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The International Writers Magazine: Austria - Archives

A weekend in Vienna
Aurelie Montfrond

When I first set foot on the ground in Austria’s Vienna I felt warmth. The temperature reaching twenty seven degrees and a untypical dry weather in the middle of September. It was so warm that people were wearing shorts while I was carrying my heavy bag full of wires along with my jumper and heavy jacket.

I was completely lost, somewhere in Vienna desperately stopping the few people I came across in the streets, asking them for directions. I had never been confronted by any language barrier before. It seemed that wherever I traveled English saved me. It was widely spoken and understood. I realised that Austria was a country like France or Spain with a strong identidy and a native language that was also widely spoken and understanding expected from me. It frustrated me at first and people were dismissing me when I was approaching them with "Sorry, do you know where something Strasse is?" There was barely any response along with some German Jargon that did not make any sense to me. And then they walked away. They could not speak enough English to understand me and they would not even bother. I felt rejected but I was thinking of my guide that will be soon coming to the four star hotel I was booked in. She would show me around Vienna. I would get a better and second impression from the right people.

I finally found my hotel. Just had the time to drop my bags and had a shower. Shortly afterwards my guide was waiting for me at the reception. I felt much more enthousiastic and was looking forward to seeing Vienna.

Vienna is famous for its art and classical music scene. As far as I am concerned I am an art admirer. The second day I chose to visit four museums.

I first stopped to the Kunsthauswien. This is a place that hosts international exhibitions and holds the complete work of Austrian born artist and architect "Hundertwasser". This artist born in Vienna in 1928 dedicated his whole life to paint. He is known for his colourful and anti-conventional architectural projects. Hundertwasser Village is home to souvenir shops dedicated to the artist. Opposite the village is the Hundertwasser house. It has been designed by Hundertwasser. It is a residential building owned by Vienna municipality.
You can also enjoy a coffee or a meal at the Kunsthauswien restaurant.

Taking a tram brings you to the Belvedere palaces. The two baroque palaces were buit in the 18th home century and is to Gustav Klimt’s largest painting collection. There's a nice cityscape from the gardens. Belvedere could be considered as the Versailles of the center of Europe. The lower Belvedere is a space used for temporary art exhibitions especially by new Austrian artists while the Upper Belvedere has an important collection of Austrian art dating from the middle age to our time, particularly focused from the 1900’s onwards and highlighting Gustav Klimt’s collection including his masterpieces.It includes "The kiss". I was quite surprised when I entered the room. "The Kiss" was standing out from the rest of Klimt’s works. It was under a giant glass. It made me laugh. I was just thinking what came to minds of people choosing such or such painting as a masterpiece and put it under a glass whilst leaving the rest of an artist’s works under the dust. There are many interesting and beautiful landscapes from Klimt hanged on the walls of the Upper Belvedere and not only "The Kiss" derserves attention. Other works from Schiele and Kokoschka are worth the visit.

Talking about Egon Schiele, Austria holds as well most of his works. The tramway brings you to "MuseumsQuartier". The Leopold museum on the other hand hosts the world’s largest Schiele collection while including other works from Klimt and Kokoschka among others. The museum is based on the former private art collection or Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold.

The Albertina hosts different exhibitions and until the 8th December 2008 an exhibition about Van Gogh which is quite important for Austria as it is the first for more than half a century.
With 51 paintings and 89 drawings from lenders around the globe. This is not to be missed if you are around Vienna during that period.

Although I unfortunately did not have the time to visit the Parter park. This is an amusement park located in Vienna’s city center. One of best known Vienna landmarks and attraction can be found there. The giant Ferris wheel of 64.75 m high. For the ones interesting in "extraordinaire" city views. The park is being renovated and continually adds new attractions. This is an entertaining place for adults and children alike and famous from the film 'The Third Man' with Orsen Wells.
The central location of Vienna, being the heart of Europe is close to cities as Prague, Budapest or Bratislava. Bratislava is the closest being only 50 minutes away from Vienna. On the third day, you can appreciate a day trip to one of these places. I decided to go to Bratislava for the day. I had no idea of what it looked like, barely even heard of it and had no plan. I just jumped on the train and asked the train controller where should I stop and after an hour I arrived in Bratislava. It was even warmer than Vienna. I then followed someone that was going to the city center. I felt I was back five hundred ago suddenly. I never had this feeling before when visiting medivial parts of cities. There was something more authentic about Bratislava’s centre. When you enter it , the narrow road and its arch at the end looks like a bridge to a castle although there a medivial castle on a hill opposite that looks upon the city. Bratisalva is a charming city.

The heart of Europe is beating fast. There were more people speaking English at the end but if you can speak German then you do not have to worry. Waiting for my plane at Vienna airport had its advantages . I enjoyed a window poping up of my mac screen "free wireless internet, courtesy of Vienna airport". I will come back soon.

© Aurelie Montfrond Nov 1st 2008
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