I promised another post, and here it is. I’m hoping once we get down into the pictures1 you’ll see why I broke it into its own thing.
We went to the aquarium.
It wasn’t really a planned thing – we were trying to find a shop somewhere and got a bit lost, and when we were looking for distinctive landmarks the aquarium was the biggest thing we could see. It’s rather noticeable:2
I’d previously mentioned the flak towers of Vienna, and even made a reference to the fact that one had been converted into an aquarium. This is the one.3 And I’ll say right now, before I get into actually showing you what all there was to see, that this is has become the absolute top of my “things to do in Vienna” list.4 Seriously, it’s an incredible aquarium/zoo, with a fascinating history and some stellar views. If you’re ever in Vienna, I cannot recommend it enough.
Now, it’s billed as an aquarium,5 but it’s actually more of “a zoo with a lot of fish” than an aquarium. The first thing you see when you get in is some fishtanks, including one that’s open to the air and has a “please wash your hands before touching the fish” sign. And then stairs. Oh, there’s a lot of stairs, you’ll just have to deal with it.
There’s quite a few reptiles to see on the bottom couple of floors. Most of them were asleep when we were there.
(Not this guy, though, he was making a spirited attempt to climb through the glass.)
There’s also a rather large entomology section; this bit was very dim, which made it difficult to get many pictures, but somehow I don’t think I’ll get many complaints about the lack of pictures of insects.6
Once you get into the actual fish areas, there’s some very cool stuff to see – this tank was lit by a blacklight, which my camera wasn’t a big fan of, but we managed.
I just… really liked this fish. He’s having a good time. He enjoys his life.
There’s actually a second one of those ‘touching allowed’ tanks, further up in the building, but instead of koi, it’s these little guys:
I could not be convinced to touch the fish, either time. I have no regrets.
Let me tell you, puffer fish are some happy little creatures.
I got to see a peacock mantis shrimp, which I found pretty exciting. The zebra mantis shrimp was in hiding, though, which was less exciting.
This is about as close as I ever want to be to an eel – I was quite happy to never run into any when I was doing my scuba certification.
When people think of clownfish, they mostly think of Marlin from Finding Nemo. I no longer make that connection – after seeing this one, I think of It. This clownfish wanted to fight everyone, kept making little charges towards the glass whenever anyone got close. The anemone looked like it was trying to hold him back from starting a bar-fight.
I just had to include this picture so that I could have a Finding Dory reference to balance out the Finding Nemo one from earlier.
Oh, did I mention they’ve got sharks? They’ve got sharks.7
Also in the tank with the sharks: quite a few fish, this turtle, and his buddy that was firmly attached to his back the whole time we were there.8
Seahorses are cool.9
This tank was awesome – the little dudes popping out of the bottom there, and the aquarium staff had managed something with the lighting so the whole thing looked like a moonscape. Star Wars, anyone?
Now, I’m actually putting these pictures in a different order than they actually happened, but I’m feeling free to tell a slightly different story. Creative freedom or something, right?10 Anyhow, the top of the tower has a couple conference spaces11 and a couple of rooms that were left un-redecorated from the WWII era designs; they’ve had some shelves and better lighting installed, and were turned into a miniature museum to the circumstances in which the tower was built.
If I had more time, I’d completely redo this image. It’s a stitched-together panorama12 of the view from one side of the tower. Why redo it? Because I bet, with enough effort, I could make a 360-degree view. It’d be fun to try, at least.
Because, seriously, the view up there is incredible. Even if you don’t find time for the aquarium, go up to the top of the tower – there’s a public access stairway to get up there.13
I mentioned that there’s a rock-climbing wall on the outside of the building, right?
And if you’ve got more time14 than we did, you can actually stop for lunch on the very top of the building, a full two stories higher than the actual observation deck. No stone walls to obstruct the view, just glass15 and the city spreading out around you.
And now we’re heading back down the tower, in our storyline, and seeing some of the other additions – namely, the big glass sections that add extra space to the bottom four floors.16
The one on the rear of the tower is a three-story-tall aviary, with a network of robe bridges and stairs making a beautiful little rainforest-type area, all backed by gorgeous views of the city through the glass.
(There’s also turtles in the aviary, cuddling for warmth despite the heat that had us mammals sweating.)
Seriously, there’s some cool birds in there. I couldn’t help but wonder how often they get into the rest of the aquarium, though, because there was only a single sliding glass door between them and the rest of the building. Oh, well.
The other side had an observation platform in the mid-level from which you could watch the monkeys climb around…
… or look down and see the millennia-old apex predators casually taking a nap next to the turtles. Hello old friends, it’s been a while.
I’m gonna wrap it up with this picture, because I just love this bird so much. Look at his little eye. Look at it. He can see forever.
- There’s significantly more than usual, too. ↩
- And yes, I’m breaking my usual “no images on the home-page” rule for this, but I think it’s worth it to make my point. ↩
- Oh, and if you’re wondering, the billboard up top predates the aquarium – it was an art installation put in in the 1970s, I believe, and actually caused quite a bit of trouble when they were converting the place from “war relic” to “aquarium.” I’m glad they left it there, though, because I think it’s still a powerful statement. ↩
- I’m bolding it, that’s how emphatic I am. ↩
- The name, “Haus des Meeres,” translates as “House of the Sea.” ↩
- In two different areas, they had glass tubing through which ants were being led – their nest was at one end, and their food at the other. The tubing was run like a handrail around the entomology section and as a bonus handrail in one of the areas you’ll see later. ↩
- Cool fact about the tank that I wasn’t able to get a picture of – that light in the back? It’s coming in through a window. There’s just a window in the side of this tower – at the right angle, you can see the buildings across the street. I wonder what the sharks think about that? ↩
- I actually took this picture on our way back down through the building – it was there before, but there was more of a crowd and I couldn’t get any good photos. ↩
- This is one of the pictures where I really wished I’d had another lens, but my backpack was in a pay-use locker at the bottom of the building, so it really wasn’t worth the effort (and cost) to go get them. ↩
- The fact that the picture is titled “Mummy” is because I have a deep love of Doctor Who and I can’t resist. ↩
- Both in use while we were there. ↩
- Something I recently found out I can do in Lightroom. ↩
- It’s on the outside of the building, and the kind you can see down through the steps of, so if you’re not as comfortable with heights as I am… just pay for the ticket so you can use the elevator or something. ↩
- and money ↩
- Roughly an inch thick, if you’re wondering. ↩
- Or so; I still can’t figure out how European floor numbering works. ↩