Happy New Year from Lübeck! Andreas and I returned to the city after our short stay in Magdeburg. We were able to book one of our favorite Airbnbs in the Stüwes Gang. The house is a historical landmark. I have written about this Airbnb and Lubeck before here, here and here. The house is very old has been renovated in creative ways showcasing much of the original architecture. It’s tiny, but very cool. We were able to get our favorite upstairs room and were happy to meet a friendly couple renting one of the rooms below us. Ciaran and Michele were traveling from Cologne where Ciaran, originally from Ireland, owns an Irish bar called Buskers. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak English with someone, especially someone with an Irish accent. He was also nice enough to leave me the book he was reading when he left.
We took it easy this week in the city. Andreas found the local library and we spent a few hours there following our interests and discovering new ideas.
We also revisited the Behnhaus Museum to see some local art, and for fun we made a point of trying new streets and different routes to and from the house.
While changing our route we also discovered some new artwork.
We have found a little bar that we are fond of called Kandinsky. If we happened to be in that part of the city in the afternoon, we would stop in for a glühwein. The bar is small, dark, mostly empty and a little smoky from the patrons and the candles. I like the atmosphere while Andreas likes the alcohol and local news papers and magazines. I think they are mostly known for their whiskey selection.
To celebrate on New Year’s Eve Andreas picked a fancy restaurant near us. The Schabbelhaus was originally a bakery, a museum and then hosted restaurants. It was destroyed in the war and rebuilt. His parents had celebrated the christening of his cousin Petra there in 1962. His mother remembers all of the details including the wine they bought and how much it cost. For dinner Andreas chose the full New Year’s Eve menu with four courses and dessert. I picked something smaller. The food, and ambience was perfect for the occasion. I wish we were able to dress a little nicer, but when you travel with only a backpack, extra fancy clothes are not an option.
At midnight we stood at the kitchen window in the Airbnb and watched the fireworks and drones in the sky while listening to the church bells ring.
We began our new year with another visit to Andreas’ parents in Neustadt in Holstein. Christa prepared a lovely brunch for us. She also fixed the fraying straps of Andreas’ backpack while he and his father worked on Lothar’s old laptop. In the afternoon we met her younger brother Klaus and Andreas’ cousin Kirsten for coffee and cake. Andreas hadn’t seen them in 36 years. They are lovely people and I hope we are able to meet them again soon.
As I write this, we are in Diez (more about that soon) and we have learned that our flight home has been cancelled. We are working with Orbitz to figure something out and have been unable to reach our airline. We were scheduled to travel to Copenhagen next for Andreas’ work, but we have cancelled due to their crazy high Covid numbers. We will be traveling back to Lübeck to the apartment we stayed in at the beginning of our trip. We feel that it has the best work space for us and we do need to get back to work. Also, as far as Andreas can figure out with the numbers available to him, Covid cases are lower there than in the USA, Denmark and other areas in Germany.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.