Archive for January, 2010

Marionetten Theatre

January 6 2010

When we decided to see The Magic Flute (Mozart) at the Marionetten Theatre at Schoenbrunn, we did not realize that the actors would be Marionettes. We realized this only when we bought the tickets the morning of the show. But, we were very excited about the experience we were going to have that evening.

The show was at 7:00, and at 6:40 were were finishing up buying some chocolates in the first district. When we got off the subway, we had five minutes to spare, so we ran like the wind around the palace to the theatre. We arrived at the door as the clock was chiming 7. We walk up to the theatre room out of breath, and the lady gave us a smile. She told us we could check our coats around the corner. After that, I went back to the seats, but Dave and Catie went to the bathroom . As I walked in the small theatre, it appeared that someone was in our seats! I double check the numbers, then look at the row again. There were only about 12 rows, each 10 seats across, in this theatre. We were in row 6, seats 7, 8, and 9. There was only one empty seat in row 6, probably seat number 5. But, I was not sure. So, I asked the person on the end of the row what her seat number is. She said “row 6”… yes, I realize that, there is a giant 6 right next to you! (although I did not say that). Since her english was not good, and I was too flustered as the lights were going out and the door to the hallway closing, I decided just to climb through the row to the number of the free seat so I could find my seats from there. But, I look and there is no seat number on the seat! Then, the Marionette lady is up on stage and ready to do her introduction to marionettes. She says polietly for everyone to find their seats, and I get more confused and flustered as I cannot find a seat number on this one empty seat! Then, she is more direct and tells me to find my seat. So, I start going past the only empty seat (the end of the row was against a wall … so there was no way out and now no seats to sit in). Once again, she tells me to find a seat, and I say that I think someone is in my seats, and that I should have three seats in this row. Perhaps this was funny since my 2 friends were not with me … as they were now locked out in the hallway. Then, one of the ladies with curly hair who I think is in one of my seats says to me, “Perhaps those are your seats” pointing to the two free seats that are in the row in front of me, to which I respond “no.” Then, the lady in the front says “you are very late, we will get some chairs.” So, she opens the doors, grabs three chairs for Catie, Dave and me to sit in. This commotion allowed Catie and Dave to enter the theatre.

At intermission, we go to the bathroom, and Dave got a coffee. Then, we go to find our seats and there are three people sitting in them (that curly haired lady being one of them). I tell them that that they are in my seat, and they say “ok” and move the next three down. I was rather cofused, and the man tells me that there were 2 people in their seats. I said, in a theatre like this, that you can’t do that. And he says “sorry” to which I just give him a look. Dave says that when he sat down he said “I said I was sorry.” A late apology does not make up for making me look like an idiot in the theatre.

As though that commotion was not enough for an experience at the Marionetten Theatre, the rest of the guests were also very rude. One man was snoring through the performance. I missed this, but Catie didn’t. And, the entire row behind us during the second act was talking through the entire thing. I gave them several “shhh”’s and evil eye glares. Aparently they weren’t that threatened by me.
Although we could have done without the rest of the patrons at the Marionetten Theatre, we enjoyed the performance. And, at the end they let you peak backstage. It was very neat to see how small the stage is.

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Sisi Museum

January 3 2010

Yesterday morning, we walked around the Schoenbrunn Palace gardens.  My favorite part was watching the ducks fly and land on the frozen pond.  They usually slid on the ice to land.  It was amazing.  Then,  because we wanted to see it happen again, Dave decided to chase some of the ducks.  The one he was chasing was  lazy one, so it just walked away from him in a zig-zag pattern.  He followed the duck, in the exact same zig-zag pattern, before the duck picked up and flew over to where he was before Dave interrupted his nap.

In the afternoon, we went to the Sisi Museum.  The tour included the royal silver collection and the imperial apartments too.   The silver collection was neat to see, because the centerpieces were so elaborate.  They also had such a huge collection of silverware for everyday use.  It is hard to imagine how it can all be used.  The linen was a part of this collection, and I liked seeing how elaborately the napkins were folded, with two rolls placed in the holes of the folding!

