Last Tuesday Hannah arrived in Vienna and immediately dived into both the adventure of a summer in Europe and Eva’s always-busy schedule. Tuesday afternoon we moved (since we needed to vacate for a week the place I am house-sitting for the summer, a friend from uni graciously let us camp out in her studio apartment), traipsed together to a piano lesson, walked into the 1st District for kebab and gelato and a glimpse of Stephansdom, and enjoyed key lime pie with hostess Pauline before bedtime. (Note to self: Next time you are lugging suitcases and backpacks via tram and train to new accommodations, don’t try to simultaneously transport a still-hot-from-the-oven pie).
Wednesday Hannah visited an art museum while I had a trio rehearsal and then joined me for a last trio lesson before our concert Thursday. Our teacher had come with a bottle of champagne, and we enjoyed sitting around afterwards getting better acquainted. The evening boasted beautiful weather, and Hannah and I enjoyed a walk to the Belvedere Palace, a favorite spot for sitting, walking, and viewing the city.
Thursday’s main event was a chamber music concert I’d been planning for weeks with friends. The afternoon was surprisingly relaxed. Hannah strolled through the Naschmarkt, an outdoor market featuring exotic fruits and vegetables, endless falafel and humus, and brightly colored apparel. After filling up on falafel, we dipped into the Kunsthistorisches (Art History) Museum to buy Hannah’s year-card (the most cost-efficient plan) and see the first few rooms of the Kunstkammer (an unbelievable array of gold- and jewel-decorated artifacts, ivory carvings, intriguing automatons, etc., collected by the Habsburgs).
By the time we were acquiring “museum sickness,” it was time to get ready for the evening’s recital. What fun! …I have been dreaming all year of chamber music opportunities outside of university studio recitals, and these past weeks have been busy practicing and putting together the logistics of a concert (hopefully the first of many) at church. Rehearsing together over the past semester has been one of the highlights of my time in Vienna so far, not to mention the fun of getting to know the cellist (Ernesto, from Italy) and violinists (Pauline and Anne, both from France). On top of that, the concert went quite well (a rare feeling for me), and we had a small but good crowd. A leisurely dinner afterwards rounded out the evening but also meant saying goodbye to Anne, who has already moved back after her study-abroad year. (If you want to hear some Tchaikovsky, Franck, or Beethoven, just email me; and I’ll be glad to send you a file.)
Friday was wonderful, too. With uni done for the semester, summer seemed to have truly arrived. Hannah and I took the train to Mödling to say hello and good-bye for the summer to teachers at both schools. It was a bit crazy on the last day of school but well worth the trip! Back in Vienna after lunch with many of the Keimgasse teachers, we went to the opera (being nearly the last opera of the season, we discovered the line for tickets was already out the door 2+ hours before the performance) and rounded out the evening with Sachertorte.
Saturday the tourist life continued — morning cafe visit with an Austrian friend (some of my church friends from back home will know Jutta from her Wycliffe work in Mali, supported by Cedar Springs); a walk through the Schönbrunn gardens and carriage house museum (lavish, to say the least; one favorite was the child’s carriage drawn by two merino sheep trained for the purpose); and a visit to the Otto Wagner Kirche, a monument to the Austrian Secessionist (Art Nouveau) Movement.
Sunday we “finished off” the Kunstkammer museum, lolligagged in the sun in the hip Museums Quartier, and I enjoyed introducing Hannah to friends at church in the afternoon. In the evening, we indulged in watching Pride and Prejudice.
Monday morning included a nice bit of “routine” (a couple piano lessons to teach) while Hannah scetched the Votivkirche, as well as moving back to our house-sitting digs (main duties — watering plants, enjoying the terrace, and reducing the world’s ant population). We also enjoyed catching up with long-time friend from Knoxville, a Chinese family who has lived in Vienna for a number of years now. It was great for Hannah to finally meet their adorable daughter (a six-year-old accostomed to switching from Chinese to German to English).
Tuesday’s weather was glorious — sunny but not too warm. We spend the morning drawing and painting in the town square in Mödling. Quiet, peace, unhurried. The afternoon was equally pleasant; my friend from Bachgasse, Elisabeth, treated us to a long afternoon at her home, with it’s lovely garden — picking berries, admiring roses, eating far too many sweets.
Wednesday we started off with a walk and jog and spent a considerable chunk of time in the Neue Burg collections of musical instruments and of armor (how on earth did those knights move in all that armor, not to mention survive the temperatures created by a metal exoskeleton?). A jaunt to the outskirts of town landed us at the home of my Austrian piano student. Hannah listened to a Beethoven recording (on Gregor’s state-of-the-art record player) while Gregor and I tackled piano. If the day wasn’t already full enough, Indian food with Brigitte from church topped it off. (By the way, Hannah says, “Put in [bakery] everyone once in a while.”)
Today we had a lovely invitation to celebrate the 4th of July with two teachers from Mödling and their families, hosted by Axel (my head teacher at Keimgasse) and his wife Astrid.
A real treat! Kids (and some of the adults) were in-and-out of the pool, and everyone enjoyed both the hearty bar-b-que and the extra-special Sachertorte decorated with a fondant American flag (13 stripes and 50 stars!).
Tomorrow we head to Schladming (southern Austria) to visit friends and enjoy a 4-day hiking trip (hopefully with more promising weather that my last attempt) and then on to Venice. Next post mid-July!