Friday, February 13, 2009


The most difficult task is to describe and photograph the place you live in. That's why I present Poznań just now. Well, I'll become silent, let the pictures tell their story...

The Market Square:

Around the Market:


More pics in the album "Poznań".

Donauturm (11.12.08)

On Sunday I went to Donauturm again. It’s a 200-meter-high tower with a viewing point.
There’s a restaurant and several viewing terraces on the top. This time I wanted to watch the sunset, actually, the last phase. The proper sunset begun on the way to Donauturm: the sky became purple, orange and pink rays reflected in the high buildings made of glass... A colourful show in the deserted area.

From the top we saw the city falling into a sleep. More and more dots on the dark map of Vienna became illuminated. The pink aura was hidding behind the horizon. And just a few people saw this magnificent silent performance.

Ernst Happel’s Stadium (11.12.08)

That’s were the Polish team played football games with Austria during the Euro 2008.

I thought visitors were allowed inside. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It seems no one has come up with the idea of letting tourists look around the place. Well, never mind. I looked at it through the tiny gates and walked around it. One day I’ll go there as a football fun.

And one more thing – there’s a board devoted to Ernst Happel by the main entrance and all the posts are decorated with the names of countries that played at Euro. Poland is quite close to the entrance, so it’s easy to notice it.
I must admit that the stadium is very easily accessible. Metro leads almost to the main gate. “Almost” means about 200 meters...

Interesting things (10.12.08)

Days pass very quickly and merge with one another. I even don’t remember when, but I did it: discovered new attractive places.


It’s a metro station, built by the old gate of the city, which was called Stubentor. The gate was a part of the city walls, constructed in 12th century. Now it’s one of the walls by the entry to metro station.

The museum of trams
Unfortunately, it’s only opened from May to October, so our Sunday trip was in vain. But the museum seems quite interesting from the outside.

And we discovered some new Christmas Markets. One on Spittelberg (very cosy, stretches along a narrow cobbled street), the other one next to the Belvedere (nicely illuminated) and a small one on the square am Hoff. It’s not as impressing as the market by the Rathaus, but at least it’s less crowded.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fleischmarkt (10.12.08)

One day I discovered a very charming little street. Fleischmarkt.
And there was a richly decorated Orthodox Church. It’s quite dark inside, with burning thin candles, the Saints looking down from the ceiling. From the paintings, I mean. A lot of colours... and a peaceful, serene atmosphere... I think it was the first time I’ve been to the Orthodox Church...

There’s a historic house with an old tower nearby, and a strange figure dangles above a narrow street...

And a few hundred meters further a Unist’s Church emerges. But I could visit it only through a glass door.

Albertina (04.12.08)

It’s third time lucky, they say. That’s what we thought on the way to Albertina. Unfortunately, this time the queue was too long, again. So we went there this morning.
The queue was still quite long, but we waited about half an hour only..
Albertina has been under a great siege recently. And it’s all because of the Van Gogh’s exhibition, which is open only until the 8th of December. So people from around the city (and the country and world ) come here. Everyone wants to see the works of the Master – schools, tourists, the young ones, elderly, everyone..
It’s easy to guess – viewing paintings, even the most wonderful, becomes a difficult task when you have to get through the crowds of people, looking for a tiny space, just to read the caption on a little piece of paper. But somehow I’ve survived. Van Gogh’s paintings and sketches are placed in several rooms, in a chronological order. So, first there were “the dark times” – workers performing some exhausting tasks, dark colours. Then more and more colours appear, a lot of landscapes, fields covered with grain, trees, gardens and golden paths. There are more and more people on the canvasses, including the artist itself. Unfortunately, there were no sunflowers. Pity.
Oh, and one more thing. I forgot to mention what Albertina really is. It’s a museum, situated in the palace of Prince Albert Casimir August of Saxony, Duke of Teschen. It contains 65 thousands works from various times, including Kokoska, Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso, Rubens, Da Vinci, Bruegel... Plus, one entire floor is devoted to the modern artists.

There are also large ceremonial rooms in Albertina, designed for the Habsburgs. Because they finally got the building in their power in 1919. So, it was the next time that we could see how modestly the Habsburgs lived... with all the painting, chandeliers with jewels, golden decoration, velvet clothes on the walls...
We spent about 3 hours in the museum and I’ve noticed that only the Van Gogh’s exhibition was so extremely crowded. As if the visitors didn’t want or didn’t know how to discover the secrets of another floors...
I was surprised to see a lot of groups of small kids. They weren’t bored at all. The guides talked about paintings in a very interesting way, organising some competitions, asking riddles and generally it was very... interactive...

