Day 3: Playing to the Perks! 


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Today, Mike and Bone did not have a Roman site to check out, so they were going to be able to roam around vs. rome around Vienna!  The Boys were in bad need of a coffee, and fortunately the Boys were in the right place.

To say that Vienna has a Koffee Kultur is like saying the French don't know a damned thing about red wine! (probably from some Californian snob!), For example, have you ever heard the term Viennese Coffee!?!? Koffee Kultur dates back in Vienna to the end of the Siege of Vienna in 1683. Legend has it that the Viennese citizen Georg Franz Kolschitzky (1640 - 1694) was the first to obtain a license to serve coffee in the city following his heroic actions during the Siege of Vienna, and Bone knew the right spot for a cup of Joe!!


A Pinnacle of Coffee Houses! Cafe Central!!!

Bone took Mike to Café Central, which is a traditional Viennese café located at Herrengasse 14 in Central Vienna. The café occupies the ground floor of the former Bank and Stock market Building, today called the Palais Ferstel after its architect Heinrich von Ferstel, which includes the very cool statue shown above!

The café was opened in 1876, and in the late 19th century it became a key meeting place of the Viennese intellectual scene. Key regulars included: Peter Altenberg, Theodor Herzl, Alfred Adler, Egon Friedell, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Anton Kuh, Adolf Loos, Leo Perutz, Robert Musil, Stefan Zweig, Alfred Polgar, Adolf Hitler, and Leon Trotsky. For example, in January 1913 alone, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, and Stalin were patrons of the establishment.

The café was often referred to as the "Chess school" (Die Schachhochschule) because of the presence of many chess players who used the first floor for their games.

A well known story is that when Victor Adler objected to Count Berchtold, foreign minister of Austria-Hungary, that war would provoke revolution in Russia, even if not in the Habsburg monarchy, he replied: "And who will lead this revolution? Perhaps Mr. Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) sitting over there at the Cafe Central?"  There was a bit of a line to get in (there always is!), but after 15 minutes the Boys were in and greeted by ...........................


Slacker Pete!

Walking into Cafe Central you are faced with a little guy sitting  in the very front, this is the famous Viennese Poet Peter Altenberg. Born Richard Engländer in Vienna on March 9, 1859. The son of Jewish middle class parents, he never managed to obtain a university degree, let alone hold a permanent job. He started studying law at the University of Vienna, but abandoned it in order to switch to Medical School. In 1879, a year later, he dropped out of Medical School and traveled to Stuttgart to start a career as a bookseller. After a brief stay in Stuttgart, he returned to Vienna with the intent of again taking up law the University of Graz. However, this too proved unsuccessful. Fortunately, a physician relieved him from all future work, stating that Altenberg was not fit for a regular job due to an overly sensitive nervous system. In the 1880’s, Altenberg moved out of his family home and started leading the life of a bohemian. He never had his own apartment, but would instead rent cheap hotel rooms where he kept all of his belongings. He became a frequent visitor of Cafe Griensteidl where he not only befriended the art historian Erich Friedell,  but also met Karl Kraus, Alfred Polgar, Arthur Schnitzler as well as other authors of the group Jung Wien. He soon became a member of the coffeehouse circle and was particularly supported and liked by Kraus and Hofmannsthal. Altenberg did most of his writing at coffeehouses. After Café Griensteidl closed down, his favorite coffeehouse became Café Central, where he spent most of his time. He mainly wrote short, seemingly spontaneous pieces, capturing the fleeting moment by using an impressionistic style of writing.

His love of Cafe Central has led to his immortalization as a statue. Not bad for a slacker!!!  Once in and seated, Mike and Bone had a simply amazing breakfast!


The Very Posh Interior of Cafe Central!

The waiter was classic, in a white suite with black box ties was a consummate professional. The lattes (picture above) were just about the best darned lattes our weary world travelers ever had! Enjoying the elegance of Cafe Central the Boys chowed down eggs benedict and slurped another round of lattes before excusing themselves with their delightful host of a waiter.  Heading out for the day the words of the immortal Doobie Brothers rang through their head of "Listen to the Music!", as they decided to check out the broader Vienna Scene!


Wandering Central City!

It was amazing that Vienna has re-purposed these amazing Hapsburg palaces into coffee shops, and boutiques.


Bone Gettin' Clocked! 

While they were walking around in the streets of Central City, the Boys noticed a ton of high-end antique shops. Mike is a big fan of ceramic collectibles, and Bone just likes old stuff, so they darted in and out of several such shops until Bone asked for a timeout to check out a clock!  One weird thing about Mike and Bone, both have time for clocks! In one of the cool antique shops, Bone spotted a Biedermeir wall clock made of nutwood made in 1840!

