Tag Archives: IKI

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. ­čśŽ

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 Eismarillenkn├Âdel, 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 Himbeereiskn├Âdel (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 K├Ąsekrainer. 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. ­čÖé 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┬á Centimeter. Momma ate Schnitzel and I ordered Holzf├Ąllerknockerl. (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 W├╝rstel.

Mouth watering...

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

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Austria, Vienna

Letzte Woche

My Last Week in Vienna:

After getting home from Salzburg we went straight to Centimeter to meet up with Billy. He got out of the hospital on Saturday and wasn’t able to come on our class trip. He had his appendix removed and he is doing much better now.

On Monday I finished up my project for Cultural studies class. Each of us were assigned a different district of Vienna. I explored Vienna’s 16th District, Ottakring. I decided to make a video using the photo burst function on my camera. So, this video is like a flip book of still shots or a really fast slide show. The song I chose was Matt Costa’s Vienna. To watch my video click here.

I also had my presentation for art history this week. We went to the Secession building just down the street from my dorm and I talked about Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze. Here is part of the panel entitled Hostile Forces:

Klimt's Beethoven Frieze at the Secession

Klimt's Beethoven Frieze at the Secession

After my presentation, we took the bus to Hundertwasser Haus for our final art history excursion. It was so amazing. I wish it wasn’t raining so hard, so we could have explored more. It’s just a normal apartment complex, but the architecture is wacky and colorful. Michelle said the architect, Hundertwasser, hated straight lines. Even the floor was uneven. After art history, I had my last night with Sasha as a nanny. Wooooooooo!

On Wednesday we had our final day of Cultural Studies class. Verena’s mom came to talk to us about her experiences growing up during WWII and during the Allied occupation of Vienna. She told a cute story about receiving chocolates from American GIs on her walk to school. That night we all met up for dinner at a traditional Austrian Keller before running to the opera house so we wouldn’t miss the show. This time, the opera was paid for by our program and we saw Die Zauberfl├Âte (The Magic Flute). We learned about this opera in German 103, but this version was very modern. The whole opera took place within a white gridded cube. Some of the grids were trap doors, pedestals, windows, etc. There were also some quite funny animals in the opera.

Since then I have been trying to pack and eat as much Asian food as I can before getting to Italy. I had Chinese with Andrea on Wednesday, Japanese with Sarah, Rebecca and Billy on Thursday, and all-you-can-eat Asian buffet with Diana on Friday.

Friday night we had our farewell dinner at a Heurige in Grinzing. We were short a few people (Joseph, Amanda, Kirstin, Sara, and Ina), but we were joined by 30 IKI students from North Carolina. It was wonderful to be able to say goodbye to all our teachers and to the office staff at IKI. It was also wonderful to enjoy some free traditional Austrian food. (I needed a change from Asian.) That night we gave Dr. O, our art history teacher, a scarf and a card and she just about cried. It was so cute.

At the Heurige with Dr. O

At the Heurige with Dr. O

Anyway, I should finish packing and say goodbye to Vienna. ­čśŽ I take the train tonight to Berlin.

2 Comments

Filed under Austria, Vienna

Birthdays and the coming of Summer

The end of May holds a lot of birthdays for our group. So far we have celebrated Andrew’s birthday with an Indian dinner and Billy’s birthday with the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet for lunch and burritos for dinner. Then we headed out to Club Loco and Ride Club. Tomorrow is Amanda’s birthday and we will go out to dinner as soon as she gets back from Dublin. Then Michelle will be turning 20 to end our May birthday spree.

We also had another cooking night at IKI. This time we made things that I can’t remember the name of. I asked Sara to remind me, but she hasn’t replied yet. In any case, we made a savory soup with bits of pancake in it. Sounds gross, but trust me, it’s so good. The main dish was a noodle thing with cheese and ham, kind of like a casserole. We made Sommersalat again, too. For desert we had crepes filled with various toppings like strawberries, nutella or apricot preserves. Yum! I think they’re called Palatschinken in German.

