Tag Archives: WWII

AKA Field Trip to Orvieto

Sabrina Tatta, one of the LSJ professors invited me to join her program on their day trip to Orvieto on Friday. Seeing as how I like to take advantage of as many free things as I possibly can, I said sure without hesitation.

We met at the Portone bright and early on Friday morning and as we were walking to the bus, it started to rain. It was the first raindrops I have felt since arriving in Rome a month and a half ago. It felt so refreshing. On our way to Orvieto we made a pit stop at Bomarzo. Bomarzo was made famous by the Park of the Monsters, AKA Villa of Wonders, AKA Sacred Grove. It is a park commissioned by Prince Orsini after his wife’s death as a kind of tribute to her. It includes a wide variety of monstrous sculptures intended to astonish. My favorite one is a monster’s face that you can walk into. The acoustics of the room inside the monster makes your voice carry and echo. Lucky enough, I went inside with Dominique, a singer, and she serenaded me. It sounded so beautiful.

Monster in Bomarzo

Monster in Bomarzo

Back on the bus and we were in Orvieto in no time. Orvieto is situated on top of a flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff that was once inhabited by the Ancient Etruscans and then the Romans. First we visited the duomo/cathedral, which held a particular surprise for me. I had no idea that the Chapel of San Brizio was in Orvieto! This chapel is home to Luca Signorelli’s most famous frescoes.

Luca Signorelli's Resurrection of the Flesh in San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto

Luca Signorelli's Resurrection of the Flesh in San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto

Pigeon holes in the underground

Pigeon holes in the underground

Next we signed up for a tour of Orvieto’s underground. I really think dad would have enjoyed this. The tunnels and caves were carved into the cliffs by the Etruscans and the Romans searching for sources of water to supply the ancient towns above ground. In the middle ages the tunnels were used as a means of escape during enemy sieges. In the early Renaissance, families who owned property above carved niches into the tunnel walls to encourage pigeons to nest there. Then the families would make money selling the eggs at market. In the 1700s, the tunnels were excavated a little too enthusiastically and the town above started to sink in and reinforcements had to be made. During WWII, the underground was used as a bomb shelter for the inhabitants of Orvieto and surrounding towns. Today there are over 1,000 tunnels underneath the city. So cool!

Bearing the breeze on the top of Torre di Mauro/Clock Tower

Bearing the breeze on the top of Torre di Mauro/Clock Tower

After the tour, we climbed the stairs of the clock tower for a beautiful view of the city. One of the great things about Italy is that in every city there is something that you can climb to get a view. After a little shopping and museum-bathroom-using, we headed down to St. Patrick’s Well. Apparently the well is so deep that the Italians have an expression about it. When you want to say that you don’t have enough money for something, you say that your pockets aren’t as deep as St. Patrick’s well. After that, it was time to hop back on the bus and head home!

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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 Zauberflöte (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. 😩 I take the train tonight to Berlin.

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Raindrops on Roses

View from Salzburg Castle

View from Salzburg Castle

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the train to Salzburg, Austria. When we arrived, we took a long walk in the rain to our hostel. Our hostel had a wonderful view of the famous Salzburg castle, but the same view showed many a construction crane as well. After dropping our things off, we walked up to the castle as a group. I have never been to a castle as disappointing as the Salburg castle. It looks glorious from the outside, but there’s really not much to see once you’ve trekked up the insanely steep hill and paid admission to get inside. Okay, so there was one thing to see: There was a medieval fair going on (kind of like a Renaissance fair). The best part was the medieval band which had a very enthusiastic oboe player.

After the castle Andrea, Sarah, Kirsten and I decided to explore the city. As it turns out, Salzburg is not that big. Our walk from the train station to our hostel covered the entire city, but during our tour in the rain we visited the cathedral, the main shopping street and the palace. In the cathedral, Kirsten and I went below to the crypts, which were less scary than the word “crypt” makes it seem. When we were on Getreidegasse, we realized it must be the “Disneyfied’ street we read about in Cultural Studies class. Even the McDonald’s had an authentic-style street sign. Finally we crossed the bridge and wandered through the gardens of the palace. Andrew met up with us here.

Looking at Salzburg Castle from the Palace Gardens with Sarah

Looking at Salzburg Castle from the Palace Gardens with Sarah

Later that night we had our (paid-for) group dinner at another very Disney-like Austrian restuarant. Andrea, Verena and I tried Himbeer Radler, beer mixed with raspberry juice. So delicious! After dinner Verena took us to a monastery, which is basically a brewery. We all shared MĂ€rzen in liter mugs!

The next morning we packed up and hopped on a train to the little town of Mauthausen. It was a quaint little Austrian town just off of the Danube, but we weren’t there for its picturesque qualities. On the top of the hill overlooking Mauthausen stands the remains of one of the most brutal concentration camps. We had a tour guide who showed us the wailing wall, laundry room, living quarters, crematorium, torture room and gas chamber. It was a very sobering experience. This concentration camp was exceptional because it was not mainly for Jewish people. This camp focused on what the Nazis deemed political radicals, criminals, the insane and social radicals (homosexuals). People from all over the world were interred at Mauthausen and they had to work in a quarry until they died. At the waling wall there are plaques dedicated to people from Poland, Spain, Russia, Italy and the list goes on and on. This really hit home the fact that the Holocaust was not limited to the Jews.

