Today started out being one of the quietest days I had in a while, then ended up being one of the funner more interesting ones.
After breakfast I started to look at where I'm going to go tomorrow and quickly settled on Salzburg. Then after looking at the train schedule I decided I didn't need to bother with a train reservation since there are plenty of trains going that way every day. Since I was in the planning mode, I thought I may as well continue and do a little planning beyond the next stop. One thing lead to the next and I now have a good schedule for the rest of my trip. A couple things I need to factor into my schedule is the World Cup of Soccer starting in Germany later this week, which runs for a month, and the Tour De France, which runs the first 3 weeks in July. I'm not much of a soccer fan, so I'm going to try and avoid the World Cup to ensure my challenge finding accommodations doesn't get any worse. The Tour De France on the other hand is something I'm going to try and catch.
By the time I was done with the scheduling stuff and a few other things like a bit of web banking it was around noon, so I figured I better get out and enjoy what's left of my last day in Vienna. The first thing on my agenda was to find a photography museum that was supposed to be near to my hotel. I thought it might be a good idea to see what this museum had to offer since photography is a big part of my trip. By the way, I've taken over 8000 photos since the beginning of May.
Well, finding the museum turned out to be a bit of a challenge. All I knew about this museum was the brief description provided on one of my maps and what appeared to be its location on the map. I didn't have the exact name nor address, so I went off to check out the area suggested on the map.
After circling the indicated area and not finding the place it was time to ask for directions. The first guy I talked to was from the area and spoke reasonable English. He had never heard of the place, but did confirm I was at the right place on the map. The next people I talked to were actually a couple police officers coming out of a local police station. Their English was almost non-existent, but they did communicate that the address shown on my map was one block over, which I knew already. At that point I was about to give up, since I had already checked my GPS Device and it didn't show the museum either. However, I wasn't going to quit that easy. I decided to try my GPS device one more time, expanding the search area. This time it showed something with a similar name about 8 blocks away, so I thought I'd give that a try. When I arrived at the address suggested by my GPS device, I found an office instead of a museum. I ended up going into the office and talked to one of the girls working there. She never heard of the museum, but knew of a big camera store just down the street so that's where I headed. The guy in the camera store never heard of the place, but he was persistent. He talked to some of his co-workers and did some searching on the web and eventually found the place I was looking for - it was a block away from where I originally started my search. When I arrived at the address where the museum was supposed to be it wasn't obvious were it was located, so I went into a camera store located near by and the guy pointed me in the right direction.
One of the more interesting facts about this whole search was that along the way I talked to 6 different people. And, all of those people spoke a reasonable amount of English except for two, the two police officers.
Anyway, I found the museum and the search was time well spent. The museum was called the "Museum of Cameras and Photography", or at least that's the English translation. This museum supposedly contains everything of importance in the field of photography, it covers the early days of the cameras as well as special cameras (cameras hidden in umbrellas, underwater cameras, homing pigeon cameras, espionage cameras used by the Soviet secret service, and the camera used during the trip to the moon). The museum also had a photography exhibition, so it was kind interesting to see how some of my photos might measure up and it was an opportunity to get a few ideas for future picture taking.
It is sure interesting to think about how technology has changed since photography began. Back then it was just a challenge to take a photograph and today I taking sometimes hundreds in a single day and making many of them available in short order over the internet to readers half way around the world. It's just amazing. Speaking of cameras, there sure are a lot of people in Europe with camera phones. I've haven't got around to asking any of them yet whether they actually instantly send the photos or if the avoid the high cost and just upload them later through their PC.
After the photography museum I headed off for another search. I wanted to visit that tower I saw yesterday from the Ferris Wheel, the one with the restaurant on top. Well, finding the tower was a whole lot easier than finding the museum, it just took two subway lines to get there. When I got off the subway, however I did find something I wasn't expecting, a high tech area with a few cool looking buildings.
