Tall narrow streets with car, bike, and foot traffic and a church at the end
My impression of Vienna

I only spent half a day in Vienna and I was there looking for specific things rather than as a real tourist, so my impression is quite idiosyncratic. I got most of what I was looking for and, as a bonus, had a nice lunch with a fellow from the Technical University. I only visited Karlsplatz and Stevensplatz. Karlsplatz is near the University and Stevensplatz, not far away, is the center of town.

St Stevens cathedral reflected by a modern building with a in-between aged dome in the background

A side view of part of St Steven's

Inside the cathedral - tourists

But also votive candles and people praying

I don't have any images of Karlsplatz, although I did take a picture of the museum there. Somehow I got a nice image of paving stones instead of the museum. I do have one image of the University: the library/bookstore.

Now that is a strange looking figure on the corner of the building!

I rode the train from Tulln, about 20 km upriver from Vienna and then used the subways in Vienna. It was very easy to get around in town and the train, although it stopped at an amazing number of towns and villages, was pleasant to ride. It cost 12 Euros for train trip in and out and 4 Euros for a 24 hr pass on the, excellent, Vienna subway. I never really got lost and only occasionally had to ask folks for directions. Even when we didn't speak a common language, they managed to help me figure out what I needed to know.

When I got Vienna, it was relatively easy to figure out which subway to take and, on the subway ride, I had time to figure out where I wanted to go. I needed to transfer trains at Karlsplatz station, and I knew the University was nearby, so I took the opportunity to visit it. All of the images in my web pages have been processed by irfanview, a great program created by Irfan Skiljan, who started it when he was a student there. He has since graduated, but still maintains and improves this wonderful program. I went to see the university to pay homage to Irfan.

It was lunch time, so I stopped at a Greek restaurant across the street from the University. I did my usual "I'll have whatever that is" order and went to sit down at a table inside. All of the tables were reserved, except for one small table with a man already sitting at it. The waitress sat me down across for me him. I asked if he spoke English and then asked if he was associated with the University. He was in the Statistics department and, more importantly, he was a long term Linux user. We had a grand time talking about computer operating systems, our kids, life, the universe, and all that for the next 45 minutes. Then I asked him where I should go to find bookstores. He told me Stevensplatz, so, after lunch, I went back to Karlsplatz and took the subway to Stevensplatz.

After admiring the cathedral, I wandered around looking for bookstores. There were all kinds of stores, and it took me half a mile or so of wandering to find a good book store. They had an extensive travel section and a good bicycle touring section. I bought a Lonely Planet guide to Czechia/Slovakia (in English) but couldn't find anything on Austrian bike paths north of Vienna. My next goal was to buy a compass for my bike. I didn't want to head out on my own routing without a compass, and had recently lost the keychain variety one that I had been using. The book store folks were able to direct me to a camping gear store that had compasses. I bought their cheapest one and, the next day, mounted it on my front fender where I can see it while riding. Having achieved my second and third goals , I asked the folks at the camping store where I might find an Internet Cafe. They told me and, fifteen minutes of walking later, I had a great connection at a fancy Internet Cafe.

My final goal was to visit the Vienna Jewish Museum. There was a thriving Jewish community in Vienna before WWII, but there are essential no Jews there now. I headed for the Museum section of town and, mostly by luck, found the Jewish Museum. It is right down the street for that yellow church in the picture at the top of this page. I guess I was looking for something that Vienna couldn't provide, but I found the museum to be rather less than I expected. Its best parts were taped interviews with Jews, mostly in the US, and mostly about why Jews could no longer live in Austria, and a group of holograms of Judaica with relevant quotes painted on the flooring in front of them. The quote I liked best was about how people readily acknowledged the evil of the Holocaust but never questioned how all the scientists and artists and writers of Europe's highest culture had created an environment where it could happen. That is the really important question.

I left the museum a bit depressed, got a sandwich, and headed back to the subway station. The trip back to the train station was slower - it was rush hour - and the train trip back to Tulln was even slower still, but I enjoyed watching the wide variety of people, most of whom semed to be heading home from their jobs in the city.

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