I am privileged to host Antonia van Zandt today talking about a subject I love: Vienna. I was fortunate to study for a summer in Vienna with my husband (who was then my fiancee). Our hausfrauen (house mothers who welcomed us to live in their homes for the summer) lived in the outlying area of town called Mauer. Read on to learn about some unique places to see in Vienna.
Vienna’s Hidden Charms
My latest paranormal erotic romance novella, Vienna Valentine, has just been published and, as its title implies, the story is set in the magical, majestic capital of Austria.
Think of Vienna and you probably think of Strauss waltzes, Christmas markets, Wiener Schnitzel and Sachertorte, but there is so much more to this glorious city. Home to 2.2 million people, it used to be the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. But, following World War I, this country, with its disparate peoples, was carved up, leaving a small republic in the east of Europe. Now Vienna recalls its days of grandeur with the Grecian architecture of Emperor Franz Josef’s ambitious Ring and visitors need little imagination to transport themselves back in time to the days of the Grand Tour, horse drawn carriages (they’re still there!) and the old Empire.
Tourists tend to concentrate their efforts on the Ring, which encircles the inner city. They visit the Opera House, the Town Hall, Schönbrunn Palace, the Hofburg, Spanish Riding School and St Stephen’s Cathedral. They window shop along fashionable Kärntnerstrasse, pose for a photograph next to Johann Strauss’s statue in the Stadtpark and relax in one of Vienna’s famous traditional coffee houses (please avoid Starbucks. You’re in the coffee capital of the world after all!)
All fabulous pastimes and, if that is all you do, you will have a wonderful time. But, why not be a little different? Here are a couple of my favourite haunts which so many tourists miss:
Hundertwasserhaus and the Kunst Haus Wien
Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an artist with a unique vision which centred on creating harmony between nature and mankind. He abhorred straight lines and believed every window should be decorated. He said, “Each individual window has its own right to life”. He was an eccentric and his work can be seen in some very unexpected places in Vienna. He was commissioned by the local council to design a housing project and the photograph shows what he came up with. You can read more about his project here: http://www.hundertwasser-haus.info/en/
It’s a quite extraordinary place. The walkways are uneven, there’s a fountain. Lotsof greenery and enterprising inhabitants have set up little shops to tempt you to part with your Euros.
A short distance up the road, you’ll come to the Kunst Haus Wien, which houses the HundertwasserMuseum and the most delightful café, where you can enjoy a relaxing snack or full meal in a little oasis of peace and tranquillity. The museum itself gives you a chance to learn all about the extraordinary life and work of Hundertwasser and, believe me, you’ll be fascinated! To find out more, click here: http://www.kunsthauswien.com/en
The Third Man Tour – Underground Vienna
Firstly, let me say that you need to be fairly fit to go on this one. You’ll descend to the old sewer system which featured in the 1949 classic film starring Orson Welles as the evil Harry Lime and you’ll retrace the steps of the famous chase scene. You’ll also see how director, Carol Reed used some artistic licence! It’s not all underground though, as you’ll also see some of the other inner city locations used in the film including the famous doorway from where he first emerges.
There are a number of these tours, varying in length from around 45 minutes to two and a half hours. In every case, you’ll learn a lot, not just about the film and locations used, but also about the context in which it was made and the accompanying history of Vienna. It’s a tour you’ll never forget. Wear sensible shoes! Here’s one of a number of links: http://www.drittemanntour.at/en/index.html
Now for a taste of Vienna Valentine:
On a hot summer’s night in Vienna, wolves dream of passion…
Escaping from a disastrous marriage, Nina comes to stay with friends in Vienna for a much-needed holiday. Love is the last thing she’s looking for, but when she sees the hot couple in the apartment below making love on their balcony, she can’t take her eyes off them. When they invite her to join them for a night of pleasure, how can she refuse? Captivated by the handsome, seductive Karl, Nina agrees and has the hottest sex of her life. It’s just supposed to be a bit of fun. A one-night stand.
But one night of passion with this gorgeous, mysterious man is not enough. There’s something unusual about him. But what is his secret? And why won’t he let her look at him when they make love? When she finally learns the truth, Karl’s life hangs in the balance, and Nina must leave, never knowing if she’ll ever see him again…
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