Tag: Austria

An Inaccurate Guide to European Manhole Cover Art: Vienna

Today we will be examining a manhole cover from the city of Vienna, Austria. In the United States, Vienna is primarily known as the place that produces those little sausages that come in cans. (I did not see any of these sausages while in Vienna, but there was an attempt to get me to eat liver paste for breakfast.)  Vienna should be known for more than sausages but it is easier for Americans to remember facts related to food than anything else.

As you can see this manhole cover is going to be a challenge, but that is why God placed me on this spinning globe.

Vienna

Vienna has a pretty boring manhole cover that is until I say the magic word: Illuminati!

At first glance this manhole cover appears to be pretty simple and utilitarian. That is exactly what the Illuminati want you to believe. Who are the illuminati and what do they have to do with Vienna’s manhole covers? I don’t really know, but ask anyone between the ages of 13 and 20 about the Illuminati and you will learn a great deal about the secret society that controls the world. How are the Illuminati connected to Vienna? Well, and I suppose I am taking quite a risk in writing this, the Hapsburg Dynasty and the Illuminati must be connected. One of the rules of secret societies and global control is that you don’t just go around blabbing about how you control everything, you make secret signals instead, because what is the fun of controlling the world if you do it publicly, anyone can do that.

So what secret messages are hidden on this manhole cover? First, let me draw your attention to the wavy lines in the center of the cover. Notice that there are three wavy lines, notice that the lines break the circle, notice that the wavy lines cover the little squares inside the circle. Now a careful observer would wonder about how many squares are being covered up by the wavy lines: Four full squares and two partial squares by my estimates. Hmm…what does it all mean? This is where the Illuminati are so tricky; they have you wondering if there is some secret message in the numbers and what the symbols might represent. The real hidden message is just a few centimeters away near the outer ring of the manhole cover.

Do you see it? The two letters: M N? Aha! What does that stand for? Well, I don’t really know because I believe those letters are actually W N. I know what you are thinking, in English a W makes a woo sound, but in Austrian a W makes a vee sound. What does it all mean? Is it possible that these letters represent directions? Yes, then is it possible that it is a map? Sure, why not. If it is a map, could guide you to a hidden doorway that leads to the Illuminati headquarters, there is only one way to know, someone in Vienna must find this manhole cover and follow the directions on the map. What directions? Well there is the big problem, I don’t really know. I suppose if I were Nicholas Cage and had a movie script it would be easier to figure out, but I will leave the searching up to my readers in Austria.  Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Well, this  brings me to the end of my wildly popular guide to European manhole covers series. Keep an eye out for those interesting manhole covers and if you see one you need analyzed don’t hesitate to let me know.

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TSOJ: Final Thoughts on Vienna

Traveling is a disease that only has one cure, more traveling. While I enjoyed my time in Vienna I came away from Vienna knowing that three days were not enough to fully see the city, but here are a few observations about a city that I will have to return to on my next trip to Europe.

Liver paste for breakfast?

Liver paste for breakfast?

10. This product (Liver-spread) is by far the worst (wurst) thing I was offered for breakfast. After nearly a month in Europe I had adjusted to breakfast European style (cold meats, cheese, coffee, juice), but liver paste did not make it into my indifferent mouth. Why someone would eat something like this when they wake up is beyond all rational explanation.

9. Vienna’s outdoor music film festival is one of the best ways to spend an evening even if you don’t have a clue about opera. Actually, knowing a little about opera would probably help but it didn’t hurt me too much, other than not knowing what was going on and what was being sung I enjoyed the atmosphere and food. It is a great, non-threatening way to sample opera, like trying a food sample at Costco if you don’t like it you can just push on through without getting dressed up at all.

They let anyone see the opera, even idiots like me.

They let anyone see the opera, even idiots like me.

8. Vienna has the best plague column ever. I have not seen all the plague columns in Europe, but I find it hard to believe that any city has a better one than this:

Plague column or pile of stuff laying around the sculptor's backyard?

Plague column or pile of stuff from the sculptor’s backyard?

Topped with golden holy stuff.

Topped with golden holy stuff.

The original battle royale: angels and demons.

The original battle royale: angels and demons. Baby angel stabbing plague demon= awesomeness.

