All three of our history/politics classes are now in session, the first of the other study abroad groups1 have arrived, and our weekly field trips around Vienna have begun – school is well and truly in session now, folks.
As an aside, the blog post for this week will arrive in two parts – this, the first, showing a bit of our academic exploration of Vienna, and the second will show up sometime soon. I had a lot of pictures from my own explorations this week, so it’s going to take me a while to get them all in order.
But now, on to the photos:

One of the nice things about being situated in the First District is that the daily commute to school, and from school to anywhere else we might want to go, is full of beautiful things.
The main goal of our tour was a museum devoted to the Roman ruins.
There was cool stuff like the ancient sewer grating, above, or the little play-place that we enjoyed.
It was a pretty cool little museum – a few things had been replaced by replicas, and they were marked as being safe to touch:
Oh, and the coolest part? The basement of the museum extended out under the street… because, of course, the first district is built on top of the Roman ruins. So, by going down a flight of stairs, you could see the real ruins of the ancient Roman camp.
That’s a casual picture taken through the hypocaust of what used to a Roman military building. Very cool.
After the museum, we headed over to the oldest church in the city, home of a cool statue of the Madonna…
… and the skeleton of a saint, a gift from a Pope to some Holy Roman Emperor or another.

  1. From other schools, that is. 

2 replies on “Romans”

[…] I promised another poster, 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, pictures: 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. […]

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