(July 28, 2012)
After a quick stop at the local Spar supermarket, I took the U2 down to Schottentor, where – according to Wikipedia – I would find the former Palais Ephrussie.
Slowly I made my way down to the Graben. Even though it was 10AM, temperatures were rising. Shops on and around the Graben are expensive and exclusive (just count the number of intimidating doormen), and the tourists are plentiful. The Stephansdom is great to look at, but as they’re restoring it, half of it is hidden behind scaffolding. Walking around I found myself on the Neue Markt where I had some tea (very refreshing in this heat!) at the Oberlaa Kurkonditorei.
On Saturdays at 10:45Am a charming mixed group of men, all dressed in their finest historic uniform, gathers and they play & march to a few favorite tunes. They start at the corner of Kolhmarkt and Graben, and they walk down the Kohlmarkt towards the Hofburg.
Afterwards I walked over to the Wiener Statsoper where I took tram 1 just one stop to the Burggarten. A warm breeze helped me cool down, and even though the Neue Hofburg is very impressive (it houses the Austrian National Library), the temperature made it hard to enjoy. It was time for a siesta!
As we’ve only had this high temperatures (and not even this high!) for a few days back home, I find it difficult to acclimatize. I bet that by the time I leave again next week, I’ll be fully used to the Summer highs just as I was way back during my year in Georgia, USA.
After about two hours back at the apartment, I braved the city again, continuing where I left off: the Hofburg area. This whole section is very impressive and I am looking forward to returning in a few days for the official tour around the stables and such of the Spanish Riding School.
The history of the building and the family is described in great detail in “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal, whose grandmother – Elisabeth de Waal née Ephrussi, born 1899 – spent there her childhood and youth; De Waal combined the first hand information from her with extensive research in available documents.