Ah Vienna – if only we had more time to know you better …

Looking towards District 1 of Vienna from District 5 on Sunday morning

It is now Day 3 of our time in Vienna.

On Sunday morning we woke up to a thin layer of frost across the balcony of our penthouse apartment in Zentagasse (District 5 of Vienna) and the sound of birds combined with church bells ringing in the hour in waves over the city.

It was magical and a perfect start to our final leg of filming in Europe.

The rest of Sunday was spent seeing as much of Vienna as possible in one day with our hosts, Arno and Gottfried.  We saw palaces and churches, squares and palais and walked all over District 1, stopping for lunch and dinner in, funnily enough, two Italian themed restaurants!

Picture: Monument to victims of the Black Plague near St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna (Tim Egan in foreground – some kid climbing on the monument behind)

The final stop for the day was the The Christkindlmarkt at Rathaus in Vienna (in front of the Town Hall), also called the Advent Market – full of people and lights and food and dozens of stalls selling everything from punsch to christmas ornaments to gifts.  

The trees in the nearby gardens are all filled with lights, and dominating the scene is the huge Christmas tree in front of the Town Hall that has a life size Nativity scene beneath.  This was a truly special and Viennese sight and I am very glad we got to experience it – even for the short time we had to spend there.

Picture: The Christkindlmarkt at Rathaus in Vienna (in front of the Town Hall), also called the Advent Market

At the end of the day we took the U-bahn back to the apartment and fell asleep early knowing that today would be a busy one!

This morning we were up and off to the supermarket to get supplies for the next few days (just across the road from our flat, which was convenient).  Then breakfast was cooked and eaten before heading out into the cold again to sort out new mobile phone sim cards (word to the wise – if you are travelling around in Europe – either pay for international roaming for your own service back home or get a card in the UK and pay the international roaming charges from there.  From what we can work out it’s cheaper than the pay as you go sims elsewhere!).

Then it was off to do something else we felt typified Vienna – coffee and strudel at the Cafe Central.  Favourite haunt for Freud, Trotsky, a long list of other famous writers and poets and maybe not surprisingly (seeing as so many artists hung out there) Hitler (!), the Cafe Central is an elegant coffee house staffed by lovely people who speak perfect English with great food and coffee.  Me being unable to have strudel was very pleased to learn they had gluten-free chocolate mousse instead – so we all left feeling very happy!

The rather fabulous fare at the Cafe Central – gluten-free chocolate mousse and a Viennese Latte

Then it was off to collect equipment and begin sorting out everything for tomorrow.  Ernst from Location Austria was especially helpful, sorting out equipment from all over Vienna for us, as well as locking down our location for the interviews tomorrow – the Hotel Imperial.

Finally, by 7.00pm tonight, everything was done, all the equipment collected, interviewees confirmed, additional people who will be helping out called and locked in and so now it’s time for sleep before the very big day of filming we have tomorrow.

My impressions of Vienna so far?  Beautiful.  Elegant.  Ornate.  Friendly.  Breathtaking.  Somewhat overwhelming.  I wish I’d paid more attention in German class back at high school so I could say more than “Nicht sprechen ze Deutsch” and “Bitte” and “Danke schon” and “Auf wiedersehen” and “Wunderbar” and “Das ist gut” and “Guten morgen” and “Guten tag” and “Guten abend”.  There are a few more phrases I’m picking up – but I am finding myself truly embarrassed that I can’t speak to people here more fully in their native tongue.  Something I’ll have to fix for next time.

And if I have my way – there will be a next time!

Until tomorrow … guten nacht.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Sally McLean