I have arrived! After a 3 hour drive to Chicago and 11 hours of travel time, I am so very happy to be here in Vienna, Austria. Quick tip, if you get the chance to fly on the airline from your destination country, take it. This is a great way to start hearing the language and eat some of their foods. After I checked into my hotel, I had my priorities straight and went to the Sacher Hotel for their famous Sacher chocolate torte. Rich chocolate with a citrus hint is the delight of every bite.
On a sugar high and re-energized from a latte, I decided to look at a few shops on my way to Parliament. On the way, I saw St. Stephens Church and it has a beautifully, unique roof. Once I arrived to Parliament, I went all around the building looking for the entrance only to find out it was in the front after-all, but under the grand staircase. Inside, I took a tour that led us up a staircase surrounded by Greek gods. The whole building is based on Athens and its democracy. They have a divided government with two main parties, the Austrians people party and the democrats, along with two smaller parties. The discussions are lively and they “make music” by banging the desks and throwing ink wells at each other in their show of disapproval. In the past, women used to sit in the upper balconies for the evening’s entertainment. Architecturally, I found it interesting that in the Grand hall, each marble column is entirely one piece of agate. Two of these have a different shade than the rest because they were replaced after the bombing in WWII. One of the meeting halls was also bombed out and so it is decorated in the style of the 1950’s rather than the Baroque style the rest of the building.
I later went to Hofburg Kaiserappartments and was able to walk around the rooms of the Emperor and Empress. These are ornately decorated and filled with tidbits of their lives. The Empress Sisi (Elizaabeth’s nickname) was a very modern girl for her time and liked to travel and get away from court…I like her already! On a negative side, she is suspected of using cocaine in order to stay thin…yikes! The Emperor seemed to be quite taken with her and had a huge portrait of her at his writing table. It was all quite interesting and I am glad I could see this palace.
I really needed a real meal at this point, so I found a quaint restaurant and had pumpkin soup for an appetizer. It was delicious and had pumpkin and fennel seeds which really added to the taste. For my main dish, I ordered a typical Austrian meal which reminds me of my mother’s Sunday roasts. The side of potatoes were not salted, but I liked the earthy way they tasted with the beef and stew-like gravy.
After my meal, I slipped into the restroom and switched my walking shoes for heals. I was trying to fit quite a bit in my schedule, so I wore clothes that could pass for street clothes during the day and dolled up for the evening. A change of shoes is a great way to do complete the transformation. I was all ready for the Burg Theater. I saw a play in German so although I had no idea what they were saying, the experience of it all was still wonderful. The stage was minimalist. However, it spun the entire time which I assume represented the passing of time and added to the mania of the main character who acted delusional and mad with lucid moments strewn in-between. Of course, all of the other characters looked as if they had lost their way as well. Just picture homeless people with old moulin rouge costumes philosophising with a background of old furniture, frayed mattresses and masses amounts of old clothing littered about the stage. Needless to say, I collapsed into bed that night.