Most columns are actual columns, but Vienna was like, “You want a plague column? I’ll show you a plague column. Here’s a pile of stuff.” I’m sure other European cities were upset because it really isn’t a column as much as a pyramid of marble and gold, and I am sure there were howling protests at the annual plague column contests, but Vienna just told everybody else to bite it. Now since I am an American and did not suffer through the plague I wonder why all the cities built these monuments to thank God for killing off 1/3 of the population, but I won’t get too high and mighty since we have a statue of a fictional-hero boxer (Rocky) somewhere in Philadelphia.

7. People in Vienna like coffee, chocolate, and cigarettes. I had not seen a cigarette machine in years and felt a little twinge of nostalgia when I saw these guys sprinkled around town.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Enjoy freedom and cancer.

6. Vienna has the worst (wurst) manhole covers of any major European city. Come on, Vienna! Since you claim to have the best drinking water in the world you might want to take the manhole covers up a notch or two.

Be ashamed Vienna! I want to see some better manhole covers when I come back next time.

Be ashamed Vienna! I want to see some better manhole covers when I come back.

5. Are there lots of blind people in Vienna? This puzzled me because of these signs on the trams.

Seats for people with white arms, white babies, white gloves and glasses, and old Michael Jackson fans?

Seats for people with white arms, white babies, white gloves and glasses, and old Michael Jackson fans?

Are the old people and the blue people blind? Do I have to give up my seat to anyone with a cane?

Are the old people and the blue people blind? Do I have to give up my seat to anyone with a cane?

Many transportation systems have signs like this, but Vienna’s blue people confused me. Are they blind, or are they injured? If they are injured, then why the creepy John Denver glasses? The old lady’s hair is a concern also, but I am not sure why.

4. Public scales? I saw several public scales around town and wondered why they were there. Is there a problem with people being overweight in Vienna? If so, this seems like an odd way to solve the problem, but usually the scales were near fast food booths so maybe somebody was just trying to subconsciously nudge people to refrain. Remember, Vienna is where Freud lived.

You sure you want that schnitzel?

You sure you want that schnitzel?

3. Telephone booths? This was a little like seeing a T-Rex walking down the street. I actually saw a few people using the phones while I was wandering around town. I wasn’t sure if I had stepped into a wormhole and traveled back in time, but I did not see any Border’s Books or Blockbuster video stores, so I figured I must be in present day. The Viennese have done an excellent job of preserving the past and the phone booths must be just another relic they figure is worth keeping around.

Clark Kent should move to Vienna.

Clark Kent should move to Vienna.

2. Are you allowed to do anything in a Viennese city park? Usually there are a few rules for people to follow, but this is getting a bit out of control.

You can put ice cubes in large cups in this park, but that is it!

You can put ice cubes in large cups in this park, but that is it!

I’m not sure what happened in this park that caused the city fathers to put this sign up, but it looks like this park was a lawless Thunderdome of a place. No zebra-faced dogs! No jumping jacks and tossing heads around! Mr. Heat Miser is not allowed! No teepees! Don’t put your legs between balls! No water walking! Enjoy all the large ice cooled beverages you like.

1. Vienna is a fantastic city.

TSOJ: Vienna’s Belvedere

On my final day in Vienna I had some serious choices to make, had I been able to travel back in time and reorganize my trip I would have added a day to Vienna and taken a day away from Munich. (Not that Munich isn’t a great city, it just isn’t Vienna.) The number one item on my Vienna list was seeing Gustave Klimt‘s painting “The Kiss.” Just a few months before I arrived in Vienna the city was celebrating the 150th birthday of Klimt (why we celebrate dead people’s birthdays is beyond me, but I never complain when it means I get a day off of work.) The Belvedere had drawn together as many of Klimt’s paintings to celebrate his birthday as possible, but now that it was July the paintings had been returned to their owners and I would have to do with seeing a smaller collection of his paintings than I wanted, but when life takes away paintings to see, you have to make lemonade or something like that.

Klimt’s paintings are not only beautiful, they are also some of the most controversial works created in the 20th century. What makes the paintings controversial today isn’t what made them controversial in the early 1900s when they were created and the controversy is something that I am certain Austria would like to make disappear. It is estimated that the Nazis looted 20% of the art work in Europe and many of Klimt’s paintings were taken directly from the Jewish families who owned the paintings. (If you are interested in learning more about the Nazi’s attempt to steal all of Europe’s art watch The Rape of Europa it is a fantastic documentary about Hitler’s art obsession.) Many of these looted paintings ended up museums after the war and there were no efforts made to return the paintings to their rightful owners. It is shameful. A legal battle has been going on for well over 20 years for many of Klimt’s paintings and in 2011 a chunk of the paintings were returned to the families who originally owned them. Most of the returned paintings have now been auctioned off and have disappeared into somebody’s mansion (this makes me even less happy, but I suppose if I could earn a few hundred million dollars by selling something I would.)

