June 11, 2003

Well, about a week of being more ‘‘on my own’’, and I have to say that I think I’ve done pretty well. 🙂 I can see how people might get to the point where talking to yourself would be normal, but luckily I’ve still had English-speaking company.

So yeah, Vienna has so much to offer that even my five days couldn’t cover enough ground. However, I’ve changed my travel style a little; basically, I’ve decided that it’s best to pick a few special things about a city and focus on them. ; That means that I cut out a lot of museums and churches; but it also means that I’ve had more time to relax.

Anyway, a number of things I experienced in Vienna revolved around music. The first thing was a tour of the Opera House…and that was great. I think it was partly due to my guide (who amazingly seemed to have a real answer to every question). I was amazed by the Opera House, though, because of everything from it’s history to its design to the number of productions done each year. Needless to say, it made me no only interested, but also curious.

Luckily, the Opera House realizes that there are people who don’t have a lot of money to spend, but who still want to go. For only 2 or 3.50 Euro, 500+ people can get standing room spots. Of course, you have to line up far in advance of the show and, as the name implies, stand throughout it as well. Since I had never been to see an opera, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity.

I was there 2 1-2 hrs. before it began, and I’m proud to say that I stayed the whole time. (Okay, okay…so I left at intermission to get food, not planning to return. But curiosity got the best of me–not to mention that I had dedicated the whole evening to seeing it!). Luckily the Opera House has small screens which translate the words into English, otherwise my interest would have been lost much earlier. But it was almost comical. In fact, I’ve decided that the only thing you can compare it to is a soap opera–very melodramatic and fairly unrealistic. (Oh, I was seeing La Boheme, by the way.) Overall, I could have skipped the last Act, yet I’m so glad to have had the experience.

The following day I wandered around the gardens at the summer palace. I stayed there for a while, but was so soaked in sweat after about an hour that I returned home. (Yeah, I have somehow conveniently been in Vienna for 5 of the ‘‘about 10 really hot days of the year’’. Let me put it this way…it is currently 11pm and 28 C–that’s 82 F. And because it’s usually so cool here, very few places have AC. So this is definitely one of those ‘‘oh I love being an American’’ moments.)

However, later that night I saw the Vienna Philharmonic. I regret saying that I don’t know what exactly was played; I was just so excited to go because there was a cello soloist! So that was really nice. And today I spent the day with John Harris and a German couple whom he had recently met. We spent some time swimming in the Danube River, and then went to dinner at a traditional Austrian restaurant. Also cool was the fact that the girl is a social worker in Berlin; plus, I got to hear stories about both West and East Berlin (because each lived in one area) before the wall came down. It’s so strange to hear real people talk about events that otherwise were confined to history books or television.

So anyway, that is most of my time in Vienna. It’s a great city…my only regret is that I didn’t have more time to go to Budapest or other nearby cities. Tomorrow I leave for Prague, but I will only be there for 2 days, then it’s off t o London.


…Let’s just say that Prague was an experience. I liked the city, but I will definitely need to go back b/c there were too many bad circumstances that kept me from enjoying my time as much as I would have been able to. But I did make it to the Prague Castle and the Jewish Quarter, two of the important areas of the city.

However, Prague also helped me to realize that I might have planned my trip for a little too long. I didn’t realize how tiring traveling would be! 🙂 Besides, it’s been such an awesome trip that I want to make sure and end it on a high note as well. For those reasons, I’ve decided to come back a few days early. I’ll be departing from London on July 1st instead of from Rome on the 13th.