Vienna: Falco, Mozart, and Schnitzel

August 21, 2011 - 10:36 pm No Comments

Vienna’s got a touristy center, but it’s not as concentrated as the other cities we’ve been to, so the only way to really see everything is to use the trains and buses. The trains here make a cool Spies Like Us alarm sound when the doors are closing.

We started our morning with Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. I poked my head in for a quick listen, but so did every other tourist in Vienna.

Inside St. Stephen's Cathedral

It was a mob scene, so I went outside and took a few pictures. As I take photos, I’m usually pretty patient when it comes to waiting for tourists to get out of my shots. But some people like to take their sweet-ass time taking picture after picture with their shitty cameraphones. That’s when I glare. When they see me standing there with my camera, tripod, and a puss on my face, they usually get the message. When they don’t, I’ll simply get in front of them so that they’re not in my shot. No fights yet.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

We took a tram out of the city center to the Zentralfriedhof, one of the largest historic cemeteries in the world, to wander around the impressive tombstones and visit the graves of famous composers.


Ludwig Anzengruber's Grave

Dome of the Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche

It took some searching and help from the security guards, but we found them all: Brahms, Schubert, Strauss, Beethoven. Like in Westminster Abbey, there’s a certain magic that comes with being in the presence of some of the world’s great historical icons, even if it’s just their decomposing remains.

Johannes Brahms' Grave

Ludwig van Beethoven's Grave

Though there is a memorial for Mozart, it turns out that he’s buried elsewhere in Vienna in an unmarked common grave, as that was standard practice in Vienna at the time of his death. Shame.

Last-minute research revealed that Austrian rock singer Falco, who died in a 1998 car accident, is also buried there. I insisted that we find his grave to pay our respects.

Falco's Grave

Walking through a park in the middle of the city, we stopped at a cafe for a fantastic schnitzel lunch, one of best meals I’ve had on the trip so far.

Our afternoon stop was Schönbrunn Palace, a historic and luxurious summer residence for Austrian royalty built in the 1600’s. We strolled the exquisitely manicured gardens and massive grounds of the palace.

Band at Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

Amazingly, my feet didn’t hurt today. Maybe I am over the hump. Trams and trains brought us back to the city center to meet with the rest of the group.

U2 Aspernstrasse

Two Souls in Volkstheater Station


At dinner, we ate more schnitzel. Frank is putting down schnitzel like a champ, almost like he’s trying to prove something. While it’s usually pretty good, I’m starting to get a little sick of it.

Schnitzel & Wine

Not satisfied with the sampling of classical music we got last night, and determined to hear some proper classical music while in Vienna, Frank, Kirtan, and I finished our stay in Vienna with a Mozart/Strauss concert at Palais Auersperg, the place where Mozart held his first performance. The master violinist was using a Stradivarius from the 1700’s, which apparently made it a special occasion. The small group of musicians played without a conductor, which I thought was pretty cool.

Mozart/Strauss at the Palais Ausberg

Want to hear it? I sneakily recorded the whole thing with my phone.

Turns out that Vienna’s big orchestras are on vacation in the months of July and August. We’re here in the middle of the off-season. If I want to hear a grand orchestra at a proper venue in Vienna, I’ll just have to come back.

Palais Auersperg

Overall, Vienna was a nice city, but not a highlight for me. The palaces and cathedrals of the city center would be a lot more beautiful if there wasn’t scaffolding everywhere. And walking the streets would be more pleasant if everything didn’t smell like horseshit.

Tomorrow morning, we catch a train to Budapest.

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