Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Night Photos

I added a few photos to Flickr. I'll probably add some more over the coming days.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Vienna - Day 2

I started the morning by visiting St. Peter's Church. The artwork is beautiful. I didn't look at any brochures or pictures online before entering, so I didn't know what to expect. Walking through the doors was amazing; none of the pictures I was able to take did it justice.

After leaving St. Peter's I started walking towards the National Library. Unfortunately, it is closed on Monday's (at least the tourist portion is closed). I found that the library is actually quite large, and the "real" part of the library is open. However, you have to be a student or card carrying library member to get in. I tried entering through a back door in the ethnic studies wing (I think that's what it was), but I was intercepted by a librarian. I pointed around and said "look". He said "no, it's for students." I think he could tell I wasn't a student. After that I just wandered a bit more. Vienna looks exactly what I have in mind when I picture an old, European city in my head. Street after street is filled with spectacular buildings. I finally came upon the Parliament building. I went on the tour and was surprised that we were actually allowed to stand right up in the front of the National Council chamber. The style is from the mid 50's since the original chamber was destroyed by bombs in WWII. They have plans to renovate it so it will be modern and new by 2012, but those plans are on hold since the economy is hurting right now.

After Parliament I hopped on the train and traveled to Schönbrunn. That place is HUGE. I could probably have spent most of my daylight hours there. As it was I was racing against the clock to take some pictures before sunset. By the time I was done there my feet were in a LOT of pain, but I decided to go back to the hotel and pick up my other camera for some night photography in Vienna. I basically retraced in a much faster fashion the route I took during the day. In spite of the pain I'm glad I did it. I had a feeling the buildings would look even better when lit for the evening and I was right. Those will have to wait for posting to Flickr when I get back.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Vienna - Day 1

I spent most of the morning riding the train from Munich to Vienna. The route offered me the opportunity to see a lot of northern Austria, even if it was only through the window. My impression is that while the architecture and "look and feel" in Austria is similar to Bavaria, there is a lot more industry. On the German side of the border I mostly just saw small agricultural towns, but on the Austrian side there were a lot of lumber mills. It didn't seem to be quite as clean looking, either. Though admittedly my scope of observation is limited.

After checking in to my hotel I jumped on the subway and made my way towards the Museum Quarter. The subway system is NOT as nice as Munich and I feel confident enough in my observations to stand firmly behind that assessment. In Munich, the stations are clean and they don't really smell. In Vienna, I kind of felt like I was riding MARTA. If you've done that, you know what I mean about the odor. Fortunately, the Museum Quarter smelled fine and the scenery was outstanding. I only had time to visit one museum so I ventured into the Natural History Museum seen above. Mostly, I just wanted to see what it looked like inside such a cool building. The architecture was amazing! I didn't really learn much about natural history since almost everything was in German, but I did get to see several large dinosaur skeletons.

I then made my way over to St. Stephen's Cathedral. I was really disappointed when I arrived because Mass was already under way; I only caught the end of the service. However, I was in luck; they had back-to-back Masses. The student Mass was at 7:00 PM instead of 6:00 PM like it is back home. So, I was able to take a seat and participate in that one. Again, it was all in German, but it really isn't difficult to follow a Catholic Mass if you're familiar with it. I'd have to say that this was my most favorite experience so far on this holiday. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Munich - Day 2

I joined my sailor friends on a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. It was apparently the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. I have much better pictures, but due to some limitations with my hotel wi-fi connection I can only post what I have on my iPhone. It was a perfect day for this trip; the sky was clear, it wasn't too cold and the views from the mountains were spectacular. King Ludwig II might have been somewhat crazy, but he sure knew how to build a castle. Tomorrow morning I leave on an early train for Vienna. Once again I have no particular plan, but I'm sure something will work out.

Munich - Day 1

I arrived before check-in time at my hotel, so I dropped off my bags and set off on foot towards the center of the city. About an hour later I came upon the New Town Hall (seen above) and found an English speaking tour group forming. I decided to join them. I'm glad I did! The guide pointed out several sites that I revisited later for more picture time. He then mentioned that there would be a beer tour in the evening. How could I skip that? I spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures and visiting the Jewish Museum, then I arrived at the main train station to start the "Beer Challenge". We had folks from England, Australia, South Africa, Columbia and even America ready for the challenge. I hooked up with 3 US sailors on leave for a long weekend; Rebecca, Kim and Amy. They are posted at the Navy base in Sicily and work as a nurse, physical therapist and pharmacist respectively. It was a fun evening. Talking and drinking with people from all around the world is a great experience.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The funny thing about business trips is that you tend to have to do a lot of work on them. I probably won't be able to blog the experience quite as much as I would like. Regardless, I wanted to get these pictures posted tonight before I go to sleep.
We arrived late at the hotel last night since we went straight to work after landing in Munich. The hotel is very odd. It's on the third floor of a building owned by some type of organic farm cooperative. Above is one of the first signs I saw on the wall when we entered the building. All of the lights were out, there was no attendant, and the place smelled like fertilizer. There is warehouse-type facility on the first floor, a Weight Watchers meeting group on the 2nd floor and something that looks like a natural birthing teaching center. 
The "hotel" portion of the building consists of 6 rooms located off of a communal kitchen / breakfast area. The breakfast was good, but the cook doesn't really speak any English. That's fair since I don't really speak German. We all understand what coffee means, though.

This is my room. It's nice and clean. I have much better pictures in RAW format, but those will have to wait until I get back home. I've traveled to a lot of odd places, but I think this may be the most unusual hotel in which I've ever stayed.