One thing that I love about walking around in Vienna is that there is a clear path for bikers and pedestrians. Almost everywhere on the sidewalk, there is one lane of people walking and one lane of people biking. It’s simple, easy and well marked. As long as you know to stay out of the bike lane, you and the bike riders can live in peace. It’s the same thing for drivers. There’s no bikers wobbling along on the street, no worry that you might hit someone. Of course, the crosswalks are a different story, but I won’t go into that.

In the morning of our third day of classes we had our German grammar class as usual, but afterwards we met up with Professor Hanreich who teaches Cultural History. She showed us around the first district where we looked at some of Vienna’s history through the buildings and monuments.

To the left of the Institute is a mostly empty square with a few white stones in the center. The white stones have people partially carved into them and it’s called The Monument against War and Fascism. There used to be a building in that spot until it was destroyed by a bomb. Later, the area was left clear in honor to those who lost their lives to war and fascism. The roof of the Opera House was also bombed, but was later repaired.

As we walked along some of the older streets it was easy to tell which of the buildings were original and which had been added later. All the original buildings are intricately designed and some are decorated with little cherubs or angels.

We stopped at one very beautiful house where Johann Nestroy lived. He was said to be the Austrian Shakespeare and a lot of places are named after him in Vienna.

Many of the old streets are located around St. Stephens so we had to walk through the huge crowed in the square. All around St. Stephens are places to eat and shop, lots of fountains and statues, and plenty of tourists. If you want to eat or drink anything here you might want to think twice because a lot of things are overpriced, but it’s still a great walk through the city.

From where I was standing St. Stephens was to the right.

And more shopping to the left.

One of the things that I love about the street names in Austria is that a lot of them are named after the things that were made or sold on the street in the past. We walked by a beautiful building that was on the corner of Fleischmarkt, which literally translates to Meat Market. It’s a very informative way to name streets, you immediately know what to expect.

A little further away from St. Stephens is an incredible statue called Die Pest Säule or The Plague Column. It’s there as a memorial to all the people who died because of the Black Death or The Great Plague.

Eventually we reached the Roman Museum, where we actually got to go down below the street and see the remains of an Roman officer’s house. The walls were still intact and so were the floors. It was a really great museum and it talked a lot about how the Romans that lived specifically in Vindobona. It had some of their old toys, jewelry, pots, glasses, and even the remains of a column used to support a larger building.

The museum did a very good job in showing just how advanced Roman society was. They heated their houses by supporting the floor with small pillars to allow for air circulation and then they would use a fireplace to send heat under the floor. The floors were tightly sealed so that no smoke would escape up into the house. It was an impressive system to see. The Romans are also famous for their Aqueducts and the general sewage systems that they had in place. I was surprised to find that they moved their sewage under the streets just like we do.

After the museum we headed over to Ruprechtskirche, an old building from when the Romans were still inhabiting the city. It is thought to have been a Roman watchtower. It is one of the oldest churches in Vienna.

In the same area as the church we also came to the part of the city that was once the Jewish ghetto during World War II and we got to see one of the original synagogues.

 After a very long day of lessons we decided to check out the Film Festival, which is set up at the Rathaus or city hall. Thankfully, it was a lot cooler outside and even a bit stormy as later in the night we started seeing flashes of lighting off in the distance.

 The entire front of the Rathaus is set up with seats, food carts, and a huge screen for playing music, ballets, and operas. All the food stands looked amazing and of course we had to get some ice cream. That night they were playing a documentary on The Rolling Stones. The festival was even more crowded than Stephensdom so we were forced to stand.

 After a few songs we got tired of standing and decided to go across the street. Although we couldn’t see the screen, we could still hear the music and we got a better view of the lightning that was flashing off on the other side of the city. Going back home that night was easy and there were still a lot of people out around 10:30 on a Wednesday night. Sometimes I forget just how big of a city I’m in.