Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Once upon a time, there was a fairy princess who went to a ball...

I just got back from a ball. Let me repeat that. I JUST GOT BACK FROM A BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At a palace, no less!!!! It was unimaginably wonderful. Let me start at the beginning (yes, a very good place to start). To begin my wondrous day, I slept in. Hooray. Then I got up, ate some breakfast, and put on my makeup for the ball, because I knew that I wouldn't have time for the rest of the day. Then I caught the Strassenbahn and headed over to the stake center for my voice lesson, which was fabulous. I switched my audition piece for the opera. Yay! I'm now auditioning for the part of Nicklausse in for Tales of Hoffman in the fall. This fits my voice much better than the other role I was auditioning for. After that, I came back and finished getting ready for the ball. I must say, all of us girlies looked pretty fabulous. I wore my black prom dress from senior year. Yay! Our groups consisted of 7 girls, and Ty - the only guy. It was kind of funny. Anyway, after getting ready we headed over to Ty's house to take pictures. Again, kind of funny, I know. He lives with Austrian aristocrats, so their house is an appropriate place to gather before a ball. The one spot of ghetto on our trophy of class was that we had to take the U-bahn to Ty's place. It was hilarious. Here we were (Britain, Emily, and I) in our formalwear in the nasty U-bahn station. I have never gotten so many wierd looks in my life. Most people drive, or take a cab, or a limo to a ball. Oh no my friends, we took the U-bahn. Klassy with a K, as Laura would say. It was awesome. We took princess pictures in the U-bahn. I will get them from Emily and post them at a later date. Anyway, we congregated at Ty's, took pictures, and then walked to the Hoffburg. We took some awesome pictures of us walking down Mariahilfer Strasse, which I will also post later. We arrived at the palace, and it was so beautiful. As we entered by way of the arches, which were build on the same spot as a gate that Napoleon blew up, we could see the Palace. the Rathaus, and the buildings of the Museumsquartier all lit up. It was unbelieveable. Then we went inside. Oh. My. Goodness. It was spectacular. Marble, mirrors, and chandeliers stretched out in every direction. We checked our coats, and ascended the red carpet lined staircase into the area where the ball was held. There were several rooms, but when we got there the debutauntes from the dance school were performing. Imagine hundreds of girls in white dresses dancing with their tuxedo-clad parthners, all perfectly in sync. After the opening ceremony, the floor was open. The Viennese have such a rich culture. The dancing was incredible. It was nothing like American dancing where it seems that everything has to have a sensual undertone. No, this was dancing for the sake of beautiful dancing. Not that everyone was a great dancer. There were people messing up all over the place, but they were having such a great time that it didn't matter, which was comforting. Did I mention that there was a live orchestra and jazz combo? Yeah. They were the Austrian military orchestra, and they were great! We sat on the steps just below them, and chatted with some of the violinists. As soon as we had taken in the general splendor of our situation, we were ready to dance. Ty danced with a few of us, myself included. It turns out that Becky is an incredible dancer! She was so awesome. I, on the other hand, am not so wonderful. However, I gave it my best shot, and had a blast in the process. In addition to Ty, I danced with Bernhardt, a violinist in the orchestra, and Krystoff, a law student from Salzburg. They were both very nice, and I learned six new dances. I learned the foxtrot, jive, cha-cha, rumba, a french dance that I think was called the Midnight Quatrain (or something like that. They said the name in German), and the Viennese waltz. The French dance was out of control. It was one of those dances like in Pride and Prejudice where the couples line up in two lines, only it went so fast. My parthner (Krystoff) and I were really bad at it, but it was really fun. The waltz was by far my favorite. It was so beautiful. We waltzed to Moon River, and the feeling of all those couples spinning at exactly the same time was absolutely enchanting. I was so happy that I got to waltz at a ball in Vienna. How perfect ist that? After the waltz, the orchestra played the Blue Danube Waltz. Perfection. I still cannot get over how amazing this whole experience was. As I left, I took one last look at the couples waltzing under the picturesque Baroque painted ceiling of the ballroom, and thought to myself "How did this happen? How is this really my life?!?" I am having absolutely the best time over here, and feel so blessed to have this opportunity! I have to go to bed now. I have class in the morning! Yikes! However, I will post pictures as soon as I can. Auf wiedersehen!