“Biedermeier” was not the dufus from the Omega Fraternity in Animal House, but an era in Central Europe between 1815 and 1848 during which the middle classes grew in number and the arts began to appeal to their sensibilities. The period began with the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and ended with the onset of the Revolutions of 1848.

The term derives from the fictional mediocre poet Gottlieb Biedermaier , who featured in the Munich magazine Fliegende Blätter (Flying Leaves). It is used mostly to denote the unchallenging artistic styles that flourished in the fields of literature, music, the visual arts and interior design. Biedermeier has influenced later styles.

The Biedermeier period does not refer to the era as a whole, but to a particular mood and set of trends that grew out of the unique underpinnings of the time in Central Europe. There were two driving forces for the development of the period. One was the growing urbanization and industrialization leading to a new urban middle class, which created a new kind of audience for the arts. The other was the political stability prevalent under Klemens von Metternich following the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna.

The effect was for artists and society in general to concentrate on the domestic and, at least in public, the non-political. Writers, painters, and musicians began to stay in safer territory, and the emphasis on home life for the growing middle class meant a blossoming of furniture design and interior decorating.

The affluent middle class that are associated with Biedermeier include affection, sensibility, moderation, and modesty. To this day in Austria, Biedermeier Gemütlichkeit means, that one reaches a state of cosiness, as well as friendliness. Biedermeier style displays the conflict between ideals and reality, as human life was grey and gloomy.  The very pleasant Sales Associate explained all this to Mike and Bone, but to no avail, Bone didn't care, he had to have it!!! $4 grand later, Bone was the proud owner of an Austrian antique and it was time to celebrate and quench their thirst, for which Vienna as many (many) place to quench that thirst! Time for a beer!!!


Mike and Bone, Day Drinkin'! 

Mike and Bone left the Antique shop where Bone just dropped a bundle and saw "L'Asino Che Ride," which they interpreted from German to English for "Place for Beer!", and the donkey as a place for "horses asses" which they both qualified, so they dropped in for a few fine Austrian lagers!"  The beers were good and cold, the right medicine for thirsty American's in a foreign land! After a few of these fines brews, the Boys headed out to find why the band Falco, wrote the hit "Rock Me Amadeus!" by checking out Mozart's pad!  Now Vienna was home to many, many, many of the most luminary music composers in the classical era. Names like Strauss, Hayden, and Shubert, to name a few, but the one that may have left the biggest mark was Amadeus!

"Rock Me Amadeus!" written in the 1980s, celebrated the eccentricities of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in his popularity and his debts. The song was inspired by the movie Amadeus.  So with a few beers in their bellies and a song in their heart, off they went to search for the eccentric music master!


Mozarting Around! 

Fortunately, the place that Mozart lived (he did never owned any real property) was nearby. Mozart's place or in Austrian “Mozarthaus” sits right in the city center in a historic quarter largely untouched by the passage of time (if you ignore the parking signs). The building is a townhouse restored to its 18th-century grandeur.

The museum provided Mike and Bone a gentle stroll through a late 1700s world of music and society, providing little vignettes of information and items from the past (some original, others copies). Wolfie had a short, but incredibly eventful life. Mike and Bone saw that:

1756: Salzburg, January 27th, Wolfgang Amadeus is born.

1761: At the age of five Amadeus begins composing.

1773: He writes his first piano concerto.

1782: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart marries Constanze Weber.

1784: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart becomes a Freemason.

1791: Mozart composes The Magic Flute. On December 5th of that same year, Mozart dies.

All this was reflected in the museum, with some very cool artifacts that the Boys perused.


Inside Mozart's Pad 

n that short time he composed a lot of music and drank more that Mike and Bone combined! The Museum is on the third floor, which provides cool stuff on Mozart and Vienna during his time. It had stuff on the city in the 1780s, Mozart’s relationships with the aristocracy, his Freemasonry, and other such topics that the Boys checked out!


Mozart's Death Mask 


Mike and Bone checked out many cool paintings and maps of Vienna offered an intriguing and beautiful contrast to today’s large metropolis that is Vienna. Next, still in a musical mood, Mike and Bone decided to check on one of Mozart's most ardent admirers, Ludwig Von Beethoven!

Yes, two of the biggest, most luminous musicians in history until John met Paul in Liverpool intersected musically in Vienna.

In fact, young Ludwig van Beethoven had every intention of studying with Mozart. In 1787, when Beethoven was 16, he traveled to Vienna to meet and study with Mozart. But then his mother fell ill shortly after his arrival and Beethoven had to return to Bonn, Germany. Beethoven remained in Bonn for five years to care for his younger siblings after his mother's death, and by the time he was able to return to Vienna in 1792, Mozart was dead of very mysterious reasons.

Even though Beethoven's dreams of studying with Mozart were never realized, the elder composer became a model for Beethoven in many years. Musically there are traces of Mozart's works in Beethoven's compositions. And professionally, Mozart paved the way for composers like Beethoven to be freelance musicians rather than relying solely on royal patronage.  After an Uber ride to the 19th District neighborhood that Beethoven lived in.


