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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Austria in Austria

View of Salzburg Cathedral

Austria (i/ˈɒstriə/ or /ˈɔːstriə/; German: Österreich [ˈøːstəˌʁaɪç], officially the Republic of Austria (German: Republik Österreich), is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square kilometres (32,377 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austria's terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 metres (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speak local Austro-Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other local official languages are Burgenland Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene.
 The University of Vienna

The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria became one of the great powers of Europe and, in response to the coronation of Napoleon I as the Emperor of the French, the Austrian Empire was officially proclaimed in 1804. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary.
Stiftsgymnasium Melk is the oldest Austrian school

When the Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empire collapsed in 1918 with the end of World War I, Austria used the name German Austria („Deutschösterreich”, later „Österreich”) in an attempt for union with Germany but was forbidden due to the Treaty of Saint Germain. The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919. In the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was occupied and annexed by Nazi Germany. This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Nazi Germany was occupied by the Allies and Austria's former democratic constitution was restored. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral.
 The Basilica of Mariazell is Austria's most popular pilgrimage site

Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.6 million, is Vienna. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,723 (2010 est.). The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2010 was ranked 25th in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.
 Bilingual sign of Oberwart (in Hungarian Felsőőr) in Burgenland.

Food and drink
Austria's cuisine is derived from that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austrian cuisine is mainly the tradition of Royal-Cuisine ("Hofküche") delivered over centuries. It is famous for its well-balanced variations of beef and pork and countless variations of vegetables. There is also the "Mehlspeisen" Bakery, which created particular delicacies such as Sachertorte, "Krapfen" which are doughnuts usually filled with apricot marmalade or custard, and "Strudel" such as "Apfelstrudel" filled with apple, "Topfenstrudel" filled with a type of cheese curd called "topfen", and "Millirahmstrudel" (milk-cream strudel).
 In 1999, Austria introduced the single European currency, the euro. With 17 other EU member states it forms the Eurozone
In addition to native regional traditions, the cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian, Bohemia Czech, Jewish, Italian, Balkan and French cuisine, from which both dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed. The Austrian cuisine is therefore one of the most multicultural and transcultural in Europe.
Mariahilf shopping avenue

Typical Austrian dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Kaiserschmarren, Knödel, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There are also Kärntner Kasnudeln, which are pockets of dough filled with Topfen, potatoes, herbs and peppermint which are boiled and served with a butter sauce. Kasnudeln are traditionally served with a salad. Eierschwammerl dishes are also popular. The "Eierschwammerl", also known as "Pfifferling", are native yellow, tan mushrooms. The candy Pez was invented in Austria, as well as Mannerschnitten. Austria is also famous for its Mozartkugeln and its coffee tradition.
 Modern Vienna, Vienna International Centre with the United Nations Office at Vienna

Beer is sold in 0.2 litre (a Pfiff), 0.3 litre (a Seidel, kleines Bier or Glas Bier) and 0.5 litre (a Krügerl or großes Bier or Halbe) measures. At festivals one litre Maß and two litre Doppelmaß in the Bavarian style are also dispensed. The most popular types of beer are lager (known as Märzen in Austria), naturally cloudy Zwicklbier and wheat beer. At holidays like Christmas and Easter bock beer is also available.

The most important wine-producing areas are in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Vienna. The Grüner Veltliner grape provides some of Austria's most notable white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine grape.
 Austrian rural area of Schoppernau in summer.

In Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, Most, a type of cider or perry is widely produced.

Schnapps of typically up to 60 % alcohol or fruit brandy is drunk, which in Austria is made from a variety of fruits, for example apricots and rowanberries. The produce of small private schnapps distilleries, of which there are around 20,000 in Austria, is known as Selberbrennter or Hausbrand. A very high percentage schnaps is called "Umblachter" and has up to 85% Alcohol.
 View of Hallstatt
 Sankt Anton am Arlberg
 Austrian Parliament in Vienna
 Foreign ministry
World famous Vienna State Opera

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Around Shinagawa Station
Wing Takanawa is an excellent shopping center to the west of Shinagawa Station. Also, the Shinagawa Prince Cinema at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is an high class movie multiplex that has one of the few Imax screens in Japan.

Sengakuji Temple
This temple was founded in 1612 and is most famous for being where the location where the 47 Ronin were buried. Take the Toei Asakusa Line to Sengakuji Station as it is a long walk from Shinagawa Station.

