Europe: Wien (Vienna)
Published 08-08-2009 on my old wordpress blog.

Some little park by a cathedral, Wien, Austria, 8:06

All set for another day of walking around. I bought a map this time and am sort of headed to a castle. I’m definitely going to have to buy a U-bahn pass, as well, because Wien is pretty sprawling. On my way to the castle, I found an old church to sit by and eat my Happy Day orange juice and delicious apple strudel (it’s like apple pie for breakfast!). About 10 days from right now, I’ll be getting on a plane back to Seattle. It’ll be good to get back to my Rhodes and back to my family and friends (same thing) and what not. Those were the only two things I could think of. Oh, and the Puget Sound. And another year of teaching, I guess.

At any rate, let’s go check out this castle nonsense. Let me consult my map to make sure I’m going the right way…

The top of the Gloriette, Schönbrunn Palace, Wien, 12:24

If this place was on that bit on Letterman where they ask “Is this something?”, the answer would clearly be yes. In case you forgot, like I did, Austria, at one time, ruled everything. Seriously, everything. Just like the Romans, basically. Then World War I rolled around and the emperor was kicked out. It makes sense, because apparently they spent everything on this palace. I mean they were still stupid rich, but must have dumped a ridiculous amount of cash into this place.

I put a healthy chunk of change down myself to see the place where the emperor died, where Mozart played his first concert to the Emperor, and some stuff that Napoleon and Marie Antionette messed around with (at different times, of course). I also learned some cool things like how an Italian anarchist stabbed one of the Empresses with a file. This same empress (Elisabeth, if you must know) was the wife of a dude that was totally into her (Franz Joseph) but she didn’t seem so hot on him. Story of every dude’s life. Anyways, this Franz Joseph guy seemed pretty upstanding for an Emperor. His stuff was decorated pretty austerely compared to, say, the room paneled in super rare rosewood or every floor in the place which was crazy awesome wood inlay. I’d have taken some pictures, but it is a fascist empire and they don’t allow that. Maybe some anarchy will sneak it’s way into my Flickr account via my capitalist tool of slavery. It is a silent killer.

After touring the Palace, I went over to the Maze and Labyrinth. I kid you not. Imagine the best corn maze you’ve ever been to, and then imagine it was a steamy pile of garbage compared to the thing you just wandered through. It’s pretty amazing how just turning a corner and finding someone in your path can bring a smile. I solved the maze two different ways, of course. Nerd.

The labyrinth was not too shabby either. Like a maze, but with puzzles instead of getting lost. The first puzzle was the hardest. It was a math puzzle with numbers in a 5×5 block that said how many steps you could take in any cardinal direction (up, down, left, right). I worked with some German mathematicians and after 10 minutes or so, we solved it. Well, I got the missing piece, of course. Nerd.

After my maze/labyrinth (no David Bowie!) success, I climbed up a big hill and got up in this Gloriette business. It’s basically a big building with a roof you can get up on. It’s got an amazing view. What I need now is some dang lunch. I should have bought a sandwich at the train station, I guess. I’m going to go get a train ticket and head to the center of town to see some stuff and buy some food. I just have to walk down this huge hill and like a million km to the station…

At the base of a statue of some dude on a horse, Museum Quarter, Wien, Awestria, 17:24

Okay, Wien is now officially awesome. As the home to about a million classical composers, I expected to be tripping over music-related stuff everywhere I went. Not so much. The palace was pretty rad, but I was slightly disappointed with this city. Was. I went to the museum quarter and walked around, first going the wrong way, then taking the train again and going the right way. On the map it listed the Natural History Museum and I was going to go there to compare it to the Smithsonian. Then, when I got there, I checked out the list of museums and jumped for joy. Well, swore out loud and changed direction. Toward the Museum of Ancient Instruments. HELL YES!

