Vienna Fingers

A New Yorker tastes the Viennese life for ten weeks

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A Productive Weekend

For the first time in Vienna I spent each day of the weekend doing at least one new and exploratory thing, which feels really nice. I’m not here to stay in bed all day, as tempting as that is after a long night out. It really feels like there is enough to do to find something new to do every day, at least on the free days on weekends. The tricky part sometimes is finding something cheap or free, which I did manage to accomplish this weekend.

On Friday I actually put the 3.5 hour break in-between classes to good use. (It is often spent napping. I have yet to find logic in having German class at 8:30am, especially when Civ doesn’t start until 1:30.) I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Kuntsforum; after having learned about Frida in Spanish classes and generally being interested in her life story, it was really nice to be able to see her work in person. What I particularly enjoyed, of course in addition to her surreally awesome paintings, was the part of the exhibit which showcased photographs taken of her by her many photographer-friends. She really is a stunningly beautiful woman, uni-brow and all, and she really knows how to pose for a picture. I think she’s all the more beautiful for all of the pain she had to endure throughout her life.

Friday night involved a lot of beverages and dancing. I’m focusing this post on the cultural expeditions of my weekend though, so you won’t be getting any of those stories.

The Erasmus Student Network, the organizations that sponsors and supports interaction between international exchange students, organized a hike in the northern hills of Vienna on Saturday. Thankfully it was at a late enough hour, 1:00, that I was able to get myself out of bed to partake in it. It was actually perfect timing because I had been really wanting to explore the outdoors in Vienna. The hike started in Heiligenstadt and brought us up to the summit of Leopoldsberg, at approximately 500m. It felt like we were hiking up a mountain at times, but I have been assured by Austrians that this was just a small hill. It was pretty rewarding though and I definitely want to climb more “hills,” maybe even mountains.

Saturday evening was dinner with the awesome Austrian students who will be coming to study in Chicago for two quarters starting in January. It’s been really great to meet them, as it is truly a give-and-take relationship in which they help us with our current life in Vienna and we provide them with insight into how life will be for them in Chicago. I only hope that we can be as great hosts to them in Chicago as they are here to us- the food we had on Saturday was served as “Bretteljausn,” which is hard to describe is essentially a traditional Austrian/any country in the Alps meal consisting of bread, a cream spread, vegetables, and cold cuts. Oh and wine of course. It was delicious, would eat it again.

Sunday was a day of shopping at a flea market in Simmering, across from the big and famous cemetery in Vienna (Zentralfriedhof- I hope to be able to write about that in the near future). Naturally, the evening was spent at an Irish pub, this time 1516, watching American football. 

Finally, today was a program excursion to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, located centrally in Stephansplatz. This church is one of the oldest in Europe and boasts the coffins of many of the Habsburgs, and for that matter some hundreds of common Austrians: the most interesting part was by far taking a peak into the many mass-graves located underneath the church where skeletons are piled on top of each other, or neatly stacked into unique arrangements. I don’t know what it is, but there is something awesome about seeing the remnants of people who lived 500 years ago. We will end up just like them some day, except they are famous because their skeletons are on display to countless tourists on a daily basis.

Anyway, on a less morbid note, here’s a look at the Baroque-ified but originally Gothic architecture/altar inside the church.