Day 5: Vienna is more than a Hot Dog! 


Main Page > 2023 Roman da North in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles ! >


It was another early morning for Mike and Bone in order for them to make the 8:00 Train from Budapest to the next site on the Northern border of Pax Romana along the blue Danube, Vienna!

No, not the delicious sausage on a poppy seed bun with hot peppers, pickle slice, tomata, neon green relish, mustard, and celery salt! But a city long romanticized for its music, culture, and the Hapsburgs! En route to train station the Boys learned that you can take em out of Ann Arbor, but you can never really take the Michigan Wolverines out of the world!


A Budapest Wolverine!?!

The Boys Uber driver was about 5.10, and 300 pounds! A typical Michigan Wolverine starting O-Line Guard! Surprising enough when he saw Bone's Michigan Polo shirt, he lit up and started talking about how he played American football and LOVED Meechigan!!! It also turned out that he also knew Zoltan Mesko!

Zoltán Meskó  was a Michigan Man and punter who started for Lloyd Carr in 2006. He was very good at Michigan, in fact an All-American and was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Zoltán's was born in Timișoara a Hungarian minority community in Romania, where he lived with his family in 1989 during the revolutions leading to the fall of communism in the former Eastern Bloc and the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu. The family was so immersed in the middle of the crossfire that they often dodged bullets by getting on the floor in their apartment. Zoltán was just passing through toddlerhood at the time of the revolution so he does not remember much of the details, but the family stuffed windows with pillows during the conflict. At the age of twelve, he immigrated with his family to Ohio and Meskó was introduced to American football when he was spotted as a potential kicker in eighth grade gym class when he knocked out a light during a kickball game. As an Hungarian by birth, he spends time every summer in Budapest, and invests his time and money on an American Football youth organization. Definitely an Michigan Man paying it forward!!! After a delightful conversation about the Wolverines and their chance in 2023, Mike and Bone bid adieu to their new Wolverine friend and boarded train with out incidence with 10 minutes to go!

Shortly Mike and Bone were on a much, (much) better train than the Trains from Split to Budapest. Air conditioning, coffee, water were all available for the two hour drive.


Starting the Day at Budapest Train Station

Cruisin' the Blue Danube!

This train that took Mike and Bone from Budapest to Vienna was a more typical Eurotrain experience than the Soviet-era locomotives that took them from Split to Budapest. These training provided air conditioning, coffee, water were all available for the two hour ride to Vienna. The train essential gave Mike and Bone a really good view of the "ground" that the Romans had to defend!

After a very comfortable train ride, the Boys entered the fabled city of Vienna!

Vienna, the Capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austria-Hungarian Empire! The Renaissance berg that gave Europe the Hapsburgs, Mozart, Beethoven and many more!  While this rivals London, Paris, Rome, it was not as important in Roman times and it was to become in the middle ages and the renaissance. It was however a border fort for which the modern city started. 

Unfortunately, it success makes it a crazy expensive place to visit, and the Boys being the Boys went for the cheaper sleeps. So it took about 40 minutes to get to their AirBNB, and then for the second time this trip, it took a bit of shenanigans to get into their Hotel!  The code to get to the key didn't work, so after a phone call where the manager told be boys to wait for the cleaner who would be there soon, left the Boys in an ally with all their gear! After another 10 tense minutes the cleaner showed up and took the Boys through a very weird maze of a lift in one of the strangest buildings they had ever seen! Fortunately the Apartment was nice and after dropping their gear, the Boys set out to head to Central Vienna to find Roman Vienna, originally known as Vindobona!

What the Boys were Looking For

Heading into the center of Vienna, Bone showed Mike a picture (shown above) planned their visit to the Roman remains of Vindobona, that were somewhere in the famous Hoher Market. Their Uber driver dropped them off right in the of the Square, right by two of its icons!


Mike and Bone in the Famous Hoher Market in Vienna!

Hoher Market is the oldest square in Vienna. At its center stands a sculpted fountain, but the biggest tourist draw is the Ankeruhr, a large gilded clock designed in 1914. During the Middle Ages, this was one of the city’s most important marketplaces. It was also the site of a pillory and gallows. There are no traces left of the past, as it is now a parking lot lined with post-war buildings.

The Vermählungsbrunnen  or Wedding Fountain was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I who wanted to celebrate the return of his son Joseph from the siege of Landau. Hence, the fountain is also known as the Josefsbrunnen.

The monumental fountain was designed by the court architect, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and constructed from 1729 to 1732 by his son, Joseph Emanuel. The Baroque fountain depicts the supposed marriage between Joseph and Mary by the High Priest under a bronze baldachin, supported by four large Corinthian columns.


The Ankeruhr! (Anker Clock)

At noon every day, as for the past 100 years, the Anker Clock chimes in the Hoher Markt – the oldest square in Vienna – and presents 12 figures from history with background music, and as it struck 1:00PM, Mike and Bone started to walk around looking for a very large underground enclosure housing Roman Vindobona!


The Boys Searching for Vindobona in the Hoher Market!

