I exited Schwechat at around 7:30 pm, got on the S-7 and changed to the U-3 at Wien-Mitte, arriving at Stephensplatz about 40 minutes later. I broke into a big grin when I popped up in front of Stephansdom, took a quick look around, and walked down the Graben to Pension Nossek. Briefly, PN is fair enough value for the price – clean, excellent location, and friendly staff – but amenities and an enjoyable atmosphere are modest, at best. It was almost exactly what I expected, though. On my next visit, I’ll probably return to the Kaiserin Elisabeth, where I stayed last year.
Friday 25 November
I got a late start, due to jet lag. After eating an unremarkable breakfast in the pension, I meandered down the Kartnerstrasse to the Ring; it was about 30F, foggy and misty, and remained so all day. I stopped for a few minutes in the Malteserkirche and then browsed the shop windows (Benetton has a Tannenbaum decorated with little sweaters). By the way, did Peek & Cloppenburg build a new store? After I rode trams 1 and 2 around the Ring, I was still tired so I hopped on Tram D and rode out to Nussdorf, just to have a look at some districts outside the 1st. During the trip, I noticed the Liechtenstein Museum on the left.
I stopped at Aida for some marillentorte and tea first, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Liechtenstein. I enjoyed my visit immensely: the palace is grand, the collections of baroque art are stunning (I cannot get the “Badminton Cabinet” and “The Temptation of St. Anthony” out of my mind), and an organist was rehearsing in the Hercules Haal as I toured the galleries. There were very few visitors, so I could enjoy looking at the collections in peace and quiet. I highly recommend this lovely museum. (Update: I just looked at the website and noted that as of January 2012, the museum is transitioning to a new business model and will only be available for pre-booked guided tours and special events.)
Making my way back to the Innerestadt, I hopped on the tram again and got off at the Rathaus, where the Christmas lights were visible through the thick mist. I walked through Heldenplatz and the Hofburg complex, stopping to visit Michaelerkirche around 5:30 pm. Mass was in progress and I listened for a few minutes before continuing my walk back to PN. Simply walking the streets of Vienna is a pleasure unto itself: people-watching, window-shopping, seeing the Christmas lights and decorations. I stopped at Freytag & Berndt on the Kohlmarkt to buy a comprehensive map of Vienna, and during the evening continued reading an excellent book about Vienna, a social and cultural history by Paul Hofmann entitled “The Viennese: Splendor, Twilight and Exile.”Edited: 04 December 2011, 16:16