Vienna through a Dragonfly’s eye

Waiting for the train in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Waiting for the train in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We traveled to Vienna in the Middle of April so Andreas could present at the European Geophysical Union Conference. We chose to travel by train for about eleven hours which would have been fine except that the trains we booked, and the seats we reserved, were cancelled a week before we left because of track construction. This made coming and going to Vienna pretty miserable.

The view from our Airbnb with the Beaver Brewing Company across the street. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view from our Airbnb with the Beaver Brewing Company across the street. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We booked an Airbnb room in the Alsergrund neighborhood. Former Alsergrund residents include Mozart, Freud, Schubert and Beethoven. The rented room was nice with a little kitchen, bathroom and a view over a palace’s back garden. Also eye level with a raven’s nest. When we booked the room, we chose it for the price and how minimally it was/ was not decorated. Silly us did not consider its location in reference to the museums in Vienna or more importantly Andreas’ conference. Live and learn. It worked out in the end because our little neighborhood had some great restaurants, wasn’t touristy, and public transportation is really easy in the city.

I walked by the Votivkirche almost every day. It had striking stained glass windows created after WWII. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
I walked by the Votivkirche almost every day. It had striking stained glass windows created after WWII. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass in Votivkirche. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass in Votivkirche. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I chose to walk everywhere. I feel like I can understand a place better by taking my time and being on the street. Thus, I walked on average six miles a day. Not too bad. Andreas prefers to move as quickly as possible from A to B so he opted for trams, the subway and bike shares. He didn’t have much time to be a tourist. He visited one site with me, otherwise we saw each other in the late evenings.

Stained glass in Votivkirche. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass in Votivkirche. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Garden Cafe at Museum Hundertwasser. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Garden Cafe at Museum Hundertwasser. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Museum Hundertwasser. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Museum Hundertwasser. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Left on my own was a bit lonely but I chose what I wanted to see in the city. Top of my list was anything related to my favorite artist Hundertwasser. Hundertwasser was a painter and an architect mainly. Vienna is home to some of his creations and has a museum that he designed that features his paintings and prints among other cool stuff. The museum was so special to me that I visited it twice.

Hundertwasserhaus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hundertwasserhaus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas at Hundertwasserhaus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas at Hundertwasserhaus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Second on my list was the Leopold Museum which houses works from other favorite artists of mine. Namely Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka and their contemporaries. This museum has wonderful collections. I saw these exhibits before I visited the Hundertwasser Museum and I’m glad I did because I hadn’t realized how similar Schiele’s and Hundertwasser’s work are. I have a new appreciation for Schiele’s work after seeing more of his oeuvre.

Part of Gustav Klimt's studio in the Leopold Museum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Part of Gustav Klimt’s studio in the Leopold Museum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Haus mit Schindeldach 1915 by Egon Schiele.
Haus mit Schindeldach 1915 by Egon Schiele.
Self-portrait by Oskar Kokoschka
Self-portrait by Oskar Kokoschka
Standing on the steps of the Leopold Museum looking around the Museum Quarter. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Standing on the steps of the Leopold Museum looking around the Museum Quarter. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

A friend of mine on Instagram noticed my Vienna posts and alerted me to the fact that Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf curated a wonderfully bizarre exhibit at the Kunst Historisches Museum. I’m really happy I went. Not only was the exhibit incredible (I walked through it three times), but the Museum itself was lovely and I saw some artworks I wasn’t expecting to see.

Hirsute man and his children from the Wes Anderson curated exhibit.
Hirsute man and his children from the Wes Anderson curated exhibit.
The piece for which the exhibit is named. Spizmaus Mummy in a Coffin. (The spitzmaus wasn't actually inside.)
The piece for which the exhibit is named. Spizmaus Mummy in a Coffin. (The spitzmaus wasn’t actually inside.)
The beautiful cafe in the Kunst Historisches Museum in Vienna. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The beautiful cafe in the Kunst Historisches Museum in Vienna. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artist replicating a painting in the Kunst Historisches Museum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artist replicating a painting in the Kunst Historisches Museum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On the fourth day I was art and museumed out and decided to try to be a more serious tourist and do something touristy like walk to the famous St. Stephansdom. After getting lost a nice policeman helped me find the church where I  saw the floating pink art exhibit inside. I didn’t go up to the roof or down to the catacombs which are its cooler features.

