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Austrian Capital Preserves Imperial Ambience

Published: January 26, 2010 (Issue # 1542)



  • A sphinx in the Belvedere Gardens which surround two 18th-century palaces in Vienna. The palaces now house art museums.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • The St. Stephens Cathedral in the city center dominates the citys skyline.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • The famed Vienna Opera House was severely damaged in bombing during World War II.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • Modern architecture is also a feature of the landscape in Vienna.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • An open-air bus offering tours for visitors through the city center.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • A narrow side street in the center of Vienna.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

Its midnight at the Vienna Airport Hotel. A group of wet, disheveled and strange-looking people, one with his head covered with a towel, walking through the lobby looks a little out of place in the quiet setting. But when several tired Russian business journalists try to head to their rooms, they are stopped by a short but muscular man with a mustache.

Dont move! Stay where you are! the man hisses, while starting to assume what appears to be a martial arts combat stance, but after the mysterious group disappears down a corridor, he follows them briskly. It takes a while to dawn on one of the shocked journalists that the men were in fact Metallica, whose bodyguard had unwisely mistaken the reporters for fans seeking autographs.

Metallica Performed a Black Mass in Vienna, read the headline in Osterreich (Austria,) the free daily local newspaper picked up the next morning, preceding a review of the previous nights stadium concert where the metal band had played to thousands of Austrian fans an effort that might have affected its personnels thought processes.

Osterreich is the rival to Heute (Today;) both papers are widely available all over the city, including on the Vienna Metro (U-Bahn,) where they are frequently left behind.

The metro, which has 76 stations, was officially opened in 1898, electrified in 1925 and has been modernized since 1976. A single-journey ticket for the metro or any other public transport costs 1.70 euros, or two euros if bought onboard the bus or tram.

The Vienna Metro has proven popular with suicides, although a scientific report claimed that the introduction of media guidelines regarding the reporting of suicides in 1987 led to a 75 percent decrease in the rate of subway suicides.

However, residents of Vienna say they do still happen, and that a metro announcement that a train has been delayed for technical reasons is generally interpreted as news of another despondent person choosing to end his or her life.

The metro is just one part of Viennas well-developed public transport network. Almost any destination in the city can by reached by metro, as well as by bus, train or tram. Viennas public transport company, Wiener Linien, operates five underground lines, 31 tram routes and 80 bus routes.

While the St. Petersburg authorities are gradually scaling back the citys tram lines, claiming that trams hinder car traffic, a tram ride is a pleasant and convenient means of transport in Vienna and it does not seem like the city will ever reject it. Visitors can take the yellow Vienna Ring-Tram around the most beautiful parts of the city. A round trip takes 24 minutes and cost six euros (four euros for children.)

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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