“When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?”

Intro for the Light Show in Maria Theresa Place
Intro for the Light Show in Maria Theresa Place

From Barcelona, I flew to Vienna, my next school location. I will be studying here at the Webster campus this 8-week term and staying in student housing in the city.

The Museum of Art History
The Museum of Art History
The Museum of Natural History. The huts for the Christmas markets were added later - this photo was taken in early November.
The Museum of Natural History. The huts for the Christmas markets were added later – this photo was taken in early November.

This is my second visit to Vienna – I was here on a tour of Eastern Europe (though Austria is part of Western Europe by every measure that matters) in 2010. My impressions of the city at that time were mixed. I thought the imperial elegance of the city and its grand palaces were impressive, but they left me a little cold. The Habsburgs have never been my favorite royal dynasty, so I hadn’t spent a ton of time studying their history.

Maria Theresa statue in the middle of the square
Maria Theresa statue in the middle of the square
Light Show
Light Show

But when I realized my graduate program was taking me back to Vienna, I got excited about exploring the city in more detail. It is where the coffee house and the Euro were invented, the home of Gustav Klimt and Sigmund Freud, where Mozart spent the last 10 years of his life, and host to one of the United Nations European offices, among so many other things.

Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show

I arrived in the city on a Sunday. Very few things are open on a Sunday in Vienna, in all of Austria, in fact. I checked into student housing and unpacked. Then I made the dubious decision to attempt a grocery store run (“Expect queues,” the RA who checked me in warned me).

Light Show
Light Show

There are maybe 5 grocery stores open in all of Vienna on a Sunday (or so the new friend I made while waiting in line told me), one of which is near my apartment in the train station. Grocery stores allow a certain number of people in, and then they close the doors. I think it’s 50 or 60 people at a time – I don’t know how they keep track. I was lucky to arrive between closed-door periods, so I got to go right in. I have never seen a more crowded grocery store. The lines went all the way down each aisle. I grabbed some fruit, veg, milk, and cheese and got into line. But as I mentioned, I made a new friend in line, so all was not lost. It was an interesting introduction to living in Vienna.

Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Maria Theresa as part of the Light Show
Maria Theresa as part of the Light Show
The following day was Oct. 26, National Day in Austria, celebrating the first day after World War II Austria was not occupied by other nations. This year was the 60th anniversary of that day as it took a full decade after the war for the Allied Control Council to leave Austria after the war. This day also marks the beginning of Austria’s permanent neutrality status.
My cohort mates and I took the opportunity on this holiday to explore the city a little. The pictures in this post are from a light show we caught at the Maria-Theresien-Platz that night. The light show was projected onto the façade of the two museums who stand parallel to the massive statue of Maria Theresa: the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art History.

Title quote: Billy Joel, Vienna

Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show
Light Show

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