Shimbamba Station Area
One stop south of Shinagawa Station on Keihin's Kyuko Line is Shimbamba Station. The Shinagwa Shrine, Ebara Shrine and the first post town of the Tokaido Road, Shinagawa-syuku, are located around this station.

Shinagawa Aqua Stadium
The centerpiece of Epson Shinagawa Aqua Stadium is the large circular arena where dolphins, their trainers and performers put on high energy aquatic shows. Beside this and the sea lion stadium, there is a penguin exhibit, an underwater tunnel and a number of smaller tanks.
Shinagawa Aqua Stadium is located at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel in front of Shinagawa Station. It is part of a larger entertainment complex with four rides, a concert hall and restaurants.

Dolphin Show
The dolphin show is the highlight of Shinagawa Aqua Stadium. It is best described as a water based circus with no bears in tutus. The seats wrap all around the stadium and, so, every seat has a good view of the action. The front rows are likely to get splashed which is played up for all its worth and more before the show.
The human performers do their best to excite the crowd before and during the show. The show itself is a combination of dolphin leaps and singing. It's clearly aimed at a young audience but it is still embarrassingly good fun to clap along.
Sea Lion Show
The sea lion show takes place at a smaller stadium on a smaller rectangular raised stage with a small pool in front. It is slower paced and has more in common with other aquarium shows than the other show. The two sea lions are remarkably well trained and pull off a crowd pleasing set of tricks on their trainers.
For aquarium lovers, the glass is half full if you like shows. Shinagawa Aqua Stadium makes no attempt to educate. If you are looking to find out about Tokyo's aquatic wildlife then you are better off with Tokyo Sea Life Park or Shinagawa Aquarium.
In fact, if you're not interested in shows then the aquarium portions don't have enough value to justify the ticket price. In fact, on busy days, the aquarium portion can end up becoming a waiting room for the sea lion show if you don't get in before the seats fill up. But, from the perspective of a kid, I can't think of any reasons not to be thrilled to be going here.

Getting There
Shinagawa Aqua Stadium is in front of Shinagawa Station at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. From the station, exit through the west (Takawa) exit and cross the street. There are numerous signs.
Shinagawa Station is on JR East's Yamanote Line and Keihin-Touhoku Line. It is the terminus for Keikyu's trains that go to Haneda Airport.
Shinagawa Aquarium
Shinagawa Aquarium is fair distance south of Shinagawa Station on Keihin's Kyuko Line and is one of the three full featured aquariums in the Tokyo area. The aquarium was opened in October, 1991 and has since expanded by opening a penguin exhibit, shark tank and seal building.

Shinagawa Aquarium is one of the three full featured aquariums in the Tokyo area. As the name suggests, it is in Shinagawa but, instead of being in the area most tourist will associate with Shinagawa, it is south along the coast towards Haneda Airport from JR Shinagawa Station. It is in a corner of a pleasant but overly paved park beside the ocean.

The aquarium was opened in October, 1991 and has established a tradition of opening a new section for every 5 year anniversary. Penguin land was opened in August 1996 and was followed by the shark tank in 2001 and the seal observation building in 2006.
The first sections of the aquarium deal with the native fish of Tokyo Bay. Sadly, the displays might be a more natural environment for the fish than where they were scooped up from. There is a surprising diversity of fish out in the bay that most people in Tokyo would never encounter if it weren't for these displays.
Most of the displays are medium or smaller sized when compared with other aquariums in Japan. The underwater tunnel through the large tank is still as impressive as when the aquarium opened. The tank holds a astonishing menagerie of aquatic creatures. Similarly, the rain-forest tank holds almost as much fish as it does water. Feeding time at the later tank is not to be missed. The giant sedate monsters come to life and snap up the food the second it hits the water.
The final sections that contain the 5 year anniversary additions are some of the best parts of Shinagawa Aquarium. The spotted seal observation building is probably the best exhibit in the aquarium. The shark tank is a bit understated but watching the shark swim by a more than once takes a brave and fascinated mind. The penguin exhibit is present but not really that special.
Shinagawa Aquarium has one of the two "wet" stages in Tokyo. Dolphin and sea lion shows are put on throughout the day. The other stage is at the Epson Aqua Stadium near Shinagawa Station. It cost more and has only a few other tanks.

To put it bluntly, Shinagawa Aquarium's displays range widely in quality. This varying standard diversity is matched only by the variety of aquatic life in the aquarium. There are plenty of unique tanks (including a very popular touch pool) that aren't to be missed at the Shinagawa Aquarium. Oddly, the restaurant is located outside of the aquarium which decreases its appeal.
There are newer, larger and more innovative aquariums in Japan but except for Tokyo Sea Life Park they aren't anywhere near Tokyo. Shinagawa Aquarium is well worth seeing for those in the Tokyo region.

