(August 1, 2012)
After my extended downtime, today I was ready to hit the town and visit more of the buildings and sights I still had on my list.
I decided to try to rent a bike using the City Bike Wien plan. As in Paris, here you can sign up and rent a bike for free for the first hour. You pick out one at a set bike station, bike to wherever you want to go and you return the bike to another station. When you stay within the hour, it's for free; if you go over, you pay a small amount for that extra hour. Right around the corner from my apartment there was such a bike station and I picked a beauty.
Biking to the Prater because I just had to see the Riesenrad. From there on I biked over to the Hundertwasser Haus. I parked my bike at the designated station and walked towards this great building. This housing project (I cannot imagine you can live in peace and quiet there, because the number of tourists brought in by busses is just amazing) was controversial in its day, but nowadays I think it's brought a new prosperity to what is otherwise an uneventul section of town with public housing flats.
Hundertwasser saw how these housing projects could be changed, and boy, he certainly changed how you look at otherwise decent but boring grey buildings. Such detail and color! It was great walking around and listening to the comments of all the tourists. Some quite forgot that the building has occupants, because I found them quite rude trying to open doors and pressing doorbells.
When I'd seen all I wanted to see, I walked back to the bike station, but I discovered that somehow my account had been blocked. Fearing that my credit card was going to be charged the amount for a lost bike (€600), I tried to phone the company. Too bad my mobile phone blocked me from the cheap austrian area code. Luckily I found a pay phone, and I was able to explain what I had done. They explained I had not put away the bike properly (wait for the green light to stop flashing!) and they unblocked my account. Phew!
The rest of the day I had no more problems checking out bikes when I needed them. If I'd known how easy this program was, I'd probably used the City Bike plan for all days except perhaps when I visited Schönbrunn.
Back on track, I biked over to the building of the Österreichische Postsparkasse (P.S.K.). Another architectural beauty by Otto Wagner. Inside they have a small museum explaining about the Postsparkasse and Otto Wagner's architecture. I treated myself to some beautifully designed porcelain mugs (with real gold, mind you!).
Picking up another bike, a rode around the Ringstraße. Deciding to go into the center of town again (I still wanted to do some shopping), I choose the Stephansplatz bike station and I walked towards Zum Schwarzen Kameel: a restaurant, a bar, a pastry/chocolate shop and a delicatessen store. A walking lunch of fresh bread and fresh juice, I checked out some of the smaller streets in the center of town. However, one more building was on my sight-seeing list. Another bike and off I went!
The Belvedere buildings in the Belvedere gardens: the Upper Belvedere is host to a large collection of Gustav Klimt art, including his famous paintings of the Kiss and Judith. At the Upper Belvedere, I had a quiet dinner mostly watching other people run around the park.
Finally I felt I had seen all I wanted to see in this city. Of course, I could have checked out more museums and historical buildings, but after these intense five days of sight-seeing you get to a point where you cannot see anything anymore.
On my way back to the apartment, I did bike around the Stadtpark and I simply could not return home without taking a photo of another of Vienna's classics: Johann Strauß II. With the moon over his right shoulder, the gold gleaming, I was ready to say goodbye to this wonderful city.
Considering I easily really planned my trip only about one month ago, I feel that I will certainly visit again!
Tags: Belvedere, Hundertwasser, Otto Wagner, Postsparkasse, vacation, vakantie, Vienna, Wenen, Wien