Back in Vienna after a wonderful, wintry few days in the Salzkammergut region, the semester holidays were over and school back in business. Mom joined me two days in Mödling, one day at each school — meeting teachers and sitting in on classes. This was a highlight for both of us, since I have told her so much about different colleagues, classes, lesson topics, etc. Tuesday was a cultural experience at school, it being Faschings (Fat Tuesday). In Austria, that means lots of kids dress up, and teachers bring boxes of krapfen to share. One English class was disrupted by particular juvenile behavior, and students even had to be reminded to please come to school the next day (an evening of excessive drinking being in store for many).
The week also included lots of good visits — with both the Hunters and Beilmans (pastor
and music minister’s families), dinner out with my roommate for Palatschinken, visits with fellow TA’s (both British and Russian), a stroll around the Rathaus with my cellist friend Seo, and another visit with our Chinese friends Ke and Hui.
When I wasn’t busy with school (whether regular lessons or a field trip to see Lincoln), piano practice, and finding lost keys, we spent more time touring around Vienna. One afternoon we dropped by the piano store that sells Fazioli pianos, a relatively new brand created not to far from Venice, Italy, and absolutely exquisite looking and sounding. The shop assistant was as friendly as usual, making Mom a cup of coffee and welcoming me to try out the pianos. Fun!
Another day we took in the Globe Museum. I decided it was worth the second visit, and Mom practically acted like she wanted to go into cartography. The oldest globe is from 1492, and the types, sizes, and materials are fascinating. One of my favorites was was the inflatable globe created, I think, for classroom use back-in-the-day.
We also continued the endless church tour. Saturday we had the grand idea to visit two Art Nouveau churches, which happened to be on opposite ends of town. The first church building is located in the midst of the largest cemetery I’ve ever seen or imagined (hence the name: Zentralfriedhof, or “Central Cemetery”). Many famous people are buried there, including Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Strauß, and Schönberg (although we didn’t hunt for the honored musicians section).
The church building itself feels more like a museum piece than a place of worship; the interior of the dome is absolutely incredible and well worth seeing. …Finding the second church (despite its being situated on top of a hill and boasting an imposing dome) proved a task — a long walk, partly in snow, brought us to our destination just before dusk and only to find it already closed for the day. Maybe another time. Well, it was just as well, as about then I got a call from a favorite Austrian colleague, saying that she could come for dinner at 8:00. Oh, my! We hurried home to cook, and had a lovely visit with Angelika.
Mom’s last day in Vienna came all too soon. I think we were both content with the many interesting places we saw together and all the special visits with people, even if there is always the wish for more time to talk and maybe a few more places to discover together. However, the last day we packed full — school for me and a tour of the Muskverein for Mom; a walk around the 1st Disctict yet again; dropping in at the Bösendorfer piano shop and a violin shop; Marianna and I singing/playing a casual mini-recital for Mom and Rachel; a special dinner out, just the two of us, at a Georgian restaurant (not fried green tomatoes and country fried steak, but a marvelously tasty introduction to the country of Georgia); and dessert and merriment back home with Rachel and (our frequent house-guest) Marianna.
I saw Mom off at the airport the next morning, waiting till she really disappeared down the
airport corridor past security before running for the train back to Vienna. Nineteen full days….
Needless-to-say, keeping current on a blog is hard work! A few noteworthy items will bring my up to date!
Wiener Eistraum (“Vienna Ice Dream”) is aptly named! Picture a grandiose Gothic city hall (Rathaus), looking Disney-esque lit up in night. In front, two big ice skating rinks, connected by winding trails through what is at other times of year a park. Beginner skaters, lots of decently capable amateurs, and a few people who really look like they know what they are doing glide round and round to the accompaniment of American pop tunes. If you get tired, you can stop for a Viennese sausage or a mug of Glühwein. I borrowed skates from someone at work and enjoyed two splendid evenings on the ice with friends from the U.S., England, France, and Hungary.
Concerts: For classical music lovers, you really have to come to Vienna! In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been privileged to hear Emanuel Ax (in a duo concert with a violinist) and (tonight) Evgeny Kissen. Kissen was sensational; Viennese don’t give standing ovations lightly, but tonight almost everyone stood (ha — I had been standing for about 4 hours, waiting in line and then in the cheap standing-room section), and the performer played three encores (including a Liszt etude).
Work: Things have gotten a tad busier with three new piano students starting lessons. So, I’m up to a grand total of four, which is just about as much as I can manage these days.
Language: After six months in Österreich, I’m seeing slow but real progress in German acquisition. Tomorrow I’ll meet for the first time with one of two colleagues who has asked me if we can do an English/German exchange. Helpful for both of us, although my German needs a whole lot more work than her English!
Bis nächstes Mal (‘Til next time)!