Week 4 and 5 in Vienna
Trip Start Jan 24, 2008
17Trip End May 05, 2008
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It was nice to be back in the familiarity of Vienna after Italy. For several days I didn't do much outside of the Theresianum because I was just trying to get back into the swing of things. We finally began our "Vienna Across the Ages" class with Professor Kroll. (He's an native of Vienna). He brought us to a museum on the second day of class. It was the Karlsplatz Vienna Museum, which is only a short walk from here. It was pretty cool. He taught us a lot about the history of the city and we got to see maps and models of what the city looked like over the centuries. We learned that Vienna was settled by the Celts originally and then the Romans came in and settled it. The original name the Romans gave the city was Vindobona. (I learned from Tony the other day that this means good winds, this makes sense since this city, I have noticed is very windy, and therefore not very polluted). This museum was a very nice historic museum. If I ever get some time I may go back.
On Thursday I was invited by one of the administrators here at the Theresianum, Tony, to go sing in his church choir where he is the choir director. I thought this sounded fun so I went a long. He picked me up in his car. (I realized that this was the first time since being in Vienna that I had been in a car). The church is called Pfarre Maria Geburt (which means the parish of the birth of Mary). When we got to the church he asked me what voice I was and I told him and showed me where the sopranos sit and said "you can sing with these lovely old ladies." Haha! They were all definitely a lot older than me. They were nice and spoke a bit of English. Tony handed out our music and I was delighted to see that we were singing a couple Bach chorales and the Mozart "Credo"! It was quite fun, but it was definitely a crash course in German because obviously that's all Tony and the rest of the choir were speaking throughout the rehearsal. A few times Tony stopped and told me in English what they were talking about. (Only slightly embarrassing). After the practice Tony asked me if I wanted to go out for a drink, and of course I said yes. We had to bring the piano player (who's like 80) back to his house. It was in the 11th district, which is out where all the normal people live in Vienna. We also had a young man accompanying us and he told me that there is nothing in the 11th district except for Europe's largest American football stadium. (I didn't even know that Europe had American football stadiums). We went to this wonderful traditional coffee house called Konzertcafe Schwarzenberg. We went in and were greeted by a nicely decorated (smoke-filled) cafe and there were live musicians (a violinist with a piano accompanist). We met another member of the choir there, named Christine. We ordered our drinks (I got hot chocolate) and Tony said he was going to order a lovely pastry called cardinal cake for us to share. It was scruptuous. It was like white cake with meringue and jam blended in. It was so good that Tony ordered a second piece. We had a wonderful talk about various things and then at 11pm we went home.
I found out that St. Stephen's has an English mass at 7pm every Saturday. So Saturday evening I went to church by myself and rather enjoyed myself. It was nice to finally be able to understand what was going on during the mass. It felt very American to me, although the people that were doing the music and the ministers of the mass were Polynesian I think. They sang a couple songs in a language that I didn't know. The priest and other ministers clearly weren't native English speakers.
On Sunday we went to the lovely Cafe Konditerei again. It's soo good! And we found this curve in the road near Graben, that Professor Kroll had told us to find. It apparently is where the original walls around Vienna were and if follows that curve.
This past Monday professor Kroll took us to see the crown jewels at one of the Hofburg museums. This museum was really nice. It wasn't meant to be a museum so the chronology was a little funky. We saw a bunch of stuff ranging from the middle ages to napoleon. One of the coolest things there, next to the crowns of course, I think was Napoleon's son's baby cradle. It was this incredible work of art with loads of symbolism all over it. The mantles that the royalty and nobility wore were really neat. There were huge paintings of some big ceremonies. It was nice to see these cuz it gave a context for all of the stuff we were looking at. They also had some religious relics that would have been incredibly important in their time. There was this large stone bowl that was believed to be the holy grail for a long time. There were also many narwhal tusks which were thought to be unicorn horns and incredibly valuable, they symbolized Jesus at the time. This was another museum that would definitely be worth revisiting.
The weather was beautiful this entire week and on Wednesday I went out to Karlsplatz and sat there and did some homework and enjoyed the weather and the atmosphere. It was so interesting to people watch from there. I love being in Europe.
This Thursday again I went to choir practice with Tony and he brought me to a different coffee house after. This time it was just me and him. This coffee house is only a short walk from the Theresianum. It was very nice too. Tony introduced me to traditional Viennese Pancakes. They're actually what I would call crepes. They were so good too, they came with apricot jam inside them. When we got them Tony drenched his in sugar, I was quite surprised because I expected that it would be very sweet anyway and it was. I told Caro about this place when i got home and we decided to have breakfast there yesterday morning. It was great. I got American pancakes. They put chocolate syrup on them instead of maple syrup. I got a cappuccino before I ate and then I got a pot of tea after I ate. The tea was quite nice, it was fruit tea, that was steeped literally with chopped pieces of dried fruit.
Later I went to the Mozarthaus with Taylor and Katie. This place was so great! I couldn't believe that I was actually in one of the places that Mozart actually lived! It was phenomenal. There was an audio tour included in the admission price which was very helpful.
Last night our entire class went to see Tanzhommage an Queen this was a contemporary ballet to the music of Queen. I really enjoyed it. I had never seen a contemporary ballet before and I think they did a great job. I especially liked that they had a couple pieces that kids were in. Like they had a kids version of the song We will Rock you.
Today Katie and I had planned to go to the zoo. So we jumped on the U-bahn this morning hoping that we would beat the weather, but when we got to our stop it was pouring buckets and it was incredibly windy. It was quite sad because we knew that the animals would not be out in this kind of weather, so we went back.
Tonight I went to the English mass again at St. Stephen's. It was similar to last weeks mass except this time all of the music except the recessional was in that language that I didn't know but suspect is Polynesian. It was very modern music, which feels very weird in such an ancient building. They didn't use the organ, they used a keyboard with modern affects. Actually tonight I think they may have just had a recording for accompaniment.
Sorry it's been so long since I've written and this is such a long entry. I'm going to be leaving for my next long trip on Friday. I can't believe it. I'm just barely finally getting back in a groove her in Vienna.