Friday, June 7, 2013

Vienna, Austria

VIENNA, AUSTRIA, Europe,    -Bunt Riveresque allure

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By  Vladan Sutanovac

Idyllic, courtly and proud lies the city of Dunaj. The name given by the Slovene - meaning Danube river, doubtlessly, best of all, captures the city's cross-cultural charm and allure. For, just as the river itself flows through every day, each day, so does the river of people in one never-ending continuum. And once you allow yourself to be taken over by it, in one fell swoop, it can quite easily turn out to be one of the visits of your life.. without any false pretense.

Sure you can decide for the idyllic and courtly, and sure you can dedicate all the time on your hands to visiting the gems of the days gone by - the Imperial Palace of the Gorgeous Fountains (Schönbrunn), the Belvedere Palace, the gems of the Ringstraße - gothic and the macabre St. Stephen's Cathedral(Stephansdom), St. Charles's Church (Karlskirche), the State Opera (Staatsoper), the Hofburg Royal Palace, the Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and its counterpart Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum), the Parliament (old and new), the Town Hall (Rathaus), the Royal Theater (Burgtheater) and surely round and round you will go until you are back to where you started from.  For that is how it all goes in the Round St. (Ringstraße). But just as one can pay these marvels of the past a concise tribute in a single breath (sentence), one can also pay them an up-close-and-personal tribute in a matter of a day, by simply following the "round brick road".

However, if you seek, for a little while at least, to truly breathe as Vienna, live as Vienna and.. Be Vienna, then you ought to consider taking a slightly different road.

Now, before we go on any further, important to bear in mind is that, regardless of the time of the year, the weather in Vienna...well...has a life of its own. Why it is always useful to have at least a raincoat or an umbrella on you, just in case. But, do not be alarmed because, in this sense, Vienna is
very much like London - clouds go by fast and so do the weather changes.

Therefore, to be on the safe side, we shall make our departing point the always cheerful, bunt and picturesque hallmark of expressionist Vienna - the Hundertwasser Haus (roughly the House of Hundred Waters). A house like no other! The combination of a unique palette-like facade where no two lines are straight and akin to one another, meeting only to form a confluence that further branches out into a body of trees - a genuine forested roof-top. And a genuine proof that buildings do breathe and radiate. Hundertwasser sunglasses on, we march on. While on the way to our next gems, we take a stroll along the always vibrant river bank(Danube Canal/Schwedenplatz) host to a Twin City Liner terminal(fast ferry service linking Vienna and Bratislava), and a number of cafés and night clubs. The most appealing ones, especially for those who are quite keen on fancy-footworking to the sounds of unconventional and arty music, being the world-renown mecca of electronic music - Flex and its worthy successors - Badeschiff (during the day a ship with a pool and a cozy restaurant/café, during the night a meeting place for the contemporary-and-unorthodox-music-and-arts buffs) and Fluc (a tad further and in the vicinity of the world famous Praterstern Riesenrad). Now that we have done our share of footworking, a sip of the authentic all-Viennese beverage - Wiener Melange (roughly Viennese Blend) is something that will not only invigorate our taste buds, but imbue them with this distinct taste that will remain there for quite some time to come. And where to treat your taste buds better than in one of the oldest cafés - Café Hawelka, the savourer of the Viennese (coffee-) tradition Geist since 1938.

In case coffee does not suffice, or you are more in the mood for a (quick) afternoon drink, another favourite is certainly the Loos (American) Bar - a macro-architectural marvel, hand-crafted by one of the most distinguished Austrian modern architects - Adolf Loos. All refreshed and rested, we are ready for a novel
stroll to the capitol of the contemporary - MuseumsQuartier.

In the words of the founders - Enjoyment of Art and Joie de Vivre, MuseumsQuartier is home to around 70 cultural facilities, which makes it one of the largest art and culture complexes in the world, as well as one of the world's largest public urban living rooms and an oasis of calm and recreation in the middle of the city.

By now we probably feel a bit peckish. But dread not, for restaurant/pub Einstein - with traditional light-on-your-wallet and pleasing-to-your-stomach Austrian dishes and home-brewed beer, and restaurant Merkur - with both the traditional Austrian and exotic light-on-your-wallet and pleasing-to-your-stomach dishes, come to rescue. Now, if after-meal dozing off is not your style, then we should head to another hidden gem, but this time a leisure one.  Café Phil is everything but your ordinary café. And meant by this everything is that you get in one spot..everything. The best of a private library and a bookshop, record store, restaurant/café and a night-bar specially tailored for the younger population and, of course, those still feel young at heart. Another must-must is also the Twenty Five Hours Hotel bar - an utterly chic spot, with a magnificent (open) terrace-view of the city.

If a comfy atmosphere and a wine or two did not make your eyes droopy with exhaustion, then one final treat is in order. Theater and der Wien - haven for the contemporary takes on traditional plays and operettas, and the home of insurgent art.

Now that you've got all the gems tucked away in your pocket, there's only one thing left for you to do..come and experience this gem of a city, through the eyes of the city itself.


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