The first metro party in Vienna (3.12.08)

It took place yesterday, on the line 6.
It was advertised on facebook, the news spread quickly and at 11.04 p.m. a few hundred amused students met on the metro station and got into the last two coaches.
The driver didn’t object us having a party, nobody called police and for 36 minutes the coaches were incredibly jammed. There was an excess of everything – cry, noise, singing, alcohol, laugh...
It was as crowded as in an Indian bus or Mumbai suburban train or in a fast tram in Poznań early in the morning. And as noisy and joyful as in a tram full of Lech’s fans (in Poznań). Everyone was singing, knocking at the ceiling, jumping. But we behaved quite well, all in all:) A lot of photos were taken, passengers on the stations were rubbing their eyes in disbelief, smiling at us, taking photos of a dancing train. When the train arrived at the last station, we started clapping our hands, saying thank you to the driver. But the party wasn’t over yet. Most of us had to take the same train back to get back home or to the center. So this time the last coach transformed into a smaller, more peaceful party room.
Luckily – or unluckily – I didn’t have my camera with me. Luckily – because it might have been squeezed or spilled with a drink. Unluckily- because I don’t have my own pics now...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Titra (03.12.08)

Instead of subtitling classes we had a short trip yesterday. We visited Titra, a subtitling firm. It’s said to be the most popular and the best one in Austria. So I expected huge rooms and crowds of employees, but it turned out that Titra is all about huge machines, several people, small rooms and cooperating translators.
Titra creates mainly German, English and French subtitles, but there are few exceptions. First, a translator gets a film and a dialogue list with suited frames. When the subtitles are ready, the spotting begins, done by someone else. Other firms choose a different strategy: translators do both spotting and subtitling.
There is a separate room for translation quality check, and a separate for spotting quality check. When everything is done, huge machines burn subtitles on reels. And each film is usually split into several reels, e.g. 6.
The machines produce strange smell and a lot of heat. And it’s said that one such machine costs about 2 000 euro.

The Treasury (30.11.08)

Again we failed to visit Albertina. The queue was even longer than last week, so we didn’t want to waste our time. We decided to come back here during the week and we went to The Treasury in Hofburg.
That’s where the imperial jewelers, clothes, relics and various religious items are presented. To the most attractive items belongs the crone of the Caesar, accompanied by the scepter and orb. Very interesting is also a cradle of Napoleon, treasures of princes of Burgundy, relics with thorns from the Christ’s crone and a piece of His cross.
All the rooms were poorly lit but the items placed behind glass were quite good visible. The walls were decorated with paintings of the imperial family or illustrating Caesar’s coronation. There were also knights’ clothes, Caesar’s coat, a lot of candlesticks, crosses, chasubles...
All in all, I must admit that the Treasury is overpriced (7,5 e), but if you want to take a short trip into the abundant past that’s the proper place. Shiny jewels and gold sparkle on the crones, velvet glitters on the clothes and richly decorated swards are deep in hibernation...
And when we left the Treasury we came up with a new Sunday-tradition: Austrian dessert instead of Austrian dinner:) We went to Starbucks to make use of or last discount voucher. Latte with toffee and nuts and the croissant bought in Anker perfectly suited the atmosphere of lazy, serene Sunday....
It was the next time that I’ve discovered that Vienna really is beautiful. That it is ideal for short and long walks, even when it’s full of tourists...

UNO (28.11.08)

Vienna is one of four cities that houses the office of UN. You can visit it only with a group (minimum 10 people). So, we went there with our friends .

Our guide, from RPA, started the tour in a big hall decorated with 193 flags. There he told us about the main responsibilities of UN (human rights protection, environmental protection, striving for peace) and about the countries that belong to the UN (192 + Vatican that expresses its opinion only about the issue of nuclear power). Then we went through a X-ray check in, as in the airport, and finally we entered the extraterritorial zone. Unfortunately, we were shown only few rooms. The first one was the conference hall ,where we were told how the UN strives for equity in every respect, even when it comes to the seats order. So, normally it’s an alphabetic order, but the representatives of the particular country take one seat further to the right at the beginning of new session. Otherwise, Afghanistan would be always seated as the first one and Zimbabwe would be always at the end...

The hall is equipped in 8 cabins for simultaneous interpreters. The languages appear in alphabetic order: Arabian, Chinese, English, German, Russian, Spanish. Last two cabins are reserved for representatives who wish to have their own interpreter of their language. But they use this possibility very rarely.
When the big story finished we began quite a long photo session. Everyone wanted to have a picture on a chairman’s seat.
At the end we headed downstairs, to the ground floor, where a model of UNO stands. And there we heard another interesting details, e.g. that the building belongs to Austria but UN pays for the rental symbolic 7 cents each year. And Austria earn around 4 millions euro per year thanks to the UNO.