Instruments I now need (sometimes listed by their German names roughly in the order I decided I needed them):
Arpeggione (six stringed cello, sounds kick ass)
Any type of clavier (sweet pre-piano stuff)
Harmony piano (31 tones per octave, six rows of keys. Didn’t get to hear it played, but I need one.)
Zither (like an Autoharp, well more like a little party instead of that boring crap my 4th grade teacher used to play on)
Cemballo (multiple row harpsichord, sometimes not, though)
Laute (Lute, really. This one was basically a 13 stringed guitar played with a bow, it sounds like two violins at once)
Kawai K4 synth hooked up to some old ass Atari computer (hell of ancient, but yes, it was on display and the audio bit for it was super rad)
Orphica (tiny portable piano with strings and everything)
Glasharmonika (Benjamin Franklin’s best invention ever. Better than the fire department or public school or electricity, even).
clavichord (portable harpsichord, basically)
Flotenwerk (a music box, but with sweet wood pipes, not stupid tines or bells)
Spinettino (like a clavichord, a portable spinett, the precursor to the harpsichord made around 1600)
Regal (crazy little reed organ)
Zurna (bad ass mid-east oboe, basically)

I also checked out a bunch of pianos, like one that Haydn and Mozart rocked out on that was made by Brodmann, who had some apprentice named Bösendorfer or something. Basically I spent about three hours having my mind continually exploding with awesomeness. Seriously, probably the best thing I’ve seen in Europe. They even have some reproductions of spinettinos and clavichords you can play. (Hell yes, I did. Even filmed my nervous noodling for the Internet later.) The other awesome thing was that no one was in there. Well, some people were, but it was pretty empty for such an awesome display of cool stuff.

The museum was set up roughly in chronological order, but the main entrance was in the middle of the timeline, so that was a little weird. The floor was real squeaky, but I kind of liked that. The signs were all in German and few of them had translations, but I made the best of it. The audio guide included performances of some of the actual instruments in display, and that idea is awesome. Overall, this museum ruled harder than everything else I’ve seen on this trip. Except maybe that French ice cream, or watching Rally Finland with my brother from the same mother, or the dude that lived next to the British Romance Novelist. Wait, I think this trip might have ruled and I missed it.

My admission also got me into the Museum of Arms and Armor and the Ephesus Museum. Arms and Armor: yeah, cool I guess. Ephesus: don’t bother, just go to the actual place. (Hey sister, when we go to Greece we should cruise over there.)

Well I’m getting caught in other people’s family photographs and I think I heard a rock band just play a song, so I’m going to go check that out as soon as I can move. I also have to walk back up the wrong way and check out the vegetarian thing I saw I could eat. Then get on a train back to the other train to go to Venice.

Sigmund Freud Park, Wien, 18:29

I just wanted to note that I was in Sigmund Freud Park and there are two gigantic towers on the church across the street. Also, things from this town are sometimes called wiener. That is all.

Top bunk, sleeper train to Venezia (Venice), 21:23

I’m sharing this room with three girls from Korea and a lady from Austria. The Austrian lady has been all mommy to the Korean girls, but they don’t understand her English, so I work as intepreter and get about two more words understood. Sometimes the Austrian lady forgets and starts talking to me in German. After quite a discussion, we’ve got everything in order and the ladies are all tucked in. I can’t sleep for another two hours probably, but there’s free breakfast at 7:00, so that’s rad.

Before getting on the train, I stole some free wireless from the U.S. megacorporation that I worked for in high school to get me a Venetian hostel. Venice hostels are expensive and Austrian super mom tells me that the whole city is that way. I guess that will make up for my time in Eastern Europe. I ponied up even more for the single room because I smell pretty terrible and need some space to get all my crap sorted out. I picked the hostel that had “music” in it’s name, I hope that was a wise choice. I’ve been enjoying meeting people in these sleeper cars, so I might stop getting single rooms even though I only meet kids and old people.

Wien was pretty awesome. I feel like tomorow is the day I go back, but there is still more than a week left. Then I have to finish a room just in case I ever find a housemate. Maybe my dad finished the gas hook up so I can put in the gas stove. Maybe next year. No, now I’m getting all angry again. Remember when I played on that reproduction spinetto? That was awesome. It might have been better if I had known how to play piano at the moment, but I did the best with what I’ve got. Well, maybe not the best, but I don’t care, it was awesome.

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Keywords: austria, europe, travel

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