Today I had breakfast at a Café across from our hotel. They looked at me funny when I didn’t really speak German. You would think they would be used to it since they are right next to the Hilton, but it’s okay because the food was good. Austrians believe in real butter on everything! After breakfast I went to the Schottenring and Alsergrund area. The first thing I visited was Freyung and Freyung Passage. The Freyung is a square where you could claim sanctuary with the monks. The Passage is a covered shopping area that runs between buildings to a very pretty courtyard. It was a bit disappointing only because it was so small. I also saw the Schottenkirche in the square but I didn’t go inside because it was ugly in comparison with other churches.
Next I went to the Josephinum. Because I was trying to save the major sites for when Ben was done working, I got to see some stuff that was a little weirder than normal. It was an Eighteenth century surgical institute and now contains a museum. The weirdest part was the wax models from about that same time. They were used for teaching anatomy, and were very cool in a nerdy, morbid sort of way.
On the way to the creepy wax models, I saw the Votivkirche. It is a gothic style church built in the 19thcentury, and it was gorgeous! The interior really took your breath away. The point of church architecture was to make the worshiper feel small and humble in the sight of God, and boy did I feel small when I went in this church! One of the cool things about being in a Catholic country was that in almost every church I went in, there were people praying. It was wonderful to see that these magnificent churches were still used.
After the Josephinum I went to the Freud museum. He lived in the same flat in Vienna for 40 or so years until he was forced to flee in 1938. There wasn’t much to the apartment because the family had taken everything with them to London and his daughter Anna wanted to preserve that apartment as he had left it when he died. There was a room playing home movies of the Freud family that was neat. They apparently had a thing for Chows. Overall, it was interesting, but a bit of a disappointment.
I was supposed to meet Ben for lunch, so I on the way to the station I decided to swing by one more church. It was perfect timing! It was the Servitenkirche, which was very beautiful, but the coolest part was that I got to see a procession. I was having some trouble finding the church, but I heard a band playing. I decided to just go see the band, and it ended up that they were playing in the square in front of the church I was looking for. Right as I got there, the door of the church opened and all these nicely dressed people, the priest, and little girls in white dresses and boys in suits came out. It was their first communion! The priest and altar boys lined up behind the band and all the people lined up behind the priest and they all processed to a hotel a little ways down the street to have a party. The police were stopping traffic and everything! It was the coolest thing I have ever seen! Catholics are awesome!
I went back to the hotel after watching the procession to meet Ben. Cleaning up after the conference took longer than expected so I went to a street vendor to get lunch. I’ve never lived in a city that has street vendors selling food, so I’m always a little suspicious, especially since I’m a vegetarian. This place had a big sign that said ‘Vegetarian Falafel’ and I was really hungry and it smelled delicious. It was some of the best food I had in Vienna. They had this special sauce…just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Ben and I went back for lunch the next day because it was cheap and it also had this spinning pile of meat that they shaved some off to make your sandwich that I thought Ben would like. So good!!!
After Ben finished we went and saw the Stephansdom, which is the actual Cathedral of Vienna. It was cool because it was one of the oldest churches in the city, but it was very crowded. It also wasn’t very pretty inside, though there was some beautiful stained glass and a really neat altar. The coolest part was the crypt tour we took. You could look in rooms that were full, floor to ceiling, of bones because they would move all the bones in there after a certain amount of time to make more room. There was also a plague pit, which is rare to see inside a city for obvious reasons. The guide said that they think that it was probably where they put the nobility that died of the plague. There was also one of the crypts where they the Hapsburgs are buried. They were only buried there up to the 13th century and after that the only kept their intestines here, which is weird.
After looking around the church we just wandered around the Quarter on our way back to the hotel. Vienna is such a beautiful city that you don’t need to be seeing anything special to have a good time. We did see the Fleischmarkt, which is a very quaint street that had the restaurant where we had dinner. We also saw the Jesuitenkirche, which is the church the Jesuits built to be nearer the Academy of Sciences. To say that it was ornate would be an understatement. We also got Ben a sausage from a street vendor. He said it was delicious, but the coolest part was the bun. It was like American hotdog buns; it was a solid piece of bread with a hole in the middle. It was also yummy crusty bread instead of the crap most people serve at barbeques.
We had dinner with Gore people and doctors at the Griechenbeisl. There’s a bagpiper on the sign because legend has it that a bagpiper was drunk one night and passed out. Thinking he had died of the plague, they put him in a plague pit. He attracted attention the next morning by playing his bagpipe. The food was good, and I got to try Eiswein, which is a dessert wine made by leaving the grapes on the vine through the first frost. There was also a guy playing the accordion during dinner.
The funniest part of the night was that after dinner we went to the club in our hotel called ‘The Box.’ They were having a live photography shoot of these models, and they were also taping the crowd, so in the midst of all these young trendy, beautiful people, they have a bunch of old Gore people and doctors. Hilarious!