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Posts tagged ‘My Vienna’

My Vienna: Beethovenhaus Heuriger Mayer am Pfarrplatz

Above/featured: “Beethovenhaus” Heuriger Mayer am Pfarrplatz. Pfarrplatz square, Heiligenstadt, in Vienna Döbling (19.)

It’s a nation-wide holiday on the 26th of May (2022): Ascension of Christ (Christi Himmelfahrt). On a bright and warm late-spring day, people are out and about, and very few shops are open.

I’m halfway through my month-long stay in Vienna, and today, I’m in the city’s 19th district, Döbling, where in his time Beethoven spent many summers resting, composing, and contemplating life with total hearing loss. I’ve spent the morning wandering through the Heiligenstadt neighbourhood, including a visit to one of his summer residences that’s now a museum dedicated to Beethoven. Not far down the street is another Beethoven summer house that’s now a wine tavern or “Heuriger”. A hanging bunch of pine branches at the front door means this tavern is open for service, with food and their own wine on offer.

The Austrian capital city is home to the world’s largest “urban vineyard” and is the world’s only capital city producing wine within its city limits. There are some 600 wine producers; 400 individual vineyards; over 7 million square metres (75 million square feet) of cultivation space producing both white and red wines in a 80/20 split, respectively; and an average annual yield of 2 million litres or over 2.5 million bottles of wine. Most of the wine is sold for immediate consumption at wine shops and grocery stores, and at the city’s many wine taverns.

Inside the front entrance is an open courtyard decorated by braids of green vine leaves. 1pm on a holiday is going to be busy, and most tables in shade in the outdoor patio are occupied. I don’t intend to linger; so, I take an open spot under sun. A waiter comes by and asks if there’s something I’d like to drink. I request an “Achtel” (“eighth”, 125mL) of Mayer’s own 2021 Grüner Veltliner, and ask whether’s a buffet today. The food counters are around the corner, he replies, handing me a slip of paper with my assigned-table number. I can pay for the food upon ordering at the counter, or I can pay when I’m done. Inside, there’s the unmistakable glow and refrigerated chill of the food counters. There are salads of the German/Austrian kind (no much of the green leafy kind, though); pickles and Sauerkraut; fatty, meaty, cheesy spreads for bread; the “usual suspects” including pan-fried potatoes, roast-pork and -chicken, sausage, blood sausage; cold cuts and cheeses; and naturally, a dessert display.

I’m not gonna eat too much or fill up on carbs on this very warm afternoon. Keeping it simple, I’ve a tomato and onion salad, to go with a pork Bratwurst, a meat patty (Faschierte Laibchen/Frikadellen), and a big juicy slice of caraway-roasted pork (Kummelbraten). Staff behind the counter ask if I want “Saft” (gravy/juices) with the meat choices. “Ja, bitte!

The tomato and onion mix is a little sweet and sour. This along with the smooth yet sharpness of the wine provide a lighter taste balance to the “heavier” meat portions. The Bratwurst and meat patty are very good, but the Kummelbraten. Oh, the Kummelbraten. The outside is crunchy-chewy (knackig), and the pork is juicy (saftig) and delicious (gewürzt). It’s a style of old-fashioned cooking my parents would have recognized and enjoyed.

The tavern provides a cozy setting. People are shuttling between their tables and the food counters, and there’s a happy murmur to the conversations around me. The young and old fill up tables in both front- and back-garden seating areas. In my view, it’s a pricey meal for one person; yet, I was tempted by the Cremeschnitte on display. However, I also think sharing a variety of food and splitting a bottle of their white vine among a group of people would be a fun spread for an afternoon or evening.


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My Vienna: Wiener Schnitzel at Meissl and Schadn

“Schnitzel: das ist nicht nur nach den Umfragen das Lieblingsessen der Österreicherinnen und Österreicher. Das ist fast schon ein Religion, oder zumindest ein Kultobjekt, der Mittelpunkt eines heliozentrisch-kulinarischen Systems.”

Not only is schnitzel Austria’s favourite food, it’s almost religion, or at the very least, a ‘cult object’ (at) the centre of a heliocentric culinary system.

“Genussland Österreich: vom Wiener Schnitzel”, by Gert Baldauf (ORF 2011).

The short wood mallet strikes with a thud.

Then, a second; followed by another.

