Published: December 13th 2009November 1st 2009
Business & Pleasure in Vienna
One of the advantages of being an Israeli traveling abroad is the uniqueness of our language. Nobody besides us understands it, which allows us to freely communicate among ourselves and, to be totally honest, we sometimes abuse this to gossip about others. Shame on us. Our worst nightmare is therefore making a nasty remark about someone who happens to understand Hebrew. It happened to me once in Peru where a French girl we didn’t like so much (and uttered that quite openly...) turned out to be a Jewish girl who's been to Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew. It was really embarrassing to find out she heard everything we said about her "beauty"... I’m a slow learner and just had to repeat the same mistake in Vienna. We ordered a taxi from our hotel to the airport and the driver entered the lobby all dressed in a fine suit and a tie. For us the Israelis who are used to cab drivers wearing shorts and flip-flops, it was impossible to understand he’s actually our driver, so after he introduced himself we gossiped about how “smart” he looks. Right after he started driving he heard us speaking,
turned back and greeted us with a “Shalom” (Hello in Hebrew). Our surprise was only second to our embarrassment. Luckily enough we haven’t said anything nasty about him. It turned out to be that he is an ex-Israeli living and working in Vienna now. We swore to never repeat this mistake again, but we probably will. It’s just so incredibly convenient.
My visit to Vienna started as a business trip to a big event organized by the company I work for. During the convention days I haven’t had too much time for sightseeing in this marvelous city so I planned uzilizing the weekend for this purpose. M joined me before weekend so we had 60 dense hours to comb one of classic Europe's best cities.
The first night we visited St. Stephan's Cathedral, a monument from the 12th century which has since been heavily restored but still maintains a very creepy atmosphere, especially at night, with all the candles around. We had dinner nearby in a recommended restaurant named Figlmüller. Its owners claim to offer the world’s largest Schnitzels and although I’m not sure about the size issue it is still one of the best Schnitzels places we’ve
On the second day we took a tour into Schonburn Palace, the emperor's residence outside of the city, where we dived into the 19th world of Franz Joseph and his legendry wife, the beloved Sisi. The meticulous emperor ran the empire's buisness for more than 50 years from this palace and devoted his entire life to working from dusk till dawn. He once said that a man should work until he's utterly exhausted. Sisi, on the other hand, has seemed to prefer the more luxurious aspects of nobility's life hence was hardly seen in Vienna almost their entire marriage, until she got assassinated by an Italian anarchist in 1898.
The highlight of the trip was the Museum of Fine Arts, where we visited on the llast day in town. The building's beautiful architecture plays second fiddle to the rich collection of the works of art from the Renaissance (Titian, Rafael) old Greece, Rome and ancient Egypt. It’s an impressive collection which does not fall far from the Louvre in its richness.
On the more earthy side, we had great time in Vienna’s cosy cafes even though we suffered from the unbelievable amount of smokers who
turn the close spaces into a kind of hashish dens. It was difficult absorbing the obnoxious scents every time we stepped inside a coffee shop or restaurant. Hopefully the Austrian authorities would follow the rest of the civilized world and ban this annoying phenomenon sooner than later. At least that's what we've heard from the cab driver. Israelis always know first.... :)
The title is taken from song Vienna
by The Fray.
There are more photos below