The two paintings still owned by the Belvedere that I really wanted to see were The Kiss and Judith, so I headed off to the Belvedere thinking I would spend an hour or two looking at the Klimt paintings and then run downtown to see a few of the cathedrals in the city center, and then finish my final night in Vienna watching a chunk of Wagner’s Ring opera.

The Belvedere was once the summer residence for an Austrian general (Prince Eugene of Savoy). It must have been good to be a general in Austria because the two buildings and gardens forming the Belvedere are massive and beautiful.

That is the Upper Belvedere in the distance.

That is the Upper Belvedere in the distance.

A few of the fountains at the Belvedere.

One of the fountains at the Belvedere.

I have plants larger than this in my garden.

I have plants larger than this in my garden.

I had read that the upper Belvedere had the good paintings and that the lower portion of the Belvedere wasn’t worth seeing so I intended on just buying tickets to see the upper building. My plans changed once I started to talk to the man at the information desk. I told him that I was only interested in seeing the Klimt paintings and he told me that Judith was now down at the lower Belvedere. At first this seemed like a little bit of a scam to get tourists like me to buy tickets to both exhibits but after visiting both buildings I am happy that they strong-armed me into seeing both because the special exhibit Dekadenz was really interesting. (Of course neither exhibit allowed photography so you will have to take my word for it.)

The Klimt paintings (although limited in number) in the Upper Belvedere showed an amazing spectrum of work. Klimt’s early work surprised me the most. One of the paintings I was certain was a portrait by John Singer-Sargent when I saw it across the room was actually a portrait by Klimt. This has become my new measure of greatness when it comes to an artist, how much have they not only mastered one form, but how have they changed over time. Most of the great artists have not only pushed the form into new areas, but have also followed the flock at times showing their great skill as an artist. Picasso is the easiest example to use since his work spanned such a long period and he was never satisfied with cranking out the same old thing like other artists who found their groove and then just stayed there. Picasso’s early work could be mistaken for any of the great Spanish portrait artists but eventually he was minimizing everything in his paintings and rarely did a painting with much detail at all, so when someone sees a late Picasso and says, “I could do that,” I want to ask them if they really understand what he was doing, but being an art snob is only my part-time job.

The Kiss was as amazing as I hoped. Seeing a painting as familiar as The Kiss in real life is always a bit weird. Initially there

The Kiss 1907–1908. Oil on canvas. Österreichi...

Picture stolen from Wikipedia.

is the expected surprise at the size of the painting, maybe it is just me but I never seem to anticipate the size of the painting accurately. Either I think the painting will be larger than it is, or I think it will be smaller. I could relate my surprise at the size of paintings like the Mona Lisa, but let’s not get too off track. The Kiss was larger than I had anticipated, I would guess it was five feet by five feet. The room that contained the painting was completely black with a spotlight on The Kiss and one other painting at the other side of the room. The second painting was largely being ignored by the people in the room so I went over and kept it company for a few moments. It turned out the second painting was part of the Beethoven Frieze called: Praise to Joy, the God-descended (This kiss for the whole world). It was even larger than The Kiss and did not appear to be painted on canvas. There were deep grooves carved into the painting that could only be noticed by standing up close. Again, you will have to take my word for it since there was no photography allowed.

The next 15 minutes or so I did my best to take in The Kiss. I won’t bore you with my description of the painting because almost everyone knows what it looks like and there are probably people who know something about art who can do a better job of sounding knowledgeable.

The rest of the Upper Belvedere’s collection had some interesting paintings, but I had things to do and moved through pretty quickly. A few of Egon Schiele‘s paintings caught my attention long enough to slow my walk down, but for the most part I was out of the building and walking through the gardens like a race-walker on their day off.

Judith I

Judith I: also stolen from Wikipedia.