Recently, a new UN conference center was opened here. It’s very modern and, for example, when you leave the room and enter the toilet, the air-condition starts working and thus the costs of energy usage are reduced. The first meetings are planned for January, and the visitor will be able to enter the building few months later.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ice-skating (28.11.08)

Two days ago we went to the ice rink, a few metro stations from our place. It’s cheaper in the evening, so more people come there. The ticket is 3 euro, and skates rental– 4 euro. And if you want to leave your staff in a cloakroom, you need to spend one euro more...
The ice rink is situated outside and resembles the one in Poznań, with one exception: there’s a stall with hot drinks on the rink. And everyone’s skating around in one direction only. There’s good music, though, and you can also admire the professional hockey players on the rink nearby. Now and then a red cleaning machine appears and cleans the ice. And everything would be just fine if there was no cold wind, blowing in my face...
In January a new temporary rink will be build near the City Hall. That must be cool! I can’t wait to skate there:)

Registered (28.11.08)

In October we had to register in the district office, and then, during next three months we had to do the same in the main Registration Office. And this time all the formalities cost 30 euro.
The process of registration didn’t take much, but I had to wait very long in a queue. So, first you get a number (mine was 74), then take a lift to the proper floor (mine was 6th) and then all you need to do is to wait, wait, wait... In the meantime you can, or actually – should, copy all the attachments to the application. That means: confirmation that I’m a student, proof of sufficient financial means, registration from the previous office, ID and European Health Insurance. And then you keep on waiting. Finally, the proper number appears on the table and you can enter the room. Oh, yes, and then a short walk to the cash point and back again with the confirmation of the payment. One stamp, signature and... I can stay here for ever:)

Punsch (20.11.08)

So it happens that at the Xmas Markets Punsch plays the leading role...

It is more less the same as mulled wine. But a little bit more like a stewed fuit mixed with alcohol, served hot. It can be found in several tastes: strawberry, cherry, rapsberry, blueberry... And it’s about 3 euros + deposit for a cup. The best part is that you can keep the nicely deocrated Xmas cup, often with the name of the Market written on it, as a nice souvenir.

The Punsch tastes really good, so far I’ve drunk only the cherry one.
Near the Punsch stalls there is always a lot of people, drinking, talking, savouring the taste...

Leopoldsberg and Klosterneuburg (16.11.08)

The automn is almost over, so it’s high time to make the most of the nice weather and hike around Vienna.

That’s why we went to Kahlenberg today. The view from the top was more foggy than last time, but it was just the begining of our trip. After a while we headed towards the Leopoldsberg through Wiener Wald. The hill is only 425 meters above the sea and on the top you can admire a nice view of the city. There’s also a small church devoted to Saint Leopold – and that’s the reason why the mountain is called Leopoldsberg.

Walking through the wood and vineyard we finally reached a village Klosterneuburg, situated 13 km from Vienna. It’s famous of the Augustinian Monastery, built in 12th century. There are many rooms inside, including a church, chapel with the grave of St. Leopold and a museum. The ceiling has been decorated with frescos depicting the miracles performed by the Saint and the church is richly decorated, e.g. with gold. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to enter the museum. There were a lot of people near the monastery today, because the day of St. Leopold, the patron of Vienna was celebrated.

And just e few steps from the monastery emerged quite a big market with a small fun fair, not as attractive as the one near the City Hall.
Many people visited the church today, the mass started with a long procession: altar boys and servers dressed in long albs, the wind was blowing in their white clothes, the yellow walls of the monastery were proudly reflecting the sun, the sound of the bells spread across the land..

Our trip finished in a small inn. Almost everyone (4 people) grabbed some meat and I had to order the only one vegetarian meal. Better this than nothing. At least our sunday-austrian-dinner tradition was sustained.

It’s already Christmas in Vienna (16.11.08)

Yesterday the first Christmas Markets were opened. The most popular is situated by the City Hall.

A lot of people came there, of course, to see the grand opening. The trees and the whole square suddenly became extremely light. There were hearts, snowmen and Santa Clauses hanging on the trees and opposite the Burgtheater a huge Advent wreath appeared. A small orchestra played, as well and “The Blue Danube” was played from above the City Hall’s window. The scent of langos, sweets, punsch and mulled wine filled the air and the stalls were full of Christmas items, bags, cups, toys, flavouring soups and candles and plenty other less or more useful stuff.

Pushing through the crowds was neither easy nor pleasant. Plus, taking photos was a bit difficult task in such conditions but I managed to get some. I’m going to do the next photo session soon, because that’s the Vienna I really like – colourful, sweet, shiny, happy...

