Thursday, February 24, 2011
Yesterday, I would say, was pretty much the coldest day in Vienna yet: the sunniest, but the coldest. Such is the way things work though, huh?
My friend Hannah from UPS, who is studying in London this semester is here to visit. She checked out Stephansdom (my favorite part of Vienna right now) and the Kartenerstrasse (the big shopping boulevard) while I was in class and then we headed off to try and get her a tour of the main Synagogue of Vienna. Sadly, they were closed for renovations, so that didn't work out. Then we headed to the Judisches Historisches Museum, which was ALSO closed for renovations! So apparently Judaism is closed in Vienna right now. But we walked all over (in the freezing cold (I'm wearing long-johns today I was so cold yesterday)) and she got to see quite a bit of Vienna.
So I took her to the Albertina (Blau Reiter, Roy Lichtenstein, etc) and she toodled about while I went to my meeting about the ski trip. I've decided that instead of skiing, since I'm not a big fan of skiing, I'm going to learn to snowboard. I have been reassured multiple times that I will spend most of the weekend on my ass: Thanks for the encouragement everyone! I'm just excited to try something new! Kent was pretty excited for me though, he's a surfer/snowboarder I guess, so he told me where I can go get some legitimate gloves and shell pants to wear on this adventure so I don't freeze my bum off.
I met my language buddy this week. He is unbelievably cool. He had me meet him in the most hipster-y little cafe, and it was very Seattle. The most at-home I've felt in a kaffeehaus in Vienna. We talked about my German and our families and music. We're going to go see a Belle and Sebastian concert together in March. You know who is excited? This girl.
The pictures above are of my expedition yesterday to the Belvedere. It is a castle-turned-art-museum. We didn't go into the lower museum which is at the far of the Garden pictured at the top, but only to see the permanent collection in the upper castle. They have Klimt's "The Kiss" and many other Klimt pieces. I never realized how much I really do like his work. They also have works by Egon Schiele, a new favorite. His works are dark, but beautiful.
We're headed to a Heurigan tonight. This is a Viennese wine tavern. My language buddy explained it to me. They only serve small courses, and the wine is Hausgemachte (housemade) so it is really cheap and really delicious. They're all over my neighborhood since we're practically IN the vineyards. The tomorrow we're headed to Prague. We'll get there around 2:30 and we're going to do a bunch of museums and stuff, stay the night, and head back in the evening. Well, I'm heading back and Hannah is flying home from there. We're taking a private bus-line, so it should be a pretty good journey and it only cost me like 30 Euros instead of the 120 they wanted for the train. I'll get back to Vienna around midnight on Sunday, and luckily for me, I don't have class until after 1 o'clock in the afternoon on Mondays. I need to look into the homework situation to see what I need to bring, but the bus has on-board WiFi, so that should at least help a bit.
I will take lots of pictures in Prague and get them up. I'm also going to try and finish an IES post today. I have a lot almost ready but none totally ready, so I'm goign to get my shit together today. I love you all! Have a splendid weekend!
Posted by cait! at 10:44 PM
Monday, February 21, 2011
"The Viennese feel an inexplicable tenderness for this ancient landmark, an attachment which became very evident during the last days of the Second World War. The Russians already held the Inner City, while the Germans had withdrawn to the Danube Canal where they were desperately trying to hold their positions. In the ensuing battle, St. Stephen's came directly into their firing line and the roof of the Cathedral caught fire. Word went from mount to mouth that St. Stephen's was burning and the Viennese came from all over the city to help extinguish the flames. When this was accomplished, they helped extricate ever piece of broken vaulting or statuary from the ashes and rubble in order to ensure the possibility of its future reconstruction." - an anecdote about Stephansdom from Henriette Mandl's "In Search of Vienna: Walking Tours of the City."