The targeted slab becomes flatter, the fleshy disk gets thinner, growing outward with every thump. The shape is closer to circular, its size as large as a dinner plate.

The prep staff in kitchen-whites, in full concentration with their labour.

And that piece of freshly cut veal pounded thin will soon be breaded, and deep-fried to a crispy golden-brown.

The Wiener Schnitzel will soon be mine.


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Schleusenbrücke Wehr 1, Neue Donau, 22. Bezirk, Donaustadt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: 7 city views for free from modest heights

At the eastern limit of the Alps, the city of Vienna is built at the “low end” where the hills meet the Danube river, at a minimum altitude of about 150 metres (500 feet) above sea-level. Visitors to the Austrian capital city who don’t have much time but want a broad overview of the city will make their way to one or all of the Donauturm (Danube Tower), Riesenrad (Ferris Wheel), and Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). Each of these landmarks requires the price of admission to get up high in the sky.

For other views at more modest heights, you’ll see there are options, especially because I’ve set foot in all 23 of the city’s districts. Below I highlight seven locations; all are free (zero charge) to access. All but one are well outside the inner city for the opportunity to explore other city districts and to gain a better sense of the physical size of the city.


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Eisfuchs, Eis, ice cream, Neubau, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: Eisfuchs specialty ice-cream in the 7.

Above/featured: Eisfuchs, at Neubaugasse 31 – 1 Jun 2022 (X70).

I’m on a 4-week stint in Vienna in late-spring/early-summer. Days are getting warmer, and I’m search of “Eis”. There are no shortage of ice cream shops in Vienna; trick is finding a really good one.

Out of their many recommendations, my host has pointed out Eis-Fuchs (“ice fox”), a small ice cream shop in the 7th district, known to residents local and across the city, but little recognized outside of Vienna.

That’s my kinda place.

All of their ice cream is made “in house,” and while they’ve got a list of favourites, they have a selection of “seasonal” varieties, which are made in small batches which last from a few days to a week or two. My favourite flavours are “Cheesecake Marille” (apricot cheesecake) and “Tarte au Citron” (lemon tart). The dessert is rich and creamy, and the fruit provides a refreshing tart edge.

With the 2nd visit, I promise the woman behind the counter I’ll visit more regularly. At the next visit, she nods at me in recognition and we chat a little about the ice cream: the variety of flavours and their production. With my final visit, I announce with some regret that my time in Vienna is ending, and I must return to Canada; I leave the shop with a double scoop of deliciousness.


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Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: taste of Damascus in the 20.

I’m on a 4-week stint in Vienna in late-spring/early-summer. On a bright and early weekday morning, I go out of my way to Hannovermarkt (Hanover market) in the city’s 20th district. I only have one destination in mind: to try shawarma (Döner), done Syrian style.


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Danube, Donau, Christian Stemper, Wien Tourismus

My Vienna: 30 days of spring from the 6

Danube morning: photo by Christian Stemper, courtesy of Wien Tourismus (no.50401).

With this entry’s appearance, I’m on the other side of the world, 8500 kilometres away.

I dashed in and out of Vienna a handful of times between 2001 and 2003 when I lived in Heidelberg; but I have no visual records of that period in time. I’ve returned to Austria’s capital city for the first time since 2018. I wondered then how a stay in the Mariahilf, the city’s 6th district, would go.

That time is now, because I’m spending a month in the 6.

To minimize weight, I’m experimenting:
•   32-L backpack as the 1 and only piece of (carry-on) luggage, and
•   “no bricks no heavy glass”, but a compact mirrorless Fuji X70 camera.

The apartment location and neighbourhood are ideal. I’m within easy reach of the city’s U-Bahn, surrounded by the U3, U4, and U6 metro lines. I’ve already located a drugstore and several grocery stores, all inside a trivial 0.5 km (0.3 mi) walk. I’ve also been told I’ll have many Viennese coffees and several meals in the area.

There’s a lot to pursue, see, and do; and there’s no time to waste.

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Othmar Schimkowitz, Musenhaus, Medaillonshaus, Linke Wienzeile 38, Otto Wagner, Vienna Modernism, Wiener Moderne, Wien, Vienna, Oesterreich, Austria, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: Triple Schimkowitz

Above/featured: Musenhaus (Muse House), Linke Wienzeile in Vienna – 18 May 2018.

