Hands off my strudel!

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February 12th 2007
Published: February 12th 2007
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Outdoor Skating FunOutdoor Skating FunOutdoor Skating Fun

The rink was great fun, and the setting was gorgeous!
Sigh. I was all ready to come online today and positively gush about the wonderful city of Vienna and Austria in general, particularly how wonderful the people we've met have been, and then an incident occured which considerably soured my mood. After getting up early to pack up and check out of our hostel (we're leaving for Prague today), I headed to the local grocery store, Billa, to buy some breakfast while Derek went to the bookstore. I picked out a yogurt, a coffee/yogurt drink, and a seriously delicious looking apple strudel. I was particularly excited about the strudel because Maria lists it as "one of her favourite things," so I wanted to have some before I left Austria. Well, it was not to be. At the checkout, the woman ran my things through, I paid, attempted a "danka" (thank you), and proceded to grab my things. Bags here cost money, and I'm against plastic bags these days anyways after seeing them positively littering the Laos countryside, so I was just going to gather up my belongs and leave to eat them on the street. I remember seeing how my stuff sort of ran in to previous customer's groceries and thinking
Lacing upLacing upLacing up

Derek puts on his skates (complete with maple leaf!) He later had to exchange them, though, because they were so dull his feet slid out from under him
it would be easy to take something that wasn't yours, but I didn't really think much of it. Then, sure enough, the guy in front of me jacked my apple strudel and ran off!!!! I was shocked! To make matters worse, the clerk and the woman behind me just kind of got all defensive and rude and made horrible "meh, not my problem gestures" and acted like I was being a big problem and I was just making it up. I showed them my receipt, which included strudel which was not on the counter in front of me, but they just pointed to my backpack as if I had hidden it in there. Honestly, I was right in front of them the whole time and my backpack was locked with a lock! I was too angry to argue and they didn't speak English anyway (or else they were pretending they didn't) so I just gave up and left. Honestly. Worst service ever. I bought food from that store pretty much every day we were in Vienna. I was less mad about the loss of the strudel than I was about my treatment.

Oh well. Putting that out of my
Choir boysChoir boysChoir boys

You might have to take my word for it, but those little blue guys are members of the Vienna Boys Choir, complete with cute sailor suits. For some reason my camera took ages to focus and then they were almost gone.
mind, Vienna has really been incredible. We've had an absolutely amazing time here, and I don't think we came across a single unfriendly person before this morning. We've actually been attending quite a number of highbrow events, but Vienna makes it easy for poor scrubs like us to do such things even though we don't have fancy clothes or a lot of money. What a great place!

On our first day here I was feeling extremely sluggish and didn't have the energy for much of anything, so we just checked out the neighbourhood around our (great!) hostel. Derek made the walk in to the town center but I just went on the internet to add the last of our Venice info to the blog. We also made our own dinner since we were finally staying at a place with a kitchen. Spagetti and tomato sauce with weiners. Mmmm. I bought some milk for my cereal for the next morning, but when I came back from using the internet it was gone! Someone had stolen it from the communal fridge. Seriously! Who steals other people's food? Honestely. That wasn't even the last of the food stealage, either. When we came
Vienna Coffee HouseVienna Coffee HouseVienna Coffee House

The lovely coffee house where we had our authentic Viennese cup of Joe. Man, my pictures from Vienna really are terrible, aren't they?
back the next day, one of our four remaining weiners had been stolen. I guess I had a fair bit of food stolen from me in Vienna (although admitatdly most of it was stolen by immature travellers, not actual Vienna citizens). The next morning I bought new milk for my cereal then we set off on the pretty long walk to the town center. It was a walk that we would get to know well, as we made it about a billion times during our stay here. The road we walk down is kind of a funny one. It's quite wide with huge pedestrian sidewalks (which must have took some good planning from someone a long time ago) and is lined on either side by big, old heritage buildings. The strange thing is, though, that the buildings are covered with big lighted signs for the billions of international chain shops that inhabit them. I remember hearing that Vancouver has a bylaw against advertising on heritage buildings--now I know why. It can get a big out of hand. We had fun poking in the shops along the way, though. Eventually we stumbled up to the tourism info center, where we were given instructions on how to obtain standing room tickets for the Vienna State Opera, which we wanted to attend that night. We were told that we had to come back a couple hours before the opera started and stand in line to get a spot, but tickets only would cost us a few euros. Sounded good to us! We also got directions to an outdoor skating area here, which is supposidly the largest in Europe.