PS- Here are some pictures, as promised!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Can life get better? I submit that it cannot!

My life is a fairytale. I wake up every morning, push back the princess curtains, and eat my breakfast in my adorable and completely European apartment overlooking the Danube. Then I go to school and learn about art, language, and architecture. After that, I get to make music for a few hours with my wonderfully talented friends. Today I went to the Kunsteshistorisches Museum (art history museum) with Amy, Shea, and Emily, and saw the Saliera (Cellini), and a whole room full of original Breugel paintings. I need to go back to see the Vermeers and Rembrandts. After the museum, I went home, changed, and then Britain and I made our way down to the Naschmarkt to meet the others for dinner. What happened next was like something out of a movie. Let me preface this story by saying that Joseph has connections, and has made friends with the casting director at the Theater an der Wien - where Mozart conducted the premiere of The Magic Flute. How cool is that?!?! So, tonight Mr. Schwarz was kind enough to invite all of us to the final dress rehearsal of Handel's Parthenope. We met in the lobby after dinner, and pretty soon Mr. Schwarz came and whisked us around to the back of the theater. We got to go backstage, and into the theater where we got to sit in the fifth or sixth row - for free. None of us really knew anything about Parthenope, except for a shady synopsis that Britain and I looked up on Wikipedia, so we had no clue what to expect. It was so incredible!!! It was a modern staging, which I didn't know if I would like. I loved it! It was sooooooo well done. There were two counter-tenors, which was exciting, and the Mezzo was fabulous. The acting was so good! And the set - unbelieveable. There were all these elements that twisted, and evolved. It was also very funny, which was exciting, because it could have been pretty dry. At the end, there is supposed to be a duel, but they staged it as a boxing match, and it was so funny! There was also a scene where Parthenope and one of her many romantic prospects were doing yoga. It matched the music exactly, and was so clever. The Mezzo and the Tenor rode off on a motorcycle at the end. Awesome! During one of the intermissions Mr. Schwarz came and told us abou the set, and a little bit of what it takes to put on such a high quality show, which was fascinating. We are also going on a behind the scenes tour of the Theater in the next week or so. How many people get this kind of opportunity?!? Not many. I'll post pictures of the theater tomorrow. It's very intimate, and I think it's my favorite of all the theaters that I've been to here. But wait - there's more! As if all of this awesomeness isn't enough, I'm going to a ball on Tuesday. It's called the Elmayer Kranzchen ball. It's held in the Hofburg palace. I'm so excited! Here is the website. Well, that's all for now! Auf wiedersehen!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Musikverein noch einmal

The Musikverein rocks my world. I heard Anna Larsson (Mezzo-soprano), today, and it was unbelieveable. However, my musical experience did not start out so warm and fuzzy. Laura was nice enough to get tickets for everybody yesterday, however, she was under the impression that the tickets were for the Wiener Philharmoniker concert, which was also tonight in the same venue. Little did she know that the ticket website was feeding her lies. So, when the time came for us to head over to get our tickets, Laura calls me and says she's going to be late and asks me if I would pick up the tickets. Naturally, I agreed, and proceeded to the Musikverein. Once we arrived, I asked a nice lady where the will-call office was. She told me that for the Philharmoniker, it was down two blocks. So, off we went. Unfortunately, we got a little bit confused, and ran around for about a half hour between two different ticket offices selling tickets for two different concerts at the same venue. Arg! When Laura bought the tickets, the confirmation e-mail said they were for the Philharmoniker, but they were actually for Anna Larsson's recital, which we found out after running around like crazy people, and dealing with several very rude individuals. Finally we figured out where we were going, and got into the recital, albeit a bit late. The small portion of the first half that we saw, I actually wasn't too impressed with. To be fair though, I was not in the best of moods. Intermission came around, and we (meaning Ty, Laura, Britain, Emily, and myself) went downstairs to the main level of the hall, where we saw Joseph. After chatting for a few minutes, we proceeded to sneak into some empty seats. I sat next to a very nice man, and we spoke a little bit in German. Yay! From that point on, the recital got better and better! Anna Larsson has this big, rich voice (being a worldclass mezzo), and it was great for me to see how she used it. It seemed to get clearer and more inviting the more she sang. Maybe that will be me someday! She did a set of Grieg songs, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Grieg is a Norwegian composer, who I am beginning to really love as I listen to more of his work. She also sang a Wolf set, and two encores, one of which was a piece from Sibelius - awesome. I love being a part of the Viennese audience. The people here love music so much, and have no qualms about showing their appreciation, which I think is great. They always give the most sincere, enthusiastic applause and have no problem shouting "bravo!" if they think someone deserves it. I have such a fabulous opportunity over here to watch all of these famous singers, and how they practice their craft. I learn so much from watching and listening to them - not to mention it's so fun to attend so many concerts and operas!
P.S I might to go a ball next week. For real. I'll keep you posted! Bis bald!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What a weekend!