St. Stephansdom the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Vienna. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
St. Stephansdom the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Vienna. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside St. Stephansdom
Inside St. Stephansdom

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On my last day I wanted to see some modern art that I could understand so I walked along the Danube Canal where graffiti is legal. I was not disappointed. There were some beautiful pieces including a clever yarn bomb. Check out this map of graffiti in Vienna.

If you look at this Yarn Bomb photo from a distance you will see a face. Danube Canal. Photo by Dragonfly Leathum
If you look at this Yarn Bomb photo from a distance you will see a face. Danube Canal. Photo by Dragonfly Leathum
Danube Canal. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Danube Canal. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artist painting on the Danube Canal. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artist painting on the Danube Canal. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Danube Canal, Vienna. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Danube Canal, Vienna. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

At the end of the art display on the canal I noticed that I was close to the Hundertwasser Museum so I visited again and was joined by Andreas for a drink.

At my happy place in the Museum Hundertwasser. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
At my happy place in the Museum Hundertwasser. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

My friends said, “Oh, you’re going to Vienna, go to the cafés and drink coffee.” Yes, this is a fun idea, but when you’re walking around by yourself it’s a boring one. I did go to one cafe’ every morning for a smoothie and coffee for breakfast after Andreas left for the day. I learned that I had to ask for an Americana if I wanted a regular coffee.

Blue orange had American sized coffees. We love this place.
Blue Orange had American sized coffees. We love this place.
Coats, coffee cups, bags? There's a tree for that at Blue Orange.
Coats, coffee cups, bags? There’s a tree for that at Blue Orange.

Most evenings Andreas and I were able to have dinner together. I wanted to have foods that are hard to find in Bremerhaven. The first night, a night with Andreas’ PHD student, and a dinner by myself were enjoyed at the Beaver Brewing Company restaurant across from our Airbnb. It was a mostly pub food/ burger place owned by an American. We liked this place because they had dark beer and the waiters, who were from all over the world, spoke mostly English. We also dined at a Vietnamese place, had a fancy five months married anniversary dinner of traditional Viennese food and stumbled upon a wonderful wine tasting in our neighborhood after vetoing a smoky Bolivian restaurant.

Our Anniversary dinner was in a restaurant on the right side of this abnormally bright building. To the left of this building is Vitivkirche. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our Anniversary dinner was in a restaurant on the right side of this abnormally bright building. To the left of this building is Vitivkirche. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Wine tasting dinner at Triveneto in the Alsegrund neighborhood near the Blue Orange. Andreas and I are in the background.
Wine tasting dinner at Triveneto in the Alsegrund neighborhood near the Blue Orange. Andreas and I are in the background.

The most important and wonderful thing about Vienna in my eyes was how civilized it felt. What does that mean? To me that means that the city was very clean, the people were friendly and not rushed and I felt pretty safe walking around or using public transport.

Did we do Vienna right? Ha ha no, not even close I’m sure. Still, I had a good time, Andreas connected with a lot of scientists and the city is high on our list for a second visit. Maybe we’ll fly in next time.

On the regional train. So tired, but almost home. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
On the regional train. So tired, but almost home in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum.

 

Hello new in-laws, I bring you eel.

We headed south by train last week to Diez to visit Andreas’ brother and sister-in-law, also my in-laws now I’m happy to say.

Andreas reflected in the train window pulling into the station in Cologne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas reflected in the train window pulling into the station in Cologne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We arrived mid-day Thursday with a box of Bremerhaven smoked fish and an eel wrapped in newspaper. That evening, after dinner, Andreas’ brother Burkhard put an old card game in a cigar box, that he had been storing in his basement on the table. The cards were of tractors, race cars, tanks and ships. I’m not sure how the game was meant to be played but young Andreas had been fascinated by the stats of the various vehicles on the cards and had organized and ranked them accordingly as a kid in the 60’s. We ended up throwing away all but the icebreaker ship. (they were stinky)

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Friday, we traveled by car on the Autobahn (oh boy!) to Weilburg where we had a yummy, roadside Currywurst lunch and then visited the Rosenhang Art Museum. The Museum was created in a renovated brewery and the eclectic mix of modern art presented is all part of a private collection.

