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Posts tagged ‘St. Stephan’s’

Chillin in Wien – Top 10 Ways To Keep Cool in Vienna’s Heat

10) Do a Film

Go to one of Vienna’s many cool cinemas just know that in Austria, when you buy your movie ticket, you are paying for a particular seat so prices vary and watch where you sit. An no worries, there are plenty of cinemas with English language films (but you should be practicing your German!)
a) Artis: English speaking films in original tone – Schultergasse 5 in the first district. Tickets can be purchased online and printed at home.You can go to Merkur at Hoher Markt (open weekdays till 9 pm and Saturdays till 6 pm) beforehand and grab something to snack on beforehand but there’s a sign in the cinema asking you not to bring food into the theater.  If you don’t plan ahead, the nachos always smell good and the popcorn can be recommended.

b) Haydn Cinema at Mariahilferstrasse 57 is another great cinema to catch English speaking films. Funky that you are underground too.

c) Burgkino: Opernring 19 (near the Opera, Karlsplatz Subway station): Films in original language. Burgkino is the loyalest “The Third Man” fan – the black and white film from Vienna with a chase through the Vienna sewers

d) Votiv Cinemas: Also films in their original language: Währingerstrasse 12 and Hessgasse 7/Schottengasse 5

9) Shop till you Drop

Go spend the day in an air-conditioned mall: Donauzentrum  (they actually have a Cinnabon here if you feel like your heart is getting too little artery clogging substances with so much organic, non-hormone produced foodstuffs). There’s also a Running Sushi too. Live a little. You know you want to.

8) Go on a Joy Ride

Schottenring U2 Subway Tunnel

Schottenring U2 Subway Tunnel

Grab one of Vienna’s free tabloids (if you’re lucky you’ll get a free Standard and look more intellectual) and then pretend you are James Franz Hans Joyce and do a modern day Vienna Odyssee tour on public transportation while reveling in the air conditioning. Just don’t get stuck on one of the charming but painfully unairconditioned old trams. Somehow on hot days, these trams also seem to attract folks who skipped a day without the proper deodorant.

Sommerfrische in Austria's Mountains

Sommerfrische in Austria’s Mountains

7) Go Away

Do as the Viennese do and leave the city for some “Sommerfrische” in the mountains like in Semmering.

6) Check out some Klimt, Cathedrals and Catacombs
Hang out with the artists and saints by visiting one of the city’s museums or cathedrals. The major museums will be air-conditioned and the tall thick stone walls of the cathedrals keep them cool as well.
Here’s a few to get you started:
a) Leopold Museum: my favorite with Klimt, Schiele, Hoffmann, and so many more great Austrian artists (and lovely modern architecture)

b) Kunsthistorisches Museum: beautiful art and stunning old building. I wrote about their great audio guides here: http://www.kcblau.com/vermeyen/

Art History Museum, Vienna

The halls of Vienna’s Art History Museum

Maria am Gestade

Maria am Gestade

c) Albertina: – can’t begin to list all the famous artists here (Rembrandt, Schiele, etc) and amazing exhibitions

CATHEDRALS
a)St. Stephansdom and its catacombs

b)Kaisergruft/ Imperial Crypt I wrote about the Imperial Crypt in my blog about Vienna and death: http://www.kcblau.com/death/

c) Minoriten Church / Church of the Italians – the perfect excuse to see the Last Supper replica I tried to drag you too a few blogs ago: http://www.kcblau.com/lastsupper/

Minoriten Church

Minoriten Church

d) Maria am Gestade: Go here at night – the view from the steps below will take your breath away.

5) Park it: Prater – Vienna’s “Green Lung” and Vergnügungspark (Amusement Park)

Head to Prater and maybe catch a stray horse there like I once did or hang out on one of the park benches under the shade of the Chestnut trees along Prater Alle, cool off with a liter of Czech Budweiser at the Schweizerhaus or take a ride on some cool attractions such as Prater Turm (Prater Tower) the 117 meter high tower visible from much of the city, sitting next to your sweetheart as you zoom around in a circle at 60 km/hr at a height of 95 meters for 3 – 4 minutes chastising yourself for gobbling down the Schweinsstelze (greasy pork leg) at Schweizerhaus and liter of Budweiser BEFORE the ride . If you can’t be talked into the Prater Turm, the Luftikus might be a good compromise. It also swings high up in the air, spinning you until you are so dizzy you forgot you were ever hot, or in Vienna, or started the ride with some change and your iPhone in your pocket. Personally I’d be more for the Wildalpenbahn (Wild Alp Channel) where you hold on for dear life and just get a bit soaked. After all, it has the word “wild” in the title so you are bound to win some bravery points back after kindly declining the Prater Turm and as an extra bonus, you are more likely to maintain your lunch (unless you hang out with a mischievous bunch (and who wouldn’t) and they start spinning your Alpen raft). If there is someone in the group you definitely don’t want to have to offer to wash their clothing for, then you might want to play it safe and just do the Aquagaudi (Aqua=water, Gaudi (pron: GowDee)= fun) which back at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, we referred to as the Logjammer.