The Sisi museum tells us about the life and tragic death of Empress Elisabeth.  Then, the tour ended in the imperial apartments.  First came the apartments of Franz Joseph.   Sisi burst into tears on the day of her marriage to Franz Joseph—these were not tears of happiness.  Eventually, she became more isolated, and so the living quarters of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth were separated.  Emperor Franz Joseph had modest living quarters.  He did not even have his own bath.  A bath tub was brought into his room every day, and he was bathed by a servant.  Sisi had her own bathtub and dressing room in her apartments.  In Franz Joseph’s study, he surrounded himself with photos of Sisi and his children.  Sisi surrounded herself with photos of her parents and siblings, and a couple photos of her favorite daughter Marie-Valerie.

My favorite part of the apartment is Sisi’s exercise equipment.  There were exercise rings hanging from a doorway.  She had a 20 inch waistline, and worked hard to ensure that it would stay that way, by exercising and occasionally not eating a meal.

(As I am writing this, I am waiting for Dave and Catie to meet me at a café.  The waitress was not so happy that (1) I refused to order a drink before I had a seat, and (2) that my friends have not come to join me.  To punish me, she had an older couple join me at this table for one.  So now, the laptop is on my lap and my elbows are to the sides because my chair is wedged between a window and the table.  I am trapped.  I can’t even have something on the table.  I had to finish my tea quickly to make room for the couple.)

Impromptu Trip

January 3 2010

On Sunday evening, we decided to go to Budapest the next day.  We left on the 6:50 a.m. train, and returned to Vienna the same day on the 6:10 p.m. train.  We did a whirlwind tour of the city.  We started at St. Stephan’s Bascillica, where we saw the hand (or at least a case containing the hand) of St. Stephan. 

Then,  we went to see the Terror museum.  On the train, we realized that the museum is closed on Mondays.  But, to our surprise it was open that Monday (perhaps because it was a holiday week?)  But, we took a tour of the Terror Museum.    It was worth 6 hours on the train (3 there, 3 return) just to see that museum.  The tour ends in the basement, where you see actual cells that held people.  The people’s pictures are posted on the wall of the cells that they once stayed in.   There was a standing cell and a croutching cell, where the prisoners were forced to stand or to crouch.  There was also a water cell, where the floor was a couple inches deep in water.  It was rather devastating to see the conditions.  On the elevator ride down to the basement, a three minute video clip played describing how executions of prisoners were carried out.  We saw the execution room, with a noose, and a stool.  It was horrible to think what hideous things happened right where we were standing. 

For lunch, we went to a Hungarian restaurant.  I ordered Gouloush.  Dave ordered paprika chicken (and we had to specify, no milk products to which the waitor assured us that no dairy would be used).  And, Catie ordered something with Gnocci, mostly because she wanted to eat Gnocci after seeing it on the menu.  When Dave’s food came out, it was drenched in sour cream.  I told the waitor that sour cream has milk in it, and he said “yes, there is milk in there.”  I’m not sure if waitors in this country like to see people suffer, but I don’t think it is funny.

After lunch, we took a stroll to see some of the sights along the Danube canal, including the great market hall.  Dave particularly loved the whole pigs that were just hanging from the vendor’s roofs or lounging on the counter, wearing sunglasses.  Catie was a little grossed out.

Happy New Year!

January 1 2010

I have a backlog of entries, but this one just could not wait:

The story begins with Dave shirtless and his flowing long blonde hair blowing in the wind.  I am not sure where the story goes from there, because he did not tell me more than that.  But, if you want my side of the story, read on.

We began our day by moving more luggage than we could carry down four flights of stairs and across the city to IST Austria.  Then, we had a feast and headed out for the airport.  On our KLM flight, Dave and I enjoyed the complementary wine and soda, while Catie indulged in the free beer.

Then, we arrived at the “airport” Courtyard Marriot which is decievingly far away from the airport, but claims to be the only airport hotel with natural wilderness in the backyard.

