Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ich Bekommen Spargel

Jenny and I caught a very early flight to Vienna from Paris. We slept for some of the shortshort flight. I woke up to see the Alps below.

When we first arrived, our conversations took on a theme:

"We should have Wikipedia'd Vienna."

"Too late now!"

"We should have grabbed a map of their public transportation."

"Too late now!"

"We should have learned a little German."

"Too late now!"

We rode the train from the Vienna Airport to the center of town. The sun was shining as we zoomed past fields of yellow flowers, quaint towns, and a giant, never-ending cemetery that reminded me just how old the country is.

The goal in Vienna was to experience the city. Of course, everything exceeded expectations (mostly because we didn't have any, and because we found out that our host had met Kanye West before he exploded). The first day we explored the city on foot, passing government buildings, old churches, break-dancing lessons conducted in German. The names of the buildings didn't matter. What mattered was being absorbed into a culture I had absolutely no preconceived notions about, finding it to be quite lovely.

That night, Jenny and I continued our hobby of talking American politics with people from other countries. This time, we expanded to a more comparative forum, comparing and contrasting different electoral systems. Alex, our host, was a wealth of information, being from Germany, having lived in the States and Vienna and majoring in political science. We pointed out the flaws and benefits in each, fantasized about the way we would ant it all to be. I felt a moment of gratitude for being able to discuss issues with people who were not from my own country and could give me a different perspective. It's amazing what one can learn if you shut up and listen.

The next day we explored the two art museums at the Museumquartiers. We wandered through the modern art one first, and saw pieces such as:

We moved to the Leopold museum after, which houses all of the national treasures from the last two-hundred or so years. Klimt's Death and Life was displayed in its stoic and yet transcendental glory on the far wall in a room, surrounded by pieces by Kolomon Moser. I sat in front of the piece for a good five minutes, trying to count all of the figures and distinguish where one ended and another began. Suddenly, I heard someone running up behind me. I assumed it was some excited Klimt fan running to see the piece. I heard angry German, and Jenny whispered in my ear, "I think that guy is sitting on the art." I turned to see a man lounging on a velvet green couch that Moser designed for Lina Hellmann in 1904. The security guard was running up to him and shouting in German, "You can't sit there! The seating is over there! That is art!"

My continual conquest of eating the whole of a country's food supply during my stay continued. No amount of schnitzel, coffee, Viennese truffle, strudel, kebab, gelato or Camembert sandwich was safe. But again, we walked anywhere and everywhere. On one excursion, we ended up at one of castles in Vienna, and saw this amazing view.

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