Here are the events of this weekend:

On friday I went on my third walking tour. It was so cold!!!! We saw interesting things though, like the house where Mozart composed the Marriage of Figaro. I also ate at the place that has the biggest Wiener Schnitzel in Wien. We then went to the LDS outreach, stuffed ourselves with waffles, and watched movies. Yay! Saturday Britain and I awoke to a call from Dr. Vincent informing us that our study abroad group would be giving a concert in 24 hours. Yikes! I then went to Naschmarkt, and went to lunch with Naomi and Emily. Viel spass. After lunch, Britain, Laura, Naomi and I hung out at my apartment, and then went on an uber romantic girl dinner date. Then I went to Die Zauberfloete! It was so fun. I really enjoyed that show. The staging was fun, and overall the singing was very good. There were some things in that show that I thought were a little off, but it was so fun. Today I went over to Dr. Vincent's to help out with things before the concert. We ate lunch, which was tasty, and then we all practiced the rep for the concert. We then headed over to the stake center for sacrament meeting. After church, we all huddled in the kitchen and ate rice. Then I warmed up and sang with Ty, Naomi, and Laura. That was so fun! It's always fun to sing with talented friends. Then it was time for the concert. The performance was so fun! I haven't performed in a concert setting in a long time, and it was so great to sing on a concert with my friends. The Viennese are so appreciative of classical music, which is not something I'm completely used to yet. After the performance, we got a chance to speak to the church members, which was so wonderful. I spoke mostly in German, which was exciting, even if I didn't understand everything people said. Tonight was one of those times when I feel that yes, I really am doing the right thing with my life. I love singing, and I love the affect that music has on people's hearts. I want to make people happy through my music. It is so important to remind myself that the goal of singing is not my own satisfaction, but rather the peace that can come to other people. If I can can be the vehicle through which a person's soul is touched, then all everything is worth it. That is the ultimate goal. I am excited to have more performance opportunities, and am motivated to keep moving forward. Bis bald!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ich liebe Musik!

So, I just got back from The Barber of Seville at the Staatsoper, and it was so wonderful! I am singing a trio from this opera here in Vienna, so it was especially fun to see that piece performed. The set was this neat building with walls that would could be pulled up like garage doors in front of all the rooms. It looked kind of like a Spanish dollhouse when all the walls were up. I loved the staging for this show, and the singing was unbelieveable! It was very exciting (not to mention a little intimidating) to hear how the pros do coloratura. This trio for opera scenes is my first attempt at Rossini caliber coloratura, and it has been extremely challenging, but also very rewarding as I realize that I am singing music now that was far out of my reach just a few short months ago. It's very encouraging to see improvement in yourself. The acting in this production was fabulous as well, especially Figaro! That baritone did such a great job. His voice was fantastic, and he was so funny! Needless to say, I had a great opera-going experience. I realized that in almost all of my blog posts I start at the last thing that happened and go backwards. This post is no exception. That being said, earlier today we had German class, and opera workshop. German went well. It was a little intense, as always, but I feel like my German is greatly improving. I get really irritated when I am in a public place and people speak to me in English when I am trying to communicate in German. However, I have noticed that this is happening a little bit less than when I first arrived. It did happen tonight at a cafe, but the rest of today was pretty good in the German department. Opera workshop was so fun today! We reviewed the Die Zauberfloete scene, which was good, because we had to re-work some things. I am really excited about that scene. Yay Mozart! We also did the Cosi fan tutte duet and trio, as well as the Barber of Seville trio. Now that I have most of my music memorized, it is really fun to work out acting and blocking details. Opera is so complicated, but it is such a rush when things flow the way they are supposed to. Hopefully our scenes will continue to get better and better! I hope you enjoyed my operatic rant. I knew that I would learn a lot about music here, but I am amazed at how much deeper my understanding of music's ability to reach out and touch the core of human emotion has grown. I love this city, I love music, and I can't wait to see what other adventures are in store for me! Bis bald!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Crazy weather