Early 20th-century European artist Othmar Schimkowitz was one of many key figures in Vienna Modernism, an art movement which celebrated its centennial in 2018 in the Austrian capital city. Schimkowitz was born in Hungary and became well-known in Vienna for his architectural sculptures. In 1898, he joined the (Vienna) Secession, a group of artists which included Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, Max Kurzweil, Carl Moll, Koloman Moser, and Joseph Maria Olbrich.

Sculptures by Schimkowitz are often seen in a variety of architectural creations by Otto Wagner. Here below are three Schimkowitz examples in Vienna; all are accessible with public transit from Wiener Linien (WL) transport authority.

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My Vienna: Otto Wagner’s architectural legacy

Featured: On the Linke Wienzeile, opposite the Naschmarkt at right – 18 May 2018 (6D1).

What: The Post Savings Bank building and Steinhof church, by Otto Wagner.
Why: These two are the most important architectural examples of 20th-century modernism.
Where: Throughout the city of Vienna.

To visit Vienna is to know Otto Wagner. A first-time visitor to the city will be forgiven for not knowing about Wagner or his creations, but throughout their time spent in the Austrian capital, they’ll encounter Wagner’s early 20th-century “Modern Architecture”

Vienna is for many the city of Beethoven, Mozart, and Strauss; the city of historic and stylish cafés with coffee and Sacher Torte; the city whose pride is revealed in the combined World Heritage Site that are the classic period architecture within the Old Town and the beautiful palace and gardens at Schönbrunn. Flowing through the city is the Danube river, memorialized in Johann Strauss II’s “An der schönen blauen Donau” (The Blue Danube).

The evolution of architectural style is plainly evident throughout the city. Around the Ringstrasse (inner ring road) is architecture in the Historicism style, with big nods to Neoclassicism in the Parliament, Neo-Gothic in City Hall and the Votivkirche, and a lot of Neo-Renaissance represented by the City Theatre, Art History Museum, Natural History Museum, Opera House, and the University.

But as calendars flipped from 1899 to 1900, the fin-du-siècle heralded a move to bold thinking, different style, and a change in the way and reasons why buildings were put together. Consequently, Vienna is a city of 20th-century modernism whose traces are found in art, architecture, and urban planning. Even with post-war reconstruction in the mid-20th century and a mindful push for environmental rigour in the 21st-century, Vienna still remains in many ways Otto Wagner’s city.

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Friedhof Hietzing, Hietzing Cemetery, Friedhoefe Wien, Hietzing, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Oesterreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: Klimt, Moser, & Wagner in Hietzing Cemetery

Previously, I provided short biographies for artist Gustav Klimt, artist and designer Koloman Moser, and architect Otto Wagner, and why they are important figures to the arts and culture scene in early 20th-century Vienna. These three figures are buried in Hietzing Cemetery in the 13th district of Hietzing at the city’s western periphery.

Located to the southwest of the former imperial summer residence Schönbrunner Schlosspark, Hietzing Cemetery is modest in size with an area of over 9.7 hectares (24 acres) and containing over 11-thousand graves. With the present site inaugurated in 1787, the cemetery has seen several expansion phases and survived damage from the Second World War.

It’s an easy ride on the city’s U4 subway, formerly Otto Wagner’s municipal railway (Wiener Stadtbahn), to one of its stations at Hietzing. From Hietzing station, it’s a quick hop on a bus to the cemetery’s main gate.

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My Vienna: Zentralfriedhof (central cemetery)

Above/featured: The cemetery’s Gate 2 (2. Tor) designed by Max Hegele, who was Otto Wagner’s student and also responsible for the construction of the Fillgraderstiege steps in Mariahilf.

Where: Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof).
Who: Beethoven, Boltzmann, Falco, Lamarr, Schütte-Lihotzky, Strauss I and II.
Why: Cross-section of cultural and economic history for capital city and nation.

In Vienna, tram 71 begins in the Old Town; goes around the western half of the inner ring past City Hall, national Parliament, and the Opera House; and heads southeast to the city’s main cemetery or the Zentralfriedhof. Because coffins to the cemetery were once transported on the tram, there’s a saying particular to the city’s residents, a phrase which means they’ve died by “going to the end of the line.”

Sie haben den 71er genommen.
(“They took the 71.”)

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