Getting There
Of the two train lines that run along the coast south of Tokyo, Keihin runs the one with the closest stop (Omori-Kaigan Station) to Shinagawa Aquarium. Keihin's line only connects from Shinagawa Station to Haneda Airport so you'll have to change trains at Shinagawa Station if you're coming from somewhere else in Tokyo. JR Omori Station on the Keihin-Tohoku Line is a 15 minute walk and the other is only 8 minutes away.
A free shuttle bus operates between JR Oimachi Station and Shinagawa Aquarium. This is a major train line intersection between Shinagawa station and the aquarium. The buses are at 15 minute intervals at peak times and departs from the number 6 bus stop. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes.
A water taxi from Hinode Pier goes to Shinagawa Aquarium. One way combo tickets can be bought at both sides. This route does not operate when the aquarium is closed.
The parking lot is on the expensive side (100 yen for 20 minutes) and may be full during peak times. If you drive, approach from the south to enter. There are maps on the website but are only in Japanese.

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Skyscrapers in Shinagawa

Shinagawa (品川区, Shinagawa-ku?) is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Japan. In English, it is called Shinagawa City. The ward is home to nine embassies.
As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 344,461 and a density of 15,740 persons per km². The total area is 22.72 km².
Shinagawa house boats with high rise apartments in the background

Shinagawa (品川) is one of 23 special wards of Tokyo. The area around Shinagawa Station is generally thought of as Shinagwa, however, it is not actually in the modern Shinagawa City. It was the first post town on the ancient Tokaido Road from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Shinagawa has a number of attractions and historic sights but is mainly a business district. It is a popular place to stay because of its proximity to Haneda Airport and to other major districts of Tokyo. A number of high class hotels like that Shinagawa Prince Hotel are located around the station.
Embassies for Iceland, Brunei and other countries are located to the south west of Shinagawa Station.

Japan Airlines headquarters in Tennōzu Isle, Shinagawa
Getting There
JR Shinagawa Station is stopped at by trains on the Yamanote, Yokosuka and Keihin-Tokohoku Lines. It is the southern most station where the Keihin-Tokohoku Line runs parallel to the Yamanote Line.
JR Shinagawa Station is stopped at by most Tokaido Shinkansens. Note that during peak travel times that it is much easier to get a non-reserved seat from Tokyo Station if you are traveling west.
Keihin Railway's Kyuko Line runs from Shinagawa Station to Haneda Airport. Their station is located besides the JR station on the west side. Transfer tickets can be bought inside each of the stations to move directly between the two.
Exterior of Shinagawa Station in Minato

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Tourism (Shibuya)

TEPCO Electric Energy Museum
TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is a large electric utility which operates around 190 power plants (many of which are around Tokyo area). This excellent outreach center and showroom to the north of Shibuya Station is aimed at kids and is mostly in Japanese but there are a surprising number of interesting, detailed and high-tech exhibits. Open from 10:00 to 18:00 and admission is free. Closed on Wednesday or the day after if it is a holiday.

Hachiko Statue
The fable of Hackiko, the loyal dog who returned to Shibuya Station in the late 1920s and early 1930s every day to wait for his dear departed master, is commemorated with a statue outside the station. The story was told to countless school children as moral lesson on loyalty in Japan. The dogs loyalty is disputed (it may have been for the free handouts), but, he did help popularize and save the native Akita breed of dog from dying out.
The statue is a popular meeting place and there are always many people waiting around at the statue. Well, almost always, people do sleep and work in Tokyo, too.

NHK Studio Park
The venerable Japanese public broadcaster, NHK, has its headquarters in Shibuya and NHK Studio Park is probably the cheapest major attraction in Tokyo. NHK Studio Park allows both kids and adults to become part of some of NHK's most popular shows.
NHK Studio Park is a 12 minute walk north of Shibuya Station or south from Harajuku Station. Open from 10 to 6. Admission is free for children, 150 yen for high school students and 200 yen for adults.

Tobacco and Salt Museum
The Tobacco and Salt Museum is run by Japan Tobacco which once held a monopoly on both products in Japan. Japan has no salt mines so people had to harvest salt from the sea until recently. This quirky museum is recommend by many Tokyo guides and is a short walk from Shibuya Station.

Harajuku has been regarded for many years as the place where many of Japan's nascent youth trends will emerge. Famous places in Harajuku include Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine.
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