Posted by cait! at 6:29 AM
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Yesterday, I visited Stephansdom for the first time! (And I can also say this in german: Gestern, habe ich Stephansdom zum ersten Mal besuchen .) For my Austrian art and architecture class, I have to keep a journal, and one of the required entries was to visit the Cathedral and write about our gut reaction to it. I went in with certain expectations, and this church definitely exceeded them. It is late Romanesque and early Gothic, this I know, so I sort of expected it to be similar to French gothic cathedrals: immense, dark, stuffy, cavernous, depressing. Although Stephansdom was VERY cavernous, with huge columns that are carved in a way that they actually remind me of stalactites and stalagmites, the whole of each the east and west side are covered in pale stained glass. I don't know if it is because I went in the morning, but it was actually very bright inside and I liked the atmosphere a lot. The other thing I liked is that people from Vienna still do go there to pray, and I saw several Viennese on their knees in front of the Virgin Mary alter doing just that. Although it was still rather cold and austere, it felt like it was inspired by a love of God as opposed to a fear of God like the cathedrals in France.
As great as the inside was, the outside is even better! The church is wedged into a tiny square called Stephansplatz. Here is a photo that is not mine that really illustrates how close to the other buildings this church is:
(copyrighted to the Austrian National Tourist Office)
The roof is shingled/tiled in a way that one side has a zigzag pattern and the other side has the Hapsberg crest. The Hapsbergs believed that the empire was blessed by God himself, so they built and upkept and changed a lot of churches within the empire. It is also built with the same sandstone as one would find in Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin, so that some of it has oxidized and turned black. My favorite part, however, was all the gargoyles. There are traditional winged-monsters, grotesque humanoid figures, lions, and my personal favorite, vicious guard dogs. I drew on in my journal (as they are supposed to be illustrated).
There were also probably at least 20 horse and buggy sets lined up waiting for tourists to come pay for a ride. I really wanted to go pet the horses, but I didn't want to try and ask in German. I did however have someone ask me if I was from Vienna, to which I replied "Ja!" and then he asked me if I knew where something was. Alas, I had never heard of the place and couldn't actually help him, but I had a whole conversation with a German speaking person in a public place and it was super-dee-duper! I also found a bookstore with big racks of English-language paperbacks outside, so I got the thickest one I could find (they were all around 10 Euros) because I needed something to do on the train. I don't mind the commute too much, but when I'm spending 160 minutes on the train a day, I need something to do besides sit there.
I went out last night, we went to several really fun bars all over the Bermuda triangle, and today has been somewhat lazy as we didn't get home until 4 o'clock in the morning. Tomorrow I'm going to walk up to the church on the hill and potentially go walk around and take pictures of the Rathaus, the Parliament, the Schonbrun, etc. I might even get really motivated and go to Naschmarkt again to see if I can find some asparagus!
I'll try to put up some Germany pictures tomorrow. I've been working on them to make an IES blog, but I have a lot to show, so it is slow goings. I love you all! Tchuss!
Posted by cait! at 6:04 AM
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The top one is in front of Alexander, the Berlin TV tower built by the Russians, although you cannot see it. The second is of my friend Blair and I eating the most delicious streetstand food called quarkkeulchen. They are delicious little fried doughballs dipped in sugar. YUM! (I must also add that my co-conspirator shares my last name plus "s.")
Posted by cait! at 10:32 PM
Monday, February 14, 2011
Besides starting really poorly scheduled classes that are A.) too far apart for my taste, and B.) too late at night, I also managed to lock myself out of my apartment. I left the door open to go get my laundry and someone passing by must have closed it. I ended up asking the lovely old people upstairs for money to take the s-bahn to the school. After my first class I came home because it is snowing like a beez and I was freezing to death (I ended up wearing a jacket straight out of the washer because it was all I had) and found myself locked out of the building and no one answering the buzz. Finally the old man from upstairs came up from the garage and let me in and upon ringing the doorbell Alex awoke from her nap and let me in. So because my day has been no good, I am only posting one picture. It is of the adorable Orangutans at the Berlin Zoo and they cheer me. I'll be headed back for my 6:20-7:50 class in a little less than an hour. Lucky Me.
Posted by cait! at 7:36 AM
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
This is one of the buildings at Pillnitz Palace. This was a summer palace gardens. This particular building was influenced by Chinese architecture.
