Thursday, June 3, 2010

Daily Digest (Days 3&4)

:) sorry I stole this subject header from ya...kinda sorta. not really

Anyhow, welcome to the end of Day 4 in Vienna. The past two days have been excitingly exhausting. I don't know how Grandma can manage to do all this! We both eat the same amount and sleep the same amount...which speaks poorly of my energy levels I suppose! But hey, I'm a young growing woman right? Surely I need my rest too!

So yesterday was rainy-- very rainy. But beautiful. Almost like an October fall rain, where the clouds roll in just to cover the sun enough for a chilly afternoon, but the rays can still shine through. Streaks of grey clouds covered the sky and little droplets fell like powdered sugar on top of a dessert. Soft enough to not affect the day, but hard enough to leave a coating on everything it touched. So after breakfast, Grandma sent me on a great adventure to find the International Herald so we could set our agend for the next two days. Well, you can imagine that when rain comes, the newspaper deliverymen don't like to step out of their trucks to deliverit. So I went on a nice wild egg hunt to find this paper that we would be able to read. And along the way I found a nice tourist-like hoodie to stay warm.

When I returned we decided we'd take the morning off exploring and Grandma would finish her spy novel and read about the latest world disasters (Spain going under economically, strains between Israel & Egypt, etc.) and I would get to walk around town, try to find a few 12-letter street names that had hidden historical spots on them, and maybe do some shopping....guess how many of those street names I remembered and then consequently found? Zero. So instead I wandered around the giant Cathedral and turned at each available strasse or grasse (one-way or two-way streets) and just circled around until I found the Cathedral again and took the next turn. I stopped in many shops to get the feel for how expensive clothing is here and the kinds of fashion they wear everyday. I envy their free-spirited minds to mix and match seemingly mismatching outfits. In my eyes, they look fabulous but I know that if I were to walk around the US in a pleated skirt, plaid sweater, turquoise tights, brown boots and a blue zip up hoodie, everyone and their mothers would look at me sideways. Jus' sayin'.

So then I found this little Viennese tea and chocolate shop where the owner happened to make her own jewlery and I was able to taste a few of the chocolates and learn about the flavor varieties for the teas. The women were so helpful I just had to buy a bar of chocolate and a box of tea. How I'm going to get them home intact after 30 days in Paris I have no idea, but we shall see :)

Then I met Grandma promptly at 1 pm and we went to her little tea room where we had a light meal of chicken salad and jellied ham (she got that, meat and jello should never mix in my mind!) Then we headed to the U-Bahn and the street-car to venture up to the Belvedere, this old palace with a beautiful garden. Again, comparing things to my Parisian adventures, this garden looked like something you'd see at Versailles. The pattern of the garden was so clean cut and I'm sure there was a symbolic background, but my German ain't so good these days. (Getting better though! I can read the menu now!) and there are ponds on either side with beautiful statues in the center. Then in the middle of the garden, just as it starts to slope down you catch a sound of running water, where one of the fountains happens to waterfall into an even grander fountain at the bottom of the hill. And it just continues all the way down. There's a center path, and paths on either side of the gardens, decorated with benches and strolling couples, walking hand in hand whispering sweet nothings to each other as if the statues could hear their every word. It was beautiful. And the view of the city was perfect. The skyline was a little hazy, and patches of red rooftops stood out from the tops of the green towering Cathedrals. Of course, if you look for it, you can always see the great Cathedral by our hotel centered in the Graben.

So we went inside the Belvedere, which has been rebuilt into an art museum for 17th and 18th Century Austrian artwork. Grandma specifically wanted to show me Gustav Klimt's work. Much of his paintings were portraits of women with architectural backgrounds that sometimes made them look 3D. Of course the symbolism of his work went right over my head but maybe after a few weeks of training in Paris I'll be able to pick up such secrecies. His work is a little too out-there for my taste, I preferred the pointalism approach by other local artists and the work of another major artist, named Egon Schiele. His scenery paintings were much more realistic, while his portraits had less structure, and a greater grotesque feeling. The faces revealed every detail, every wrinkle and dark spot, showing their darker side. The colors were not as vibrant as the Klimt pieces, but the eroticism behind both artists' work must have been extremely controversial at the time. For Klimt, many of the ladies were either half or completely topless and for Shiele sometimes the scenes were nude altogether.