The only place open for dinner was the hotel restaurant.  I ordered two appetizers for dinner (raw tuna and chicken skewers) and dave and catie had burgers.  The service was absolutely horrible!  And, the food not so good.  At one point, I ran up to our room to find it filled with smoke from our next door neightbors, and I promptly knocked on their door despite the “do not disturb” sign.  Since they did not answer, I told the front desk, and they were probably fined 200 euros.  ha to them!

After dinner, we stopped by the front desk to find out how to get into the center of Amsterdam.  Aparantly, we missed the last (8:00) train of the evening.  Since fireworks are dangerous, all public transportation was stopped from 8pm to 2am.  So, our plan was foiled.  Angry by our experience at dinner, we refused to drink at that restaurant to bring in the new year … so, we ask for a nearby bar.  And, we were told where to go.

We return to the room to get ready, then head out across the parking lot to a disco like place.  When we arrived, we were told that it was 50 euros to enter.  We then told them that they were wrong and that we were told we could come over for a drink.  A couple of phone calls later, we entered the party for only ten euros.

When we got inside the party, we noticed some interesting people.  For example, there was a girl wearing only half a shirt (the front half … although half of her boob was falling out).  There were a group of girls dressed all in black, one of them wearing short shorts, another in an aladin pair of pants, and yet anopther wearing a corset.  Some people came dressed  as though it were a black tie affair, and some others thought that they were going to the prom.

About twenty to midnight, Dave goes to get another round of drinks.  Ten minutes later, I am concerned and go to find him surrounded by girls at the bar.  After he emerges from the crowd, he tells me that all of the girls were asking him to buy them drinks.  But, when the drinks emerge, we have 10 seconds to get to Catie, I grab Dave’s hand and pull him through the crowd.  We may have knocked a couple of people over, and we definatly  spilled more than one drink.  But, we made it to Catie only a couple of seconds late and gave her a huge hug.

After midnight, we danced for a little bit.  Once again, Dave went to get another round of drinks.  Once again, Dave was taking longer than expected at the bar.  So, Catie and I go over to supervise.  We see him in front of the bar, and about to order a drink.  We dance a little and keep a half an eye on him.  Then, we see Dave and a stout local in a fight!  A bar fight is breaking out in front of us, and Dave is in the middle of it!!  Knowing that something is wrong, I do not think and jump in between the two of them.  (Catie says that she has never seen me run so fast … and she is usually my defender if I am on offense in Lacrosse).  I look angrily at the man who was trying to hurt Dave and say “what is wrong with you?”  And he spits a HUGE wad of saliva into my face.  It was a coating from forehead to chin, cheek to cheek.  I burst into tears.  I would have been less hurt if he had punched me.  Really?  Who spits in someone’s face?  After a huge commotion, some men in suites take the spitting guy away.  Then, they come back and ask me to follow.  Dave and Catie follow me to the front of the bar.  During this walk, Dave tells me that he was trying to pull the guy away from a girl that he just punched in the face.  So, not only did he spit in my face, he punched another girl in the face!  We tell  our stories to the men in suites, and the guy who spit in my face tried to apologize to me, although I refused to shake his hand because I do not accept insincere apologies.  A better apology would have been not to do it in the first place.  And, he was let back into the bar!  That was pretty shocking for me, but the men in suites assured me that “he will be watched very closely from now on.”

Catie and i went to the bathroom, where we used the toilettes and then washed my face.  Then, we returned to have a drink with Dave and a very tall man.

The Third Man

January 1 2010

 Sunday afternoon, we went to the Burg Kino to see The Third Man.  Graham Greene had a premis for a movie: a man sees his dead friend walking in the street.  Then, he was commissioned to write a movie about post-war Vienna.  He put both concepts together to create The Third Man.  It was a black and white movie, but Dave only fell asleep once.  Our favorite quote of the movies is this one (from Harry Lime, the dead man walking):  “Don’t be so gloomy.  After all, it’s not that awful.  Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance.  In Switzerland, they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.”