June 30, 2016

Brno – Vienna

Two great European cities in a great road trip.

For me, they both have been "drive-thru" places I knew only from an interstate - that was something I wanted to change. And after two impulses put me on the road a week ago, I did. First, a friend of mine said "I'll be in Vienna next week, stop by." At the same time, mates from the chimney-climbing organization sent me an invitation to Raihrad, a village at the Brno's suburbs, to take an excursion of a local malt-house and to climb its two smokestacks. So on Friday evening, I packed a small backpack, met two of my friends (also going to Raihrad) at Prague's main station, and together we boarded a train to Brno.


We arrived around 10 p.m., but instead of seeking some accommodation, we headed on an adventurous path. Bridges and rails led us to ladders and roofs; submerging us in a tangle of pipes, cables and wires, industrial veins of a formerly renowned facility.


Later, we stopped in a local pub to discuss current topics, and then, at Saturday's dawn, we went to get some sleep - on the top of some scaffolding not too far away. It was great.

After a few hours, we got on a train again, to move towards Raihrad.

Raihrad (1)

a freight train passes under the malt house in Raihrad.

We took a nap before everyone involved arrived at the main gate to the malt house. Then, an employee of the brewing business took us through the building and explained all the bits about how they convert barley into malt.

Scaling a few storeys, we were just a door from the roof, where this was awaiting us.

Raihrad (6)

Good weather, good view, good stuff as always.

We split after lunch, and I went back to Brno to stroll around for a bit.

Brno (3)

Besides many appealing streets, I found that the city had an annual celebration that day, including some concerts, fireworks, and public events such as "Traffic nostalgia" - they put several historic vehicles of the public transportation network back into use.

Among others, a steam powered city tram. Cool as heck.

Among others, a steam-powered city tram. Cool as heck.

Time flew, and in the late afternoon, I got to see another friend. We haven't seen each other for ages, and it was great to visit again. As it got dark outside, I took a tram..

Brno (7)
..and went to a hill near the local castle to watch a firework. Without a tripod, I grabbed a few handheld pics and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Brno Fireworks
Brno happens to be home of many good people, so for that night, other friends kindly offered me shelter at their house, and took me for a guided tour around the downtown the next morning.


Besides the usual spots, we had a diversion at one old factory that's about to be demolished soon, to see some of its rather interesting spaces before they'll disappear from the earth's surface once for all.

Thanks goes to the manager who let us freely browse the building.


By the lunchtime, I was on a train with the direction to Vienna. The first impression of the city was great, as their train station looks fantastic... see yourself:

Wien Hbf

the world needs more train stations like this one.

Then, I met my friends, checked into a hotel, and went to the Belvedere. It is a complex of baroque buildings...


...which serves as a museum. At the time, there was an art exhibition "Klimt, Kupka, Picasso and others" - something we looked forward to seeing. Watching stunning pieces (like this) in person would be joy itself, but the show was also well put together. All in all, it was one of the best exhibitions I've seen in a long time.

This marked off the to-do list, we headed into the city centre.

Vienna (1)

Vienna (5)

As the sky darkened, we got on the Stephansplatz, a square where the famous St. Stephen's Cathedral is located.

Vienna (6)

To my surprise, it was open. I forgot it's Sunday, so they had an evening mass going on.

Vienna (7)

I planned to keep exploring the downtown; however, when we stepped outside we found out that the clouds suddenly brought a heavy storm. That encouraged only to check out the local subway and get back to the hotel.

Vienna (8)

It was still pouring hard the next morning, so we opted to see another gallery. The clouds began running out of the water by noon, allowing for some touristy outdoor points of interest. The view from St. Stephen's Cathedral tower, for example.

Vienna (12)

Then I roamed across the downtown...

Vienna (15)

...eventually arriving at Prater, a city quarter mostly known for the amusement park, which contains the Riesenrad, a 65-meters (212 ft) tall Ferris wheel from 1897.


After London and Paris demolished their wheels, this one became the world's tallest 1920-1985. Of course, I went for a spin.

After the ride, I thought to enjoy the nice, dark blue evening light, but after a day(s) of walking, my recently broken knee had enough, so I called it a day. But after a couple of hours, with the attitude of "I can always rest at home, better make the most of the location now," I did a tad more sightseeing.

Vienna (21)

The next morning, as planned, I took off to explore the Donau City.


Sidewalks and hidden corridors took me towards the main reason I wanted to visit this place, the DC Tower 1...

Donau City

DC Tower 1 (pictured in the middle) is Vienna's tallest structure - it has 250m (820ft).

...Three of its sides are pretty much the same as any other tall, box-shaped skyscraper; however, the fourth one changes everything. Look at that!

DC Tower (1)

Completed in 2013 by Dominique Perrault's design, it won second place in the Emporis Skyscraper Award the same year.

It is broken into 10 "folding" stripes that shatter the structure to provide tons of cool details.

DC Tower (2)

I was looking for some unconventional way I could photograph it. Some angle I haven't seen anywhere, something new and fresh. Walking around, I noticed a small metal building nearby. It has a few tall windows that brought me an idea...reflection. Soon, I was sticking my head (and a camera) towards the bottom of the window, looking for the best angle. This is what I got:

DC Tower (3)

Satisfied, I left the city...

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories