Let me work my way backward, starting from tonight...My friend Ann, Greg and I had gone to the Studentenmesse at the Stephansdom together. The mass tonight was accompanied by a violinist and at the end of mass, he played Ave Maria. It was so incredibly beautiful to sit in such a gorgeous cathedral, on a normal Sunday evening, listening to a single violinist (along with the organist) play such a moving piece. I closed my eyes and just let the music carry me along. I have been particularly stressed out and feeling pressured about submitting my first job applications for the academic job market, but the music put me at so much peace and filled me with joy. I left with goosebumps and a huge smile on my face.
It was a nice fall night, so we decided to stroll down Kärntner Straße and came dow
n to the Opernring to catch the Straßenbahn 2 home. Tonight was one of those nights that they were projecting the opera performance onto a large screen outside the building. People, including the
three of us, strolling by paused for a few minutes to watch, while others were huddled up in parkas and blankets, sipping on Glühwein or hot chocolate on the benches set up in front of the screen. We had a notion it was Wagner, and when I got home later and looked it up, sure enough, Die Walküre is being staged tonight. Vienna, the city of music, how I love you! Anyone who knows anything about music has probably realized I do not know much about it, but I still appreciate it and am constantly in awe of the talent in this city--and how readily available it is to anyone. (You can, by the way, get standing spots at the opera for 3 Euros!)
Tonight was a perfect closing to a wonderful weekend with Anna and Andrew in Vienna. We had a lovely time exploring the city together and it gave Greg and me a good excuse to get out and see more of things we have not yet gotten to do. Friday night we took them to this little Italian restaurant in our neighborhood called Oliva Verde. We have been there once before and its quickly becoming one of my favorite local places. The restaurant is really cozy and the food is amazing--especially the pizzas. Its all very affordable and the owner is this friendly little Turkish man who is super sweet (I saw him helping a little 5 year old girl into her coat). He always serves a little "digestif" (we had the choice of Grappa or Amaretto) on the house to all of his guests before the leave.
After a nice leisurely brunch on Saturday morning, we headed over to the Leopold Museum,
where we spent most of the afternoon. The museum, which opened in 1994, is a non-profit organization and showcases the consolidation of Rudolf and Elisabeth Leopold's private collection, which was acquired over five decades. It houses around 5,000 works and, since the Leopold's had a particular penchant for Egon Schiele, features the most substantial collection of the artist's works. Anyone interested in "Wiener Moderne" and Expressionism will gush over the other paintings in this museum by Klimt (his "Death and Life" is here, see first picture to the right), Kokoschka, Mosel and Gerstl. We also had t
ime to stop by "Melacholy and Provocation: The Egon Schiele Project"
which displayed many of Schiele's famous (and scandalous) sketches and self-portraits, as seen right. There is also a neat section on the Wiener Werkstätte design.
From there we meandered over to the Secession and Naschmarkt, where we stopped to refuel with some fresh pasta and Glühwein. Later on that night we went to see Lars von Trier's new film "Melancholia" which showed at the Viennale last month and w
on Kirsten Dunst a silver palm at Cannes. (Andrew pointed out we had a theme of Melancholy going for the day...) The film was unlike anything I had ever seen and is certainly a gorgeous, aesthetically brilliant work. But beyond that, it is really hard to describe. It would be difficult to take this film literally, and there's so much room for interpretation that, to echo Anna, its best to let it soak in a bit longer. So I'll refrain from saying anything else about that right now! Plus this posting is getting long enough already!
"Schlendern" would be a good word to describe the rest of today, as we moved from the Rathaus, to the Hofburg, over to Herrengasse, where we made a stop at Cafe Central.
Hands down, my favorite cafe in Vienna so far--from the architecture design, Peter Alterberg's statue at the entrance, the huge paintings of Sisi and Franz Josef at the back, the decadent display of pastries, to the bustling waiters, and racks with extensive newspaper selections, you walk in mesmerized. It is truly the epitome of a Viennese Cafe. Or, as the website puts it, "a Viennese institution."
Anna and I had an apple strudel topped with vanilla sauce and a melange--so delicious!
Andrew opted for the Central coffee, while Greg tried his first melange and a slice of Sachertorte (yes, you can get that
elsewhere besides Cafe Sacher!).
From Cafe Central, we made our way toward the Stephansdom and on toward the Stadtpark. It was a beautiful day for a stroll through the park!
Now THAT is Vienna: good company, music, art and coffee.