We also plan to visit all Christmas Markets, each day a different one. Maybe they will be similar, maybe not. We’ll see.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Christmas is coming (12.11.08)

Although it’s still one month left, Vienna is ready for Christmas time.

Suddenly Chritmas Markets appeared in many places: near the City Hall, by Museumsquariter, Schoenbrunn, Belveder... The real craze will start in a few days, once the markets are opened. Now the stalls are being decorated and slowly the sings of Unbelievable Things emerge. The work begins early in the morning - a short walk towards the center about 7a.m. will prove it.
The City Hall has been transformed into an advent calendar. 24 windows are covered with purple cloth with the digits 1 to 24 written on it. I wonder if there’s chocolate inside...
The trees around the City Hall are decorated with huge glass balls in shape of snowman, Satna’s stick, seahorses...They’re not lighted yet, but the big show will begin soon. The Christmas Tree near the City Hall already shines. In a blue colour.
The streets are ready, as well. Decorated with Christmas lights and various Christmas-like items. You only have to rise your head. And wait. Because the magic of colours hasn’t started yet... The last preparation, last strokes of brush, last fittings... Great waiting for a shiny city. Another attractively decorated places might be Kohlenmartk, Graben and Mariahilferstrassse. Each steps brings closer to the upcoming Christmas...
I hope that there will be some snow. Even for a few days. Just to wrap the burning city in a soft velvet...

Party time (7.11.08)

They say that Erasmus Exchange is all about having parties. Hm, maybe there is a grain of truth in it, but I must admit that our life here is not extraordinarily party-like. Of course, when compared to our neighbours and another Erasmus students.
If you want to use all the discounts that come with the Erasmus Card, you will find yourself spending the first days of week in the following pubs:
Monday: party in Ride Club
Tuesday: meeting in Down Under
Wednesday: party in Loco
Thursday: party in Prater Dome
Plus lots of parties organised by students in Student Houses, at your friends’ friends place, meetings in various pubs and other events organised by Erasmus Exchange Office. I know people who spend each evening at a party. There are some who always go to Ride and Loco, each week. There is a cheap trick that attract them – from 7 to 8 p.m. free drinks are served. And then the prices are not as high as in other pubs. But the place is overcrowded. Uncomfortable lack of space. No way to dance, no way to talk. But you can sing – there’s Karaoke in Loco.
I visited both pubs once only. And I don’t think I’ll come back there in the nearest future.
All the parties and almost all the Erasmus Events have one in common. Photographers from various agencies take photos of people having fun. They give them a card with web site and then you can browse your pics in the net. Or download them for free. Quite a good idea.
Our party life started a month ago with Erasmus Welcome Party. In Palace Aschenbach, which was built at the times of Joseph II. Now it houses a pub, full of magnificent paintings and gorgeous chandeliers located in three rooms. The dancing floor is in the biggest one. Of course – the place was overcrowded again. But it doesn’t really matter. It was my first party in such an unusual decor. Almost like in a museum, with all the columns, golden decorative items... nice.
The next strange party place was a ship. It is situated on the Donau Canal and has been transformed into a pub. This time – without fancy paintings and extravagant decoration. But it was quite attractive anyway.
However, nothing compares to the parties thrown in Student Houses. So far I’ve been to four. In most cases they’re organized in special common rooms, but a kitchen is a good place, as well. And playing music extremely loud is a routine, too. So that even those, who don’t want participate in a party are somehow forced to attend it. And then the awful mornings come... With an extremely filthy kitchen. Recently our neighbour slept on a kitchen sofa, after the party of course. And he failed to smell the burning toasts that he had prepared for himself before falling asleep. Well, nothing will surprise me anymore.
The best party room in our Student House is the floor number three. And in the whole Pfeilheim (3 Student Houses on Pfeilgasse) the building nr 3 is said to host the best parties. Well, I don’t know, haven’t been there yet.
And I haven’t visited any non-Erasmus pub.I mean, the one when avarage Viennese spent their time. But one day I’ll catch up on that, too.
The top of the tops was the yesterday party in the city hall. Organised by the mayor for the exchange students. To get there, we had to collect special invitations from the Erasmus Office. And of course, we had to wear smart clothes. But it was really exciting. The ball room is gorgeously decorated with columns , chandeliers, paintings. What’s more – there were two tables full of delicious food. But it was gone quickly. As soon as the mayor finished his welcome speech. Unfortunately, the menu didn’t include much vegetarian food, so I had to limit myself to few salads, sweets and fruit. Anyway, there was a real fight for food and soon only drinks were left. About 10p.m. it seemed to be over – dishes and tables were being collected, and cleaned, the music was gone, as well. The time passed really quickly, I met a lot of friends, which was not easy, as there about 800 guests came.