Walking through the 19th District to find Ludwig!

Ain't not better way to check out a city than on foot. Plus, Mike and Bone wanted to enjoy the early afternoon weather so decided to walk from the Central Town to where the Google stated Beethoven lived. So Mike and Bone walked the 2.1 miles only to find out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"A Swing and a Miss!"

Well the Google was not wrong, Beethoven had lived in this building pictured above! In fact, they had even given the building a plaque to that effect, but that was it, no museum! After just about giving up Mike and Bone figured out that his museum was just a mile away!


Better in Beethoven's Gardens!

Heading over, the Boys walked up a very steep hill to a quaint garden area and build that apparently there is no place in Vienna where you can get closer to Ludwig van Beethoven than the Beethoven Museum. This is where he survived a tragic turning point in his life — when he moved, in an attempt to cure his progressive deafness, to the then spa town of Heiligenstadt.

Another of Beethoven's residence's in Vienna is in Probusgasse (in today's 19th district), which is wonderfully preserved and explains the life and works of the world-famous composer through documents, objects, and many musical examples.


The "Wien Museum" Beethoven's Third Floor Museum

By now it was getting into the heat of the day, and the late summer heat wave was playing hell on the Boys and the Beethoven Museum Curator, the place had no air conditioning! Despite the heat, it is a fascinating, modern exhibition that leads through 14 rooms. The illuminated themed areas include the history of the house, Beethoven's move from Bonn to Vienna, his stay here in Heiligenstadt - a trendy spa town at the time - the nature, the composing, the moneymaking, performance-giving at the time and his legacy. Exhibits include ear pipes (an early kind of hearing device) and a prompt box (that was placed on Beethoven's grand piano to amplify the sound).

There are also some bizarre items: Eggs symbolize the quick-tempered character of the composer - he is said to have thrown them, Bone thought the yolk was on them! In 1875, a company called Liebig started adding collectible pictures to the product packaging of its meat extracts in order to increase its sales, which it did with success; the exhibited edition recounts the content of Beethoven's opera Fidelio. Beethoven's dwindling hearing can be recreated at listening stations.


Beethoven's Many, Many Handwritten Musical Masterpieces!

In this house, the 32 year-old Beethoven wrote his "Heiligenstadt Testament" in a state of deep despair. He wrote this letter to his brother, which was never sent, when he learned that there would be no remedy for his deafness. At the same time, he worked at Probusgasse on major works, including the three piano sonatas Opus 31, the oratorio "Christ on the Mount of Olives" and the "Eroica" symphony.

Beethoven’s malady persisted and his healing ultimately failed. In utter despair, he wrote the so-called "Heiligenstadt Testament" in 1802. From then on, he withdrew more and more from social life, focusing on his true calling: composition.

Some of Beethoven’s most important works were written in Heiligenstadt, including the first sketches of the "Eroica" and the famous “Tempest Sonata.” In addition, the exhibition covers Beethoven's youth in Bonn, his complex social circles, and his musical legacy. The heat got to Mike and Bone pretty quick, despite the cool attractions, it wasn't enough to slow the Boys bolting down the stairs to the fresh and cooler air of outside! By now it was pushing 5:00 PM and the Boys figured it would be cool to see if the Vienna waterfront was as cool as Budapest's!


Drinkin' on the Danube!

Was the Vienna waterfront was as cool as Budapest's? Nope! Actually it is bizarre on how undeveloped it is! Mike and Bone got down to it and found nothing there other than a Hilton Hotel with a patio on the water!  On the other side was woods and mostly undeveloped land. Vienna really focuses it energy in the center of the city!   Mike and Bone bought a couple of draft pilsners in the Hilton, walked out to the patio, and BS'ed about the day while they watch the mighty blue Danube flow majestically downstream! After a few more brews, the Boys decided to walk back into the center of town to find dinner!


A Park too Long!

The walk back to the center of town started around 6:00 PM, around 7:15 the Boys realized that it was still a couple of mile to central city! So despite walking by their Soccer Stadium and through a lovely park, it was time for the Uber! Plus the skies were starting to cloud and rain threatened their parade!


Last chance for Schnitzel!

The impending rain made the Boys decide to head back to their AirBnB neighborhood, as torrents started to come down. They found a cool place in the "hood" that had an extensive outdoor dining area, that was drenched! With a little Mike and Bone cajoling and whining, the Boys ended up sharing a table with a couple from the states who were visiting from Dallas! Several fine Austrian lagers went down well with the Viener Schnitzel and potato salad!

After dinner the Boys took the short walk back to the weird building around 9:00 PM. The long day, heat, and beers and done their best, and furthermore, Mike and Bone had a 6:00 AM flight to Luxembourg in the Morning!