The weather here is insane. One day it is sunny and warm, and the next it is snowing and miserable. Take this morning for instance, I looked out the window and thought that it was going to be warm. Needless to say, it was freezing! AND it started raining and then snowing, and got colder and colder as the day went on. Brrrr! Today I went to the Kunsthistorisches Museum (art history museum) for my fine art class. It was so fun! Tomorrow we are going to the Academy of Fine Arts, where Hitler was rejected as an art student. I also had voice lessons and opera workshop today, both of which went well. Hooray! After that I went to a cafe with some amigas, and then we headed over to Becky and Naomi's house to watch a movie. We all piled on Naomi's bed, and it was glorious. Yesterday we had class, and then opera workshop, and then it was time to find some chocolate! After the hunt for chocolatey goodness was accomplished, we went over to the outreach institute for delicous dinner for 1.50 Euro! It was so good! We were all starving. Then we had FHE and hung out with the Austrian peeps. That's the report for today! I have to go to bed. So much to write, so little time!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A rainy Sunday in Vienna

Hello all!

Let me paint a picture for you. This morning I awoke to the sound of rain lightly knocking on the window. I clumbsily parted my princess curtains (yes, I have princess curtains that seperate my bed from the rest of the floral-wallpapered awesomeness that is my room), and casually greeted the serf that seems to always occupy the other half of my kingdom when she's not otherwise engaged in useful activities such as, but certainly not limited to, preparing my morning cornflakes or bringing me chocolate bars ;). After this customary greeting of "hey Britain," I felt the gentle heat of the radiator eminating from the floorboards as I made my way to the window. As I peered around the orchid emblazoned curtains, I noted the usual morning suspects - Volkswagons humming along the Ringstrasse, pedestrians hustling down the sidewalks with their dogs, and little kids on razor scooters. However this morning, something was a little different. For one thing, the windows were a little bit foggy, and secondly, the Danube was greyer and more tumultuous than usual. As I looked closer, I also noted that the pedestrians were hugging their big fur coats (which are very popular among the women here) a little tighter to their bodies, and that the unfortunately small dogs that these pedestrians seem to tow along everywhere looked a little more frantic than usual. Amassing all of these observations, I decided to open the windows and see if it was really as wintry as the scene outside my window seemed to depict. As I pulled the window pane toward me, a blast of frigid air and water hit my face.

Thank you for entertaining my creative interpretation of my morning. One side effect of being in such an enchanting place has been an inspiration to explore all the creative avenues of my personality. I would love to continue this little narrative, but for time's sake I will consolidate the rest of my adventures of the day. After I discovered how cold it was outside, I went about my normal Sunday routine. After grabbing severeal jackets, scarves, and the like, Britain and I made our way to the U-bahn, and I will have you know that we were out the door by eight. That, friends, is a whole hour before church starts. In order to get to our meetinghouse, we take two U-bahns and a Strassenbahn. It was kind of fun. I sat on the Strassenbahn (streetcar) listening to Symphonie Fantastique, watching the icy raindrops flit across the windows, and thinking about all the possibilities that stretch out in front of me. I met some very interesting people at church today, and I feel like I was much more aware of what was happening around me than I was last week. This is exciting, becuase it means that my German has improved at least a little bit. I really enjoy sitting in these all-German meetings and trying to make linguistic connections. I understood what all the lessons were about, even if I didn't catch many of the details. I brought my music with me, and so after church was over I went into the cultural hall and practiced for a little over an hour. It was so great! I didn't realize how much I took the HFAC for granted. I do not have a piano in my Hausfrau's apartment, and so it is really exciting when I have a place to practice. I worked on a trio and a duet from The Barber of Seville and Cosi fan tutte, respectively, and it was fun. After practicing, I went back to the apartment, and changed into jeans. Yay! Britain and I then went over to Dr. Vincent's for religioun class. After class, we talked about the second walking tour, and ate dinner. We had yummy stir-fry, and just hung out, which is always nice. All in all, I had a very pleasant Sunday.

