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Re(Wien)sited

Momma and I decided to spend a weekend in Vienna after considering many other European destinations. I would get a chance to revisit one of my favorite spots in the world and show my mom around, trying to get her to understand why I love Vienna so much. My mom and I arrived a little later than expected (only 40 minutes) due to a flight delay and yet our hotel had already given our room away. So at midnight they carted us over to the “nearest” hotel, which was actually a 20-minute cab ride away. We ended up in a part of town that I wasn’t familiar with, but Momma, always looking on the bright side, said what a wonderful opportunity it would be to get to know Vienna better. I am just bummed that I wasn’t able to see Diana, my ex-roommate, on the only day we would both be in town. 😦

Walking the Ring: Momma at Parliament

Needless to say, we didn’t get up to much on our first night in Vienna, but the next day we had big plans. We started out by walking the Ringstrasse, one of the first things I did when I arrived in Vienna over a year ago. Our first stop was the University to see the blank walls where Klimt’s famous paintings would have been. Nothing to report there. Then we continued along the ring to the Opera house stopping at all the famous buildings along the way. We even dropped by IKI for a quick hello. From there, we cut north to Stephansdom and may have done a little shopping along the way… By lunchtime we were hungry for some Wienerschnitzel and ate at the restaraurant near Ruprechtskirche. Best Wienerschnitzel I have ever had! It was so tender and delicious! After lunch I took Momma down to my old neighborhood. We revisited my dorm, grocery store, hang-out spots and my favorite ice cream parlor, Tichy. I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but Vienna has these ice cream balls that are to die for. The Eismarillenknödel, a mouthful in more ways than one, is a ball of vanilla ice cream with an apricot mousse center rolled in shortbread cookie crumbs… Yeah, i know. Other varieties include the Himbeereisknödel (replace the apricot with raspberry and the shortbread with chocolate cookie crumbs), the Schneeball (replace cookies with crumbed, hard white marshmallow) and one for which I cannot remember the name, but that’s because it was coffee-flavored. Ick. Here’s a picture of three ice cream balls at Tichy. I wish I could replace the coffee ball with a Schneeball. Oh well!

Ice Cream Balls at Tichy

The next day we made sure to be up early so we could get our museum on. We took my beloved U-bahn to the Museums Quartier. First stop: The Leopold Museum. The Leopold is one of those places that makes you realize why you’re an art history major, or at least that’s what it did for me. I had been looking at countless fragmentary, dusty white corpses in Roman museums for months, which is all well and good. I love me some ancient Roman art, really I do. But the artworks I have been studying are creations of the state with a predetermined message independent of the artist’s agenda. It’s ancient propaganda. It’s fascinating. But I hadn’t seen anything so infused with emotion or so personal for a while. Schiele makes you feel what he felt. And I cried. So maybe this is why I am an art history major, not why you are.

At the Leopold with a Poster of Schiele

Next stop on the museum schedule was the modern art museum across the platz, which looks like a big, black, blocky scar in the MQ. One of the best parts of this museum is its video collection. There were some Nan June Paik, Richard Serra and William Wegman pieces. All lovely, but the pride and joy of the MUMOK is Andy Warhol, who appears as a glittery ghost in a double life-size poster inside the museum. Ick. I have never loved Warhol, but I gave him a fair chance and watched quite a few of his videos. Sad, I still don’t like him.

Mom & Me chilling on a MQ bench with MUMOK in the background

After the museums, we wandered over to the Burggarten and paid Mozart our respects while mowing down on some Käsekrainer. Boy, do I love Austrian food! Lucky us, the Genussfest in Stadtpark happened the same weekend we visited! Recalling old memories of eating topfen on olive bread with Andrea, we strolled the paths through the park tasting, tasting, tasting. What else would you do at a taste fest? The weather was lovely, the food was delicious. 🙂 Since I was feeling a little nostalgic, I drug Momma to Hohermarkt for gelato. Even though I’ve had authentic gelato continuously for almost a year now, the gelateria am Hohermarkt still holds up.

Still running high on nostalgia, we ate dinner at  Centimeter. Momma ate Schnitzel and I ordered Holzfällerknockerl. (No, I’m not just making up words.) Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my Tupperware and I had to leave the left-over goods on my plate destined for the trash can. Never again! That used to last me five meals for goodness sakes!

Radlers at Centimeter

The next morning I finally gave Sissi her due and visited her museum. She has some gorgeous dishes and dresses, but a sad life. If you don’t know who she is, look her up. She is famous in Austria, but very few Americans have ever heard of her. Shame. As a goodbye, Mom and I ate lunch on the Graben. Mmmmmm Würstel.