When I got to the tower I was told that the observation deck was closed for an hour due to a wedding, but I could go up to the cafe if I wanted. Just then, a fellow from Singapore walked by and after over hearing my conversation with the guy at the desk he highly recommended going to the restaurant. That's where he had just come from. I took his recommendation and went up to the cafe for some ice cream, coffee, and a great view of Vienna. I ended up staying in the cafe long enough that by the time I was done the observation deck was open. The only real difference, as far as the view is concerned, is that the observation deck doesn't have any glass to obscure your view. However, it is a bit lower than the cafe.
From the tower I headed back to the city center. I wanted to try and have a look inside the Votive Church before it closed. I took the subway as far as St. Stephan's Cathedral and decided to walk from there. Not the sort of thing I should be doing when I'm in a rush, because I often find so many interesting things along the way that it takes me forever to get where I'm going and that's what happened today. I took a route from St. Stephan's that I hadn't been on before and that was just asking for a diversion. I ended up passing by, actually almost right through, the Hofburg, the emperor's palace, after finding and interesting church out front (St. Michael's) and the only Roman Ruins in Vienna.
I finally arrived at the Votive Church shortly after 7pm to find a sign saying it closed at 6pm, but wait ... the door was open. As it turned I couldn't have timed it any better. The place was open for a free concert being put on by the Spartanburg High School Symphony Orchestra, so not only did I get a chance to see the inside of the church, but I also stayed for a while and enjoyed a bit of Mozart. The sound in the church was amazing.
To cap off this great day, I stopped at cafe/bar called Einstein for some dinner. It was located half way between the Votive Church and the City Hall building we saw yesterday. The food, beer, music, and atmosphere at Einstein's was awesome, a great way to end a great day and my stay in Vienna. Here's a few photos from today. Like yesterday, it was really hard to narrow it down to just these.
First here are some pictures from the photo museum. This strange thing that has a butt of a gun is a famous camera used in the 50s for astronomy photography. Reminds me of some of the things I tried to get my digital camera to work with my binoculars.
A few spy cameras (cigarette pack, pocket watch, etc.).
The first areal photography used by Germany in WWI. Yup, a camera strapped to that pigeon.
Just a couple shots of the inside of the museum.
The high tech park near the tower.
Hope that building is balanced right. Note the two interesting peaces of art in front of it, I don't know exactly what they were. There were more like them inside one floor down, possibly part of a museum or exhibit of some sort. I wanted to find out more but the place looked closed and I didn't have time to get any more details.
The tower. There are 4 levels up at the top. Lowest level is the observations deck which is outside and exposed to the elements, next is the cafe, above that is where you get off the elevator and where the rest rooms are located (the rest rooms do have a view to the outside!), and the top floor is a restaurant which was closed when I was there. The arm sticking out the right side from the observation desk is for bungee jumping!
Inside the cafe. Unlike all other revolving restaurants I've been in, the windows in this place moved with the floor. You may not notice in the picture, but the place does look a bit old and cheap compared to a place like the Calgary tower. This tower is over 40 years old and my guess is that, unlike the Calgary tower, it probably hasn't had many (any) renovations since it was built.
Since I got feedback about not showing the pasties I bought in Lisbon, I thought I better show you what I snacked on for 2 revolutions in the tower. It takes 26 minutes for one revolution around the tower.
A shot looking to the south west across the Danube River.
The high tech park. The buildings in the foreground are apartments or condos.
If you look real hard near the right hand side of the picture, about half way up, you will see the Ferris Wheel I was on yesterday. I tried to get a better picture but the haze and the angle of the shot made that impossible. The fact that I also reduce the size and hence quality of all might photos to make my page load quicker doesn't help either.
The observatory and modern building I mentioned yesterday are basically right in the center of this picture and St. Stephan's Cathedral is near the right.
A view to the north west of the tower. Note the small houses below the tower, I sure wasn't expecting to see them here given all the big buildings in the city center just across the river.
Looking almost straight down from the north west corner of the observation deck.
The Ferris Wheel is to my left.
That Vienna's Roman Ruins next to the emperor's palace.
The inside the Votive Church.