Now I'm going to backtrack and tell you about my adventures from Saturday! Saturday morning, Britain, Emily, Naomi, and I went to Naschmarkt, which is always entertaining. Then we ate at Puccini's. Sounds great, right? Wrong. I realize that eating at cafes takes longer here, but it took an eternity to get our food, and they were out of almost everything on the menu. It was obnoxious. After "lunch", we met up with other members of our group at the Rathaus (city hall, funny right?), to go ice staking. This sounded like a great plan until we discovered how expensive it was. So, instead, Becky, Emily, Laura Joseph and I went on part of the second walking tour. We saw the old city hall, Maria am Gestade (a cathedral), and Judenplatz just to name some highlights. Here are some pictures!

This is a plaque on the side of a building where Mozart lived in 1783.

Maria am Gestade

Holocaust memorial in Judenplatz. It really was quite chilling to see it in person.

This is an inscription on the base of the memorial. You can see the ridges in this picture, which are books with their spines turned inward. These books represent the lives of the more than 65,000 Austrian Jews who were killed. The fact that their spines are turned to the inside of the memorial represent the idea that their lives are closed, and only the dead can read them.

After we finished the tour, we ate at the Schottenring Cafe and had Wienerschnitzel, which was tasty. Then Becky, Joseph, and I went to Stiffelio at the Staatsoper. I have never heard such beautiful singin in my life. It was rich, and powerful, but delicate and untouchable at the same time. Here is a picture of me with the fabulous soprano, Hui He. She blew my mind, she was so great!

Well, that just about wraps it up for the past two days! Tschuess!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Crown jewels, cafes, and.... a stake dance.

Hello all! First, can I just say that I love chocolate. I am sure that I have mentioned this before, but seriously - it's delectable. Britain and I currently have eight different types of chocolate lying around, and it is delicious! I just finished eating a piece of pear-almond chocolate! It is milk chocolate with pear-almond truffle filling. YUM! It was so good. I have been up to all sorts of things the past few days. On Wednesday we went to see the crown jewels at the Schatzkammer (treasury). Here are some pics!

Crown of the Holy Roman Emperors (1500) each stone represents virtues that the Emperor should posses.

Crown, orb, and scepter used at coronations

Pitcher and basin used for royal baptisms

This was a gift to the Holy Roman Emperor.

Pretty cool huh? Yesterday I had german class, and then master class. I sang Widmung, and it was fun. Then, Emily and I went to this awesome place called the Schottenring Cafe. We hopped on a random Strassenbahn and found this little gem of a place right down the road from my apartment. It is extremely Viennese in feeling and decor, and the food was very authentic as well. There was a pianist playing all sorts of fun music. Emily and I felt very sophisticated as we ate our Wiener Schnizel and Topfenstrudel and listened to music. The cafe was built in 1878, I believe, and it had the character to match its age!

The cafe!

Wiener Schnizel! It was so good! Mind you that this is only half. A whole one would be huge! Emily and I split it because it's kind of expensive.

Today I slept in (yay!), and then had lunch with some people from our group, and two girls that we met at the LDS outreach insitute. We had burritos. It was great to socialize with some of our newfound friends! After lunch, I went to a free organ concert at Peterskirche. It was so beautiful. The music was great, and the church was so pretty! I love how many concerts are given here! You could go to a show or performance of some kind any day, no problem.Again, here are pics.