4) Go for a Swim

Vienna has a ton of pools but if it is hot, they are bound to be crowded –  here are some of the ones you might be tempted to check out and what I associate with each:
a) Krapfenwaldbad – beautiful old wooden lockers, turn of century architecture, tall trees of Vienna woods and small pool
b) Schafbergbad – best view of the city
c) Schönbrunnerbad – nestled in gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, beautiful, old, small and busting at the seams with people on hot days
d) Praterbad: tall trees offering lots and lots of shaded green space, different pools to choose from
e) Gänsehäufl: nice natural beach along Danube with pool, and a FKK Beach (naked beach which sounds much more alluring before witnessing the leathery skinned corpulent bathers who hang out there and obviously missed the memo that too much sun is bad you – ohh the good old days of fold-out foil sun reflectors and cocoa sun oil)
f) Dianabad: indoor “amusement” pool with turbo jet slide, whirlpool and pirate ship.

3) Rent a boat and jump into the Alte Donau
While paddling or pedaling (choose your boat), do not be alarmed if you see the naked people slathered in oil and subjecting themselves to a slow bake in the sun along the shore — see 2e above. If it is very hot, take the boat with the slide option but be sure you know how to swim before jumping overboard because there are no lifeguards here. Do what the Aussies do, take a six pack along, tie it to the boat and keep it cool in the water. Just don’t drink and drive (even if you are on a pedal boat)

am Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria

am Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria

2) Do some “Chillen” at one of the Donaukanal Beach Bars

Because you’re cool, have interesting friends and lounging around “chillin” with a cold beer or Aperolspritz in hand while sinking down into a beach chair, digging your toes into the sand smack dab in the middle of the city and watching crazy people jogging, biking and sweating along the canal in the merciless heat is Schadenfreude pur, and just plain wicked. And cool.
a) Tel Aviv Beach: complete with cool sprayers on hot days
b) Adria – right next to bridge
Ben & Jerry’s: Beer and ice cream – what could be better? (except maybe brownies and beer)
c) Strandbar Hermann: on the “other side” of the canal close to the Urania and a great place for public viewing (of soccer)
d) Badeschiff: I admit, I snuck this on though it’s not a beach bar. However, it is along the canal and a place for bikinis and beer so it deserved to get past the blog beach bar bouncer bullies

Tel Aviv Beach, Donaukanal, 2nd District, Beach Bar, Vienna

Tel Aviv Beach, Donaukanal, 2nd District, Beach Bar, Vienna

1) Grab an Ice Cream or Frozen Yoghurt

Because an excuse to have some ice cream will always top my list.
Lots of great Italian ice-cream places in the first district around Schwedenplatz, Rotenturmstrasse, Hohemarkt and Tuchlauben and in the 5th district along Mariahilferstrasse.
ICE CREAM
a) Eis Greissler: Total thumbs up for “Ice cream from the countryside” all natural with no artificial coloring, aroma, preservatives or other chemicals . Vegan flavors also available. All flavors except 2 made without eggs. Organic milk from their very own cows. Just follow the queue at Rotenturmstrasse 14 into the small room no bigger than a showcase with ice cream and be bold or boring (a scoop of goat cheese ice cream on top of some pumpkin seed oil ice-cream or just a scoop of dark chocolate with vanilla). Also can be found at Mariahilferstrasse 33.

Zanoni Ice Cream Vienna

Zanoni Ice Cream Vienna

b) Zanoni Ice Cream – Around forever at Lugeck with lots of tables inside and out on the Rotenturmstrasse, Julius Meinl grocery store or Mariahilferstrasse

c) Tuchlauben Ice Cream on Tuchlauben “Family tradition since 1962”

d) Gelateria Hoher Markt: Fabio de Prophetis has been scooping out ice cream here for over 20 years. The advantage? You can watch the Ankeruhr from here and there is a public water fountain right beside it where you can sit on some marble stones, hang out and eat your ice cream cone or go full monty and opt for a table and dish of ice cream on a table outside or in.

e) Schwedenplatz Ice Cream “Family Molin-Pradel since 1886” This place is known for constantly changing flavors and they have been around quite a long time but they keep things up to date with an ice cream calendar app you can load on to your smart phone to be in the know on the latest flavors. Very cool, very geeky and very ice cream fixated.

f) Castelletto: Corner of Schwedenplatz and Rotenturmstrasse. For me they are still the new guy on the block but the location is good though outside tables are packed in along the sidewalk.

