Campusviertel: Student Life Meets the Bourgeoisie
The 8th District is (after the inner city) the smallest, richest and oldest of all the Vienna Bezirke – and that’s referring to the people not the buildings.
But the northern Grätzl is academics’ country – bounded by Alser Straße, Landesgerichtsstraße (a.k.a. Zweierlinie, the former route of the Nr. 2 tram, torn up more than 30 years ago, but so called even by 29-year-olds) and Florianigasse up to Fuhrmanngasse.
Not really surprising with the main campus presiding and the 18th century Altes AKH (old general hospital) now a major part of the University.
From wounded troops to drunken academics
No need to start a new MA to enjoy student life: It can (almost) all be yours without the pain of studying. Anyone can breeze into the intricate complex of courtyards and gardens of the campus.
Begun as a military hospital in 1684 within months of the Turks being forced back from the gates, it was completed in its present form about 1784. A modest archway on the Alser Straße opens onto the main campus quad, an urbane miniature park.
In the summer there is spicy Balkan food right off the charcoal grill at the universitätsbräu beer garden till late in the night (no residents to complain).
Then move on for coffee and ice-cream at the salettl (pavilion), a funky little wooden café, sort of Paris-meets-Disney – but from November 16th re-inventing itself as the Punsch-Stadl in Vienna’s most charming Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) dispensing steaming mugs of hot and highly alcoholic Punsch.
Nestled into the church across the street is what used to be the old hospital’s morgue where Beethoven was laid out before his final journey. It’s now – people on caffeine, an improbably narrow and bustling café dedicated to making the best coffee in a caffeine-driven city.
The genial Robert will greet you with a choice of many direct trade coffee blends, artwork on your cappuccino and juicy brownies that wouldn’t shame a Connecticut ladies’ coffee klatsch.
Another student café is merkur with its tasty budget snacks, open till 1:00 a.m. every morning, and its partner tunnel just up the street open till 2:00.
Third is sarasines on Langegasse, the taste and feel of a French provincial bistro, old well-used furniture trucked in from France and fresh-baked croissants served with a classical café au lait in huge handleless bowls. La vie viennoise!
Thursday through Saturday the party goes on till daylight at mmx bar on the corner of Schlösselgasse, a huge venue dominated by monster video screens upstairs and a thumping disco below.
After hours of Goethe and Wittgenstein the logic of a better than usual Grüner Veltliner is very welcome at the achtundzwanzig (Nr. 28) wine bar right next-door and generous plates of prosciutto and parmesan sustain the body.
At the other end of the Schlösselgasse is traumland, allegedly a sauna and fitness club, open 20.00 to 3.00, with Wednesdays and Saturdays "couples only", whatever that means.
Food for thought
Passing zur böhmischen kuchl (little Bohemian kitchen) with its great Czech beer und potato latkes (and through November roast goose with bramboriknedliki, potato dumplings), and the culinary melange gets increasingly varied.
Within 100 yards of each other there are Mexican tacos and cocktails at the teenie hangout tin tan, Indian curries (samrat …with his affecting come-on "Please eat here or we both will starve"), and good fresh wok Asian at GU (not your standard it-all-tastes-like-Kikkoman noodle fodder).
And of course some good Italians, perhaps the best is tavolozza, the tiny scruffy little l’osteria del salento also looks fun.
There’s even one of Vienna’s legendary Beisls (bistros), adams, with its classical menu of Tafelspitz (best boiled beef) and Wienerschnitzel, and for the more adventurous geröstetes Kalbshirn (calf’s brains) and Kalbsbeuschel (innards), served by classically unruffled waiters.
Well worth studying
But it’s not only eating and drinking. Also on the Florianigasse is Kerstin Czerwenka’s buchbinderin (bookbinder), handcrafting albums, diaries and notebooks out of traditional materials.
She will even bind your graduate dissertation. Music students and young professionals will find all the bits and pieces they need at the wiener musik haus, from most modern digital gizmos to Western guitars and Yamaha flutes on special offer.
And then there is one of Vienna’s most charming and least known palaces, palais schönborn. It was built around 1706 by the legendary baroque architect Johan Lukas von Hildebrandt and is now the slightly shabby but delightful volkskundemuseum, meaning folklore in the sense of domestic culture.
A special treat is the splendidly politically incorrect picto-chart from the early 19th century listing the (supposed!) traits of various European nationalities: the French are frivolous and childish, the Italians treacherous and jealous, and the Greeks defying polite description (plus ça change!)
So venture forth! Hanging out in the Campusviertel might just round out your education. But whatever else, it can guarantee you won’t starve.
Altes AKH Hof 1 (far right hand corner), entrance Alser Straße
POC café Schlösselgasse corner Alser Straße (in the side of the church)
Alser Straße 15 (corner Schlößelgaße)
GU, Lederergasse 16
Wiener Musik Haus,