Inside the Rosenhang Museum in Weilburg, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside the Rosenhang Museum in Weilburg, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In fact, the owners of this space and collection also sell tickets and walk around monitoring and greeting the visitors. Some of the brewery equipment is still in place and the gallery spaces are rough, weird and totally refreshing after years of experiencing art on boring white walls.

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"Porcelin Car" by Ma Jun, fiberglass 2008
“Porcelin Car” by Ma Jun, fiberglass 2008
My favorite piece in the museum by Cornelia Schleime
My favorite piece in the museum by Cornelia Schleime

Later that evening Burkhard and my new sister-in-law Carina hosted a homemade pizza dinner party with their friends. We had a great time and ate and drank too much.

Burkhard's neighbor friend gets a lesson in pizza dough making before the party. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard’s neighbor friend gets a lesson in pizza dough making before the party. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On Saturday Andreas, Burkhard and I visited Limburg to do some shopping and sight seeing. Limburg has some great older architecture that survived the war.

Limburg. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Limburg. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We also got to see some of Burkhard’s restoration work. He’s a master craftsman specializing in restoring very old wooden windows

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Behind the Limburg Cathedral. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Behind the Limburg Cathedral. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

After Limburg we returned to Diez for coffee and cake and then to see Burkhard’s latest project, the restoration of an entire home.

Smallest cookie with biggest coffee. Diez, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Smallest cookie with biggest coffee. Diez, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside the restoration. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside the restoration. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Selfie in a spooky cellar that would make an awesome speakeasy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Selfie in a spooky cellar that would make an awesome speakeasy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard shares his vision for the house and garden project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard shares his vision for the house and garden project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The next day we drove to Carina’s hometown to have coffee with her parents. Her mother always presents a beautiful table with delicate china, flowers and homemade cakes. It’s really special and her cakes and coffee are wonderful.

Marga gets a lesson on her iphone from Carina after coffee. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Marga gets a lesson on her iphone from Carina after coffee. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Later that night everyone settled in in front of the TV, two of us with our knitting, to watch a German Survivor re-cap show and some strange game show where the contestants were popping balloons with radio controlled cars.

Cozy by the wood stove. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cozy by the wood stove. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On Monday, before we returned home, Andreas and I walked to town for coffee and to see the bookstore’s new window. The woman who works there creates really cool scenes with cut-out and painted cardboard.

The sign says if you can see pink elephants you should go inside the bookstore so they can help you. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The sign says if you can see pink elephants you should go inside the bookstore so they can help you. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’ll leave you with a little bit of Diez history that has haunted me since our visit last Christmas. These stairs connect the shopping district to the neighborhood we were staying in and we walked them every day.

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This sign says:

Down these stairs, 41 Jewish orphans and their tutors were taken in a dark night in a pogrom-like action on 20 August 1935 by Nazi-sympathizing local citizens from the Israelite orphanage next to the castle and were pushed to the marketplace. The next day they were deported to Frankfurt. The married couple who directed the orphanage were probably murdered in concentration camps along with many of the children.

In memory of the victims

A warning to the living

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(“Translating the inscription, I am appalled by its poor writing. A pogrom is described as “pogrom-like,” violent pushing, beating, and yelling at the Jewish children is described as an “action,” and local citizens are described as “Nazi-sympathizing local citizen.” The voice is passive and the violence is implied. The first sentence reads poorly, because it names neither the perpetrators nor their actions.”    ~ Andreas Muenchow)

According to Wikipedia the Jews in Diez can be traced back to the Middle Ages around 1286, but after WWII, “Almost nothing remains of a Jewish presence in Diez.”

The castle in Diez. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The castle in Diez. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Diez and Limburg are really beautiful cities. If you’re traveling through Germany, I recommend them.