Day two and three in Vienna

Trip Start Jan 24, 2008
Trip End May 05, 2008

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

(Yesterday was so busy that I didn't have time to write about all that happened. It was an awesome day.)
We got up from an excellent nights rest in our very comfortable beds and we took a short walk to the "Bipa" which is like a toiletries store. We then had a tour of the Theresianum from Fritz who is one of the head administrators of the school. He showed us the head mistresses office which was fully furnished with historic furniture and period portraits of Maria Theresa and her husband. He then brought us back to the old Jesuit library that we had seen the previous day. Apparently there are two egyptian mummys that were donated to the school that are just sitting in a glass case with a blanket over the case. There are slowly but surely falling apart. It's quite sad because they haven't been able to get them properly restored. Apparently this used to be quite the fad in Europe to collect antiquities so the museums are full of mummys and they don't want to take any more in.
    So after this tour and lunch we went back to our wing of the palace and congregated in the classroom. We received our first assignment which was a scavenger hunt. We were given a list of different important places in Vienna and we were assigned three or four of them to go out and find.
     We all left together and went to Karlsplatz which is a huge beautiful building (I'm not sure what it's significance is yet other than that it's massive and gorgeous...) This led us to down town or Stephansplatz (which for those of you who are Vermonters, is like church street) there are cobble stone streets and tons of places to shop. We all stopped at the T-mobile store to put minutes on our new Austrian cell phones. While waiting for everyone we heard some racous from the end of the street. We soon realized that it was a protest. There were a bunch of people with signs and megaphones holloring about the controversy currently going on in Gaza. It was quite fascinating.
     We kept walking down this cobblestone street, (it seemed like the protesters were following us) and we came to St. Stephen's cathedral. This was the largest church I have ever seen in my life. It has a destictive patterned tiled roof. It's also Vienna's most famous church even though it only one of many. We split off into our pairs for the scavenger hunt from there. Caroline and I immediately went to check out the church and see when mass would be held on Sunday. We got into the vestibule and the list of masses was posted but unfortunately it was only in German so we did our best to translate (with little luck however) we saw that there were masses pretty much all day on Sunday and we saw one that said something "Doomusik", naturally I thought that must be something cool if it had the word music in it. So we decided that would be the mass we would go to today at 10:15am. We then went into the church. It took my breath away (which I'm pretty sure is the point). The whole interior was so old and so gothic. There were little altars all along the walls. The stain glass window were simple except for the arch on the top. the pillars holding up the roof were massive. There was a gate all along that back of the pews for when mass is being held, (this is a big tourist attraction so people come in and out all the time). The organ and pipes were very impressive. There were many elaborate paintings all over the church. It had one of those pulpits in the middle of the church on one of the pillars. The floors were a nice design of red and white tile. There's so much to say about this church, but it would take a ridiculous amount of time to describe in detail.
      This church wasn't even on our list of places that we had to find so once Caro and I were content that we had seen a decent amount of the church we left. (I was struck by how there were beggars inside the vestibule of the church begging for alms at the entrance and exit of the church.) I had to use a restroom, so we found a cute cafe right next to the church and I got an espresso. Austria is known for their espresso so I was kind of excited to try it. It was amazing. Even the presentation of it was superb not to mention the taste!
     Once we left the coffee shop we realized that we had very little time left to find the four places we were originally sent to find. So we found on our map the site closest to St. Stephan's. It was supposed to be on Graben Strasse. So we went there but we weren't sure exactly what we were looking for. It was called "Pestsaule Graben". There was this huge magnificent monument in the center of this street. Caroline approached a man near this monument and luckily he spoke English and told us that this statue was what we were looking for. He told us the story behind what the monument was built for. Apparently in the 1600s a massive plague swept Vienna claiming 75000 lives in Vienna alone. The Emperor at the time, Leopold I, said that when the plague finally ended he would erect this monument in thankgiving to God for redeeming them from the plague, and he kept true to his word. After this we had to run back to the Theresianum so we would be back for dinner.
     That evening we all went out to a club that Diego found. It was a Latin club and it was free to get in. We got in and got our drinks and went to the dance floor where there were two dance instructors teaching everyone how to salsa. It was sooo cool. I still have the little jingle that they used to teach it to us stuck in my head. "Eins, swie, drei... funf, sechs, sieben".
We stayed for about an hour and had a great time. Caro and I had to leave so that we would get some sleep before going to church this morning.
      This morning Caro and I left about an hour and 15 minutes before the mass that we wanted to go to so that we could hopefully get breakfast at a cafe. Little did we know that practically everything is closed on Sundays. The only places that we could find that were open were the American places. Starbucks and McDonalds. So even though we swore we wouldn't go to either of these places while in Europe we were left with no choice. So we went to McDonalds, which was surprisingling different from the McDonalds at home.
      Once we had our fill we went to St. Stephens. We weren't sure what to expect when we got there because as I said previously we couldn't really understand what the sign had said. We didn't know if we were going to see a concert or if it was going to be a mass. Well, it turns out it was a mass alright with a concert. There was an orchestra and full choir and organ. They played Mozart's Missa Longa for the ordinary part of the mass, his Andanta in F for offertory, Ave Verum Corpus for Communion and Kierchensonate in C for the recessional. It was fantastic! I have listened to this music for most of my musical life but I have never even imagined what it would be like to actually have if performed for what it was intended for, the mass. The mass was a good hour and a half. When we were leaving there were a bunch of people going into the church wearing traditional Austrian garb, I took pictures but I really don't know what they were all doing...       That was pretty much all we did today. We basically took it easy and rested today. It was ridiculously windy and slightly damp out today, plus everything was closed, so it was a good day to rest.
      Tomorrow we begin our classes... I'm rather excited to get into a new groove.
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