Getting some culture in Vienna
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We originally planned to be in Vienna for New Year’s, but after opting to spend the holiday in Bratislava I am glad that we stayed in Slovakia for the evening. The vibe in Slovakia was very youthful and raucous, while I feel that of Vienna is a little more elderly and refined. Call me crazy, but that’s what I picked up on.
That neither being here nor there, this is still a breathtaking city obviously steeped in culture. One of the first places we headed was to St. Stephen’s Cathedral to tour the catacombs that lie below the fabled church. Constructed all the way back in 1137, the cathedral has been a hotspot for centuries of cemeteries, catacombs, and crypts. Excavations in the year 2000 revealed graves carbon dated to the 4th century AD, revealing a long history of burials in the area. Touring the catacombs below the Church’s floor, stacks of human bones and skulls occupy pungent chambers, while bronze containers hold the organs and bodies of deceased Habsburg family members and high ranking members of the church. It was one of the weirdest, most awe-inspiring, mind-boggling sites I’ve seen in all of Europe. Highly recommended.
Later we grabbed some lunch in the famous downtown coffee house Cafe Central. The food was good, the coffee was excellent, and the atmosphere was decidedly classical. High vaulted ceilings and a grand piano lure the casual diner to linger longer than originally planned, and apparently the list of famed intellectuals and politicians from central Europe’s past that have passed through Cafe Central gives it an air of infamy and mystery.
Due to our ever-decreasing budget, most of our time in Vienna was spent simply walking through many of the city’s parks and questioning the necessity of the inordinate number of massive bronze statues adorning the city. They’re absolutely everywhere, and the Habsburg’s obviously were big on paying tribute to themselves through the construction of massive bronze statues. One show that we did get to take in while in the city–amazingly for free–was a live performance of the Vienna Boys Choir. While there obviously were paying seats situated down in front, we were able to snag a spot in a standing room only section in the back where the view wasnt that good, but the melodic sounds were just the same. I had no idea of what they sung as all of the songs were in German, but the level of professionalism and talent amongst such a young group of boys was definitely worth the long walk across town and the long time spent standing.