Reflection of Karlskirche or St. Charles' Church in a pond

Reflection of Karlskirche or St. Charles' Church in a pond

In art history class last week, we visited a church I have been dying to see, Karlskirche. It’s a Baroque church just down the street from my dorm. On the inside they have an elevator that takes you up to the bottom of the dome where you can see all the frescos. Then you can climb the stairs to the tip top of the dome and get a 360-degree view of Vienna. It was amazing, but also very high up. I think Mom would have died when the stairs would shake. Here’s a view from below, looking at the elevator shaft and the platform at the bottom of the dome.

The path up the dome

The path up the dome

As for summer, Vienna is beginning to get quite warm and we’ve been enjoying the sunshine by visiting the Altedonaustrandbad and swimming in the river. Another common summer pastime is to visit the Prater, an amusement park here in Vienna. On Thursday Andrea and I met up with my roommate Diana and the two kids she was babysitting. Diana is afraid of roller coasters, but the kids aren’t allowed to go on them alone. So Andrea and I came to the rescue. Little did we know that a few of the rides are a bit much and made us (particularly Andrea) feel like puking. I powered through so that 9-year-olds Sasha and Anna didn’t miss out on the fun.

Now I am doing a bit of planning for my upcoming travels. Hallie has decided to come visit and I will meet her in Copenhagen next weekend. Then on July 5th I will be traveling to Greece with my roommate because she will be performing in a guitar festival there. However, I don’t know what to do with my time between getting out of school on June 28th and arriving in Greece on July 5th. Perhaps you could help me decide by voting here:

2 Comments

Filed under Austria, Vienna

All Things Viennese

Apparently I don’t write often enough for the McDonald family, so I will try to post twice a week instead of once. ­čÖé

On Tuesday after class a small group of us decided to attend the show at the opera house across the street from our school. You can get cheap standing tickets for only 3 or 4 Euro. Unfortunately they over-sold the standing area and we had to stand on the stairs. The Barber of Seville was playing. (Remember this episode of the Looney Tunes?)  It was very fun even though our feet hurt at the end of the night.

Rebecca, Andrea, Sarah and I waiting in line at the Opera.

Rebecca, Andrea, Sarah and I waiting in line at the Opera.

On Thursday our whole program got together and headed off to school for dinner. Brigitte, the school secretary, and Traudy, one of the teachers, taught us how to prepare the typical Austrian meal. A few students were assigned to making Wiener Schnitzel, which is like fried, breaded fillets of meat. They also fried up some mushrooms and zucchini in the same breading. Sarah and Rebecca tackled the Sommersalat, which means summer salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and onion. I started out cutting potatoes for the Erdapfelsalat or traditional potato salad, but then the girls needed help with the Apfelstrudel (apple strudel), so I moved over to that. I was amazed at how easy those dishes were to make! If you would like the recipe, let me know and I will send it to you!

The group enjoying the dinner we prepared!

The group enjoying the dinner we prepared!

Today I wandered around the city a bit and saw some beautiful things. I went to the Belvedere, which is a palace as well as a museum and saw the exhibition on Alfons Mucha, a Czechoslavakian Art Nouveau artist. It was really amazing. They even recreated the pavillion he designed for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900. I hope to do my presentation for art history class on Mucha.

I also wandered down a street that was the site for public art. There was a cement wall that bordered the west side of the street that had several individual panels on it. The introductory panel was titled, “Kunst Projekt: Erdapfel”, which means Art Project: Potato. Each panel had a different work of art that had something to do with potatoes. One of my favorites was simply a hole cut in the cement wall in the shape of a potato. When you looked through the hole, you could see a beautiful park on the other side. This one was also great:

Potato Art on Argentinierstrasse

Potato Art on Argentinierstrasse

Leave a comment

Filed under Austria, Vienna

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 Nu├čdorfer 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 Sch├Ânbrunn 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.)

1 Comment

Filed under Austria, Vienna