|We spent 5 days in Vienna, the capital of Austria, and the former imperial capital of the Hapsburgs. We had a great time walking around the Christmas markets, going to the opera, visiting with our friends and family (Rob and Jessa, and Kyla's extended family Mahmoud, Moti and Assad), and generally relaxing in the museums.
Some thoughts on Vienna from Nick:
- Best beer garden ever - Salm Brau: this was the beer garden that Mahmoud, Moti, and Assad took us to. Fantastic beer that was brewed on the premises, great food, and great conversation (though you may not find that there unless you go with the three of them - the restaurant doesn't guarantee the conversation part).
- The 2 Euro opera: Standing room tickets at the National Opera go for either 2 euro or 3.5 euro, much less than the other seats (though they do get seats). All we had to do was line up an hour and a half before to get the tickets (or, as one of the next entries details, 2 and a half hours early). We saw Beethoven's opera Fidelio, which was very good - especially since they had a handy screen that provided an english translation of the german words.
Fidelio adhered to some of the standard opera plots, mainly, a woman dressed up as a man who manages to fool everyone, except for anyone in the audience, including unborn children in the wombs of pregnant concert goers, because she sings in a mezzosoprano voice. Does no one else notice that she keeps breaking out in song in a woman's voice? Come on people, men just don't sing like that.
- The Hapsburgs: this dynasty ruled the Austrio-Hungarian Empire for hundreds of years, incorporating 17 different languages and cultures under one banner. How? By marrying off their daughters and sons to all of the different royal houses of Europe, so that by the end of it, almost every royal across the continent was a Hapsburg, and had a really weak looking chin (the family had a very famous overbite). Family reunions must have been fun, with not much space in the Sceptre Storage room.
They loved to build, and at the end of their reign, they loved to build in any style, as long as they could slap Neo- in front of it. Vienna was full of Hapsburg Royal buildings in Neo-Classic, Neo-renaissance, Neo-gothic, etc. styles. Too bad that Art Nouveau didn't show up until the end of their reign, because I'm sure they could have commissioned some Neo-Art Nouveau buildings as well.
We both voted the last significant Hapsburg emperor (Franz Joseph) to be the Emperor with the worlds best sideburns. And what was great is that, because he was a very long-lived Emperor, thousands of paintings and sculptures are out there, commemmorating those killer sideburns. Wikipedia the 'burns to find out.