Although it’s already been over a week since the New Year began, it doesn’t seem too late to tell about my experience in Vienna. I travelled back from Christmas in the States on December 28th, and took a train to Vienna on the 30th, to experience a city I’d never been to before. I stayed from the 30th until the early morning of the 5th of January. Following are some of the highlights of my trip:
To begin with, New Year’s Eve in Vienna is one of the most spectacular events I think I’ve ever been to. I was in Berlin for the 20th anniversary of the Mauerfall, which didn’t even come close to comparing with Vienna’s Silvester celebration. In the Innenstadt, every street and Gasse is decorated with festive lighting. The hub of the night is Graben, a street that stretches from the Stephansdom, in the very center of the Altstadt, west. Enormous chandelier-shaped lights are hung above the broad street, where there is music playing from 2 in the afternoon well into the morning of January 1st.
What really makes New Year’s Eve in Vienna exciting are the fireworks (which I realize are in no way unique to the viennese celebration of New Year’s). Walking though the city at night, it seems as though each and every Wiener is out lighting fireworks and firecrackers in the streets. Near the Cathedral it is actually somewhat dangerous to walk. By midnight I had found a place on a bridge over the Danube Canal to watch the spontaneous fireworks over the city. Less than a minute after the change of year, though, so many fireworks had gone off to celebrate the New Year that the smoke hid any view of the city and, specifically, the tower of the Dom. As it turned out, the firework ‘show’ was more enjoyable to watch than any planned firework demonstration I’ve yet been to. On the bridge, I never knew which way to look to see the ‘best’ of the fireworks.
After New Year’s, I stuck to a good number of typical activities, visiting the Secession, the Belvedere Museum, where Klimt’s Kiss is on display, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. All of these are well worth seeing, the belvedere specializing in more contemporary (19th and 20th century) art, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum displaying everything from egyptian Sarcophagi to Caravaggio.
My last night in Vienna, though, was spent at the Staatsoper, which was performing Richard Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, a classic that is generally performed around the holiday season. In fact, the opera itself takes place over New Year’s. Other than the abysmal seats (to see I either had to crane precariously close to my neighbors seated in front and beside me or stand) the experience was terrific. The music and Inszenierung were both amazing (as would be expected). To anyone going to Vienna, the opera is a must.
Though there remains a wealth of sights that I did not get a chance to see in my almost-week in Vienna, all I finish by saying is that it made an impression on me. It’s an amazing city and one well worth visiting.