Mom arrived last Thursday, on a morning as blessedly sunny and warm as it was uncharacteristic of January weather. Since she seemed to be unacquainted with jet lag, we dived right into not only a flurry of conversation but also a walking tour of Vienna. I’d say we walked 5 miles the first day! In the evening, I accompanied my cellist friend Seo for two pieces for her studio recital — a fun evening that Mom especially didn’t want to miss.
My camera has been in high demand the 10 days since. Mom’s not into taking pictures, but I’m determined to record the memories!
Friday, we relished more almost-sunshine and walked through the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, magnificent even in winter (picture above). Then, a stroll through the Naschmarkt (“naschen” means “nibble”), an outdoor market featuring mounds of exotics fruits, varieties of cheeses, falafel accompanied by all sorts of humus, etc.
In the evening, we waited in line for standing-room tickets for the opera (Rossini’s version of the Cinderella story). Although we wouldn’t usually go for modern adaptations of costumes and set, it turned out to be just great — I only barely managed to control my laughter with the Elvis illusion (you had to be there). Afterwards, we walked next door to the famous Sacher Hotel for a piece of the “original” Sachertorte. Since Mom recently baked one herself, she was quite keen to compare versions. Home by midnight, we’d enjoyed quite the first full day together — and, marvel of marvels, Mom still hadn’t discovered jet lag!
Saturday morning I showed Mom around the music university. Two highlights are the wonderful pianos and just how clean the whole place is. I often take my shoes off to practice! …The afternoon and evening we spent with Chinese friends Ke and Hui (whom we know from Knoxville years ago) and their daughter Vivian, whom Mom hadn’t met before!
Sunday we took a wonderful walk around the center of Vienna — across the Danube River, down tantalizing side streets, in and out of numerous church buildings. We arrived at New City Wien for our afternoon service happily windblown. A couple pictures are certainly in order for those of you who would like to picture my church setting here….
Monday included a lovely visit with Elisabeth, a colleague from Bachgasse. Tuesday, visits continued with a morning international women’s Bible study and a particularly good small group meeting with friends from church in the evening. (Well, it would be hard to go wrong with Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.)
Wednesday we were up early to catch a train toward the Salzkammergut region, anticipating experiencing a very different part of Austria (small-town life, more snow, mountains). We weren’t disappointed!
After about 4 hours on the train, we arrived in the tiny town (under 1000 residents) of Hallstatt — or, more precisely, we arrived across the lake from Hallstatt! I had forgotten that we had to take a ferry, but that only added to the charm of the wintry scene. We spent the day wandering around the incredibly quiet, sleepy town; taking a short hike in the snow, and warming up at the only bakery/coffee shop we could find open.
In the evening, we took the bus to Sankt Gilgen. Along the way, the sun finally popped out to illuminate the snowy mountains before disappearing to make way for especially bright stars. In Sankt Gilgen, we got our first introduction to Couchsurfing and were totally impressed. With a key to come and go as we liked for the next day or two, a charmingly cozy and tidy apartment, a cheerful view of a chilly lake and antique ski lift, and interesting conversation with our hostess Ulla, we decided we couldn’t have had a better introduction to Couchsurfing.
Thursday we woke up to snow falling. Undaunted, we ventured into town after breakfast to admire the murals decorating many of the buildings.
A roundabout hike in the snow (not nearly as fast as the skiers going up or down beside us) brought us wet and cold to a mountain lodge/restaurant (in the same family for five generations), where a warm drink and Hungarian goulash really hit the spot!
Although we didn’t have sleds or skis, we pretty thoroughly enjoyed the snow (maybe more than some of the locals, like the little kid pictured here). Descending back to town, we dropped in on the local museum of musical instruments. Never would we have guessed that we would be captivated for 2 1/2 hours. The curator and collector was a musical genius — delighted to describe any instruments we asked about. He proceeded to demonstrate nearly a dozen instruments — from a Mexican clay flute to a Jew’s harp to a tiny Romanian clarinet to a bizarre Vietnamese single-stringed instrument with overtones created by an additional mouthpiece.
Friday morning after breakfast with our hostess Ulla (a few more pictures of Sankt
We must have climbed a 1000 steps Friday, peering into churches and ancient catacombs,
Early evening, we took the train back to Vienna and fell into bed by midnight. We hadn’t packed much for the trip (photo, left), but we sure had packed a lot in!
Saturday was a catch-up day, crowned with an afternoon visit to the Clock Museum. Some of you will remember that it was a highlight from the Long Night of the Museum back in October, and it certainly was worth seeing again. Beware if you are planning a visit: It might become a fixture in Eva’s Guide to Vienna! Speaking of clocks, it’s high time I wrap this up! I’ll sign out with a couple of our favorite time-keepers!