The Hoher Market is a very cool place, but try as they might Google Maps was simply not helping them find the Roman Museum! And every time they asked someone, they we tell the Boys "it is only two blocks further!" After an hour of walking around they were about to give up when they realized they would never find that big hole in the ground when they finally, and actually circled to the very spot to where the Uber driver dropped them off an hour before..... Now look at the picture again!


"D-OHHH!!!" Homer Simpson

The befuddled Boys were literally dropped off right at the Museum's Entrance!!!!  Obviously, the picture that Bone saw from the interweb was really old! With no further ado but the sweat of wandering around for an hour on a hot day, Mike and Bone finally plumbed the depths of Roman Vienna, better known in the day as Vindobona!!


The Roaming the Römermuseum !

And plumb the depths they did! The first think that Mike and Bone painfully figured out is that the remains of Roman Vindobona lie beneath Vienna. Especially since they just spent a better part of an hour walking on top of it! It’s quite another to grasp just how much of “Vindobona” is under the modern day Vienna!


The Imprint of Vindobona on Modern Day Vienna

Mike and Bone discovered just how much is underground as in the entrance is a giant map that shows the extent of the Roman presence compared to today’s Vienna.

The military camp that became Vindobona was founded in the year 97 A.D. to protect the northern border of the Roman Empire. At Vindobona's peak, over 30,000 people lived in the confines of the present-day city – a mix of indigenous people and immigrants from all parts of the Roman Empire. As the exhibition shows, everyday life was thoroughly comfortable. There were covered sidewalks, canals, clean water, taverns, thermal baths, theaters, and shops.

At the fortress alone housed 6000 soldiers and headquartered the Twins’ Tenth Legion (Legio X Gemina) for many decades. Being one of the Roman Danube Border defenses it was not has important as Aquincum, but it was much closer to the action with the troublesome German tribes. Despite its small footprint the site is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

One of the best examples of Roman engineering is prominently on display in the Museum!


Plumbing the Ancient City of Vindobona!

Literally below the street above one of  the best-preserved Roman ruins in Vienna. Mike and Bone viewed a the remnants of a home that belonged to a Roman officer and his family. There are also great examples of the fire and vent systems used to heat Roman villas.


Roman Finds under Vienna!

Mike and Bone quickly figured out that the Roman Officers home is the central attraction of the Museum. The rest of the small Museum are a few relics from excavations and digs that add authenticity to the displays. More to the point, the museum makes it clear just how large and developed Vindobona was in its day. 

This realization brought out a tinge of regret in the Boys that it all disappeared under the boot of the dark ages, with centuries it took for us to begin to recapture the same level of civilization in Vienna.  After about 20 minutes more, Mike and Bone had checked off the tiny museum, that celebrated Vindobona, that border town in the Northern Roman Empire. After the train ride from Budapest, finding their AirBnB, it was pushing 3:00 and Mike and Bone were starved, time for lunch!!


Scoping St. Stephens Cathedral!

Surfacing back on the Street, Mike and Bone scurried like rodents in the bright hot late summer afternoon. In the center of the Hoher Market is the iconic St. Stephen's Cathedral. St. Stephen's Cathedral is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen's Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-colored tile roof, become one of the city's most recognizable symbols.

By the middle of the 12th century, Vienna had become an important center of German civilization, and the four existing churches, including only one parish church, no longer met the town's religious needs. In 1137, Bishop of Passau Reginmar and Margrave Leopold IV signed the Treaty of Mautern, which referred to Vienna as a civitas for the first time and transferred St. Peter's Church to the Diocese of Passau. Under the treaty, Margrave Leopold IV also received from the bishop extended stretches of land beyond the city walls, with the notable exception of the territory allocated for the new parish church, which would eventually become St. Stephen's Cathedral. Although previously believed built in an open field outside the city walls, the new parish church was in actuality likely built on an ancient cemetery dating to Ancient Roman times; excavations for a heating system in 2000 revealed graves 8.2 feet below the surface, which were carbon-dated to the 4th century.  Mike and Bone didn't want to pay to tour it, but it definitely helped as a visual "anchor" for the Boys to know where they were at any time based where they were in context of St. Stephens! The Boys didn't need spiritual food, they needed actual victuals!


The Amazing Vienna Street Scene

Wandering around looking for lunch, Mike and Bone marveled at one of Europe's absolute gems. Vienna is every bit as iconic as Paris, and twice as clean! The wandering and wonder paid the Boys dividends,, before their watering eyes was manna from heaven for Mike and Bone! Hot Dogs!!!!


Hot Dog! These are great Brats!!   

The history of the hot dog has many origin “stories” One story is that a German immigrant sold them, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from a push cart in New York City's Bowery during the 1860's. In 1871, Charles Feltman, a German baker opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 dachshund sausages in a milk roll during his first year in business! Another is that in 1893 ahead of the Columbian Exposition. Samuel Ladany and Emil Reichl, two Jewish immigrants from Austria-Hungary, started selling their all-beef, spiced dogs from a stand during the fair and used the proceeds to open the Vienna Beef company.  So in only made sense, for Mike and Bone try out the Würstelstand am Hohen Markt!  So the Boys order two of their best bratwursts, stuffed in this ridiculous chewy bun with a coupla of ice cold Gosser Beers, and voila! Mike and Bone were in Dogasm! There really ain't no better way to be in a market square in Vienna in a busy afternoon than with a dog and beer!