The Lower Belvedere’s exhibit Dekadenz was next. I really thought I would just zoom up to the Judith painting and then zip on out of the building and head off to look for food, but it ended up that the paintings and arrangement of the exhibit made me slow down and actually learn something. Dekadenz showed the connections and influence  of Romanticism on the symbolism of the Fin de siecle.  (Translation: The Romantic paintings of Gods and Goddesses reclining on clouds influenced the symbolic paintings that arrived around the turn of the century.) This connection was probably obvious to most people, but I had not noticed it before. The mystical world of the Romantics was just being retranslated for a new generation using the newer form of symbolism.

The Judith painting brings together many of Austria’s uncomfortable historical realities. The subject matter is biblical: Judith seduces the Assyrian general Holofernes in order to save her city. She gets old Holofernes drunk enough that he passes out and then gives him a close shave that removes his head from the rest of his body. In Klimt’s painting, the Judith character looks pleased with her work. Holofernes’s head is not the star of the show and Klimt seems to be indicating that sexy women are trouble for Assyrian generals (and maybe any guy who drinks too much.) The female model for Klimt was an Austrian Jew named Adele Bloch-Bauer who starred in a few of Klimt’s other paintings and died from meningitis in 1925. Her will indicated that she wished for her paintings to be donated to the Austrian state gallery upon her husband’s death. Enter WWII and the Nazis. Bloch-Bauer’s widowed husband fled to Switzerland to escape the Nazis leaving the paintings behind. The Nazis stole the paintings, changed the name of the paintings in order to remove the connections to the Jewish model and any Jewish history, and put them on display at the Belvedere. When Mr. Bloch-Bauer died in 1945 he willed the paintings to his nephew and nieces. Of course Austria liked the will that donated the paintings to Austria, and the family liked the will that passed the paintings on to the family. Eventually, 2006, the paintings were handed over to the nieces and nephew who sold them. Almost all of the paintings were purchased by anonymous buyers and have disappeared from public display so seeing any of the Klimt paintings where Bloch-Bauer was the model has become even more difficult. I would like to say that the paintings ended up with the right group, but I can’t. I doubt Mrs. Bloch-Bauer wished for the paintings to disappear into someone’s private collection, but I am certain that if she had survived the Nazi occupation and seen how Austria colluded with Germany she would not have donated her paintings to the nation who abandoned their Jewish citizens. History is never as clean as my old textbooks told me in 5th grade.

As I left the Belvedere I wondered what everyday Austrian’s felt about their history. In the United States we like to ignore our uncomfortable historical misdeeds and I get the feeling that Austria likes to do the same thing. I remember going to the battlefield of Little Big Horn in Montana where George Custer and his troops were killed by Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. There were these little white headstones scattered around the battlefield where the white guys were killed, but there were no headstones for the Native Americans that were killed in the battle. Finally, in 2003 , the National Parks added a memorial for the Indians who died trying to protect their way of life. The battle took place in 1876 and it took us 125+ years to add a memorial to the people who were the real victims of the American Indian genocide, so I guess I should cut Austria some slack.

TSOJ: A Vienna Bike Tour with The Terminator

Before most bike tours start there is a tiny tutorial about how to use the bikes, the bike rules in the city, and how to avoid getting killed on the bike tour, but not with Walter (pronounced Valter for those of you who speak English properly.) Walter simply asked if we all had bikes, looked to see that we all had bikes, and then he began riding away from us assuming that we would follow. His assumption was half correct. About half of us followed, and the other half of the group had some difficulties turning around, hopping on their bikes, and beginning riding. It wasn’t long before a city block separated the two groups and I was a little concerned for the trailing pack, my job as “Ass Man” made me keenly aware of the difficulties of being in a trailing group. Sometimes traffic lights delay progress, sometimes it is a slow rider, and sometimes it is just fate, but usually the group leader is a little concerned about splitting the group and will slow down and wait, but not Walter/Valter, I never saw him turn around to check on the progress of the pack he just kept rolling forward like he had to be home for cable installation between 5:00 and 5:05.

Walter rode for another block or two and then stopped. He turned around, saw that half of the group was still missing, shook his head, wondered aloud why the people in the back were so far behind, and began talking about the opera house without waiting for the slow pokes. There were two distinctive attributes about Walter that I instantly loved: 1. He made fun of everything not Austrian. 2. He sounded exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger when he talked. “I am going to use a bad word now for you Americans, Socialism. That is vhy ve have the best drinking vater, the most livable city in the vorld, and if I have to go to the hospital I don’t pay anything.”  Walter did not just give America a bad time, Germany, France, England, and Russia would all get tossed under the bike tour’s wheels at some point along the way, but Walter did it with good humor and the type of boasting usually reserved for American Olympic teams.