We walked to the skating place, but we were becoming weak from hunger and massive amounts of walking, so we decided to get lunch first. We also found out that skating was going to cost close to $20CAN, but we really, really wanted to go so we decided it was worth it. After poking around at a number of nearby places, we finally settled on a place called Coffee Day which seemed to be nice enough but still within our price range. We got a delicious coffee and an amazing chicken burger each. That was one satisfying meal. However, it took a bit long and we had to go ALL the way back to our hostel to change before the Opera (not that we really had anything nice to wear, anyway), so we decided to save skating for the next day so we could really get our money's worth. On the way back, I noticed a big sale at this store called the New Yorker or something like that. It seemed to be kind of like Mariposa. There was this stupidly cheap blazer for 9.95€, and I decided to buy it because I really didn't have anything that decent to wear. It's not the nicest thing ever, but it's nicer than anything I had at the time!

The opera was really great, although there was a ton of standing and sitting and waiting before we even got in to the standing room area of the opera house. The music was very well done, but Derek and I both agreed that that wardrobe and props left a LOT to be desired. It was one of those situations where they had taken an old opera and set it in modern times, but it didn't work at all. I also thought that te coreography was terrible. Oh well. I can't quite remember the name of it..... Manon something. Descartes? Something like that. Anyways, we really had a great time and made tentative plans to return again the next day. I mean, when else are we going to get to see the world famous Vienna State Opera?

The next day was SO fun!!! We started it off at the outdoor skating place. Gooood times. We rented skates, figured out the lockers, and then attempted to get on the ice. This wasn't just a standard hockey style ice rink or any thing like that. It had two kind of rink areas like that, both of which were connected by ice paths which weaved through the trees in the park. Those paths were fun because they were on a slant. Skating on an incline! Not very often you get to do that. There was also a separate ice area which was supposed to have curling or some type on it, but on this day it seemed to be set aside for little kids learning to skate. Instead of those bar things that we use, they had these cute little penguin models that they held on to for support. Skating was great, although it was really busy and there were tons of people, old and young, whose skating skills left much to be desired and therefore there were many obstacles to be avoided. We skated for hours and hours, despite the fact that our skates were pretty dull (Derek even had to exchange his first pair because his feet kept sliding out from under him) and extremely painful. The DJ played a GREAT music mix for the most part, altough for the last hour he switched to terrrrible 80's songs which were basically unknown to me. Just as I got off he played Dolly Parton "9 to 5". Sniff. I love that song! The setting was incredible. It was infront of the Vienna city hall, which was constructed in neo-Gothic style (according to a brochure!) and surrounded by other beautiful buildings. Such a great afternoon.

That night we lined up once again for the Opera. Even though we got there earlier we were farther back in the line. It was Falstaff--a comedy. I LOVED it, but Derek couldn't stand it this time and left at the intermission. He must have just been overtired from the skating or something because he thought the previous night's opera was way better, and I just simply cannot understand by. This one had amazing singing, great sets and costumes, halarious coreography (the guy who played Falstaff was sooooo funny and apparantly a world famous baritone), and got a standing ovation from some of the audience (I would have given it one, too, but I was already standing). The standing room was packed this night and we were really crammed in and for a lot of it I couldn't see the stage, but it was great nonetheless.

Is this the end of our Vienna musical experience? No way! The next morning we got up at the crack of dawn and stumbled in to the streets to make the walk to the church where the world famous Vienna Boys' choir was to sing a catholic mass. We had read in a Vienna guidebook in a bookstore that if you got there early enough you could get standing room for free. We didn't want to risk missing out, so we got there REALLY early. We had a bit of trouble finding it, but eventually we did and our places were excellent. Right at the front of the standing area. The choir sung from way above and behind of the audience so we couldn't see them for most of it, but at the end they came up front for a song so the we could see them. I'd watch them all run to the church earlier in the morning when we were standing outside in the cold waiting to get in, but they were even cuter in a group. Some of them are REALLY little (probably 8) and they wear these adorable sailor-style outfits. And their voices! Ohhhh amazing. Absolutely angelic. I'm incredibly impressed at the mastery of music these little guys have. They couldn't have been singing for that long since some of them were so young. I wonder if they though what a world sensation they are? Anyways, it was awesome. Though I couldn't imagine having to sit through a mass like that, minus the choir, every single week. I've never been to Catholic Mass before, and don't see the need to return in the near future.

Then we partook in another Vienna tradition, a visit to the coffee shop. We picked quite a fancy one, which was apparantly one of the oldest in Vienna, and I had a melange (basically, a cappaccino). Really good. More adventures happened but I've really got to go or we're not going to make our train, so I'll just say that we went to this "house of music" interactive museum thing, and only left 8 hours later when it closed at 10pm!!! I think we're probably the only ones to have ever spent so long in there, but we learned sooooo much. I finally understand a lot more about some of the famous composers like Mozart and Beethovan and Schubert.

Ok, gotta go. Are you proud of me? I typed this whole entry on the crazy german keyboards! Bye!


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