This was another building at the Pillnitz Palace. There were a lot of building situated in a square U-shape around a fountain and gardens.
This is a building where they keep the potted plants for the winter.
This Kamelia shrub is MASSIVE. It is also over 200 years old. An expedition from England went to Japan and they came back with potted Kamelia plants. They were spread about Europe, and this is the only one still alive. The glass can be retracted during the summer when it is blooming.
This is Dresden's Frauenkirche. It was totally destroyed during the bombing of Dresden and has been rebuilt exactly like the old one using many of the old pieces. The old pieces are black due to fire and oxidization/weathering of the rocks.
This is near where the horses and carriages of the court were kept. The building where they were kept is right to the right of this photo. The carriages were kept on the first floor and the horses on the second flor. There is a big old ramp they had to climb up. This particular building I just liked all the sculpted animal heads and Italian influence.
This looking down the street where the Frstenzug, "the Procession of Princes" in English, that painting on the right, is located.
This is the Frstenzug. I don't know if you can tell but it is all done on porcelain tile. It was originally painted by Wilhelm Walter on stucco and when it began to deteriorate, porcelain tiles were made at the Meissen factory (where very expensive and famous Dresden china is made). The artists there painted each tile freehand based on Walter's original.
This was just a nice little view I liked on the bus.
This was the merry-go-round table at the restaurant we ate at for lunch. The atmosphere was awesome. The food was not my favorite. But this table had swings as seats and the whole thing rotates.
This is the cross from the original Frauenkirche. It was found in the rubble after the original cathedral was bombed.
This is the ceiling dome of the Frauenkirche.
This is the alter of the Frauenkirche. I actually much preferred this to any of the French cathedrals, just because the ambiance was so bright. The walls were white, there was a lot of gold, and TONS of windows.
This is a lovely little shot of me at the base of the Frauenkirche.
This is looking out into the courtyard of where the museum is. I am unclear as to what this building actually used to be.
This is the clock in that same unclear building circling the courtyard.
This is a cool statue (potentially fountain) right outside where we ate lunch. It was covered in tiny draaagons.
This was the best part of the meal. It was the most delicious cream of asparagus soup I've ever tasted in my whole life.
Lastly, an oillamp made out of a bomb sat upon the table from which we dined.
Dresden has made quite an impression on me. I really really really like this city. Tomorrow I'm moving on to Leipzig and by this time tomorrow night I should be in Berlin! Guten Abend!
Posted by cait! at 7:57 AM
Saturday, February 5, 2011
The journey to Dresden was most wonderful! We met at 8am and drove about 2 hours to around where the Czech border is, and there we stopped at the most AMAZING reststop of my life. Not only did it have dragons and a wizard, but it also had a giant snowglobe, an airplane that housed the "Jet Restaurant", and gokarts. It also had an epic duty free store that's whole purpose was to sell overly large things (mentos, chocolate bars, bottles of alcohol (and, no, I didn't buy that giant bottle of schnapps, regardless of my instinct to do so)). We then drove two more hours, had lunch in Prague, and continued driving to Dresden. I have a list of recommended bars to check out here for good techno, so that is on my to-do list for the evening. I took lots of videos and pictures of Prague and such with my other camera but those will have to wait until I return to Vienna. Bis Morgen my lovelies!
Posted by cait! at 9:14 AM
Friday, February 4, 2011
On my way home from my German final today (which went Swimmingly and Frau Meyer said she was impressed with the rapidness with which I caught up), I stopped at H&M to buy some shirts. I chroooonnnically underpacked in the shirts department (regardless of what mein Vatti thinks!) I picked up 4 shirts and a shirtdress, all of which were less that 15 Euros. I learned that H&M in Europe has big girl sizes (shockingly), and that I can fit into both the smallest size of that (mostly) and the largest regular size (mostly). So now I actually have enough clothes to last me through my 9 day excursion through Prague, Leipzig, Dresden, and Berlin. I leave tomorrow at 8am, so this may be my last post for a while, but keep watching the IES blog (here's the link) because I just submitted a post that should get approved sometime next week.
Posted by cait! at 8:51 AM