Thursday, January 04, 2007

Austria

A trip to Central Europe was just the thing. I got a good dose of culture, visited museums, and though I don't speak German, I appreciated its similarities to the English language. Some of the words are very similar. In addition, the rhythm and tones were much more like English than Finnish. If I started to zone out, I could trick myself into thinking that I understood. In fact, Dita took me to a philharmonic concert in Munich, with a very entertaining conductor that liked to tell jokes between pieces. I found myself laughing in the right places without even knowing what I was laughing at. I can't do that with Finnish. This is a picture of the Christmas Market near the philharmonic concert in Munich.
In Austria I visited Vienna and Salzburg, where my father studied abroad when he was 19 years old.
I met up with Clare, another traveller from New Zealand, to crash the opera in Vienna one night. There are standing-room-only tickets that are affordable for us budget folks. Standing-room-only was an experience in itself. First you go into the "standing room" and mark your spot. Then you're ushered out of the standing room until 15 minutes before the show. Some places were accidently double marked, leading to even more people cramming themselves into a designated "standing zone," than it was intended for. In some ways it reminded me of the mini-buses in Africa. A few people got sick before intermission and had to leave. The man behind me kept encroaching onto the very place on the floor upon which my feet were placed. In spite of the challenges, Clare and I were determined to see the whole show (Romeo and Juliet) performed in French. It's a beautiful opera house. When I started feeling faint, I would picture Beethoven and Strauss conducting their orchestras hundred of years ago.

Bikes are a big deal all over Europe, Austria is no exception. This photo was taken from the area of Vienna that is full of museums. I went to an interactive music museum that reminded me of high school physics class, but also had some nice exhibits on famous composers who were born or worked in Vienna. I saw a Picasso exhibit, along with Andy Warhol's polaroid reproductions of famous people, at the Albertina.

As a general rule, I spend a lot of my tourist time (and free time in general), walking around and soaking up the culture. These rent-a-bikes worked sort of like the lockers at the airport. They're a good idea and they have excellent baskets on their handlebars.

David recommended this place that serves the best schnitzel he's ever had. It was the best schnitzel I ever had too!

2 comments:

Elly Fisher said...

Those rental bikes are great! I imagine you'd definately be labeled as a tourist, but that can be fun sometimes.

Laura G said...

What a great idea - rental bikes. But I can't figure out how you'd control for theft? Is there a time limit or something?