Tuesday, April 15, 2008

About me and Vienna...

I've received some questions with respect to my lack-of-love affair with Vienna and why it is that I'm returning. And why it also is that I am sort of half denying that I'm returning. So here are the facts.

Back in 2004, I went on my first solo journey. The destinations were Prague for 4 days and nearby Vienna for 4 days. I had a delightful time in glorious Prague. The people were friendly, the food and weather were good, the music was amazing and cheap. Then I moved on to Vienna.

Vienna was cold, dark and rainy in October. I was constantly cold. Ok, that wasn't Vienna's fault. But it sets the mood for numerous encounters to follow. To wit:

-- I went for the infamous wienerschnitzel at Figlmuller. For those who aren't aware, the wienerschnitzel is as big as the Sit and Spin you had when you were ten years old. It easily overhangs the plate, if not the table the plate is on. I ate maybe 3/4 of it, it was delectable. When the waiter came to clear my plate he says "You not eat anymore" to which I replied, "No, I'm full but it was wonderful." Then he says "You take it with you?" to which I replied "No, I'm off to my hotel to sleep now." And the he proceeded to get all huffy and mean-spirited because I would neither finish nor take the remainder of my wienerschnitzel. Ugh.

-- I took the tram around city and got chased off it by a homeless drunk at one stop, at which time I also dropped/lost one of my favorite gloves. I'll be on the lookout for said glove on my return. You never know. But it's the only time I've run from a homeless person in all my travels.

-- I got hoodwinked by Mozart. Everything in Vienna is about Mozart. There are Mozart stores where they sell all sorts of kitsch with his name and face on it. I will admit to enjoying the Mozart chocolate liquers however. But on the street are the costumed Mozart dopplegangers who convince you to attend a concert of fine Mozart music. After three wonderful nights of (free) classical music in Prague in delightful churches or music halls full of locals, I was hungry to continue the streak of good luck. I ended up sitting in the middle of a Japanese tour group watching performers even more kitschy than the Mozart souvenirs themselves. I could swear I heard them saying "They all paid WHAT for this?" and secretly smiling off-stage. It was just so inauthentic. What a waste.

-- The Vermeer was on loan. I schlepped my butt all over the Kunsthistorisches Museum to see the Vermeer. This was before the Sisterly Quest for Vermeer on which we have currently embarked, but even then I knew it was something that had to be seen. And I got to the wall space where it should be, only to be greeted by the little white "on loan to Tokyo" card. Score another one for Team Vienna. I was down 4-0 now.

It wasn't all bad...Schonbrunn Palace was amazing, Stephansdom is impressive, the liquored hot chocolate and numerous pastries I drowned my sorrows in were delectable. But other than the Vermeer, I had no compelling reason to return, and hadn't planned to. As in, ever again.

So for the Vermeer and to work toward our Quest, DS and I are off to Vienna for two days during our trip to Paris. We have two email confirmations that the Vermeer will be on display next week, so if DS can't shed new light on Vienna, I will truly not have to return. Fingers crossed, either way.


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Mark Freedman said...

I hope the trip didn't turn you off to Mozart. Vienna always looked like an interesting stop because of Mozart, alone. I guess they overdo it. That's the world, today. Everything is set up as a tourist trap, and can be so inauthentic.

Good luck this time around.

Oh, the cynicism of it all...