A Trip to Vienna

Last week I was away in Vienna on a business trip but managed to take some time off to explore the city. In the limited time available, how does one choose places to visit in a city which is completely unknown to you? The only connection I had with the city dates back to 1977. My Ph.D thesis was reviewed by a well-known professor from the University of Vienna then and today I have no clue about where he lives. Well, under the circumstances Google comes in handy. Google says that Vienna has an illustrious history. It has a rich cultural life thanks to famous music composers like Mozart and several well-known painters.

I’m told that Mozart gave his first performance at the imperial court at a tender age of six. So I decided to see the royal palace as a priority. That turned out to be a great visit thanks to an interesting story of a queen who lived in 19th century.

Well, before I write on the palace and the story, let me share with you about my visit to an amusement park known as Prater Park on one evening. It’s a great place to unwind and take a stroll  after a hard day’s work. I will describe here a couple of things that might interest many. As I entered the park, I saw a huge brightly lit advertisement for an eating place called Roller-coaster Restaurant. Well, I was not particularly hungry to get into the hotel. However, what attracted me to the restaurant was this advertisement. It said: “You cannot buy Happiness, but you can surely buy our Pizza!”  This Ad did it! It struck me as a profound statement differentiating at once between Happiness and mere Pleasure.

I went inside the hotel and decided to have one chocolate brownie for my little pleasure. This is a real fun place to go and eat. True to its name, as you sit in the restaurant and order food using a tablet, the food is served at your table, by a robot racing down a roller-coaster! See the picture below to get a feel of what I tried to describe. It was a wonderful experience indeed.

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The following day, I decided to explore a couple of royal palaces belonging to late 18th and mid 19 the centuries.The Hofburg palace houses the famous Sisi museum. Sisi refers to the queen Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary. The museum is practically dedicated to the queen. Her sad story is worth narrating here. She was born into a Bavarian royalty and got married to the emperor of Austria Franz Joseph at a young age of 15. As a child she grew up in a completely carefree atmosphere and enjoyed complete freedom in her actions. The upshot of such an upbringing was that she was completely unprepared for her obligations as the first lady or even as a mother. Her duties as the queen involved rigid protocol of endless ceremonies and she hated it all from the day one and could not reconcile at all throughout her life. She would go through bouts of depression from time to time and write poetry eulogizing freedom and condemning rituals of the royalty. To cut a long story short, her life ended when she was finally assassinated by an Italian anarchist when she was traveling incognito in Geneva. Her story was like a typical fairy tale. A good fairy would bless her with all the good things in life while a bad fairy would appear next and deprive her of all the mental qualities and temperament required to get happiness out of the goodies.The question is: do we sympathize with her for losing her childhood freedom and getting trapped in a royal setting or do we blame her for not making the best out of her new situation? The queen’s story perhaps reflects a common human failing.

Oh, yea, I forgot to mention about one very interesting spectacle I saw while I was at the amusement park. It is Indoor Skydiving which is a newly invented sport. I believe in 2015 the first world cup of indoor skydiving was held. Inside a flight chamber made of glass and with the help of wind speeds of up to 280km/hour, one can experience flight that is comparable to a jump from a height of 4000 metres. Here are a few photos of divers in action captured on my smart phone:

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Published in: on February 26, 2017 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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