is also because watching opera is not going to cost a fortune, but could be extremely cheap and surprisingly affordable. From my experience, it was only two euros, but standing at a still having complete view of stage corner, for two hours.

Caption: Okay, the top part was where I stood (left) and the opera house before performance.

However, it wasn’t really a real opera show where you get to see opera singers singing with their extremely high-pitch vocals. It was a ballet performance with live orchestra performance in the background, but located in front of the stage. The performance was brilliant. But even if you are not entering the opera house for opera, paying two euros for the interior of the building is worthy.

Like many other tourists, one question that lingered in my mind was whether I need a suit to get admitted into the opera house. This may sound exaggerating. But to say that this requirement is merely a printed custom on pamphlets is an understatement. Carefully put on the nicest clothes I have in my backpack, yes the somehow still wrinkle free pants and decent looking shirt which would be covered under nicer looking jacket, I braved myself to the opera house and passed the test.

There were certainly a lot of audiences coming to the opera with extravagant suits and crying-out-loud dress. But to make the whole opera thing more balanced, there was also a fair amount of backpackers, like myself, dressing decently casual. The main difference between the two groups was one booked their ticket earlier through various channels, and the other (the backpackers) bought their tickets by lining up at the nearly invisible side door ticket counter of the opera house. It is also very important to note that you have to be there earlier for the queue because two-euro tickets are limited.

Caption: Ballet performance (left) and merchandise in Mozart House. Basically everything with his head on sells.

Opera is certainly not the only cultural and artistic activity to do in Vienna. Mozart, one the most celebrated composers in the world, lived in Vienna for ten (or fourteen) years and therefore making a visit to his house a must. I am not sure how worthy it is to spend money on the expensively priced ticket just to walk the four-storey building located at a unnoticeable street in the middle of the town centre, which is quite near to the more eye-catching St. Stephen Cathedral that dominantly erected, because I didn’t go there.

However, a visit to the merchandise store located at the ground floor opened my eyes to learn about the commercialisation of the whole Mozart thingy. From the dazzling array of merchandise, either a Mozart mouse pad or a Mozart mug, or maybe a Mozart chocolate, it is really hard to avoid thinking that maybe to buy a piece of scarf with his music printed on top is more important than walking through the various chambers in the building.

Caption: Mozart house (left) and there he is, Mozart.

There are also two gigantic museums in the city centre of Vienna, namely the History of Art Museum and History of Science Museum. Yes, museums. However, you don’t really have to visit the interior. My suggestion would just to walk in the middle of the Maria-Theresien Platz to experience the fierceness of these two absolutely identical buildings at both sides of the park. But that’s also because I had really extremely limited time in Vienna. Who knows that you might end up being more culturally educated after visiting to the two museums?

I am not a museum fan. But I did pay a visit to another kind of museum, the Sisi Museum. It was not because it was a kill three birds (Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum and Silver collection Museum) in one stone reason, it was mainly because the lethally cold weather. However, I think staying indoor wasn’t that helpful at that time as I still felt deadly cold. Perhaps all the silver collection retained coldness?

Caption: In front of National Library (left) and St. Stephen Cathedral.

But paying a visit to Sisi museum was worthy as the story of Sisi was then raised again during my visit to Munich. But I think I should leave it as it is now. Vienna is definitely a culturally rich capital. But it was also where I started to suffer the inundation of cultures. Luckily I was only staying for two days. Can’t imagine what I will do in the third day. Perhaps just a tram ride around the city?

Caption: Maria Theresien Platz and History of Art Museum.