Monday, March 8, 2010

Fishing in Vienna (part I)

Well, it has been a while since I posted anything and my 2 whole followers are probably anxious to read about my new adventures. I went to Vienna for a lab workshop on fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) techniques in microbial ecology. The workshop was held in the University of Vienna and began early Monday morning, which meant that  i had to fly in the day before. i tried to minimize my stay because I didn't want to leave my kids for too long. So very early morning, on the last Sunday in February, i got on a plane to take me to Austria and my new adventures. The flight turned out to be quite interesting, I sat next to a real life model. She asked me to hold her hand during take-off because she's afraid of flights. she was really beautiful and skinny and wore no make-up which made it quite apparent that the perfect polished look we see in magazines is the result of heavy use of technology. Anyway, since i got to Vienna early Sunday morning  the hotel room wasn't ready yet, and i went to explore the city.

I actually got lost a bit although i had a map. i was a bit sleepy, as the flight was early morning. but i discovered the imperial part of Vienna with all the old palaces and museums.
Here is the Museum of Natural History. i will come back to it later.

And here is the entrance to the Hofburg Palace complex with the main square with all the statues.

The day i landed in Vienna the sun came out after a week of snow and all was covered with white, it was very pretty. The image of a winter in Europe i had in my mind. Coming from a hot and sweaty place like Israel the change in the weather was a blessed one. So i wondered around the city admiring the scenery and couldn't quite decide what i want to do. First i just wanted to have a look around and walk a while in the great sunny but frosty weather. Since it was Sunday, shops were closed but the cafes and restaurants were open. I'm embarrassed to admit that i went to eat a toast and coffee in Starbucks but i was a bit flight shocked and wanted to be on familiar grounds with access to free Internet.

This is the the part of the palace close to Starbucks.
During my haphazard walking i stumbled upon the site that impressed me the most: the archaeological remains of ancient Vienna, from as early as the  Roman period. This is a hole in the middle of the city, that shows what lies beneath modern day Vienna. How many layers the city has. Even though i come from Jerusalem, a city that has a history of 3000 years and an archaeological site in every corner, this hole in the ground that is a window to ancient times, was very impressive.

After my gourmet lunch i continued in the direction of the Albertina. on the way i encountered a bizarre site: camels in the centre of the city!
It turned out there was a filming crew in the place. There were cameras and lights and policemen that stopped traffic, quite cool actually, too bad it wasn't a film with any actor i know....

This is the palm house or green house of the Hofburg gardens, they now serve beer. I finally decided that i wanted to see the imperial quarters and the Sissi Museum. I've always liked lovely princesses stories and nice palaces. I took some pictures of the huge china collection the Royal family had. God, no wonder they built such grand palaces, they needed somewhere to store all this china...

After the royal tour, i went to see if my hotel room was ready. i went by foot and discovered very nice sites on the way back, like the city hall "Ratthouse" just a 5 minutes walk from the hotel.

The hotel room wasn't very big, but its was clean and warm and i had plenty of hot water in the shower.

I ended my first day in Vienna in a restaurant recommended by the hotel receptionist: "Selena". it was a 2 minutes walk from the hotel, which suited me very well because i was tired and all alone in a foreign city. it was quite an expensive restaurant but the food was great and i didn't feel mortified sitting and dining there by myself.

The chocolate cake i had for desert with a real edible gold leaf on top.
The rest of my adventures in my next post: Fishing in Vienna - the sequel.