Mon 30 Dec - Vienna, Austria

The trifecta of Vienna: art, music and food... Well, the latter was wurst and homemade spag bol.

This morning it was Hans' turn to feel a bit ordinary so after a further sleep in while Di did some shopping at Aldi, we finally ventured out just after 11am. Destination was Museum Hundertwasser and the Hundertwasser Haus via a stroll along the Danube.

Runkeeper did not fully behave, got a bit confused under one of the bridges (the spike next to Schuttelstraße), but we probably wandered 5+ km in the end.

It was a very still morning as you can probably see from the Danube water surface, but chilly enough to require beanie and gloves.

Di in front of where the Vienna Fluss meets the Danube.

Vienna's "beach" is on the other side, just before the bridge to the left, but it was obviously deserted today bar some fishermen.

As the reader may recall from yesterday's blog, the walls between the Danube and the streets above are covered with graffiti and occasional street art.

Here are a few examples of street art (or should that be river art?) that we liked. Pikasso did this one and it did look like something that could have come from the man himself.

The guy to the right is street art, the guy to the left is... Well, who knows what he is...?

Another favourite of ours, the "tied up woman on rail tracks rescue" a la comic book.

And this "horror movie" drawing - giant squid rises up from the canal to take over the city.

A mobile phone, a nose and the caption of "I can already smell your unhappyness", yes it was misspelt.

"Learn from history" as "All you need is love"...

No Di, there is no further street art down there...

Confirmation that we were on the right track. No, Budapest and Bratislava have to wait for another time.

And we arrived at Untere Weißgerberstraße 13 and Kunst Haus Wien where Museum Hundertwasser is located.

We bought tickets for the total exhibits and were pleasantly surprised by half price Mondays. Bargain. We had been quite happy to pay full price.

As you walk inside Museum Hundertwasser you notice several things, among them that the floor is not flat. Explanation was provided. And yes, not only the ground floor but the other 4 floors also had this nature like up and down floors.

Case in point... The building is "green" and here you can see water coming inside from the outside environment, filtering and running through and over stones and granites from a few places...

...which was also explained next to the water feature with samples of where all the stone had come from.

We headed upstairs to the exhibitions - a permanent one about the art work and life philosophy of Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a famous Austrian artist whose designs for architecture were incorporated into this building (and others) and of course provided his name to the museum, and a second temporary exhibition of the photography of Michel Comte, a renowned Swiss photographer.

Everything is colourful and even the steps of the stairs are uneven.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser definitely made an impact on modern art. He painted and he also designed, from stamps, to tapestries, model villages and buildings. He was born in Austria but his biography showed him to be a world traveller, a bit of a greenie hippy and finally a fan of New Zealand! He lived there on and off for 30 years and is buried there (with a tree growing on top of him - another philosophy and dying wish).

One great artist and one still working on becoming great (and may have to work on it for a very very long time...).

Our verdict on the exhibition... We thought that Friedensreich Hundertwasser's art itself was a bit childlike and appeared to have been done by somebody influenced by some substance, but that his philosophies and what he achieved in his lifetime deserves a mention and recognition.

We liked the say on the right which reads "Horizontal lines belongs to nature. Vertical lines belong to man.".

Here we tried to take a photo of Di sitting on that chair, but you can probably guess what happened next... "Kein photos"... Yep, but as the attendant left the room, we shot this from the hip anyway.

The Friedenreich Hundertwasser exhibition included not just art and paintings but also models of buildings and environments. Some of the buildings were actually built or redecorated from existing buildings while others like the housescape / landscape below was never eventuated, at least not yet.

Floor 1 and 2 belonged to Friedenreich Hundertwasser and his legacy while the temporary exhibitions are housed on floor 3 and 4. Sorry, no photos allowed from the latter either, but the photography of Michel Comte could not be described in any other way than fantastic. Mostly famous people and celebrities and lots of nudes and seminudes done in a very classy fashion photography way. Yes, many of the photos were very sexy :-)

After close to 2 hours, we left the Kunst Haus Wien feeling that it was all very worthwhile to now check out the Hundertwasser Haus which is located a few blocks away. Along the way, it appeared that others also got caught up in the movement.

