Trip Start Dec 29, 2005
Trip End Aug 20, 2006

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Flag of Austria  ,
Monday, February 20, 2006

Vienna is similar to Prague, and probably all major European cities, with breath-taking architecture and great little cafés in which I was happy to be greeted by Creedence Clearwater Revival and other great Oldies rock bands. Spending my first Euros, things were markedly more expensive with the disadvantageous exchange rate.
I very much enjoyed several Viennese art museums Leopold, Albertina, Jewish Museum, Liechtenstein, two of which included galleries showcasing the paintings of Austrian Egon Scheile and Gustav Klimt. Some were in the royal apartments of the Habsburgs, including the Belvedere which we walk around but not in.
A huge gothic cathedral surrounded by shopping district containing about 17 H&M department stores was a very worthwhile stop. For 5 Euros we went beneath the cathedral into tombs of priests and kings. Entering the dimly lit brick tunnels of the catacombs was a bit creepy, especially when we got to the rooms where human bones of were stacked to the ceiling. These rooms served as the town cemetery during the Middle Ages. The stench above ground became so bad at one point when the cemetery was still active, that it was difficult to get people to services. There was also a chamber where plague victims were dropped into.
Below a huge castle-like city hall was a Winter Festival where locals ice-skated around and throughout the square. There were small refreshment shops set up as well as a curling area, seemingly in celebration of the Winter Olympics, which was going on in Italy. Lights on the towering castle kept changing colors, creating a bright winter playland atmosphere.
After a long walk from the city center, we finally made it to the final resting place of Mozart. Surprisingly, we only saw two others in this old cemetery across from an ENORMOUS T-Mobile building.
The very useful tram system brought us to International Center and United Nations buildings north across the river, where the commerce center seemed to be. Since then, on the news I noticed the stories about UN meetings all listed Vienna as the story location. Cool!

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