FROZEN YOGHURT
a) Kurt Frozen Yoghurt: I LOVE their flying cow logo and if that isn’t enough to lure you inside, the yoghurt and toppings should. They also do a mean waffle. Located in the first district at either Schultergasse 2 or Krugerstrasse 12. I like the cobblestone lane at the Schultergasse. It is especially convenient before grabbing a film at Artis.

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When the Bells Fall Silent and Fly to Rome

Silence speaks when words cannot.

One of the most magical moments of the day in Vienna is 7 pm when the bells throughout the city start to ring. Their ringing times are slightly off-set so that as the baritone clangs of one church begin to fade, the ringing tones of another commence. No matter how many years I live here, I never tire of that sound and it is something I truly miss when I’m away.

Door Bell Sign Vienna

This door bell didn’t fly to Rome, she’s at the entrance of Rotenturmstrasse 19.

And for the past few days, I have missed them once again. Because wouldn’t you know it — in Austria (Germany, France and perhaps more parts of Europe), the bells pack up their things on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) after the service commemorating the Last Supper, and all fly to Rome not to be seen or heard from again until Easter.

Why?

Good question. No one knows for sure and therefore theories abound. Some of these include:

1)      They’re off to get a blessing from the Pope (as if he doesn’t have enough going on this time of year)

2)      Think there’s better food in Rome and they’re going there to enjoy it (quite possible given the great Italian pizza, pasta and ice-cream)

3)      Want to get away for a while to recuperate (we all can relate and Rome does have some great shops)

4)      To eat with the Pope (again, he seems pretty busy)

5)      To return with an Easter message from the Vatican (plausible)

6)      To go confess (oh the sinful lives of bells! Can you imagine: “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.” “What is it this year, Pummerin?”)

7)      To fetch the Easter eggs to drop down into the yards of Austrian country kids and the apartments of their city slicker counterparts. (kinda of like Italian pigeons who target American tourists with their own little fun droppings)

The Gloeckl Beer of Graz probably doesn't fly to Rome either.

The Glöckl Beer of Graz probably doesn’t fly to Rome either.

Perhaps in a show of a solidarity, or unwilling to work when the others aren’t (maybe a union thing) or maybe just a bit depressed but for whatever reason, when the bells fly away, the organs all take a hiatus too. But they don’t spread their organ wings and lift off, they just give everyone the silent treatment while the bells are gone.

And though I might often times enjoy the sound of silence, I also recognize that historically, before iPhones and Smart Phones and reminders and ring tones, bells served an important civic function. Back in yesteryear, it took a bit for pocket-sized watches to be inventedand not everyone could afford one. And try lugging a sundial with you to the pub. For this reason the church bells would inform folks where the fires were, when public entertainment events like executions were taking place and when they better get themselves back home to the wife from the pub.

Graz Clock Tower

The three bells in the Graz Clocktower probably took off for Rome too. The Hourly Bell (Stundenglocke) that rings on the hour, every hour; the Fire Bell (Feuerglocke) that would vary its ringing according to the district of Graz that had a fire and the Poor Sinner’s Bell (Armensünderglocke) that around 1450 marked when someone was being executed and in the 1800s became the Closing Time Bell (Sperrstunde Glocke) marking the closing of hour of the surrounding pubs (was he in for a serious sentence from the wife if he chose to ignore is? Something satisfying about it having once been the executionar bell).

So the function of the bells had to be replaced while they were absent and who better to do the job than the unpaid volunteers who have no authority to protest? Yep. Come on stage, altar boys and girls. Cause you will be working your rattles, large and small, in place of those bells. But it’s not all slave labor for the boys and girls. They are often rewarded for performing this public service with Easter eggs, chocolate or other small culinary tokens of appreciation.

Rattle (Ratschen) played by the altar boys and girls while the bells are in Rome.

Rattle (Ratschen) played by the altar boys and girls while the bells vacation in Rome.

Meanwhile the bells remain silent throughout the three climactic days of the Catholic calendar – the Triduum Sacrum, the “Holy Three Days” which include the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, the suffering and Crucifixion on Good Friday, and the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Night.

As I write, the bells have returned again to their proper home and are ready to ring for me again for another year. Good to have you back home again!

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Here’s some additional sources about Vienna’s Pummerin and the Bells Flying to Rome:

Details in German about Pummerin and as soon as you click on the website, she’ll ring for you so pump up the volume: http://www.stephansdom.at/dom_im_detail_pummerin.htm

A video (in German) about Pummerin with good shots of her so watch it even if you can’t understand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2rPKEzoYLE

Die Presse (Austrian daily newspaper) article about the “Bells Flying to Rome” legend: Presse Article on Bells

Vienna's Pummerin Bell

Pummerin Bell in Vienna’s St. Stephan’s Cathedral. She hangs in the north tower and is the third largest bell in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. She only rings on particularly religious holidays and on New Year’s Eve (cause she’s a bit of a party girl).

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