Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Vibrant Vienna

A view of the city from the Belvedere Museum, one of our first stops so Sally could see Kimt's Kiss.
I last came to Vienna in 1977, and was looking forward to a return visit, particularly given Vancouver's recent interest in Vienna and its social housing policies. Prior to leaving Vancouver, I attended a lecture organized by Andreas Lindinger, who seems to be a bridge between the two cities. His Twitter account Vienncouver explores and , two of the world's most livable and sustainable cities .
     We arrived by train Saturday morning and were immediately struck by how clean and organized the station seemed, compared to the Italian train stations. We found the Tourist Information Office but were a bit overwhelmed by all the tourism packages offered by the various companies. I recommend the Vienna Pass which offer admission to 60 attractions, along with unlimited access to the hop-on-hop-off bus and a boat trip. (99 euros for 3 days compared to 36 euros for the bus only).
    It was difficult trying to decide where to stay. We picked The Grand which offers old world grandeur in a very good location, close to the Opera and shopping streets. It's a good choice.
     Vienna is spectacular. The city is beautifully planned, and most of the buildings appear to have been renovated and well maintained. While there is graffiti to be found, especially along the riverfront on some older housing projects, I was impressed with the efforts to keep the streets and extensive gardens clean.
     It's not just a city of old buildings. There are a number of large new development areas, with some very creative and impressive buildings. Here are just a few of my many hundreds of photos!
A view of the Ringstrasse, the main street that rings the heart of the city, taken from the Japanese restaurant on the roof of The Grand Hotel. Why a Japanese restaurant? Perhaps because it was once an Ana Hotel.
This is a city of museums and galleries.
The history of Austria is closely tied to the Habsburg Family, who of course were distinguished by their large lower lip. This one of their former palaces. There are others around the city including one which is described as one of the largest building complexes in the world.
The military museum. The history of Austria can be found inside.
Vienna is a green city with extensive parks and street landscaping throughout the downtown, I hope some of Vancouver's engineers and Park Board officials will visit to see how small amounts of well placed landscaping can enhance a city.
Many of the older buildings have been creatively renovated with rooftop additions such as this. I need to learn more whether additional density is granted in return for such renovations, or whether it is done simply out of civic pride.
Throughout the city you find ornate and impressive buildings. Somewhat surprisingly many of them were destroyed during WW2 and subsequently rebuilt.
I have never seen anyone washing the street outside of a Vancouver hotdog stand.
The Museum Quartier includes a number of fabulous galleries as well as an architecture museum. More about this later
This streetscape includes examples of old and new buildings, some infilled after WW2, others more recent.
One thing that did surprise me is the fact that the river and related canals are not as well developed as public amenities as expected.
Vienna is not just old buildings. Therer are a number of redevelopment areas with some impressive new buildings.

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