After an awesome lunch, Mike and Bone had rest of the afternoon to wander around the "City of Dream"!


The Pest Column: Many Monuments of Vienna  

Right by the Wurstel Stand, Mike and Bone saw and walked over after chowing the dogs and beers to check out the Pest or Plague Column, which is located on the Graben Street. Erected after the Great Plague epidemic in 1679, the Baroque memorial is one of the best known and most prominent sculptural artworks in the city.  It was erected after Vienna suffered one of the last great plague epidemics. Fleeing the city, the Habsburg emperor Leopold I vowed to erect a mercy column if the epidemic would end.

The Trinity figure, the sculptor, Burnacini envisioned a cloud pyramid with angel sculptures as well as the kneeling emperor Leopold, praying to a sculpture of faith. It is a beautiful example of the money the Hapsburg's would spend on Vienna!


More Statues and Iconic Streets!  

The Boys started walking around to enjoy the splendor of central Vienna, Every street reflected the hundreds of years of opulence that being the capital of the Hapsburg multi-generational empire. Block after block of building in marble and gilded balconies kept the Midwestern Boys slacked jawed.


A Former Hapsburg Palace (Now a Shopping Mall) 

Mike and Bone next wandered in to one of Vienna's best-known districts with wide pedestrian boulevards  known as Kärntner Strasse and Graben, where they strolled by the very famous Vienna State Opera and the Habsburgs’ former Imperial Palaces which are both now museums.


Mike and Bone in front of the Kaiser Franz Monument

While Mike and Bone wandered through the courtyards of the Hofburg palace, one major monument caught their: the 1846 statue of the man notable for being emperor of two entirely different empires!

Following the death of Leopold II in 1792, the position of Holy Roman Emperor was soon given to his son, Franz (1768-1835). The young Habsburg monarch thus became Emperor Franz II.

It seems you can never have quite enough empires, though. In 1804, Franz also established the Austrian Empire, thus becoming its first emperor and assuming a second imperial title, Franz I.

Things got a little easier in 1806 when the Holy Roman Empire dissolved, allowing Emperor Franz II/I to become just Emperor Franz I (saving everyone a lot of tedious explanations at cocktail parties!)

Franz’s eventful reign included wars with France, the seminal Congress of Vienna, and the Biedermeier cultural phenomenon. After he died, his son and successor (Ferdinand I) decided to erect a monument to his father.   

The four female statues sit at corners below Franz, representing faith, strength, justice and peace, and two Latin inscriptions complete the work. The shorter inscription quotes part of Franz’s will; Amorem meum populis meis means something like “my love for my people(s)”. The longer one offers an effusive dedication to Franz and gives the year of the monument’s completion. The Boys then headed toward the Austrian Government Quarter.

Next, Mike and Bone came up to a huge equestrian statue that dominates Heldenplatz square on one side of Vienna’s Hofburg palace complex. This monument honors the first man to hand Napoleon a significant military defeat: Archduke Karl.

Archduke Karl (1771-1847), third son of Emperor Leopold II, brother of Emperor Franz II/I, and one-time resident in the Albertina. Karl had a long career in the imperial army, but his name entered global military folklore on May 22nd, 1809, when he presided over what is widely considered to be the first military defeat of Napoleon in open battle at the Battle of Aspern.


Honoring the Dude that Bested Napoleon: The Archduke Karl Monument   

Mike and Bone now stood before the monument that honors the very first man to hand Napoleon a significant military defeat: Archduke Karl Habsburg!

Archduke Karl (1771-1847), third son of Emperor Leopold II, brother of Emperor Franz II/I, had a long career in the Austrian imperial army, but his name entered global military folklore on May 22nd, 1809, when he presided over what is widely considered to be the first military defeat of Napoleon in open battle at the Battle of Aspern. Reason enough for a monument in those days it seems. But the Boys saw that the Austrians honored both sexes with the Maria Theresa Monument!


The Madame Maria Theresa Monument

In the middle of those old Hapsburg palaces that are now museums is the Maria Theresa Memorial, which is one of the most important monuments of the Habsburg monarchy in Vienna. It commemorates Empress Maria Theresa, who ruled the Habsburg monarchy from 1740 to 1780. The monument has stood since 1888 on the Maria-Theresien-Platz between the Art History Museum, which opened in 1891, and the Natural History Museum, which opened in 1889. By now it was pushing 7:00 PM and the skies were getting dark with rain, it was a good time to head back to the Apartment and grab dinner!


Viener Schnitzel and Beers for Mike and Bone !!

Right across the street from the Apartment they rented, was a very non-touristy, classic Austrian Bistro! Mike and Bone got a table outside and sat down for several delicious Edelweis beers and classic viener schnitzel! As they finished their meals and beers the skies opened up, a telltale sign to end the epic day around 9:00!