A Journey to the Center of Europe - Day 4

Ellen and I went to Austria and Slovakia for a week-long trip. This post is Day 4. Previous days here: Day 1. Day 2. Day 3.

Day 4

Since we got tricked into taking the Tram to Nowhere the day before, we started Wednesday with a tram ride the right way and took in the sights of the ring road, the street that encircles downtown Vienna. When the Albertina stop came, we hopped off and went on up to the Van Gogh exhibit, where we nearly suffocated in the strange and exotic sounds and smells of tourists from all walks of life. Since I’m not a huge fan of Van, after bumping into 30 people in about three minutes, I decided to Gogh check out another exhibit.

We read that the Albertina has such an extensive permanent collection of art that they completely rotate out their exhibits every three months, so along with Van Gogh there was an incredible collection of contemporary art that far surpassed that of the Kunstalle from yesterday. I’m a big fan of contemporary stuff because I never know what to expect—for example, one of my favorite artists is Piero Manzoni, who put out a Magic Base block of wood, had people stand on it, then told them they were now a work of art by Piero Manzoni and handed them a Certificate of Authenticity.

New favorite artists from the contemporary wing of the Albertina:

Gottfried Helnwein is best known for Boulevard of Broken Dreams, but my favorite is his satanic-looking Mickey Mouse.

Erwin Wurm did some hilarious drawings. Can’t find a picture of my favorite, but here’s something that’s indicative of the kind of some of the other work he does:

Walter Schmoegner has some stairs pictures that reminded me of M.C. Escher, but creepier. He also has some great paintings involving skeletons in various situations, but I couldn’t find any of those.

Walter Schmoegner

After the museum, Ellen insisted we try the original Sacher Eck torte, which I had never heard of ever before in my life. And since it doesn’t even seem to be on Wikipedia, I’m convinced it’s not as famous as she says. Especially considering it wasn’t very good. On the plus side, they had sugar in pill form, something I had never seen. So, naturally I told Ellen I would give her a quarter to eat a sugar pill. She didn’t do it, perhaps because there’s no such thing as a quarter in Euros. The gauntlet had been thrown, so being a man, I popped one in my mouth. Moments later, I spit it out. I felt like my tongue had been burned with sweetness.

Next stop on our Vienna adventure was the outdoor Naschmarkt farmer’s market, where we got greasy pizza and juicy doner kebab and disgusting dried kiwi. It looked way better than it was. Since we weren’t in a buying mood, we took off towards the Schonbrunn palace and gardens, where we found the best part of Vienna: the zoo!

We met some friendly zebras and giraffes.

We met some not-so-friendly lions and tigers.

And we got to see my personal favorites: the panda, the koala, and of course the turtles (they’re just so wise). I was impressed that the panda had his own armchair. It was truly a zoo fit for a king.

We also some one of the grossest animals, the anteater, and we caught it during feeding time so we saw it in its snotty, disgusting glory.

After a few hours at the zoo, we rounded out the day with a Viennese classic, Wiener Schnitzel. In case you don’t know, that’s not a hot dog or sausage or any kind, but more of a breaded veal cutlet. Very chicken nugget-esque. Dessert was the delicious ice cream place we went to the night before, where the Erdbeercoup was so good that I ate far too much and literally couldn’t walk upright because my skin was stretched so tautly over my new food baby and couldn’t extend any further with some sort of tear.

When we got back to the hostel, I fell asleep quickly and happily with a full stomach and this heartwarming thought: “My favorite thing about Vienna is how fun it is seeing the word ‘wiener’ everywhere.”
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