I have mentioned before that Vienna takes it's festivals quite seriously. During the short time we have lived in the city we have come across a music film festival, a buskers festival, a traveling circus, an animal adoption festival, an African culture festival, a sports festival, and an Austrian Wald regional festival. Currently in Karlsplatz outside of our apartment they are holding a Malaria...festival? I'm not sure that "festival" is the term they would use to describe it. And those, my friends, are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.
Allow me to repeat myself: the Viennese are serious about their festivals.
Shortly after arriving in Vienna we heard about the Wiener Wander Tag, an occasion that may as well have been custom built for Jacob and I. Imagine the beautiful vineyards that surround the city (the "Napa Valley" of Vienna), a hiking path that connects the wineries, and throw in regular stops for wine tastings - and there you have the Wiener Wander Tag. Sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it?
Jacob, our friend Kathryn, and I showed up around noon to begin our trek. The vineyards of Vienna are so extensive that the Wiener Wander Tag actually hosts three separate walking paths, for a total of over 25 kilometers. The weather wasn't quite the sunny, glorious autumn day we were hoping for, but a bit of fog and rain were not going to dampen our spirits. We started up the hill, reached the summit, and were immediately greeted by a little wooden house serving glasses of Sturm, a seasonally available sweet wine.
"Be careful of Sturm", many people had told us. It's sweet, easy to drink, and served in a beer stein. That didn't stop them from serving it at Bible study though. We like our Bible study.
Kathryn made a good point: the Wiener Wander Tag was going to develop in us a dangerous Pavlovian response: Climb hill, receive wine. We had all but walked 100 meters before we had our first glass of Sturm in hand.
Fortified for our journey, we continued on and decided that we would not last terribly long without food. This was the food available:
Spit roasted pig! A plate of pork and freshly shaved horseradish in hand, we found a bench to enjoy the view of the vineyard and the Viennese cityscape laying just beyond.
Reaching the end of our trek we received a congratulatory pin for our efforts and celebrated with another glass of Sturm.
The following day, Jacob and I set out to scout the city for photo shoot locations (more on that another day...but in the meantime, feel free to check out my newest business endeavor). Walking through the Prater, Vienna's fascinating old amusement park (one of the oldest in Europe), we came across a true German spectacle: Oktoberfest.
Throngs of dirndl and lederhosen clad people amassed outside of enormous beer halls, waiting for the parades to kick off the day's festivities. Musicians costumed to represent the traditional dress of their region march around, accompanied by the raucous cheers of the onlookers. I have never seen so many men in leather.
At any of the less beer-centric festivals, it is easily possible to purchase a glass of beer for 2.50 Euro. At Oktoberfest however, the prices are steep - at over 5 Euro a glass, and a 40 Euro entry fee for the evening festivities. All things considered, Jacob and I would prefer to simply host our own Oktoberfest - call it an apartment "house warming".
Disclaimer: Please excuse me if this post includes awkwardly written or half-formed sentences... Jacob is sitting on the couch next to me, singing "I Believe I Can Fly".