Mouth watering...

I will miss you Vienna, but rest assured; I’ll be back. Vienna is one of the best cities on the planet.

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Relaxing in Southern Germany

Flowers and Buildings along the Neckar River in Tübingen

Flowers and Buildings along the Neckar River in Tübingen

I had a little trouble getting to Tübingen. After that scorchingly hot afternoon in Berlin, there was a lightening storm that delayed my flight. Luckily I arrived in Stuttgart just minutes before the last S-Bahn and train to Tübingen. Joey met me at the airport and we made it back to his dorm by 2:30 am. Joey had school the next day so I spent a lot of my time sleeping off my Berlin exhaustion. In the evening I explored the city. I saw the castle, the river, the Rathaus, the island and the H&M. 🙂

The next day Joey and I walked from his dorm to the city center. We visited the main church and then bought some ice cream to eat by the Neckar river. They have these boats that you can only find here in Tübingen; they’re called Stocherkahn and they kind of remind me of the gondalas in Venice. The boat driver, if you will, uses a big stick to push the boat along the water. We saw people barbequing sausages for a leisurely summer dinner on a Stocherkahn as well as people practicing for the Stocherkahn race.

Stocherkahn Boat Race

Stocherkahn Boat Race

Afterwards we met up with his friend Ben to have a beer and a pretzel at the Bier Garten by the river. We then decided to be a bit adventurous with dinner and bought the ingredients to make pho at home. DISASTER. It tasted nothing like pho and was a bit hard to eat. Thank god Ben had chips and pretzels for us to munch on. After dinner we all met up with Lindsay and her Swedish boyfriend in the park and then we went to a bar for drinks. Then it was off to bed!

The next morning we had a lazy day trying to save up on sleep before heading to Greece. We did hop on the train to the next town over, Reutlingen, to buy some shorts for Joey to wear in Greece. We were mildly successful. Now we’re going to try to get some shut eye before heading to the airport at 3:30 am. Ahhhhhh, not looking forward to it.

The main thing that I learned during my time in Southern Germany: There are some differences between Austrian German and German German. I have trouble understanding and at times I sound like a fool.

Joey inside of my Authentic German Pretzel

Joey inside of my Authentic German Pretzel

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Another Visitor, Another Roommate

Recently I got back in contact with some friends I met in high school when I went to Northern Ireland for the summer. I found out that my friend Andrew Hamilton had been studying in Poland for the last few months. He was planning to do a bit of interailing this summer and when he found out that I was in Vienna, he made sure to come visit. So, Andrew arrived just hours after sending Hallie on her way back to the U.S. We were both surprised when we arrived back at my place to find out that my “extra bed” that I had offered Andrew was already occupied. Surprise! New roommate. They had told Diana when she moved out that I wouldn’t have another roommate, so I wasn’t prepared. Oh well. She seems nice. Her name is Paulina. She’s from Canada and she’s here for the summer to study music.

After figuring things out a bit, I had to, unfortunately, do homework. So, Andrew explored the city on his own using the map I gave him. Hours later he came home and we hung out in Billy and Joseph’s room until Billy got home from Scotland. Then we went to bed and Andrew slept on my floor (poor guy).

Andrew and I at Schönbrunn

Andrew and I at Schönbrunn

The next morning Andrea and I took Andrew to Schönbrunn Palace. That makes twice in one week. Except this time we explored the gardens more than I have in the past. Then I had to say goodbye to Andrew because I had to go to class and he would be leaving that night while I was nannying. During class Billy left early for a doctor’s appointment to check up on his appendix. They decided surgery was necessary and took out his appendix that night. His parents flew his brother in and we all went to go see him at the hospital the next day. I brought him plenty of Star Trek episodes to watch, but he still hasn’t gotten to them yet. That night Verena’s sister Marion gave us an architectural tour of Vienna–entirely in German. We started at the UNO city and got to go up to the top floor of one of the buildings to overlook the whole city. It was beautiful! This photo taken from the top of the building looks toward the city center. The large street that crosses the bridge continues through the to the other side of the city and our dorm lies only two blocks off this main street.

The View from UNO City

The View from UNO City

The tour ended at the Museums Quartier where the Architecture Center of Vienna was having a small party with cheap hot dogs and cheap beer. My new roommate Paulina and Billy’s brother Ben met us there. After spending some time at the architecture party, we moved to the center of the MQ so that Ben and Paulina could get the full MQ experience.

