Refreshed and rejuvenated after our time in Třeboň, Sarah and I arrived in Vienna ready to hit. it. hard. And hit it we did—our classical music marathon began just hours after our check-in at the hostel. Night one got off to a beautiful start with the National Madrigal Choir of Romania at St. Stephen’s Cathedral (or Stephensdom, if that suits your fancy). Despite having the word “madrigal” in their name, they were quite a versatile ensemble, performing everything from medieval plainchant to a wild post-war piece that involved howling, shouting, and a giant chime. Sarah’s reaction: “It was like they were possessed…but in a good way if that’s possible? It was funny. It was weird.”
For the rest of our days in Vienna, we settled into a nice routine—walking and exploring during the day, a veggie dinner at Asia Box To Go (cheap generalized Asian food next to our hostel), followed by a concert in the evening. Vienna boasts over 15,000 music events per year, so there was an overwhelming array of options to choose from. We had to side-step more than a few flyer-pushers and scalpers in powdered wigs. Our small budget and lack of advance planning nixed anything from the Philharmonic or the three opera houses, but we did score some standing-room tickets at the Musikverein for our last night. After throwing a few elbows to secure a half-decent spot behind the barricade (don’t even get me started…), we enjoyed a straightforward (costume-free) performance of Beethoven’s genteel 1st Symphony and a pair of Mozart keyboard duets.
In Search of Beethoven
Vienna is plastered with various Mozart-themed attractions, but I decided to skip the crowds in favor of a quiet visit to the Beethoven Pasqualatihaus, where Ludwig van Beethoven lived and composed several symphonies and Fidelio, his only opera. Apart from a plaque and a few small posters on the outside of the building, it looks just like any other residence in Vienna, and I felt like a bit of a trespasser when I poked my head through the front door into the deserted courtyard. A little paper sign told me to head up to the 4th floor (5th to you Americans), so up I went on the winding stone staircase.
After my climb, I peeked around another door and found myself in an airy, sun-drenched apartment overlooking the University of Vienna. There were just a few well-chosen personal items, portraits, and manuscripts, which left plenty time and brain-space to just soak in my surroundings. I eavesdropped on a pair of Beethoven buffs, paced from window to window, and listened to a few excerpts from Fidelio and Symphony no. 7 piped through an old pair of headphones…dream come true for my middle-school self!
Sick in Salzburg
The hills are alive! With the sound of…sneezes.
Unfortunately there’s not much to say about our time in Salzburg, because we both got sick. Slept, laid in bed, sat by the river. That’s pretty much it. Oh—and got judged real hard by our go-getting English roommate, who waltzed in one night and asked us, “Have you not left the room today?” in her BBC accent. No Carrie, we didn’t leave the room. None of your beeswax, OK?
Take a look gander at the photos, and come back soon for a little frolic in France!