Guten Tag Sweet Friends!
I am completely overwhelmed by the city and all the Baroque and Rococo architecture. I finally just put my camera away because I have take soooooo many pictures of buildings and now I have no idea what the buildings might be. The thing is, you see a magnificent building and you cross the street to get to it and see what it is, and you discover that it is a magnificent building that is now a bank or a gym or a hair salon or a law office. There are just so many magnificent buildings here that it’s just Rocococrazy! Seriously, by the end of the day, I just put my camera away.
Today, I didn’t really have an agenda. I enjoyed breakfast in the room and then walked into the sunshine and headed towards the Jewish Museum. I found out there are actually two museums and you can see both with one ticket. The first one is a small museum with temporary exhibits (best I can tell). Outside the museum is a memorial to the 65,000 Jews from Austria who died during the Holocaust. The first, smaller museum contained a tribute or memorial to Amy Winehouse. Go figure. I dunno. Like I said, I think the smaller museum houses temporary exhibits. Anyway, two rooms of memorabilia from Amy Winehouse. But, downstairs, was the excavation of the original synagogue that stood on the sight. Also on display were Roman coins, jewelry and pottery from the same time period.
After leaving the first museum, I stopped at Hoher Markt at noon to watch the Glockenspiel. It was a little hard to find simply because it’s very nondescript. It’s not at the top of a huge building or cathedral like most Glockenspiel’s; it’s kind of a bridge between two nondescript buildings in a small plaza that’s not really a plaza. Anyway, it did not look all that remarkable; but I have to say, the 15 minute show was quite impressive! Yes, it took a full 15 minutes for the clock to complete it’s daily noon-hour routine. And the whole thing was set to music! The clock is not a regular clock. It doesn’t have hands. There is a row of numbers at the top that indicate the time after the hour, i.e. 00, 15, 30, 45, and the hour is indicated by a figure that comes out holding a Roman number, i.e. I, IX, X, XI, etc. The figures moves across the “stage” and as it moves, it indicates the time past the hour. At noon, each and every figure, 12 in all, rotate across the stage and this takes 15 minutes. It was the most impressive Glockenspiel I’ve ever seen. Better than the one in Munich!
I then went to the larger Jewish Museum that was largely dedicated to the life of the Jewish community in Vienna. It was very interesting to learn that once the war was over and the Jews were liberated, they were not welcomed back in Vienna. In fact, according to the newspaper clippings and historical records, the Austrians claimed they were victims of the war and the Nazis and that they were made to persecute the Jews. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that Austrian officials publicly admitted the country’s guilt and made some sort of reparations. I never knew that. Most Jews of the time did not feel comfortable in Vienna and migrated to the US in search of a new life. I was stunned. And still today, antisemitism lingers. So sad.
Afterwards, I grabbed a green juice and continued wandering. I came across a cathedral that wasn’t on my map or my list of places to see. It was a huge cathedral and I couldn’t understand what it wasn’t on the radar screen. Curious, I went inside. I’m so happy I did!! WOW!!! I think it’s prettier than St. Stephens cathedral, the DOM of Vienna. The Votivkirsch or Votive Church is a Gothic cathedral with two huge spires and lovely rose windows, but the inside blew me away. The ceilings, the stained glass and the magnificent 3-D alter were incredible. I can’t describe it; it was that beautiful! There were very few people there so I took lots of pictures, something you can’t do at St. Stephens. I was so amazed that the Votive Church was not on the tourist map. Again, I loved it and think it’s well worth a visit!
Outside St. Stephens cathedral, I bought a ticket to a chamber orchestra concert that evening. There are these guys in period costumes all over the city selling tickets. Everywhere you go, one of them comes up to you and asks if you want to buy a ticket. I usually just wave them away, but I decided today to buy one. I talked to one guy and told me of two concerts. One was the Vienna Residency Orchestra that consists of approximately 50 musicians and several vocalists, all in period costumes who perform 2 hours worth of musical selections from Mozart and Strauss and others. The second concert was a much small chamber orchestra in a very intimate room that “has the best acoustics in the city.” I chose the smaller venue. It would be far more intimate and the concert would only last an hour and a half. I’m not a fan of the opera or classical music. I know nothing about it and have no appreciation for it, but, when in Vienna…
So, I returned to the hotel to shower and change. The concert was in the Auersperg Palace and while not huge or sumptuous, it was nonetheless lovely. The grand staircase leading up the concert room was very grand indeed and the concert room was a small oval room with an even smaller stage. There were 11 musicians total including a pianist and percussionist off to the side of the stage. We learned during the welcome and introduction that the concert maestro would be playing a Stradivarius violin from 1723. Impressive! When the chamber orchestra came on stage and began to play, I was memorized. The ticket guy was right, this room had amazing acoustics. Although there were only 11 musicians, their music filled the space like cotton candy. It was if the music were snowflakes falling from the sky, slithering past my ears and tickling my nose before falling softly to the ground. It was soft, light, beautiful and elegant but powerful at the same time.
I had heard some of the songs before as they were playing very well known selections from The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figueroa, A Little Night Music and also several polkas and of course the Blue Danube Waltz. There were also two vocalists and two ballet dancers; though I have to say I was underwhelmed by these performers. They were just a distraction from the orchestra. The music was beautiful and the night flew by. Before I knew it, the concert was over and we were rushed out to make room for the next audience.
When I went outside, the long forecast-ed rain had finally started and the umbrella I had carried around for 3 days was of course packed in the hotel. Thankfully, I carried my think rain jacket with me, so on it went and I pulled the hood over my head and made a run for the tram. I made it back to the hotel and decided to call it a night. The rain has not stopped and now it’s time to go to bed. I have an early flight in the morning anyway.
Guten Abend Vienna, until I see you again. May your sleep be filled with beautiful night music and sweet dreams.