The next morning after visiting Billy again, I headed out to the 16th district to get more footage for my district project. I walked through the graveyard and tried to make it up to the palace, but I didn’t have time. I had to head back to the city center because we had a tour at the Jewish Museum. Our tour guide was interesting….. abrasive is probably a better word. She was trying to get us to interact and discuss, but it just wasn’t working. She showed us a screen print of some guy and we had to guess who it was. After minutes of awkward silence and forced guesses, she told us who this obscure Viennese Jewish man was and was appalled when we had never heard of him. I guess I just don’t know enough about Jewish culture. Note to self: Fix that.

This morning Andrea, Sarah, Joseph and I tried to go on a tour of the Ottakringer Brewery, but we misunderstood the website. Tours are offered daily, but you have to schedule one. So, we went to a Bier Garten instead and drank some Ottakringer and ate some delicious food.

Now it’s time to watch the Sound of Music before heading to Salzburg tomorrow morning. I’ve never seen it before!

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There are no kangaroos in Austria.

It is now the end of my first week in Vienna. I arrived last Saturday afternoon when the sun was shining. That night I stayed with my friend Doris. She also had three guys from the east coast visiting her. Doris took us all to a 1920s themed party at a museum. Apparently it was the Technical Museum’s 100th anniversary. Doris dressed up in true 1920s style and I did my best with what I had in my suitcase. At the door they handed out TanzKarte or dance cards. In the 1920s women would carry these cards around and men would ask them to dance. If the women wanted to dance then they would write the man’s name down. For example: Waltz Benjamin There we met an old couple who teach dance lessons. I learned the charlston and the foxtrot. It was so much fun! Afterwards Doris, a bunch of her friends and I went out to Ost Klub to listen to Balkan music. So interesting! The next morning Doris had made a huge breakfast for us with scrambled eggs, fruit and semmeln (bread rolls). After breakfast Doris, her friend and I went to the Wien Museum to see an exhibition about imagining travel in 19th-century Vienna. It reminded me of the many things I learned in my “Representations of Others in the 19th Century” course I took last quarter.

Later that day I met up with the other students in my program and we stayed at a hostel for a couple nights.

On Monday I had my oral placement test at school so they could put me in the right German class. After the tests our teachers led us on a hike around the Nußdorfer wine country where we stopped at a place in the woods that inspired Beethoven’s music and we sang a bit of his Ninth Symphony. Here is our group photo by the Beethoven monument:

Vienna Spring 2009 Students Singing Beethoven

Vienna Spring 2009 Students Singing Beethoven

We ended the night at a Heurige or wine garden where I ate schnitzl and drank Almdudler.

The next day we had a historical tour around the inner city to orient us. At night we were able to move into our dorms. The room is so nice, but also very bland. All my sheets, walls and furniture are white. My roommate Diana is from Romania and she is in Vienna studying classical music. The first night she made me a Romanian dessert soup which tasted like a cinnamon roll in cold, liquid form.

Classes started on Wednesday. I love my teacher and Rebecca from my program is in my class. IKI offers classes to people from all over the world; USA, France, Philipines, Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine, Croatia, and Korea are all represented by the ten people in my level. On Thursday we had our first Art History class, which I am looking forward to.

Today we are planning on visiting Schönbrunn for the annual Easter market and getting together to make plans for a weekend trip to Croatia for some sun and fun. (Not that it isn’t 75 and sunny here in Vienna.)

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Home Sweet Home

Well, I have great news. I have been assigned to a dorm in Vienna. So, now you can all check out where I will be living. I will be in a double room in a dorm for students called Schäffergasse just a few blocks from my school. Click here for a map of the location. I am very excited to be living here because it is very close to the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s colorful oldest outdoor market. I found this video on YouTube featuring photos from Naschmarkt (If my computer skills have failed me and the embedding doesn’t work, you can click on this link to see the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLTbrUEdeuE):

My dorm is also close to the Secession, the exhibition hall for Avant-Garde artists at the turn of the century, such as Gustav Klimt.

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907-1908.

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907-1908.

My dorm is also close to the popular 5th district nightlife around Schleifmuehlgasse and to the Opera House.  I’ll let you know if I end up seeing any shows at the Opera!

I recently received an email from my good friend Olivia. She just left this week to spend a few months in India. She has arrived safely and is experiencing a bit of culture shock, but is excited to be starting her journey in the (humid) city of Delhi!

Well, that is all for today. My tasks in the next few weeks are to nurse this cold I caught, write my paper, get my Italian study visa, and visit with my friends and family before I go. Hope to hear from you soon!

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