This place is known as Hundertwasser Haus, and is one of his most famous architectural designs. Hundertwasser stated that "straight lines are godless" as they don't occur in nature. He tried to avoid them at all times, and when you look at this, what appear to be straight lines here actually have small distortions to ensure they are not perfectly straight.

A selfie was definitely required.

The apartment block is private property with individual apartments so this is as close as you can get.

Enough photos, it was after 2pm and we needed lunch. We headed back to Schwedenplatz.
Yummy - the long awaited famous Wien wurst stand was our lunch location. With a choice of about 8 wursts we were happy and Hans was very happy...

A study inside the wurst wagon. Note the bottle of wines on the shelf at the back. These are of course for gluhwein.

Returning home we had an afternoon of blogging, reading and a small snooze as we had a bigger night planned - a concert at the Musikverein, with an ensemble playing a selection of pieces by various composers including Strauß and Puccini.

Our tickets were pretty cheap as we were in the last row on the floor section - but in a small room called the Brahms Salle - so we knew we would still have a good view and sound.

Around 6.30pm we headed out and caught Straßenbahn 2 to across from the Hotel Imperial, which is next door to the Musikverein.

The hotel looked fabulous at night, better than day time for this old classic (mind you most of us oldies look better in the dark...)

The Musikverein lit up in all its glory...

And us... Filled with expectations...

The interior is also lavish, with the gilted ceiling and gold everywhere.

The phrase "I love gooooold" from Austin Powers' Goldmember was our favourite quote to describe it (apologies to those who have not seen the movie).

An ornate seal and also posters advertising the very famous New Years Eve concert here tomorrow night, broadcast around the world including to Australia. Not that they need to advertise as the NYE tickets are massively oversubscribed and allocated via a lottery. Hans entered the lottery one year but had no luck.

Last time we attended a concert here, in 2006, it was in the main hall but the Brahms Hall is not shabby either. It looks even more over the top with gold, probably because it is more compact (about a third the size of the main hall).

Di in our seats in the last row. Yep, no trouble seeing or hearing. We were delighted.

The fresh flower displays were amazing and must have cost a fortune. This, in winter!

The concert by the Wien Ring Ensemble was a sellout. Some people even had seats on the balcony above the musicians against the back wall. They would see absolutely nothing of the ensemble and we doubted the sound quality would be any good either. Again, we grinned at our own luck.

The concert began, performed by an ensemble of 9 male musicians ranging in age from perhaps 30 to 70 - they were great and they had fun with it. We laughed several times.

Good value too as the concert started at 7.30pm and finished just before 10. Two encores included.

A final satisfied selfie...

We were feeling a hit "pumped" after the concert, and the evening was "mild" so we opted to walk home. On the way we saw some nice light displays and plenty of mentions of New Year, or Silvester.

Lights in all the streets and plenty of people out and about.

This must be a peak tourist time in Vienna as the government certainly puts some effort into setting up for New Year (12 event locations in Altstadt) and lots of great street lighting.

We felt like a drink/dessert after our nice night out so around 10.45pm we arrived at another location we remembered from 2006 - Zanoni & Zanoni gelateria cafe. Still popular.

The gelato selection is extensive.

And looked great. This is just a fraction of what's on offer as it was impossible to get a clear shot of it all.

We chose to sit inside the cafe and ordered hot drinks, a seriously dark hot chocolate Spanish style for Hans and an amaretto coffee for Di.

Of course, being Vienna everything comes with a pile of Schlag! "Whipped cream" is such a boring term compared to "Schlag".

Back out again to wander home, we walked along this main strip with plenty of bars and nice street lighting.


Based on our observations tonight we expect tomorrow to be busy with lots of drunken people - but hey, it's NYE and you got to expect that in any big city. Lots of places to spread out and hear music so it should be fun. Fireworks are not prohibited for general sale as in Australia, so we could also expect even more "bangs" tomorrow night.

Now, after midnight, it is Gute Nacht from the city of art, music and lights (and of course wurst!)

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