October 12th
written by Alonna

Our couchsurfing host in Vienna rock climbs after work twice a week, so she took us with last Monday.  We had fun and totally wore ourselves out. Our hands and forearms were really  sore after 2-3 climbs (but I think that means we weren’t doing it right…).

We also went with Katy to meet her friends for a birthday celebration. We all went out to eat at a traditional Austrian restaurant, and everyone made sure Ben and I ordered typical foods. I had some kind of  seasonal mushroom dish that was delicious, and Ben had schweinsbraten.   Good times.

A friend of a friend works in Vienna at the United Nations, so we met up with her for lunch. We took a short tour of the UN office, which was actually really interesting! There are four major headquarters of the UN: Vienna, NY, Geneva, and Nairobi. The one in Vienna mostly deals with security and protection. A part of the tour that I found really interesting was regarding the language translations for UN meetings. There are 6 official languages of the UN: English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. Whatever language is currently being spoken has to first be translated to French or English. Then it’s translated to all of the other 4 official languages. If any country needs another translation, they have to provide their own translator. You can imagine how hard of a job it would be to be a translator – they have to work fast and also be really careful not to imply the wrong message. For example, idioms like “under the table” and “bend over backwards” cannot always be translated word-for-word to different languages.  So they can only work 3 hours per day and have to take breaks every 30 minutes. And they get paid really well – it sounds like a really prestigious job.

We visited two museums in Vienna and both were great. One was the Kunst History Museum – a really great art museum with Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome stuff, and an impressive art collection. The art included my favorite, Raphael, and also Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, and this crazy artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo who painted these weird faces with objects in the 1500’s. They had four of his paintings at this museum, including this famous one called “Summer”:

The other museum was the Natural History Museum, which had a huge collection of pretty much every animal, insect, rocks, and prehistoric ancient tools you could imagine. It even had a huge room of meteorites, a live working bee hive, and best of all, the “Venus of Willendorf.” This is a doll statue found near Vienna that is 25,000 years old.  Since this discovery there’s been a couple more statues found that are slightly older, but this one is close to being the very oldest existing. It looks really funny.

Besides that, we spent time just hanging out in Vienna, walking around and admiring buildings (our favorite version of free sightseeing!).  We loved the architecture and general feel of Vienna. Here are some various photos of the city.



  1. 10/15/2009

    No way. You’re only doing it right if your butt hurts too!!!

  2. Betty Risseeuw

    Hi, I just got a faster internet a couple of days ago. So now I can keep track of your adventures. The picture are great and it sounds like you are having a good time. Keep it up.

    I talked to your mom today. Everything seems to be going well there.

    I am going to get Grandma down soon to look at your web sight. She will enjoy it to. Betty