Athena agrees that Vienna is a great looking city.

Athena agrees that Vienna is a great looking city.

When we rode by a large statue of Goethe I asked why we hadn’t stopped (mostly this question was poised so that I could show off that I knew how to pronounce Goethe’s name.) Walter did not skip a pedal push, “He’s German, nobody cares about him.”

The tour followed the ring circling Vienna’s old downtown area and before too long I realized that Vienna has the most beautiful buildings in the world. Each city has its own beauty (I am excluding Bakersfield from this observation) and spending time anywhere a visitor can find things to like about a city, but most cities are limited in what they can offer a visitor who is there for a short period of time.

My requirements for a perfect city to visit: 1. Great, easy to understand public transportation, 2. A city plan/map that is easy to understand, 3. Great museums, 4. Beautiful buildings, 5. Green spaces, 6. Temperate climate, 7. History, 8. Walkability, 9. Food, 10. Je ne sais quoi.  On a 0-5 scale most great cities will score in the high 30s and low 40s using my scientific scale. Take Paris for example: Transportation: 5, City Plan: 5, Great Museums: 5, Beautiful Buildings: 5, Green Spaces: 5, Temperate Climate: 4, History: 5, Walkability: 5, Food: 5, Je ne sais quoi: 5, for a grand total of 49. That is a pretty good score. London might end up with a 42 (city plan is terrible, and London is not really a walkable city unless you want black lung.) Bakersfield: 5 (great Mexican food, everything else is a zero.)

Anyway, as we rode around Vienna, I began to believe that Vienna might be a 50, and I am sure Walter would have agreed. Since Vienna was the center of the Hapsburg Dynasty it still has the structure of a world leader, but the importance of Austria as a global power has diminished and I have the feeling that this has allowed Vienna to relax and focus their monetary assets internally as opposed to trying to run an empire.

That is one big, two-headed Eagle.

That is one big, two-headed Eagle.

Green spaces in Vienna are abundant. Want to rent a rosebush in the royal garden? You can.

Green spaces in Vienna are abundant. Want to rent a rosebush in the royal garden? You can.

There is a large amusement park near the Danube river. I saw this thing in a James Bond movie once.

There is a large amusement park near the Danube river. I saw this thing in a James Bond movie once.

The food tent outside the Rathaus.

The food tent outside the Rathaus.

The center of European power for 800 years.

The center of European power for 800 years.

Some royal house or something.

Some royal house or something.

By far the best Plague column I saw during TSOJ.

By far the best Plague column I saw during TSOJ.

You don't see things like this in Bakersfield.

You don’t see things like this in Bakersfield.

The golden dome was designed by Klimt.

The golden dome was designed by Klimt.

Just another Vienna building.

Just another Vienna building.

Walter telling half the bike riders about the fountain.

Walter telling half the bike riders about the fountain.

Public housing Vienna style.

Public housing Vienna style.

All in all the bike tour took about two hours and Walter was able to make it to meet the cable man in time. I think he also mentioned a meeting he had with a couple beers, but in my opinion Walter earned those beers. He did not lose anyone on the tour, he entertained me, he did not tell any lies (as far as I can tell), and he did have a lot to say if you kept up with him.

 

TSOJ: Vienna Has Excellent Drinking Water, or Does It?

About 20 minutes into my walking tour of Vienna, I began to think that my tour guide was making stuff up. Not the big stuff about the Hapsburg Dynasty and their 800 years of rule, but the little stuff that only someone a PhD in Austrian History would know. The first “white” lie happened when we stepped into a courtyard in the Jewish section of town. (I have  a much better understanding of European Jewish history than when I left the USA and have learned why older cities have “Jewish Quarters” and how long the Jewish people have been mistreated, but this information will be held back for a later post.) Anyway, back to the “fibbing” tour guide. We were standing in Judenplatz looking that the Jewish Memorial to the 65,000 murdered Austrian Jews. Our guide was doing her best to walk the very narrow tightrope of acknowledging that Hitler was Austrian, that Austria did not do much resisting Germany when it came to WWII, and that “some people did bad things.” These “bad things” included systematically murdering people. I can understand not wanting to be a buzz kill and ruin people’s’ vacations with information like this, but it seemed to me that the guide was glossing over the horror of the Holocaust so I walked away from her mini-lecture to take some pictures of the memorial. She had mentioned that the builders had discovered the original footprint of the Jewish Synagogue in Vienna when building the memorial.  I noticed what appeared to be some long lines carved into the cobblestones of the plaza. To me they looked like the outline of an old building, like what you can see left of the Bastille in Paris if you know to look down instead of up at the little golden boy on the spire.

The Jewish Memorial in Vienna.

The Jewish Memorial in Vienna.

I deleted the picture of the grooves in the cobblestones thinking I had just taken another picture of the ground accidentally. Careful observation of this picture shows some of the pattern caused by "the weather."

I deleted the picture of the grooves in the cobblestones thinking I had just taken another picture of the ground accidentally. Careful observation of this picture shows some of the pattern caused by “the weather.”

I waited for the guide to finish her luke-warm acknowledgement of Austria having been involved in WWII and then I asked, “I noticed these lines carved into the cobblestones. Why are they here?”

“Oh, the weather does that.”

This was not the answer I expected. Actually, I believed it was what I will call a prevarication. The weather in Austria must behave differently than weather in my area because apparently the weather in Vienna includes cobblestone cutting lasers. I decided to let it go, but as you can tell since I am now writing about it, I really didn’t let it go. Everything the guide said from that point on (two and a half more hours) I viewed through the prism of what I still consider a lie.

List of “facts” I didn’t believe during the next 2.5 hours:

1. “Vienna has been ranked #1 since 2009 as the world’s most livable city.” Really? Four years in a row? Nope, not according to my Google search. In 2012, Melbourne, Australia (the place with kangaroos not the land-locked country in Central Europe) was ranked #1. Vienna was #2 and has consistently been ranked near the top, but the San Antonio Spurs would be the NBA champs if we allowed the second place team to claim the #1 status.  I will be the first to admit that some of rankings do have Vienna at #1 and that no American cities appear in the top ten, but that isn’t important. What is important is that I didn’t believe my tour guide.

The Austrian Parliament building, not to be confused with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

The Austrian Parliament building, not to be confused with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. The car in the foreground did not hold still for my panoramic picture.

2. “Vienna has the world’s best drinking water.” According to my Google research Vienna is ranked number five in this category. Greenwood, BC has better water than Vienna, but I will admit the drinking water in Vienna is abundant, and good. Vienna does what it can to perpetuate the myth of being the best by encouraging people to drink out of the tap as opposed to buying bottled water. This is a good thing, but it doesn’t make you number 1.

These water stations are sprinkled throughout the city to give access to Vienna's 5th best water in the world.

These water stations are sprinkled throughout the city to give access to Vienna’s 5th best water in the world.

3. “Vienna was once the world’s largest city.” Now I may have misheard this one, she may have claimed that Vienna was once Europe’s largest city, but either way, I don’t believe it. According to my research it might have been the 5th largest city at one point, but never #1. If my guide said, “Vienna was the world’s most important city in 1900,” I would have believed it. The Austrian Empire was big and important, but when it comes to population I don’t believe it was ever the largest city in the world.

4. “Freud drank coffee and invented psychotherapy in that café.” Okay, this one may be true, but I think he probably just drank coffee in the café and did his work at an office like everyone but Hemingway.

5. “Beethoven lived in 80 different apartments during his time in Vienna because he never paid his bills and was a bad tenant.” There is a good deal of truth to this one, but 80 is too high. Most experts on Beethoven’s living quarters (as if there are these people in the world) believe he lived in at least 27 documented locations with some estimates as high as 65. He was a terrible tenant and a bit of a jerk, so he did move a lot.

Beethoven slept here...and there, and there.

Beethoven slept here…and there, and there.

6. “St. Stephan’s cathedral had the tallest church spire in Europe.” Nope, never according to my Wikipedia research. It is the tallest in Austria, might have been the second tallest in Europe at one point, but never the tallest. These are the types of facts I would have swallowed if not for the “Austrian weather includes cobblestone cutting lasers” lie.

Things always look taller when you stand next to them. From France you can barely see this spire.

Things always look taller when you stand next to them. From France you can barely see this spire.

I suppose I should disclose at this point that Vienna was my favorite city to visit on this trip. It really is a wonderful place, it is organized, clean, full of history, and has excellent drinking water, but there are no lasers in the clouds.

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