After our tour of the camp we walked down the hill back to the train station. We did the reverse of what the Mauthausen prisoners had to do. The prisoners would arrive at the normal train station and the SS would force them to walk through the town and up the hill to the camp. Therefore, many townspeople saw the Nazis’ victims walk by their front doors for six years while the camp was in use.

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Between Danes and Czechs

The day I got back from Denmark, Doris gave me a call and invited me to a couch surfing event. So, a few minutes later Billy and I met Doris and some other couchsurfers on the steps of the Opera House for a game of Twister. Yep, that’s what I said. Twister.

The next day Andrea, Billy and I planned on heading out to Mayerling and Heiligenkreuz for a day trip out of the city. Unfortunately, the bus doesn’t run on a holiday, so we went to the Augarten instead. It is a beautiful park where they have huge anti-aircraft towers left over from WWII.

Augarten

Augarten

On Tuesday we had a class field trip to the movie theater to see The Third Man. It’s an Orson Welles film from 1949 that takes place in occupied Vienna after WWII. It was wonderful to see at this point in our trip because each scene takes place somewhere I’ve been in the city. “Oh look! They’re near our school! “Oh! There’s a great ice cream shop there!” “Oh! We had a picnic there once!” Then on Thursday our teacher Verena took us on a tour of the famous cemetery in the movie. Ethan and I recreated the final scene for a photo that will hopefully be posted soon! We also saw the graves of famous musicians like Beethoven and Schubert.

Later that day we went back to the Belvedere for art history class and finally saw some Klimt and Schiele! I can’t believe I’ve been in Vienna this long without visiting Vienna’s most famous artworks. One of my favorite paintings from today was Egon Schiele’s Embrace. It apparently “grossed out” Andrea, but I think it is quite beautiful. Judge for yourself.

Egon Schiele, Embrace, 1917.

Egon Schiele, Embrace, 1917.

Wednesday was my first day on the job as a nanny. I will be babysitting Sasha, an 8 year old half-American half-Russian girl, for the entire month of June. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve worked with kids. I am a little worried because even day one was a bit frustrating. She kept hanging up when her dad would call and homework that should have taken 15 minutes ended up taking 2 hours. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m being paid for this…

Now, it’s off to Prague. Unfortunately, Billy won’t be joining us. He may have an appendicitis and is on his way to the hospital now. He will be missed!

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Oster in MĂŒnchen

I got home yesterday from Munich. Billy, Michelle, Amanda, Sarah, Rebecca and I left Vienna Thursday night on the train to spend Easter weekend in Munich because we had Friday and today off from school. Joey met up with us when we arrived at the train station. Andrew and his friend Nikolai met up with us the next day.

On Friday, Joey and I wandered through the city. We happened upon the Hunting Museum, but it was closed for Good Friday. Sorry Dad! We stopped at the Frauenkirche, the main church in Munich that was mostly destroyed during WWII. We had lunch in a beer garden at the Botanical Gardens. We ate curry wurst and the largest pretzel I have ever seen! Later that day we met up with our friend Markus who took us to see what he calls the “Bavarian Statue of Liberty”. Then we walked to a park and at oranges in the grass.

That night we met up with everyone from my program again. We split into two groups: boys vs. girls. The girls and I spent 23 euro to go on a Bavarian beer and food tour while the boys did their own thing trying to eat more and drink more for less than we spent on the tour. In the end I think the boys definitely drank more, but the girls ate better food and learned about the history and making of beer and traditional Bavarian food from our guide. We met up with the boys later that night at the HofbrĂ€uhaus, the famous beer hall where Hitler gave a speech. I’ve decided that my favorite beer is Radler, a helles (light in color) beer mixed with lemonade. Here’s a photo of the girls and I during our tour. Notice how all the food is gone…

Bavarian Beer and Food Tour

Bavarian Beer and Food Tour

On Saturday Joey and I wandered around again while our friends tried unsuccessfully to attend the soccer game. We took a short nap in the English gardens. We ate lunch at the Augustina Haus and had some of the best food! I had KÀsespÀtzle, which is becoming one of my favorite dishes and Joey had a plate full of different kinds of sausage and sauerkraut. That night we went to GÀrtnerplatz with Markus to meet up with some of his friends.

On Sunday we visited Schloss Nymphenburg, the palace in Munich. I’m beginning to enjoy our trips to palaces the most. They always have beautiful architecture, gardens and artwork. This palace is well known for its swans in its many water ways. My favorite part was when we took a break for some ice cream on a bench enjoying the view. We said goodbye to Joey here. After we finished wandering around the palace grounds, it was time to head to the train station.

Schloss Nymphenburg

Schloss Nymphenburg

On the train I finally finished reading 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The whole book seems like a bunch of beautiful poetic rambling, but in the last chapter you find out that every single word is as valuable as the next. This was quite possibly the best book I have ever read. Thanks for recommending it, Joey!

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