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.