So after the Belvedere adventure we headed back to the room for some relaxation before dinner. And for dinner we went to the oldest inn in Vienna. It's called the Kupferdachl, and it was one of the more modern places we have ventured. I was a little surpised because so many of the places we have gone have lower ceilings, no central airing, and there is usually a faint smell of beer and cigars that hits us upon entering the doors. At any rate, we were seated immediately and I decided to try a wheat beer tonight since I never tried one in the states. Weizenbier, it was a little heavier but good. And I had gnocchi...not exactly Austrian or German but that's alright I suppose. And to top off my cultural evening I stopped for some Gelato on the way home :)

This morning was beautiful. The sunshine started pouring in our room around 6 o'clock and when we went to breakfast the clouds merely dotted the bright blue sky. After eating our meat and cheese breakfast, accompanied by some heiße schokolade, we started out for the U-Bahn station to head for the Viennese hills/mountain. We took the 38A bus to Corbenzl which has this nice little resort that sits on top of a hill that overlooks most of Vienna. The tree line hits just right so you can look out over everything. The busride continued into the park and up the hills into Kahlenberg where there's a Church and a private International University and a little souvenir shop with an ice cream freezer and a playful dog. Grandma then took the bus down to the Leopoldsberg stop where I would walk down the trail from Kahlenberg to meet her. The trail was paved for me and there were plenty of small flowers, mostly pink and yellow in color, for me to look at. I turned a corner or two and saw this big open field where I could imagine young children running around as their parents sat on a blanket drinking wine, enjoying the Sunday afternoon. The trail follows the road we took to get to the top and when I met up with Grandma at the bus stop, we turned a new way and followed this steep path up to the top of the mountain. There was this old German building that was closed up but had lookout points at every corner. I saw the Danube river, with it's locks and dams and how it crosses over into the Danube Channel as it enters the center city of Vienna. And then we walked a little further down the lookout and I saw in the distance the faint outline of the Czech Republic. I just thought it was amazing. I thought, here I am, 19 years old, helping my Grandma make her last hike up the Viennese hills and I am looking at, for the first time, the Czech Republic. And the sun was shining brightly upon us. Things like that just don't happen everyday. But I digress.

We went back down to the bus stop which had to take us back up to Kahlenberg where I stopped in the little souvenir shop to look at some old postcards and of course to pet the dog. The owner of the shop told me the cards were the last of his friend's collection from the 1970's. I could tell these were old photographs, mostly black and white, but that wasn't how I knew. The clothing and types of photographs were aged, a little outdated and the cardstock for the postcards was a different material, and starting to bend at the edges. I told him I was very interested in black and white photography so he told me all about his friend's old shop in Paris. His English was very good for being so far into the country where not many tourists probably go. So I bought four postcards and thanked him for the lovely conversation. I stepped back out into the sunshine just as "Hey Soul Sister" started playing on the radio, and I could hear the man whistling along as I rejoined my Grandmother on the bus. Great start to the day.

We had lunch at Grandma's coffee house again, I got a vegetable quich and Grandma had some soup. There were these two old ladies sitting in the corner of the shop, just having a wonderful time. There were probably into their eighties, and had most likely known each other for quite a long time. It was about 2 in the afternoon and both of them had suits on, blazers and skirts with some pumps. One was wearing her nicest set of pearls and the other a nice long golden chain. Sipping tea and a tall beer, the two were in non-stop conversation until their food arrived. Then they just dove right in, enjoying every bit of their nourishment. And as they finished, the conversation just picked right up until the waitress came back around. They ordered something, in German of course, and the waitress sped right off and came back with a water, a cafe au lait, and two chocolate desserts. The one woman picked hers right up and bit into was a smaller dark chocolate piece, probably fully rich in flavor and the other kind of laughed at her as she delicately broke a piece of hers off with her fork. A few minutes later I noticed her give a small piece of hers to her friend, insisting she have some, probably cause it was far too much. I'm sure this all seems so drole, but watching them, the best of friends, was just refreshing to see. They have this nice little women's coffee house and bakery to go to and enjoy themselves over a drink, some lunch and a nice dessert. And not only that, but they were dressed to the nines for the occasion. If I live to be that old, I only hope to be so lucky to have a friend to share my afternoons with.

So, we finished up lunch with a strawberry streudel and headed back to the room for a nap before dinner. My legs felt good, but so drained of energy. So I rested and woke up just in time for dinner. We went back to the Gosserklinik where I had a plate of assorted sausages and roasted potatoes. I tried a Pilsner beer with dinner and Grandma had soup and we shared my sauerkraut since I'm not much of a fan. We talked about my five-year plan and where I see myself in the future, in the off-chance that she doesn't stick around to see it. A little sad, but understandable because she wants to make sure her granddaughter has a map for life. We also talked about a few more places I could come back and visit when I have the money. Freud's apartments, the art museum, etc. Many things to do, many things to see. I'd like to ride the U-Bahn around and just get off at each stop and run upstairs to just see where I ended up.

Now we're back in the hotel, packing up our belongings, ready to head our separate ways. Grandma's taxi leaves for the airport at 5 am and mine doesn't leave until 10 am. So after I see her off and dry my tears I will probably eat a little breakfast and walk around to burn some energy for my plane ride to Paris. I'll want to sleep so I can be refreshed to meet my house-mother tomorrow.

Looking forward to the next phase of my adventure,

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