After the concert, Laura, Emily, and I wandered around for a little while before meeting up with some other people from the group for dinner. We ate at yet another cafe. Hooray! We also got lost for a little while and found some Roman ruins, the Spanish Riding School, and some great museums. After dinner, we went to (dramatic music) a stake dance. It was quite the experience. They definently don't dance the way we do in the US. It was like this bizzare fusion of ballroom and freestyle wierdness. I guess I shouldn't say that it was bizzare. It's just not something I'm used to, I suppose. It really was fun though. We got to talk with some of the people we met at the church institute on Monday night, so that was great. Tomorrow Britain and I are planning to go on a hunt for oversized lockets for our duet, do our second walking tour, and then go ice skating! If you want to see more pictures, check out my facebook. I don't think blogger will let me post any more. Auf wiedersehen!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things I have learned about Vienna so far...

Here is a list of all the quirky or interesting things that I have learned about the city!

1. People will actually speak German to you if you try, even though they totally know you’re American.
2. They drive on the right hand side of the road. Not the left like I thought they would.
3. The city feels safer than I thought it would.
4. The Danube is not brown and disgusting.
5. Little kids who speak German are really cute.
6. You actually can find food for less than 5 euro. Praise!
7. I can actually survive in foreign country by myself. Who knew?
8. Foreign ATM’s aren’t as scary as I thought they would be
9. No one here drives SUV’s (I kind of knew that already).
10. The tap water is DELICIOUS!!!!
11. The chocolate is also amazing, of course!
12. Austrians love lemon and raspberry flavored things.
13. They love tons of herbs on their food.
14. Every Austrian I have come in contact with is very knowledgeable about classical music. They take their heritage very seriously.
15. Austrians love traditions.
16. The bread here is awesome.
17. The yogurt is great, and I don’t even like yogurt! I had an apple yogurt today, and it was amazing.
18. The paper size is different. It is long and skinny. Weird.
19. Buildings are heated by radiators as opposed to central heating.
20. Punctuality is extremely important to the Viennese. Britain and I were late for dinner once, and it was bad news.
21. The people here are absolutely not afraid to give you a really nasty look if they think that you are being too loud on the subway, which happens all the time with a group of ten American musicians.
22. The desserts are epic.
23. They put salami on pizza instead of pepperoni.
24. There is this drink called Almdudler, and it is sooooooo good! It’s like this weird spiced lemon soda. I don’t actually know what’s in it, but it’s oddly scrumptious!
25. When the hot water in the shower runs out, it’s not coming back.
26. Don’t run for the U-bahn. It’s just embarrassing, and people laugh at you.
27. Take music history before you come, or else your crazy German teacher will be very upset.
29. It’s great when people “remember” to do things.
30. Crazy wallpaper is a way of life.
31. It’s Danke, not Daaaaahnke.
32. Bring napkins for when your yogurt explodes all over your avocado while you’re waiting in line for tickets to the Staatsoper. Very important.
33. Scarves are the best.
34. Always run for the Strassenbahn when there’s a flock of pigeons close by, but only then. Otherwise, you look silly.
35. Old fashioned keys are still very much in style.
36. The Opera Toilette in the U-bahn station scares me. It smells really weird, and bad, and has classical music emanating from its depths. Creepy.
37. Vienna is a good hair city.
38. Ketchup costs twenty cents a packet.
39. Prepare yourself for European smells.
40. It’s not Leipzig, it’s LEIP-ZIG!
41. They have gigantic dogs here, and they come on the U-bahn.
42. They also have some tiny dogs.
43. The police sirens are even musical!
44. Trash men wear bright orange uniforms.
45. Fur coats are awesome, especially on really old ladies.
46. Billa is my friend.
47. There is a real Danube and a fake Danube.
48. Don’t call an Austrian a German.
49. Don’t call a German an Austrian.
50. The police don’t really like it when you eat Weiner Schnitzel on the floor of the U-bahn station late at night.
51. The transportation system rocks.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Week two so far

Well, week two in Vienna is going swimmingly. Today I had Fine Arts class. We learned about Architecture, and it was fascinating. Tomorrow we are going to see Austria's crown jewels, which should be fun. I also had a voice lesson today, and it went very well, thank goodness! I have been feeling a little overwhelmed both vocally, and by the sheer amount of music that I am trying to learn while I am here. So, it was extremely re-assuring to come out of a lesson feeling like I am really improving, and getting ever closer to my all too elusive goal of being a professional singer. I know that I still have a long way to go, but now I realize more than ever that if I just keep working hard, and doing everything I can, then maybe one day, with some divine help, my dreams will turn into reality. Being here in Vienna makes me feel more like a singer and musician than I ever have before. On the flip side, it makes me acutely aware of all the things I still don't know, and have yet to experience. However, I am incredibly excited to continue to learn, grow, and encounter beautiful things. Sorry to wax philosophical, but that's what's been on my mind lately.

After class yesterday, we went over to the church's youth outreach institute for FHE. It was this great building run by the elders, and senior missionaries. They have foosball, a pool table, and a piano. It was fun to just hang out with some Austrian people our age. There were also some Germans and other Americans. It's been really interesting to interact with the Austrian people. They are very kind people, but they are also very private people - not as warm as many Americans. However, we met the other girl who is living in the room next door today, and she is so fun. Her name is Johanna, and she is from Linz, Austria. She just graduated in Marketing. We talked to her about music, school, and her studies in the US and Australia. She speaks beautiful English, and was very fun to talk with. It really amazes me how informed all the Austrians seem to be when it comes to music. I have yet to meet one who did not want to talk about music with me if it came up. It's so fun, and I learn a lot from those conversations. Well, that's all for now. I've got to go examine the inside of my eyelids. Guten nacht!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chocolate and Music

Hello friends! I just have time for a quick post. On friday I went on a walking tour of Stephansdom, and the Jewish quarter. Stephansdom was beautifull. It was great to see all of the art, and the stone work and such. We also climbed the tower and saw a great view of Vienna. It was very picturesque, especially with the snow-covered roofs. After some shopping and dessert-eating, my friends and I then made our way to the Jewish quarter. This is a really quaint part of town. There's something that feels very old-world and calm about it. We saw the Anker Clock, and the Ruprechtskirche, and a Jewish synagogue. This particular synagogue still has to be guarded by armed police, due to hate crimes and violence. Yikes! It has been burned, looted, and the like as recently as the 80's. On Saturday, I went to Naschmarkt with Emily. Yay! We meandered through the stalls of the weekly fleamarket, where we saw all sorts of porcelain boxes, scarves, silver, glass, fur coats, antiques, and chandeliers, of course. Britain then joined us for lunch. We had giant Kebabs. They were so big! We struggled to eat them, but somehow managed :). That night I went to the opera!! Yayhoo!!! We saw Un ballo in maschera by Verdi. We got stehplatz (standing room) tickets. This was quite the adventure to say the least. The Staatsoper, where the opera was performed, is the most famous opera house in Vienna. That being the case, we stood in line for hours to get our tickets. It was so worth it though! I somehow ended up right in the front and in the center, so I had a great view! Can't beat that for four Euros! The opera was really fun. The music was absolutely beautiful. Naturally, I thought the singing was fabulous, but the orchestra was so great too! They were perfectly in sync with the conductor, who looked like he was dancing through the whole show. The plot of this particular opera I was not particularly thrilled with. However, this could have been because I didn't exactly know the synopsis beforehand, and then was trying to go off of German subtitles. You know, it happens. Today I went to church in German. I was really pleased with how much I understood! It was great to go to church in a foreign country in another language and still know what was going on. I also ate delicious chocolate this week! I bought some Mozart chocolate the other day, and I had a bite of Britain's chocolate hazelnut bar. Yum! Here are some pictures from the past few days:

Britain and I waiting for our opera tickets
Inside the Staatsoper

A holocaust memorial outside my house. This is where the Gestapo house used to be, before it was bombed. The engraving at the top (niemals vergessen) means never forget.

A delicious Viennesse pastry! I eat pastries pretty much every day, and it is glorious.